Jennifer S. LeBlanc, founder and president of ThinkResults Marketing, works with CEOs and CMOs to drive results. Her client work focuses on building go-to-market and launch strategies for high-growth companies of all sizes including Microsoft Ventures/Accelerator, SAP, Intel’s New Devices Group, and dozens of startups. Her proprietary methodologies have driven well over $1.5B in new funding and revenue to clients, and 10 to 100x returns for the startups she’s worked with over the years.
Jennifer has received the Silicon Valley Women of Influence Award, and ThinkResults was ranked as 2017’s 10th Fastest Growing Private Company in Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. She was an advisor to President Obama, Congress and the SBA via the National Women’s Business Council.
A high-energy speaker who inspires and galvanizes her audiences into action, Jennifer is the author of two books, Launching for Revenue: How to Launch Your Product, Service or Company for Maximum Growth and Changing Tides: Powerful Strategies for Female Founders.
How did you get to where you are today?
Simply by following opportunities and my own curiosity. When I was growing up in Canada, I had no intention of living in Silicon Valley (I didn’t even know what Silicon Valley was!) and working with entrepreneurs and launching companies, products and services into the market. I started my career as an aquatic researcher working on the food web in Lake Ontario, spending my days either on the lake doing field work or in the lab counting samples.
When I moved to the US, I decided I wanted to focus more on the communications side of science and started writing for Discovery Channel Online and doing a lot of ghostwriting for physicians and scientists and editing local publications. Then I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and got bitten by the tech marketing bug. I now work on mostly high tech and life sciences marketing as the CEO and founder of ThinkResults. I love working with entrepreneurs to launch their startups and with intrapreneurs in large companies like Intel and SAP to launch new products into the market. I particularly enjoy working with female entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs and helping them bring their vision to market. That is one of the reasons I am so excited to announce that my new book, Launching for Revenue: How to Launch Your Product, Service or Company for Maximum Growth, is now available on Amazon.
What was your toughest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
In a way moving to the US was my toughest obstacle. It has since become my biggest opportunity, which is often the case with big obstacles. When I first arrived, I knew absolutely no one in this country, other than my ex-husband, my college network was useless, I didn’t have a job and much of the culture was so different to me. I looked at it as an adventure and just started pursuing things that interested me. Before I knew it, I had a thriving environmental and scientific communications business with more clients than I could handle.
What’s the key to staying focused & motivated?
This is not something I typically struggle with. Turning myself into “relax” mode, however, is something I struggle with more often. But when I notice I am avoiding something, that there is a task that keeps rolling from one day to the next on my list, I set a timer for 30 minutes and tell myself I can stop just as soon as the timer goes off.
When the 30 minutes are up, one of two things has happened. One, and this is most often the case, the task is done. Then I wonder how much time I spent rolling that nine-minute task from day to day! The second thing that can happen is that although the task is not yet done, I am now thoroughly into it after those 30 minutes and usually keep rolling to finish it. Very rarely, I stop working on the task and put it back on my list to complete. Even then, it’s so much easier to complete the second time around, now that I’ve dug into the start of it. It’s sometimes true that the first step is the longest step.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
“Keep going.” Every time I want to give up because I’m tired and the path is not working the way I think it should, I have several people around me who let me rest, and then tell me to keep going. One of the female founders in my next book, Changing Tides: Strategies for Female Founders says one her friends gave her this advice when she started her startup: “You can quit any time you want. But not today.” I think that is brilliant.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking to start a new venture?
“You can quit any time you want. But not today.” Seriously, that is the best advice for starting a new venture. There are times when it’s going to be hard, the hardest thing you’ve ever done. That’s why I also think it’s critical that you surround yourself with a great support team at home and at work. You need people around you who believe in you and your vision, even when your own enthusiasm is flagging. I also recommend that you pick up a copy of my new book, Launching for Revenue of course since it is all about how to start a new venture with checklists, ideas, samples of what to do and what not do. It’s your guide on the journey of launching a new venture.
How do we get more women leaders?
I think there are many ways to solve this problem. As women, we need to make sure that we are mentoring and championing other women. I consider myself to be a strong feminist. After all, my mom is a human rights expert in Canada! However, I went to a conference several years ago and a female VC talked about the simple power of referrals. She asked us to consider how often we recommend a woman when someone asks us for a referral to a lawyer, a dentist, a doctor, a caterer, or even a book to read. Women need to actively and economically support other women. Her question made me reevaluate my circle of service providers. I now have great women to refer in almost every category, I am happy to report. It can be that simple.
My second book, Changing Tides, takes that a step further. It is designed to be a reference and support system for female founders. In the summer of 2017, right after the ousting of Dave McClure and Justin Caldbeck in the tech VC world, and before #MeToo rocked Hollywood and beyond, I became very frustrated and agitated with the state of funding for female entrepreneurs. I know too many awesome female entrepreneurs who were (and still are) struggling to raise money to get their ideas out into the world. Women who at best receive eye rolling from male VCs, and often much worse treatment. I was, and still am, quite convinced, that it is not genetically possible that intelligence and grit genes are linked to young males from Ivy League colleges who wear hoodies. That just isn't mathematically possible or even probable.
Despite the fact that I was already writing another book, Launching for Revenue, and running my marketing agency, ThinkResults, full time, I decided I had to start this second book. It’s an inspiring and refreshing collection of personal essays from female VCs, female founders, ecosystem partners and my one “guy who gets it”. Sometimes, when I read the news, I get depressed again. Then I go edit one of the chapters from the book, and my hope is restored. I regain hope that this dream I have where 50% of the funding goes to 50% of the population may actually happen in my lifetime.
One final thing for all female founders out there: As part of the keynote I gave in March at the Google Launchpad Female Founders Summit, at the request of the attendees, I’ve started a shared Google doc with a white list of angels, VCs and incubators/accelerators that I know are female friendly. Other members of the Summit have been adding in names and place that they know and we are growing that into a document of our collective wisdom. My hope is that it will help female founders as they are starting their journey of seeking funding, shorten the learning curve and path to money, and also ensure that the path is a safe one. If you are a female founder and would like access to that group, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get you added.
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Description of Launching for Revenue:
Did you know that 35-80% of launches fail? Whether you are a business executive, a startup founder or a nonprofit leader, you are always in the business of starting new things – and ensuring their success.
With this easy-to-read book by your side, you'll learn how to ensure a revenue-generating launch with a step-by-step method that has helped companies, startups and nonprofits see $1.5B in new revenue and funding.
This proven method has everything you need to do your launch right:
•Examples of what to do – and what not to do
Launching for Revenue is based on the ground-breaking ThinkResults Launch Readiness Assessment, designed by Jennifer S. LeBlanc. This Assessment isolates and identifies the top 10 most critical elements of a successful launch. This method reveals how ready a company is to launch, and isolates the biggest areas of risk. As a result, companies can predict and course correct their launch plan to turn those statistics around and maximize the chance of a successful launch.
With this book as your guide, you'll have a clear Launch Action Plan based on the 10 critical elements that can make or break your launch. Also included with the book is access to an online community, so you can learn from other professionals, share your stories, ask questions and get answers.