Why is it so difficult for startups and intrapreneurs to identify analysts to talk to? [Startup Saturday]

rocket-for-startups.jpgOne of the most difficult tasks for a startup or intrapreneurs (functions like an entrepreneur within large companies) is to identify who the heck in the analyst community they should be targeting for interactions. Often the first few analysts that are contacted flatly turn the startup down leading to discouragement or a suspicion that it’s a pay-to-play situation. That is usually not the case, but frankly it is much more difficult for startups to identify the appropriate analysts.
The problem for startups, whether new tech firms or intrapreneurs in major vendors, is that it is hard to identify analysts that might a) be interested in an emerging technology and b) who will talk to them.
Because the technology and/or market are emerging, there probably aren’t many clues like published research or press quotes to go on. As a consequence, startups often focus on “star” analysts that have high visibility and got quoted on a relevant topic. Unfortunately, “star” analysts do not much time for briefings because of travel and other demands on their time like press interviews. A little secret in the industry is that the “star” frequently does not actually do much in the way of new research (largely due to time constraints), but relies on quick net-net conversations with their less visible colleagues for pithy quotes. Focusing on “stars” is frustrating because they are difficult to schedule, often will not agree to a briefing on an emerging technology, and are probably the wrong analysts anyway.
The second part of the problem in finding analysts interested in talking to startups and intrapreneurs, often reflects the personal orientation of the individual analysts. When I moved from Gartner’s corporate HQ to the then nascent Bay Area Research Center, my colleagues were astounded that I wanted to leave the center of the universe for the so-called backwater of the Silicon Valley. Well, I did so because I wanted to follow startups and be where the excitement was happening. Nothing thrilled me more than visiting a startup with less than 20 employees in a tiny building behind the JJ&F Market in Palo Alto. These people had passion and were really on the cutting edge with great insights creating or entering an emerging market. A few years later, I had a colleague in the office next to mine and in same basic coverage area that would not even talk to a vendor unless they had at least 35 customer references. Needless to say, the vast majority of startups do not have that many referenceable accounts so they were effectively frozen out. Why the criterion? My colleague was very busy and used an arbitrary criterion just to limit the number of vendors she had to talk to.
So for a startup or intrapreneur, it does require some extra homework in order to build a valid analyst list. How to build this type of analyst list will be discussed in another post.

Because startups have some unique analyst relations issues, we will be posting some articles specifically on topics for startups. These startup AR tips will always be on Saturday, hence the “Startup Saturday” in the subject.

Bottom Line: For startups and intrapreneurs, the task of finding the right analysts to brief can be time consuming and lead to wasting time with less relevant analysts. Don’t be discouraged because given some effort you can identify the analysts, but it does take a different process from what a large vendor in a mature market would use.
Question:  For analysts – what are your criteria for whether you will take a briefing from a startup? For startups and intrapreneurs – have you been successful in identifying analysts to brief? What was the process you used?

How SageCircle can Help: If you need advice about how to get an analyst briefing scheduled, check out SageCircle’s two-hour and five-hour advisory paks or Annual Advisory Service. The advisory paks are easy to setup and pay for via credit card. We can help you by:

  • Analyzing why you are not getting briefing opportunities
  • Reviewing your analyst list
  • Critiquing your analyst elevator pitch
  • Suggesting tactics and providing best practices for getting that briefing

For more information, visit our website or contact us at sales [at] sagecircle dot com or 650-274-8309.

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