Silicon Valley Successes Ep3 Chamber of Commerce with Dawn

Dawn Maher | Chief Evangelist & VP Membership & Programs  Dawn joined the team of  Mountain View Chamber of Commerce  in February 2017. Before joining us, Dawn spent 2.5 years with the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, and before that helped spread the love in the city of brotherly love, with the Greater Philadelphia Regional Chamber of Commerce.    An accomplished Senior Relationship Manager for both Fortune 500 and private companies, Dawn has found her experience building long-term strategic partnerships, marketing, business development, project management, customer retention and her enthusiasm for technology and social media, a great fit in Mountain View, the heart of Silicon Valley.

Dawn Maher | Chief Evangelist & VP Membership & Programs

Dawn joined the team of Mountain View Chamber of Commerce in February 2017. Before joining us, Dawn spent 2.5 years with the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, and before that helped spread the love in the city of brotherly love, with the Greater Philadelphia Regional Chamber of Commerce.

An accomplished Senior Relationship Manager for both Fortune 500 and private companies, Dawn has found her experience building long-term strategic partnerships, marketing, business development, project management, customer retention and her enthusiasm for technology and social media, a great fit in Mountain View, the heart of Silicon Valley.

  • Director     Tom Clark

  • Technical Director   Tom Clark

  • Sound Technician Bill Lindemann

  • Character Generator  Michelle Yuan

  • Floor Director   Jim Seawright

  • Camera 1 Christine Cray-Rubin

  • Camera 2 John Farley

  • Camera 3 Jim Twu

  • Creative Designer Sergio Smirnoff

Intro speaker  0:07 

Welcome to Silicon Valley successes, we interview experts and entrepreneurs to give the world access to the knowledge and experience that is here in Silicon Valley. Our mission is to create opportunities for those who seek them and tell you to become the next Silicon Valley success.


Shawn Flynn  0:29 

Welcome to Silicon Valley successes where we interview the experts here in Silicon Valley and package their knowledge into a resource library or anywhere in the world can access. So today on our show, we have Don Mayor who's with the Mountain View chamber commerce dawn, please introduce yourself. Okay. Well, Thanks, Sean. Great to be here today. And I'm Dawn mer and I am the chief evangelist and VP of partnerships for the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce. Now for people that maybe from an area that doesn't have a chamber commerce or does not know about what chamber commerce is, could you give a little bit of detail into what a chamber of commerce does and is


Dawn Maher  1:06 

sure, yeah, absolutely. So the Chamber of Commerce functions a little bit differently in each community, because we kind of customize the membership. It's a member organization that serves businesses within the community, and we're a little bit of a catalyst, a convener and we foster collaboration within the community, and all over the world. Really. So So these companies that are members of the chamber, are they only established corporations? Are they startups? Are they are they anyone there really anyone, they can be anywhere in the world, they can be right here in Mountain View, if their interest is in connecting to folks to businesses here in Mountain View, that's something that we can help them with. So So it's about we have about 760 different member companies


are actively involved in the chamber. So going back, you said anywhere in the world. So


Shawn Flynn  1:56 

I'm a startup from New York, or even maybe Beijing. And I wanted to ask this to the companies here in Mountain View, I could join the chamber commerce, you could


Dawn Maher  2:08 

Yeah, absolutely. So it's very easy to do. It's something that you can do online. And we have a website which is chamber Nv dot o RG. And you can get anybody can get information from anywhere in the world. And what it is that we're working on what we're doing, who our members are, and how they can get active in the chamber.


Shawn Flynn  2:25 

So when you're saying who the who the members are? Yeah, so if I became a member, I would be put on that list. So I'm an early stage company, just me and my co founder, I wanted to become a member I could join I we get on that list.


What are some of the benefits I would get with that


Dawn Maher  2:46 

the you know, the primary benefit is visibility, marketability, and then conductivity. So your ability to connect to other businesses in and around Mountain View, really, businesses of all sizes, from the smallest to the largest, about 80% of our members are mid sized companies. And then we have several of the larger employers here in Mountain View that are very active as well, and the chamber so benefits would be, you know, your ability to connect with other members. And also be aware of what's happening in Mountain View, and that creates a certain relevance when you're looking to pursue a conversation with somebody, it's very helpful to understand the community of their community that they are in and that they serve, and that's where the chamber can be extremely beneficial. Okay. So yeah,


Shawn Flynn  3:29 

a little bit for the people at home, the organization I'm with, we're actually members of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce. Well,


Dawn Maher  3:36 

thank you for that. Oh, yeah.


Shawn Flynn  3:38 

And we've had some amazing results because of that. One example. Was the technology street fair. Yeah. Now, instead of me explaining, could you go into detail about the technology street fair? And then I'll tell some little stories about the great results we had by partaken. Okay,


Dawn Maher  3:55 

yeah, absolutely. So we do a collaborative event with the city of Mountain View. And it's called technology showcase. Right now, it happens to be an annual event. And the intent of the event is that it's free for exhibitors, it's free for attendees, and it's about bringing out those tech companies that we know are here in Mountain View, they've started here, or they exist here now. And they've come up with these incredible ideas that we are happening. And they get to bring that out for the community to see. So we do a one day little festival out in front of City Hall, everybody brings out the things they've been working on. And the community and business community is invited to come walk through and really interact with all of that technology, and learn more about what's happening and how it's happening. Yeah, it's really exciting. Yeah,


Shawn Flynn  4:41 

so some of the companies that I know, that were at the technology showcase some of the things that they mentioned to me was the amount of publicity and media they got from it. Right? Could you talk a little bit about that, yeah,


Dawn Maher  4:53 

we're in just a great situation where we get a lot of media visibility. So the TV show, you know, TV channels are all here covering it, there's a lot of interviews and excitement around the technology that's being showcased. And, you know, it's everybody from our, from small companies doing 3d printing to the robotics team for high school to, you know, Google and LinkedIn and into it, and, you know, some of the other larger employers in the area, and everybody's out with, you know, to demonstrate what they're working on. So we had a lot of virtual reality, augmented reality robots, you know, education, tech tools, you name it, it was, it was there for, you know, for everybody come out and see what was your experience. So,


Shawn Flynn  5:34 

so what was very interesting for me was a couple of companies that that I knew that were at that event, we're just launching their product. And we're actually using that that event to try to do some product market tested, okay, where they had their booth, they had people coming by testing other product, getting feedback. So in one afternoon, they had 5100 people test in their product, giving them feedback that they could take, and then do changes. Also, some of the things that they told me was, was great was the media exposure for them, they will be used that media for them later, introducing their companies to other people, keeping that those little sound bites, keep those little testimonials. So a lot came from it. And many of them have asked me, when's the next event that the Chamber's hosted and how they can actually get more involved with the Mountain View chamber. And


Dawn Maher  6:28 

we use a lot of those sound bites to throughout the entire year, both on our website or social media, just to kind of showcase what's happening in Mountain View. And it's just excellent for those companies that participate.


Shawn Flynn  6:38 

What's one crazy thing that most people don't talk about is


for startups being members of the local Chamber of Commerce, the access you have to the local business community, right. And what I mean by that is some of the companies that that we work with, they have their business development team, they have their sales people, they want access to these big corporations for if their products b2b, or the local community, B to C, or whoever. And they don't have those connections, right? Where if they joined the local mem chamber, they can get warm introductions, or maybe even meet people from those corporations at some of their chamber events, right? Can you talk about some of the events a chamber commerce might have? Sure, sure.


Dawn Maher  7:25 

So we do a lot of collaboration. So not only do we have our own events, we have events with our business partners to showcase their facilities, their technology, and we do a lot of collaboration with other towns and chambers, and other towns. So all throughout this area between San Francisco and San Jose, we're working with those chambers and doing collaborative events. So there's a lot of opportunity, not just in the programs and events that we offer, but with our partners to be able to come out and connect with the people that you want to. So the types of things that we do here in Mountain View that are a little bit


custom my as to our community, is that we're really involved in like, the conversation around disability and technology, which is a really big conversation. And that's something that's a very important to all of our companies, all of our local companies right now is they're testing out new keyboards, new lenses, no new computer monitors, things that are, are crafted specifically for the


the disability community. And so that's something that we work closely with, we're putting together a series now that's customized to them. Also, resiliency is a really big conversation among business here in the area, what to do, in the case of an actual disaster, those are the types of things that we have events around the house. Yeah, so it's so many different spaces that were in that it becomes a bit of a challenge to say, this is what we do, but what we do our 150 different programs and events throughout the year, well, with all different areas of focus that bring everyone together. And so you can, you don't have to spend time coming to something that may not feel like it's relevant to your personal interest or your business interest, you can really customize what your how you're willing to spend your time based on the programming that we have, and what's relevant to who you'd like to meet and connect with. That's interesting.


Shawn Flynn  9:13 

So on Silicon Valley successes. com, we're gonna have to post some of the information that the chamber is doing so that anyone at home or anyone watching this can stay up to date with some of the activities here and, you know, have some ideas and maybe how they can participate? Sure. So what other parts of the chamber so for example, I heard of this thing called leadership Mountain View? Can you talk about what that is? That seemed very fascinating to me. Yeah.


Dawn Maher  9:40 

So leadership Mountain View, is a 10 month program that you can apply for as a community member, and that it's one day month, and it's focused around civic leadership and understanding kind of the behind the curtain view of the city of Mountain View, and how decisions get made and who, who's really kind of leading the town and what's happening. So you get to see, you know, how education and their decisions are decided you would get to tour schools and understand more about what it's like to live here, what it's like to serve here, what it's like to lead here. And not only are you do you become very close to your classmates, and there's generally between 30 and 35 and any class. So the class is all in summit in a really great chance to connect. But there's they're about 70, 750


alum and the program, okay. And those folks are all leaders, you know, many of them are leaders in the community. So every one of our mayor's has been through leadership Mountain View,


Shawn Flynn  10:35 

really. So by going through leadership, Mountain View, you're able to meet the local community, you're able to meet the local government right at the Council level, the Vice Mayor, the mayor every level and ask them questions, possibly, and get feedback


on either day to day life, or even your business if you have questions for them, if you have if they have time. Is that true? Yeah,


Unknown  10:56 

that's exactly right. Oh, should sign you up today.


Unknown  10:58 

You should 2019 best class


Unknown  11:00 



Shawn Flynn  11:04 

But. But going back, I'm still fascinated about Mountain View, chamber commerce and just Chamber of Commerce in general. Right. The what really fascinates me is will have delegations from China or other countries come here, right? They have no clue what this body of businesses really isn't does. And then startups, young companies, they have no idea either. But at the same time, there's so many resources that are here in this group that if they did know, and they were able to partner join or get involved, it can open up so many doors for them. Right? Have you seen that happen to any company that as they've joined, they've understood the resources, the introductions to potential customers, potential resources, or the local community get involved in their projects? Yeah,


Dawn Maher  11:55 

absolutely. We have, yes, I have seen that happen. We work with a lot of


a lot of incubators in the area. And so we have the opportunity to interact with a lot of the startups and find out what the resources are that they need. I think that, you know, what we find with startups is that they're so very focused on their craft, okay. And all the other business resources that they need as, as they build out are available, but they have to know that the chambers has those resources available to them. And so whether that's from building a business plan to creating your website, and it's very, you know, technologically advanced community. So a lot of people are pretty good with that. But not everybody is so or it's the network vendors that you need, as you're adding employees, what, how do you learn about your, your HR benefits, and the things that you need for your employees. So all the various stages, we have tools and resources available. And it's always a little, it's from mentoring, to access to capital, to introductions to company that's you want to meet to help with marketing, and also a lot of visibility. As a member, once you're engaged with us, and you belong to the Chamber of Commerce, we have a lot of tools that we've built in so that you can market your company, you actually have a landing page on our website route, you're listed in our directory. And we get a lot of inquiries, like thousands and thousands of have increased on our website every month, people looking for businesses to do do business with their partner with strategic partners, you name it. So there's a lot of activity I can, there's no one to happen. One absolute outcome for anybody. So I'm always hesitant to say, but it is about getting involved. And once you do the connections that you can make, really can move the needle on your business. Oh, so. So that reminds me of one company, I remember, do you ever hear of a company ad builder


Shawn Flynn  13:45 

startup, they wanted to get their brand name out there, and they they became members of the chamber commerce, from my understanding, yes. And they held an event. And at that event, had the former head of chamber the Chamber of Commerce, the current mayor of Mountain View, and some other key figures. And at that one event, I heard it was sold out, sold out. It was it was it was real. And that was a startup that really had no connections, no email list, nothing joined the chamber. And then from one event from I understand they had nine leads, and actually, I'm not sure if they're still going forward. And I heard that there. There's some other other things going on. But I just remember hearing because of joining the chamber. Mm hmm. All these amazing things happen.


Dawn Maher  14:31 

Yeah, it's really true. It's really a door opener. Hmm. And so it's the we have a number of startups that a number startup startup resources, okay. And


Shawn Flynn  14:43 

go ahead more detail about some of those resources storage.


Dawn Maher  14:46 

Sure. So for example, we we work with a lot of local partners like the Small Business Development Center, okay. And so they about them,


Shawn Flynn  14:54 

okay, most people, I'm sure, I've never even heard of the Small Business Development Center. So what do they do? Exactly,


Unknown  15:02 

I'll stop you three more time.


Dawn Maher  15:06 

The Small Business Development Center is a a resource that's actually a federal resource, it's completely free. And there are generalists and specialists that are available. And again, it's one of those hairy audacious tools that are out there that are hard to describe. But they do everything from helping with mentoring creating a business plan, they have a magazine or any online,


they do, as a matter of fact, have a resource guide that lets you know what it is that you need, who you need to connect with, depending on what your what industry you're in, okay. And some of the tools that are available through their website, and through the agents that they have working in all of the regions, all the local regions here. So what happens is, you contact an SB DC agent, and they come out, they learn a little bit more about your business, what you intend to do, okay, your goals, and then they set you up with a specialist. So if it's a technology resource that you need, they have technology investor group that we can connect you with, they have access to capital, both resource, both seminars and actual traditional and non traditional funding available, okay,


and they will see you all the way through the process from beginning to end. And that's absolutely free.


Shawn Flynn  16:20 

Okay, so that's one resource that's partnering with the chamber, right. And we're definitely on Silicon Valley success is we're gonna have someone from SB DC here.


Dawn Maher  16:28 

Oh, awesome. That will be fantastic. Tell me


Shawn Flynn  16:30 

more, though, about the other resources? Because, yeah,


Dawn Maher  16:33 

sure. I mean, it runs the gamut. There's a lot of nonprofits that we have, as that we have partnerships with, okay, that have a variety of tools. And I'm not even I'm drawing a blank on what's really specific on like, the score, for example, oh, that's a great mentors that you can come in, that will come in and meet with you individually, learn about your business, and help give you some guidance as you're moving forward. Okay, so they are are so when they come into our office and meet with people room twice a month business owners twice a month to help get them started. So that's really a great first step when you're very young. Okay, and building out your concept and not quite sure how to proceed. And if you just have an idea,


Shawn Flynn  17:16 

are you able to meet with these mentors at the chamber? Yeah,


Dawn Maher  17:18 

that's it, you come in with your concept, okay. And they begin to help you figure out how to flesh that out, and how to move it forward interest in


Shawn Flynn  17:25 

what if I've already opened up my my business or started developing my app or platform? Can I then go to them there? Is it too late now,


Dawn Maher  17:33 

you can still consult with them at that point, if at any point, you can, we want to put you in touch with somebody who really understands what it is that you hope to accomplish, okay. And so that's what we try to do is kind of guide you towards somebody who's going to have valuable information. We don't want the counselors to waste their time, or you to waste your time as you're exploring the ideas. And then there are like, there's so many nonprofits that are out there without going into the names of all of them at once you come in, and we understand what need there's someplace that we can guide you for whatever the next step is, in your business. Sorry,


Shawn Flynn  18:04 

if I were to join the chamber, yes. What is the onboarding process look like? So if I'm just a start up, me and my co founder, we come to you and say, Listen, this is where we're at with our company. We want media exposure, we want access to potential partners, we want someone to check out our idea,


but we don't know where to start. Right. And I sit down with you, what would your advice be? Who would I talked to tell me about all these nonprofits resource you already mentioned? Score, you already mentioned SB DC, right? But sounds like there's an abundance


Dawn Maher  18:39 

there are and it really depends on your business needs. So I think that is what we do is we customize what we do to everybody that joins so and of course, there's a spectrum of membership level. So you can join at the very basic level, it's extremely affordable, and you're at least listed on our directory, and you have access to our programs, okay. And we kind of build up from there, depending on the marketing upside that you need. Okay. And depending on your goals, and how customize the solution is for your needs. So obviously, it's going to be a little bit more pricey to belong to join the chamber if you need to some personal introductions and look to engage with folks, when you


Shawn Flynn  19:15 

say personal introductions, would that just be were at an event you go, Hey, Sean, there's Tim and walk away, or what would you consider personal production


Unknown  19:24 

the same way that you do your instructions, okay, when I meet you what I learned what your passions are, I want to walk away,


Unknown  19:31 

I just walk away


Dawn Maher  19:33 

know what, but when you meet people, and you can connect them to somebody else that you realize, wow, that would be a great connection for them. We're constantly doing that. That's really what every one of us are doing. We're a team of six. So we're so what are the roles or team of six? I mean, is it just everyone doing the same thing or is I mean, talk about


Unknown  19:51 

the structure of it. So the


Dawn Maher  19:52 

way that we are set up as we have a CEO of a fairly new CEO with us right now. His name is Bruce Bruce Humphrey. And he leads the organization and then I am work with Bruce and I manage membership and help develop all of our our strategy. Okay, and oversee operations. So it's about helping members engage with one another as low priority. Well, tell me about this engagement, is it? Are you talking about events? Are you talking more that introduction, and then making sure there's follow up with that both both. So is creating, what we try to do is create events that have relevance and bring the right people together so that they can meet one another. They're in the right room. Okay. And so that's what a lot of our programming is about. It's very specialized and intentional. So that is something that I helped lead. And then we have somebody who does events, okay, that'd be Katrina,


and we have Heidi, who does social media for us. Okay. She oversees a site called I love Okay. And that is a great website to go to, to discover what's happening in Mountain View, things that you might like to know both both business and pleasure, soldier. Yeah, I don't. Have you been to that website. I love envy. I've heard


Shawn Flynn  21:06 

about it. Yeah, I've checked it out. I on occasion, I've heard there's pictures of very handsome entrepreneurs on there, sitting in rounded chairs.


Unknown  21:15 

Oh, my goodness, you must be on there somewhere.


Shawn Flynn  21:20 

But But. But that reminded me of another instance, where we actually use the chamber experience where the electric bikes, we really what we really wanted one outside of our office, and we had no idea how to go about doing it. And we made a call or an email to you, I believe, and within two days, we had 60 electric bikes out front of our facility. Have you used them? They they're always used, always used by the members of our building. And in fact, people have actually come to me and gone, you know, where are the bikes today? Okay, hold on, hold on. Let me check.


Unknown  21:52 

Let me check my up. But it


Shawn Flynn  21:54 

was from warm introductions that you guys have provided to us right now. Is there a limit to these introductions? This someone overstep their bounds at any time?


Unknown  22:03 

Yes, absolutely.


Unknown  22:06 

There's a limit to everything. Okay.


Dawn Maher  22:10 

So I can't say no on that, but we are will always help you get figure out what the next steps are, that are practical, okay, right. So if you're going to come in and say, Hey, Don, I want to go right to the top of Google, let's be honest, that's probably not going to happen, okay, you're gonna have to pay a lot of money. No, I'm just okay.


Unknown  22:26 

Asterix, right?


Dawn Maher  22:29 

But within reason, when you need, you know, whether it's customers that you're looking for its strategic partners that you're looking for, I don't want to say investors because that's not something that we promised. But the fact is, when you're out and about and doing the events that we offer, you have the chance to connect with everybody. And okay, you know, now if


Shawn Flynn  22:45 

I am problem, say, with with getting a permit? Or that can I seek people at the chamber for advice on how to go about fixing that? Or could an introduction be made to someone at the city level, that might be the one to go to, to solve this problem, or I mean, my business if I have problems


Dawn Maher  23:02 

at the city level through the chamber is that a good resource, really great resource we do, we spend a lot of time helping our members navigate the change whatever they need to do with a city because it can be complex. And if you don't know what you're doing, oftentimes, you'll lead with the wrong questions or the wrong information. And that will slow that process down by weeks and months, which can be extremely expensive. So a great first stop is the chamber just to share with us what you're doing what you'd like to accomplish, and we can help with making introductions and directing you to the best place to start that journey. Okay, so


Shawn Flynn  23:38 

let's go over everything that we've talked about so far. Okay, we've talked about the city hat or the chamber, how it's a great place to go to, if you have any questions about possible permits, or that with the city for your business, the chamber is a great place to go to for potential introductions to mentors or nonprofit groups that can advise and coach your company, it's a great place to go to, for introductions to establish corporations or or other members of the chamber that you might want to do business with, or just to get to meet to have a conversation with it's a great place to go to for possible media resources for your company to get exposure, it's a great place to go to for events and that in the community to get to know the local community and see Is it a good place to go to if you want to meet potential groups from overseas? are you connected with any friend friendly cities or or sister cities overseas at all?


Dawn Maher  24:37 

We are we are we often get delegates to the area that we host and from all different areas, but we do have a sister city in Japan. Okay. And so we've hosted delegates from a couple of times. And we have a trip slated to go there next year. Okay. Yeah, so that would be kind of fun. Maybe you'd like to come on that. Not this year. Now. I know it's not gonna be this year. Oh, yeah. It's gonna be next year. Okay. But we do have partners overseas. And so we do send delegates and received delegates often who would like to have exposure to this market. So So


Shawn Flynn  25:08 

pushing it even further, would it be okay, to save the chamber had a sister city or that really ship in another country? Right through the chamber? You can get an introduction? Yes, absolutely.


Dawn Maher  25:19 

Okay. And we have a lot of delegates that go to China travel as well that we're happy to introduce you to. Okay. Yeah. So and we've done some programming around starting a business and also manufacturing in China interested? Yeah.


Shawn Flynn  25:32 

Now, another question for you. What advice would you give someone one one piece of advice for someone that isn't sure if they want to join the chamber or be involved with the chamber,


Dawn Maher  25:44 

I think probably direct contact with us as a great visiting our website. That's great as an overall to help understand who everybody is and what we do. But I think it's best to connect with us. However, that is, whether that's email or or telephone or video conference, whatever that it is just to get a greater sense of whether or not it's a fit for your business individually. Okay. And then what advice would you give a startup founder,


Unknown  26:10 

join the chamber? We have everything you need?


Dawn Maher  26:14 

No, I would say that we understand completely how tight that everybody is for time and how many things there are that you can focus on. And I would say that if the thought is, Hey, I don't have the time to join the chamber or some other resource that it's worth revisiting and reevaluating that decision, because there's a lot of information that's peripheral that comes to you that can be extremely valuable just by being connected to the group that you are we you know, we're sending out information constantly about what's happening in the community, and what are the priorities and what's, you know, the things that you need to know as a business owner. So I think there's value that's great. Yeah.


Shawn Flynn  26:52 

So want to thank everyone for watching us today on Silicon Valley successes. And I want to mentioned our next guest coming up will be Doris pickers in from Silicon Valley speaks, she'll talk about how to present to investors how to present your idea. But before we go, Don, could you please talk a little bit about how they could contact you and maybe give a 32nd summary of the chamber go? Sure.


Dawn Maher  27:21 

Absolutely. So if you are looking for connection in your business, and all the tools that you need to get started, you can contact us at I'm available at dawn at chamber Our website is chamber and and we're here in Mountain View, just type in Mountain View chamber. 50% of our guests to our website are organic. All right.


Shawn Flynn  27:40 

Thank you from Silicon Valley success. com.


Intro speaker  27:45 

Thank you. From all of us at Silicon Valley successes. We hope you found the information presented today useful in your path to success. For further information on accessing the resources in Silicon Valley. You may visit us on the web at Silicon Valley successes. com on Facebook and YouTube. Thank you. And remember, we want to help you in your journey to become the next success.