It is not usual to see pouring rain in Virginia and heavy snow fall in Seattle at the same time. The CRM incubation week happened during this same time and like the weather, the event was definitely extraordinary.
As I blogged earlier, the CRM Incubation Week was conducted on a very simple idea. The idea of startups using Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a Rapid Application Development Platform for building business applications.
Five startups were chosen from over 50 applicants. There were given a short training on the CRM platform and from there on, the teams worked feverishly for the next four days and nights putting their solution together. The focus was not just the technology but we had lunch presentations on business aspects like how startups can pitch their ideas and how they can validate their business model, etc. This is very critical for startups as it is not just good enough to have a great idea but you need to be able to convince others and gain the backing to make your ideas successful.
Each startup team was assigned an advisor and I was honored to be advising DubMeNow who had an innovate mobile based solution for business cards.
The advisors were not all from Microsoft. Jim Steger from Sonoma Partners and Dan Blake from CourseMax sacrificed their revenue generating hours and volunteered to be advisors to help the community. Their presence clearly thrilled the startups. We gave 3 CRM development books to every team and Jim co-authored 2 of the 3 books. When you have a question while reading a book, walking next door and clarifying it directly with the author is not something you get everyday and when you can do that at 1AM in the morning, that is when startups realized that Incubation week is special. Dan Blake was in the same situation as every other team couple of years ago when he started CourseMax. Dan’s insights and experience as a startup was sought by every team.
You can see me twittering different activities of the week here http://tinyurl.com/9q7g8u but with the amount of white boarding and development we were doing, you can imagine why we hardly had time to even go out for dinner. Nevertheless, with Xbox 360 console and the nice food arranged by MTC, we had plenty of fun.
Day 5 was the climax with all teams presenting their solution to a panel of Venture Capitalists (VCs), Angel Investors and CRM experts such as Paul Greenberg who also happens to the CRM blogger for ZDNET.
I can keep going for another 3 pages of content but I’d rather point you to Sanjay’s excellent blog coverage of the event. On closing, I’d like to quote Paul Greenberg on his thoughts about the CRM Incubation Week.
“I have to hand it to Microsoft here. This kind of program not only encourages and supports emerging businesses – small and new or even established and moving in other directions – but also showcases their platform in a good way. As a far better development tool than I thought it was.”