Meanwhile, I've often felt that CEOs with sharp spouses don't use those assets very well. By ignoring them, they often end up having issues such as Mark Hurd at Hewlett-Packard, where they forming unfortunate attachments that can damage the company and their own happiness. Watching Michael and Susan Dell collaborate, on the other hand, warms my heart and, I think, should be a best practice. More CEOs should attempt to get their spouses involved in the business. This effort reflects well on Michael and Susan Dell, and Dell as a company, and I hope other CEOs learn from it.
Ingrid Vanderveldt: Helping Dell Plant Seeds of Innovation
One of the most powerful efforts at Dell, from a strategic standpoint, is also one we seem to talk the least about. This is their effort to assist small companies, often led by women. One success story is Current Motor, led by the equally impressive Lauren Flanagan.
Vanderveldt helps these small companies get funding, set strategy and leverage Dell resources to better assure their success. (Current Motor, a startup I follow closely, makes electric scooters. I've tested two of their products and reviewed them favorably. They are a ball to drive.)
Vanderveldt's roundtable brought together several entrepreneurs who shared insight into how to get both crowdsourced and traditional funding, what problems to avoid (though I took exception to one piece of advice) and how to identify the common problems that cause startups to fail.
The exception I took: One panelist said you should only ask for the money you need, because if you ask for more you'll likely mismanage it. This advice focuses on a common symptom of the real problem, poor financial management skills, and missed another common problem, which is being underfunded. Either can cause a promising startup to fail. You have to address financial management early on, or else you'll fail anyway.
Another piece of advice, however, was right on the money. If you think all your problems will be solved with more money, then you have likely not figured out what your problems are, and you'll waste the money if you get it. Thinking money is theproblem is a huge warning sign that something is seriously broken in your business model. Find that problem and fix it, and the money problem will likely fix itself.
What makes Vanderveldt's efforts very strategic is that helping a company get started makes that company one of your most loyal and outspoken customers as it grows up. Creating a strong base of loyal customers, and refreshing that base with new, young customers, can go a long way to assuring you'll be around next century.
Dell's Angels Ready for Their Next Mission