The Trilogy Alumni Effect Recap: Slides and More #sxsw

Scott Francis
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Sunday morning I and three of my favorite Trilogy Alumni gave a panel discussion on the Killer Network – Trilogy Alumni and their affect on Austin and startups.  If you want to rate our session, use the SXSW Go application, we’re in the 9:30am Timeslot on Sunday, listed alphabetically (starting with T).  There’s a link on the session details for entering a survey response! Or, use this link to provide feedback!

We panelists loved the experience of revisiting Trilogy’s recruiting muscle and how much we translated our common experiences there to build a great, caring, and supportive alumni network.

I’ve uploaded slides from the intro, I’ll add voice-over text in the comment section later today, while it is still fresh.

We apparently hit a chord – Silicon Hills News reported on the panel, and the room was well-attended despite a desperately early morning slot on a Sunday morning.  From their coverage:

On a panel called Trilogy: A Killer Network Can Transform Your Town, former Trilogy employees Taylor, John Price, CEO of Vast, Heather Brunner, CEO of WP Engine and Scott Francis, co-founder of BP3 spoke about the unusual recruiting and bonding strategies Trilogy practiced and how it created an extraordinary network of talented people who have helped to transform Austin with companies like Capital Factory, HomeAway and Bazaarvoice.

One of the best nuggets that just defines the kind of interaction among Trilogy alumni so well is this exchange:

At that moment Liemandt, (affectionately referred to as Joe), made Price VP of recruiting.
“But I don’t know anything about recruiting,” Price said.
“You don’t know anything about marketing either,” Liemandt replied.

I’ll add a few take aways that people should get from our talk, but we may not have hit hard enough due to time and format:

  1. Recruiting is a core competency in the Trilogy Alumni Network – almost universally.  It should be for you as well.  If you want to build a great team, it isn’t a bad idea to start by hiring someone from the Trilogy Alumni network.
  2. Figure out what your company (or town’s or culture’s ) unfair advantages are with respect to your geography or competitive landscape – and then really take advantage of them!  Austin has been leveraging SXSW interactive like hell for the last 10 years, but before that, the music festival for the previous 10 years.
  3. Boring products, location, or city are not an excuse!  In fact you could argue that a boring location makes culture even MORE critical.  Selling shoes online? Zappos.  Selling coupons?  RetailMeNot.
  4. Austin wasn’t considered special by the people recruited here in the 90’s.  We came for the company culture, but the company tried to sell the Austin lifestyle.  It is hard for people today to imagine how barren the landscape was with respect to startups downtown, or even tech downtown, and how many fewer buildings and venues there were in the city.  We made Austin special by leveraging the few awesome advantages it did have.
  5. You don’t have to be anyone “special” to build your alumni network.  You have to care enough to invest, like I did, over a period of 10-20 years.  You have to nurture the community and email list, and police membership (no outside recruiters).  But you don’t have to be VP of HR or an exec or a founder to do it – and in fact it probably works better if you’re not.

Questions for the panel?  :)