The Simplist blog.
Simple tips , tools and ideas to help professionals and teams leverage their networks, build businesses, launch movements and generally get things done.

Know any great Angel investors? We do.

In 2010 Ron J approached a charismatic serial entrepreneur who also happened to be a skydiving triathlete. In addition to those shared interests, it turned out they both had NYC, some shared connections, and not being bantam weights in common.  His name is Peter Shankman, world traveling author, media personality, customer happiness expert and the first thing they ever did together was to sit down and grab coffee. As a team we are proud of Peter for being named one of NYC’s 25 Angel Investors you should know. And we are grateful he believed in us so early and has continued to mentor, advise and back our play as we’ve grown and evolved.


But here’s the thing: It started with a coffee. Plus validation that they had shared interests and connections. Percolate’s Jason Shen wrote about how coffee literally powers Silicon Valley. Guess what, it’s the same everywhere because what the coffee meeting is about is cultivating a rapport with smart creative people you’d like to collaborate with. Especially the ones predisposed to be warm to YOU and YOUR IDEA, ORGANIZATION and MISSION.

A VC went on the record this year saying that of the thousands (literally 1000s) of inbound requests for meeting his firm got, he didn’t take a single “cold call”. Every single meeting he took was through a warm intro. 

Doesn’t mean you can’t make cold outreach work. But you should certainly work smarter and smart with what you’ve already got access to.

So what are you waiting for? You’ve got great ideas. You’ve got exciting plans. Figure out which angel investors (or funders if you’re a non-profit) you should be talking to immediately. And don’t miss opportunities for warm, easy conversations. Find out which founders you can ask for angel investor intros.

Make SURE you don’t miss any across you and your team’s thousands of connections. Those coffees that change your life ain’t gonna schedule themselves.


Pro-Tip for finding investors using Simplist:

If you’re still reading this far, here’s the recipe of terms we’d suggest you use to identify and start tracking investors in you and your team’s networks (twitter, facebook, linkedin, addressbook):

Angel Investors Search Terms: “angel invest” “early stage” “seed stage” “active angel”

Founders Search Terms (people to share your “Search Party” link with): “founder” “entrepreneur”

The tweet heard nowhere around the world

You wrote the perfect post.


You artfully crafted the perfect tweet.


But nobody saw it.


Now what?

Simple fact is that as we’ve all become more connected to more connected people, we miss stuff in our streams. And the stuff we post gets missed by the people we know should see it.

No more than 5-6% of your network ever sees a tweet or facebook post.

Stuff we need for our business. Friends and followers taking jobs at companies we’re trying to sell to. People we’ve wanted to hire for years who JUST changed their profiles and are now looking for new gigs.

You prepare a perfectly good message and know in your mind who should care but you have NO guarantees that they’ll see it when you post it on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin. In fact, Bottlenose CEO Nova Spivack ran an experiment demonstrating that while twitter “shows” your tweet to about 6% of your network only about 0.5% truly see it in an engaged way.

SO STOP THINKING OF TWITTER  AND LINKED AS BROADCAST TOOLS ONLY. Instead, figure out which followers, friends and contacts are relevant to your messaging and then utilize the most reliable channel in the digital world: Ye olde email.


The Daily Muse’s Allison Stadd wrote a great piece on one of the ways that she is mashing together perspective on her contacts and connections to get the right messages to the right people.

Being able to do targeted, customized communication at scale that feels as close as 1-to-1 as is possible is the holy grail. And the only way to guarantee that the right people see and engage that perfect post and tweet.

If you want to learn how to do this at scale for yourself and your ENTIRE organization. Leave us your email.

DECLASSIFIED: We helped keep Obama in office (almost)


For the past 2.5 years, the team that makes Simplist and the tech (Knodes) that makes it possible, has kept a secret: that we spent a lot of time pitching the Obama for America campaign in early 2012. Now, we’re finally “declassifying” the pitch document below. So skip to the bottom if you hate context and props.


We didn’t win the business but we’ve always been SUPER proud that the smartest and most technically sophisticated product/tech team EVER assembled in a political contest led by superhuman Harper Reed and his squad dug what we were doing. Enough to take meetings and calls galore. Enough to assemble their entire product and technical team in person in Chicago. In person. All of them.

Amidst the crush of deadlines and too much to do, they understood that our take on how to leverage social data to segment communication and power highly intelligent social referrals was unique.

And in that room full of people who are now legend, the quote I’ll always remember after John put our developer docs and “API harness” on screen was “holy shit. THAT is cool”.

We showed them a future in which every supporter gets an email customized based on 1) what that supporter has been talking about on the social web AND 2) who’s been responding/interacting on those topics. We showed them that referrals are good but that we’d built a way to make them 20X more effective simply by targeting them.

No more one size fits most emails. No more tell whomever you can think of. 

Yeah, we’ve been building the future of smart social interaction and integration into UX, communication and marketing for a little while now. We love this stuff. And even though we didn’t win the OFA2012 business, we LOVE that we got to trade ideas and learning with such an incredible team.

So take a look at the pitch. Tell us what you think. Turning social signal into action and outcomes for even the smallest of teams is our jam. — Ron J

What We Pitched the Obama Campaign in 2012 from Ron J Williams

What are you missing out on?

Now we’ve got a Simplist Community channel that we’re filling with pro-tips videos and answers to questions about how you can look at your network differently (read: leverage it authentically).

Follow us here and there! We love hearing from you guys! It will also be where you see our smiling mugs from time to time as we share news and hacks that YOU guys throw our way!

Ron’s getting Old. So you’re getting free stuff.

Don’t leave home without it

You know that gnawing feeling you have when you’re planning a business trip and you can’t remember if you might be forgetting someone worth calling on while you’re in town? image

You ask yourself:

Was there was a potential client I forgot to schedule coffee with?

Which SaaS investor did I connect with on Twitter and promise to reach out to next time I came to town?

Who are the tech Founders who follow me and live in London so I can invite them to join for whiskeyFriday in November (Londontown Edition after I keynote at Financial Times Innovate conference)?

I never have that feeling anymore. I keep a running search (set it and forget it) and get updates  to my inbox on Founders I’m connected to across 5 cities (and counting). Plus I get updates on relevant people connecting to my teammates and investors in those cities because we have a Team Account (email us to learn more about Team Accounts).

There is no longer an excuse to travel anywhere on the company dime for just a single meeting. Increase the ROI of every single trip.

Simplist. Don’t leave home without it.


Just like Amex. Except not a credit card. And there’s no British gentleman fishing trout. Just a smart way to fuel your trips and feed your funnel.

Contact Management Smontact Management

Iconic. And so incredibly memorable.

So allow us to stand on the familiar after months of observing how and why our users use. And why our customers pay (hint: ask for access to our Team Accounts program, stat).

It’s not contact management. It’s fuel for your sales funnel.
It’s not a social addressbook. It the always-on lead generator.
It’s not a complicated. It’s the simplest way to make every connection count for your business.

It’s Simplist.

Whether you’re recruiting and don’t want to spend $20K per hire, or just want to figure out every single warm intro you can get into your target market, there’s a simpler way to leverage your team’s network.

You shouldn’t have to hear in a press release 6 months late that your old roommate just landed the CMO gig at your ideal target customer. Simplist should be telling you. You should have network superpowers.

We dare you to guess how many [fill in the blank] you and your whole team know across linkedin, twitter, facebook and your 15 years of contacts.

Double dare you.

How much capital does your business need?

Pretty cool, simple tool for starting to think about how much money your business needs before you’re ready to buy that yacht…or at the very least be break-even.

Why doesn’t your business have a sworn enemy?

Does your business have a sworn enemy? I don’t mean a frenemy whom you openly work with until that hopeful day when you can crush them. Not the people who kind of annoy you. I mean the businesses and people with values that are antithetical to the core mission of your team. I mean the entities that offend you with their very existence. In the immortal words of the Notorious B.I.G…the folks you have beef with.


A sworn enemy provides a foil. A true south to your true north. A dragon to wake up and slay every single day for your users, customers and for the world. As Josh Linkner wrote in Forbes, you’ve got to pick a fight to build something that really matters.

Your sworn enemy might be mediocrity in a market. It might be bad, ugly design in Enterprise software (shout to FieldLens). It might be inefficiencies in supply chain, or poorly managed retail operations that lead to higher prices for end consumers (looking at you Jeff Bezos). It could be mercilessly attacking the stuffy whiteshirt and propriety of old school Valley VCs with passion-filled expletives and non-traditional money-ball strategies (hell yeah Dave McClure!)

Our team’s sworn enemy: the mediocre introduction middleman. You know that guy who offered to introduce you to some Angel Investors if you pay him to play? Yeah, him. You know that recruiter who keeps calling you with candidates half of whom it turns out you share connections with (and the other half of whom aren’t a good fit because that recruiter doesn’t know you or your team well)? And for the basement bargain price of only $10,000-$20,000? Definitely him.


It’s not that there aren’t amazing recruiters and incredible advisors that you’d be lucky to work with. It’s that mediocre middlemen have built an industry around your fear that you can’t get to the right people for your business to succeed. That’s bull.

I get higher quality intros and candidates than 99% of the crap that cold calling middlemen lay on my doorstep; simply by combining the power of my team’s networks

So we’re putting you on notice mediocre introduction middlemen: step up your game. Empower your clients. Collaborate with them on identifying who they already know so you can go find the leads they TRULY can’t get to. Your target clients are the people that are increasingly using Simplist to turn every team member, advisor and investor into a connector across every single one of their combined networks (linkedin, twitter, facebook, their contacts, and we’ve got more coming!)

A small, scrappy team can do all of the following without paying a middle man if they know how to leverage their networks:

  • Get to their first 2,000  users
  • Raise their first round of funding ($100K - $1MM)
  • Close their first 5-10 business customers ($100K - $1MM in rev)
  • Recruit their first 5-7 employees (~$150K in savings)

Yeah. We’re gunning for all mediocre middlemen (and mediocre middlewomen), especially the ones who prey on early stage founders and small teams. That’s beef.

Building is a team sport. Simplist wants to help you combine the power of ALL your networks to build faster and more cost-effectively.

Who (or what) is your business’ sworn enemy? #whatsbeef

Who (or what) is your business’ sworn enemy? #whatsbeef