Shift the Conversation: From Pitching to Presenting A Growth Opportunity


Social Media Week

Today I’m sharing another edition in the series of posts based on the 7×7 Mentoring Salon I did for SMW back in February. At the 7×7 I had seven up-and-coming professionals / entrepreneurs pose a question to seven experienced entrepreneurs and leaders. Now spreading the wisdom by sharing the seven questions asked and the mentors answers. Today’s question focuses on the decisions entrepreneurs face when they need to take their company to the next level.

Pamela Kalmus is the founder and CEO of ManiDiaries, a manicure management tool that has quickly built traction and engaged a community of 6,000+ active monthly users. The app allows you to manage your manis and pedis and explore all things nail fashion. A serial entrepreneur at 20-something, she founded Obvious Cosmetics at age 17 and participated in the Hinman CEOs entrepreneurial program before leaving her career in real estate to pursue Mani Diaries full time.

Pamela has bootstrapped ManiDiaries and she’s now at a turning point. She has a proven product market fit but at this point doesn’t have the tools to personally scale the business, She is considering partnering with a beauty brand or acquisition.

In her words, “What’s important to me is that ManiDiaries is successful and the brand lives. What factors should I look at to help me make this decision?”


A. There’s a book and HBS article of the same name unfortunately called, “Do You Want to be Rich or Do You Want to be King?” It could be “king” or “queen.” The point is that founders have to choose between trading off control and growth. If you want to build a business that you manage and drive, selling might provide some short term cash, but it’s not going achieve your goal. If you want to create something and are considering funding, you have to consider how much equity you’re prepared to give up because that obviously means you give up control. As soon as you let people in as equity owners, who are not yourself or your parents, you start to lose control. You’ve got to work out where you fit on that same spectrum. If you don’t want to be king or queen then selling is an option. – Adam Quinton, Chief Financial Officer at Nopsec


A. If you want to approach brand for partnership, then you have to find the right people at the organizations in the market you’re serving. You want to show these brands that you can bring them business that they didn’t have before or an audience that they don’t currently serve. I’ve built partnerships between a lot of non-profits and corporations over the years and that is always so important. What can you do for them that they can’t do without you? — Susan McPherson, founder and CEO, McPherson Strategies


A. The more upfront analysis you can do in terms of what companies are out there and what gaps they have, then the easier it is to pitch yourself. Then you’re not just pitching your company, you’re presenting them with a revenue opportunity, a growth opportunity. You can change the conversation from “I want to sell my business” to “I want to help you grow.” That’s an easier process and a better way to find the right fit. Rather than just talking to a beauty brand—you are talking to a beauty brand because X,Y and Z. — Taylor Davidson, Director of kbs+ Ventures

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