On February 12, 2014, the Social Media Association was treated to a terrific presentation by a successful technology entrepreneur and investor. Jim Estill spoke about his book, Zero to $2 Billion — The Marketing and Branding Story Behind the Growth. He graciously shared his background, business philosophy, wisdom, and insight with us.
Jim, a calm down-to-earth guy from Canada, settled on Long Island but did not settle for Long Island. He does not seem to have the settling-down mentality in his personality and shared how he was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time. Although lucky, Jim clearly made opportunity knock at his doorstep. He built and developed (and subsequently sold) a business from start-up to $2 billion in sales, and had 99 consecutive profitable fiscal quarters.
Jim is highly connected to social media. He foresees social platforms as the wave of the future with new technologies, information distribution, and profit centers. Jim is closely involved in social media and other kinds of tech companies as an active angel investor, advisor, mentor and board member. He impressively served for four years on the Board of Directors of Blackberry (RIM), and also left the board at the right time. In addition, he told us that he has also been involved with some companies with which none of us were familiar.
Jim explained that with a B2B company, it is important for the right people in the company’s exact vertical niche to know about the company. He cautioned that a B2B company is not advertising or marketing to the Average Joe, but instead, to the buyers, vendors, and relationship partners in the vertical market. Jim said that the bigger his company grew, the easier it was to succeed with the momentum gained as it expanded.
Members of SMA asked Jim how he is able to judge a company that he is thinking of investing in. He urged us to remember that you are really investing in the people, and to ask the right questions. And if you are going to fail, his advice is to “fail often, fail fast and fail cheap.” While this sounds like funny advice, it is really important advice — take calculated risks but if it isn’t going to work, know when to bail — and bail as early as you can. Jim has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and is also an optimist.
Jim discussed the strategy of dominating a small niche by becoming a true specialist and then expanding out to a larger, related niche. He chatted about how to grow a business at a successful pace, the frustrations of showing ROI with social media, and the responses needed for “ADD” consumers in our fast-paced world today.
I have yet not read his book but after listening to his presentation, I plan to buy it. I like the way Jim Estill speaks and what he says, so I expect to like the way he writes and what he puts down on paper. I look forward to hearing more great things coming from his corner of the world in the near future.
I will also be sure to attend each of the exciting upcoming meetings of the Social Media Association, to hear what each speaker has to teach and impress me.
Latest posts by Sharyn O'Mara (see all)
- Zero to $2 Billion — The Marketing and Branding Story Behind the Growth - February 25, 2014
- Top 10 Reasons to Attend Social Media Association Meetings - April 25, 2013