20 VC 035 The Ultimate Marketing Guide for Startups with Jay Acunzo, VP of Platform @ NextView Ventures

Summary Notes


In this episode of the 20 minutes VC, host Harry Stebings interviews Jay Akunzo, VP of platform at Nextview Ventures, who shares his journey from aspiring sports journalist to becoming a leading figure in content marketing and venture capital. Akunzo recounts his early career at Google and HubSpot, leading to his current role at Nextview, where he develops scalable resources and workshops for portfolio companies, emphasizing the importance of content as a differentiator in the crowded VC space. He also discusses the trend of VC firms providing extensive services beyond capital, the strategic approach to business blogging, and the role of social media in content marketing. Jay highlights the significance of solving problems through content that aligns with one's product mission and the recruitment of top talent as key to startup success.

Summary Notes

Introduction to Jay Acunzo and the Role of VP of Platform

  • Jay Acunzo is the VP of platform at Nextview Ventures, with a background in content production at HubSpot and digital media strategy at Google.
  • He is recognized as a top B2B marketer in Boston, among the top 70 rising social media stars, and one of the most influential content marketers.
  • The role of VP of platform is a new and emerging job within the venture capital industry.

"Jay is slightly different to our previous guests as Jay has the new emerging and trending job as VP of platform at Nextview Ventures."

"As a result of Jay's amazing work, he has been named top ten b to b marketer in Boston. He's been named 70 rising social media stars and he's been named as one of the most hundred influential content marketers."

The quotes highlight Jay Acunzo's unique position and accomplishments, emphasizing the significance of his role and expertise in the venture capital and marketing fields.

Jay Acunzo's Career Path

  • Jay's initial ambition was to become a sports journalist, which led him to write for student papers and intern at ESPN.
  • After college, he applied to Google and was hired as a digital media strategist, advising on AdWords and other Google advertising platforms.
  • His transition into the tech industry continued with roles at a startup and HubSpot before joining Nextview Ventures.

"In college, I wanted to be a sports journalist... Entered at ESPN... And then when I graduated, I actually didn't have a job lined up... I just applied through an online form to Google to be a digital media strategist."

"And then from there I stayed in the Boston tech scene... worked at HubSpot as their head of content marketing for a little while and then finally landed at Nextview where I'm vp of platform."

These quotes provide an overview of Jay Acunzo's career trajectory, showing his shift from aspiring sports journalist to a key player in the tech and venture capital sectors.

The Role of VP of Platform at Nextview Ventures

  • The VP of platform at Nextview Ventures focuses on scalable projects that support the entire portfolio or startup ecosystem.
  • Nextview is dedicated to seed investments and provides content, resources, templates, workshops, deals, access to experts, and talent to support startups.
  • The role was created to extend the founders' early efforts and is a trend seen across various VC firms.

"Platform means a million different things to a million different people... Basically what it boils down to for me is scalable or horizontal type projects that support an entire portfolio or more publicly an entire startup ecosystem."

"So we think a lot about that... Nextview was the first to move on it in Boston in the early stage world."

The quotes explain the role's focus on supporting the growth and development of startups within the portfolio and the broader ecosystem, highlighting Nextview's pioneering approach in Boston.

Differentiation in the Venture Capital Industry

  • The venture capital industry is becoming crowded, making differentiation critical.
  • Firms are now offering more than just capital; they provide a platform of resources and value-add opportunities to attract entrepreneurs.
  • The shift towards content marketing and value-add services is a response to the increased power and options available to entrepreneurs.

"If you're all on the same street and you all sell plain bagels, there's only so many ways you can make a plain bagel sound different than your competitors plain bagel... differentiation is more key than it's ever been."

"And a large part of making the plain bagel sound a little bit better is you can sell something different than a plain bagel, right?"

The quotes use the analogy of selling plain bagels to illustrate the need for VC firms to differentiate themselves in a crowded market by offering unique value beyond capital.

Jay Acunzo's Involvement in Investment Decisions

  • As VP of platform, Jay Acunzo does not directly involve himself with investment decisions.
  • He expresses interest in the investment side and finds it fascinating, suggesting a potential future involvement or personal interest in angel investing.

"And as vp of platform, you're not directly involved with the investments, am I right?"

"Correct. Yeah, that's right."

These quotes clarify Jay Acunzo's current role, which is separate from the investment decision-making process at Nextview Ventures, while also hinting at his interest in this area.

Career Aspirations in Venture Capital

  • Jay Acunzo expresses his love for working with entrepreneurs and the tech sector.
  • He values the ability to create, have creative control, and an audience that cares.
  • His current role in VC provides the perfect blend of these three aspects.

"I kind of want three things in my career and that's the ability to create things, creative control over those things, and then an audience that cares."

Jay Acunzo emphasizes his career aspirations, highlighting the importance of creation, autonomy, and audience engagement, which he finds fulfilled in his VC role.

  • Discussion about the trend of VC firms expanding services beyond the traditional model.
  • Reference to Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) building out their team to offer extensive services.
  • The importance of VC firms establishing a unique identity and mission.

"Do you think that will be the next trend? More than just VP of platform, offering extensive legal teams, extensive finance departments to their startups, do you think that will be the next trend?"

The question raised by the host is about the potential shift in VC firms to offer a broader range of services, similar to a16z's approach.

VC Firm Differentiation and Mission

  • Jay Acunzo stresses the importance of VC firms identifying their unique mission and positioning.
  • For Nextview, the focus is on seed stage investments with a low volume, high touch, high conviction approach.
  • The firm's services should align with its thesis and the needs of its portfolio companies.

"It's more important for a firm to identify themselves uniquely. So what's the mission of that one firm? How does that firm position itself differently than other firms?"

Jay Acunzo talks about the significance of VC firms having a clear and distinctive mission that sets them apart from competitors.

Blogging Advice for Startups

  • Jay Acunzo provides advice on content marketing for startups considering starting a blog.
  • The importance of creating evergreen content that solves the audience's needs.
  • The long-term value of content in driving traffic and leads, exemplified by HubSpot's blogging strategy.

"It's really about solving some kind of need or problem that your audience faces and doing that over time, being really tactical about it to make sure that you're creating this clutch of evergreen content that actually builds this guaranteed influx of traffic day after day."

Jay Acunzo advises on the strategic approach to blogging for startups, focusing on creating valuable, evergreen content that addresses the audience's problems.

Simplicity vs. Design in Starting a Blog

  • Jay Acunzo discusses the relevance of design in starting a blog for entrepreneurs.
  • He emphasizes the importance of content that aligns with the problem the startup aims to solve.
  • Design elements are secondary to the core purpose of content marketing.

"The bells and whistles are great. The design can be great... But all of that is just noise or it could incrementally help your blog eventually if it is up and running."

Jay Acunzo remarks on the potential distraction of focusing too much on design when the primary goal should be to produce content that resonates with the startup's mission and audience's needs.

Execution Strategy for Content Creation

  • Start with simple, out-of-the-box tools like WordPress or Squarespace.
  • Focus on the content itself rather than the aesthetics of the blog.
  • Align the problems solved by the content with those addressed by the product.
  • Use content as a stepping stone towards the product and as a marketing tool.

"So rather than go run out of the gate and create some custom, beautiful blog, better is just use out of the box tools, WordPress, squarespace, whatever, and just really focus on what you're putting out the door."

The quote emphasizes the importance of prioritizing content over the design of the blog when starting. It suggests that the substance of the content is more critical than the platform's aesthetics.

"You solve it less well with content, and that's great because you can drive towards the product and you also might have a little bit of like a mission over the content that you can use to market your product."

This quote highlights the idea that content should address the same problems as the product, albeit less effectively, to naturally lead the audience towards the product. It also suggests that content can be infused with a mission to enhance product marketing.

Encouragement for New Bloggers

  • Avoid focusing on immediate traffic results of blog posts.
  • Understand that content, especially evergreen content, accumulates value over time.
  • Use evergreen content to build a foundation for traffic and as a resource to share through various channels.

"Very rarely should you look, especially in the early stages, at the results of your blog posts today or even this week."

This quote advises new bloggers not to be discouraged by the lack of immediate traffic to their posts, as content marketing is a long-term strategy.

"If it's evergreen content that addresses a problem facing your market, because you can use that over time, it can build the floor of traffic to buoy other stuff you can send it either through sales channels or marketing channels."

The quote explains the value of creating evergreen content that solves market problems, which can be used repeatedly to drive traffic and support other marketing efforts.

Twitter's Role in Content Marketing

  • Twitter is useful for content discovery and sharing.
  • Aim to convert Twitter engagement into clicks, reads, and email list subscriptions.
  • Use Twitter to build offline relationships and network with industry influencers.
  • Twitter should be a starting point for deeper engagement, not the end goal.

"So one, it's really good for traffic if you can kind of tilt it that way."

This quote notes Twitter's potential to drive traffic to content when used effectively.

"But the action I really want, in addition to positive brand sentiment, is for people to click through and actually read our content, subscribe to our email list, et cetera."

The speaker emphasizes the ultimate goal of using Twitter to direct followers to engage more deeply with content and subscribe to email lists for long-term relationships.

Increasing Engagement on Twitter

  • Focus on solving problems with content rather than seeking immediate Twitter engagement.
  • Authenticity and problem-solving should be the priority in content marketing.

"Know, I don't think it's about focusing on Twitter engagement, really, and trying to say that's the end goal, let's increase the output."

The quote suggests that increasing Twitter engagement should not be the primary objective; instead, the content should aim to address problems and add value.

Common Mistakes on Twitter

  • Avoid being overly salesy or asking for favors too soon.
  • Twitter should not be used solely for self-promotion; share a variety of content.
  • Engage with others' content and build genuine relationships before making requests.

"We do a lot of weird shit on Twitter that we wouldn't do in person, but that should stop so one of the major things is asking for things way too soon before you actually know the person."

This quote criticizes the common practice of immediately asking for favors on Twitter without having established a relationship, likening it to inappropriate behavior at a social event.

"It's asking for things way too soon before you actually have a real relationship."

Here, the speaker reiterates the importance of building a real relationship before making requests, emphasizing the need for patience and genuine engagement on Twitter.

PayPal Mafia and Bill Walsh's Coaching Tree

  • Jay Acunzo wrote an article for HubSpot comparing the PayPal mafia to Bill Walsh's coaching tree.
  • He created an infographic and a scorecard to compare the success of individuals from both groups.
  • Jay worked with Lee Hower, a member of the founding team of PayPal and LinkedIn.
  • He admires the number of successful companies, like LinkedIn and YouTube, that emerged from PayPal.
  • Jay believes the success stemmed from the founders' ability to attract and recruit top talent.

I wrote this post for HubSpot and worked with a friend of mine who's a designer... comparing the Paypal mafia and all the legendary success that came out of that one company and one clutch of talent.

This quote explains that Jay Acunzo created content that compares the success of the PayPal mafia to another successful group, emphasizing the impact of a concentrated talent pool.

So I actually work with one of the members of the founding team of PayPal, which is Lee Hower, he's one of the founders of our firm at Nextview.

Jay's collaboration with Lee Hower provides him with direct insight into the PayPal mafia's dynamics and success.

I think it starts with the founders really, and their ability to recruit talent.

Jay attributes the success of the PayPal mafia to the founders' talent recruitment capabilities, suggesting that this was a key factor in the group's collective achievements.

Nextview's Recruiting Support

  • Nextview has a proprietary system to help startups find and hire the best talent.
  • Jay Acunzo believes that recruiting top talent is crucial, especially at the seed stage.
  • The system is designed to scale and utilizes networks to find suitable candidates for their startups.
  • Although it's not public, the program is tailored for the portfolio companies.

It's far and away the best thing they could do at the seed stage.

Jay emphasizes the importance of recruiting top talent for startups at an early stage, indicating it's the most beneficial action they can take.

We have this proprietary system that we're running for our startups to surface and interview and hire the best talent.

This quote reveals that Nextview has developed a unique system to assist their startups in the recruitment process, highlighting the firm's proactive approach to talent acquisition.

VP of Platform at Nextview

  • Jay Acunzo enjoys creating media and telling stories about founders and companies in the industry.
  • He finds it challenging that there's no direct analytics report to measure the impact of VC platform on deal flow.
  • Jay is interested in the possibility of analyzing the effectiveness of VC platform if it becomes a larger industry.

The best aspect is I get to tell really interesting stories and create really interesting media.

Jay finds satisfaction in storytelling and media creation, which he considers the best part of his job.

There's really not an analytics report that could say VC platform is leading to this many deals.

This quote highlights the difficulty in quantifying the impact of VC platform activities on deal generation, which Jay finds to be the worst aspect of his job.

Content Marketing and Learning Resources

  • Jay recommends the Content Marketing Institute as a resource for those interested in content marketing.
  • He engages with the institute by writing for them and participating in their events.
  • Jay has been listening to their podcasts for learning on the go.

Marketing, there's a great organization called the Content Marketing Institute.

Jay points to the Content Marketing Institute as a valuable resource for content marketing professionals, indicating its importance in the industry.

Favorite Book

  • Jay Acunzo's favorite book is "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain.
  • He appreciates the book both for its content and as an example of great storytelling.
  • Storytelling is important to Jay as a writer and for seed stage founders, which is why he values Bourdain's work.

Kitchen confidential... it's also just the showcasing of how great a storyteller Anthony Bourdain is.

Jay praises "Kitchen Confidential" for its demonstration of Anthony Bourdain's storytelling skills, which he finds personally and professionally inspiring.

Conclusion and Resources

  • Harry Stebbings encourages listeners to visit the blog for resources mentioned in the podcast.
  • Jay Acunzo's blog can be found at sorryformarketing.com.
  • Harry invites feedback, guest suggestions, and questions from the audience.

Now for all the incredible resources mentioned on today's show, head on over to the blog at Ww dot thetwentyminutevc.com.

Harry directs listeners to the blog for additional resources, emphasizing the value of the content provided in the podcast.

And likewise, if you'd like to see Jay's blog, head on over to sorryformarketing.com.

This quote provides listeners with the location of Jay Acunzo's blog, offering further insights into his thoughts and expertise.

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