Think great ideas sell themselves? Think again!
On any given day, you’re likely to see Kevin Hood, the Accelerator Centre’s first and longest-serving mentor, holding court on the subject of sales and marketing at a corner table in the networking area.
After one just one meeting, many clients say that their time spent with Kevin was a game changer. They also say that learned more from him in one hour than they would have learned after months on their own.
In light of the AC’s upcoming 10 Year Anniversary, we asked Kevin if he’s seen any shift in the primary needs of clients. His answer: “No.”
“The fundamental problem is that many companies focus on product, but not market. You can have one of the most brilliant ideas in the world — but, if there’s no clear need or demand, who will you sell it to?” he explains.
When you sit down with Kevin, it’s not long before you hear the words “framework,” “processes” and the gold standard “market validation.” His passion for rigorous methodologies and research can be seen in the AC Pathfinder process that he helped to develop.
How did he become the first AC Mentor? It began with a series of well-received sales workshops he helped develop and present at Communitech. One thing led to another and he was asked to bring the workshop at the AC.
After the sessions, Accelerator Centre clients began telling the management team that they needed to sit down, one-on-one, with Kevin. Over time, a few hours a week became a few days a week, eventually evolving into the formalized team of in-house mentors that exists today.
But it’s not just the training tools he’s established that define his business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit. Fresh out of university, he shocked family and friends when he turned down a great marketing job at major beer manufacturer. His reason: He knew he didn’t want to work there before he had a chance to explore what the market had to offer.
Not long after he began a series of roles as assistant to a Member of Parliament, the Minister of Science and Technology, and Minister of the Environment. In these roles he worked with constituents and members of the business community to ensure great government relations.
When he left Parliament Hill, he headed to Toronto where he helped found a sports marketing firm with the goal of creating a second professional hockey league in Canada using retired high profile NHL players. Although the league was ultimately not meant to be, a series of fortunate introductions led him to become an expert in helping businesses identify top performers.
He established his own consulting firm, Market Access Corporation, and in conjunction with the Self-Management Group, he developed a psychometric online personality profile that helped individuals understand their entrepreneurial and sales traits. Seizing the new opportunity that the internet presented in the 90s, he was able to secure software profile licenses with several high profile clients, including a major international career management organization and one of the largest American insurance companies.
Today, in addition to managing his company and his mentorship role, he is also a lecturer in the Masters in Business Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program at the Conrad Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology at the University of Waterloo.
What keeps him going? He loves what he does.
Why has he made the table right by the front door his unofficial office? “I sit at that table so that clients will have to see me. They have to walk right by me and be accountable for the marketing and sales goals and commitments they’ve set. And I will stare them down.” he says knowingly with a smile and without apology. “We have to focus on growing great businesses and that means we have to focus on revenue!”.
An AC mentor since 2008, he has logged more than 10,000 hours and assisted over 200 companies. Looking forward to helping many more, he quips, “That’s the thing about mentoring, you get better at it over time.”
Family: Married with two daughters ages 19 and 22
Sales experience: 30+ years
Business hero: His Uncle Owen – a very successful businessman
Person he’d like to have lunch with: Richard Branson
Things most people don’t know:
- His father is legendary NHL referee Bruce Hood.
- He once came very close to founding a second professional hockey league.
- He still knows his way around a pair of hockey skates playing several times a week.