One of the things I love about being a VC is the opportunity to work with passionate, brilliant, talented (and sometimes whacky) entrepreneurs.
BzzAgent CEO/founder Dave Balter is all these things, particularly whacky.
Dave is the founder of BzzAgent – the leading company in the exploding field of word of mouth marketing. Dave co-founded the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association and wrote the definitive book on the topic, Grapevine.
This is a guy who is so transparent that in the middle of a fundraising process, he blogged about the criteria he was using to pick his VC partner.
This is a guy who invited an "artist in residence" to hang out around the office, produce all the art that decorates the walls and illustrate his second book.
Ah yes, Dave has a second book. A monkey is on the cover. The final chapter has excerpts from a college essay he wrote about Captain Crunch. Leeches feature prominently in a chapter I'm still not sure I understand. It is truly random and whacky.
Yet it is also brilliant and insightful. Word of mouth is an elusive but potent tool for driving your business. Dave is the Zen Master (yes, a nod to Phil Jackson) of the field and anyone who is interested in driving word of mouth for their product or service – B2C, B2B, non-profit, whatever – would benefit from reading the book.
As usual, Dave wanted to do something different with the publication of the book. So, he decided to self-publish it. He's making it available for free online (click here to download) or if you want the hard-cover version, you can order it on his Amazon page.
I promised Dave I'd change my name to "Bzzgang" if the company were to become a huge success. As a result, my wife is watching the company's tremendous progress warily.