Jack Derby, Management Coach, Tufts Professor, Entrepreneur, Author

Jack was responsible for the Tufts University Entrepreneurship Center where he teaches and managed a highly engaged and active center of 17 professors, coaches, investors and 700+ students constituting the largest minor on campus. The Center hosts 30+ entrepreneurship events each year culminating in the $100K New Ventures Competition. Jack individually coaches 20 Tufts student startups each year. Today, he continues to teach a marketing course and a sales course in the Center, where he received the Henry & Madeline Fisher award voted by students as the highest rated professor on campus in the Department of Engineering. Prior to stepping down as Director in 2020, due to his wife’s health issues, Jack was the Cummings Family Professor of Entrepreneurship. For 20 years, he has taught business planning and marketing in MIT’s Mechanical Engineering Department where he continues. In 1990, Jack founded Derby Management, a regional consulting firm specializing in strategic and business planning with deep expertise in the specializations of business planning, sales productivity and marketing optimization. Prior to starting Derby Management, Jack served as CEO of Mayer Electronics and President of CB Sports. He is or has been a board member of 21 companies. Jack’s 17 years of corporate background consisted of being President of Litton Industries Medical Systems, CEO of Datamedix and Executive Vice President of Becton Dickinson Medical Systems, a market leader in hospital monitoring. For his work as an entrepreneur, Jack was named to the Boston Business Journal’s Mass High Tech’s All-Star Team, he received MIT Enterprise Forum’s Vince Fulmer Award for his work as chairman, and in 2019, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Corporate Growth of Boston for his work as long-term chairman of this leading M&A organization. Jack has founded or co-founded nine startups over the years acting as CEO in eight. Today, Jack is an active and highly engaged board member with a long investing history as an early stage investor as General Partner at Kestrel Ventures, Chairman of Common Angels and currently as a General Partner at Converge Ventures.
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Recent Posts

What I learned about The Science of Sales this semester

I think that I've been teaching this course which I titled "The Science of Sales" for seven or eight years now. At the Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, I teach a course in entrepreneurial Marketing both semesters and then this Sales course only in the spring.  I teach in a framework of "Content in Context" where I and my outside lecturers, all alums from my courses 5+ years ago provide "content" within "the context" of six real companies who have signed up for the delivery of sales plans, playbooks, sales tools, sales process development and often HubSpot software integration. 

Every student needs to be HubSpot Inbound Selling certified in order to take the class.  Each company gets 5-6 juniors or seniors assigned to it. Real life research working directly with the head of Sales where the senior company management of the company project provides 40% of the final grade.  Lots of complex hard work where learning instantly becomes more than academic with exciting results both for the client companies and for the students many of whom then go on to work in marketing and sales jobs. 

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The Rhythm of the Seasons

Every spring, everything tumbles and crashes into one another in our business.  It's merely the rhythm of our consulting business when the excitement and optimism of the annual January sales meetings meets the reality of Q1 sales forecasts measured against actual results  Sometimes up, sometimes down, but never exactly as was planned, which then results in increased business for us at the firm.  It's just the rhythm of our business which always seems to align itself with the seasonal calendar rhythms of the year. 

Add to this cyclical rhythm the reality that the implementation of any new sales or marketing plan will always take a minimum of 90 days before any results are seen, which is why we always focus on Q2 as being the most important quarter of the year.  By the month of May, we know what's working and what's not, and there's still plenty of time to make adjustments that will pay off in Q4.  

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Tags: Sales Best Practices, HubSpot Tips, Teaching at Tufts University, Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, 2024 sales and marketing best practices, 2024 Sales Planning, 2024 Business Planning, 2024 Marketing Planning

The Profession of Sales

I'm love being a salesguy!. I love what we do in our consulting practice working with companies in the rapidly changing environments of Sales and Marketing, plus the fact that I can explore those practices even more intently by teaching both subjects at the Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts provides a perfect flywheel of experiences with highly  positive results.  Personally, I can take out of the classroom and labs new ideas and bring them into our customers while many of our customers take advantage of three-month deep dives in perfecting their planning with my student teams of juniors, seniors and grad students. 

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Tags: Sales Best Practices, Sales Management Best Practices, Sales Hiring Perfectly, Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, 2024 Sales Planning, 2024 Marketing Planning

Jack's 3 Rules to his Graduating Students

Not sure how we got here so quickly, but here we are at the 12th week of a 13 week semester with all that's left being the end-of-semester final Marketing presentations of the student teams to their company managers over the period of the next two weeks. Those 90 minute presentations accompanied by detailed marketing plans account for 40% of the students' semester grade, and that 40% is determined by the company manager graded on the basis of how the student teams of five or six met their objectives.  All very exacting, all very real-world, all real-life detailing of Marketing strategies, tactics and accompanying expenses.  The reality of the hard work accomplished by the students is what's exciting for me and keeps me motivated.   



It's been a demanding, complex, fun and very exciting semester   The Science of Sales course has one more content week, and then their final presentations and detailed sales plans will unfold through the balance of the month into the first week of May.   

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Tags: Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, 2024 sales and marketing best practices, 2024 Business Planning, 2024 Marketing Planning

All The Marbles Today

This afternoon's Finals of the Tufts $100K Business Plan Competition started with 100s of February applications and countless hours of expert advice from hands-on-coaches which then moved to 30 Semi-Finalists three weeks ago and today will come down to the judging of 15 finalists for all of the marbles.  Along that path, our distinctive expertise in applying our own brand of "Entrepreneurship for the Rest of Us"is the uniqueness that we provide at The Derby Entrepreneurship Center.

 

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Tags: Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, Derby Entrepreneurship Center, 2024 sales and marketing best practices, 2024 Business Planning, 2024 Marketing Planning

Rhythms & Taint

On a particularly cold, wet and gray Vermont morning as I look out at the remnants of the two feet of snow earlier this week in addition to it being the last selling day of the quarter on Good Friday before Easter Sunday, I've was thinking a lot about "rhythms" on the drive up from Boston last night.  Take Easter for example since everyone including me has been commenting on "how early Easter is this year", the simplest way to explain the date of Easter is that it falls on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the spring equinox.  Bottom line is that it's more complicated than that, but the simple fact is that there is a definitive rhythm to setting the date of Easter.  Next time it will be on March 31st btw will be 2086. 

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Tags: HubSpot Tips, Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, Derby Entrepreneurship Center, 2024 sales and marketing best practices, 2024 Sales Planning, 2024 Business Planning

Entrepreneurship for the rest of us!

An extraordinary day last Friday at The Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts watching, listening, reviewing and commenting on the semi-finals for our annual $100K Business Plan Contest.  Just as college basketball ramps up for March Madness, so do we accelerate for the biggest event on the Tufts campus for The Finals on April 5th.

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Tags: Derby Entrepreneurship Center@Tufts, Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, Derby Entrepreneurship Center, 2024 sales and marketing best practices, 2024 Sales Planning, 2024 Business Planning, 2024 Marketing Planning

We Run to the Fire!

This afternoon at Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, we will hold the semi-finals of our annual $100K Business Plan Contest, which is our flagship event drawing hundreds of applicants from across all the schools of Tufts from Engineering to Medicine, Dental, Veterinary, Nutrition, Arts & Sciences, the Fletcher School of Diplomacy and the Tisch College of Civic Life.  To get to this point of the second level of judging which will take place in three categories: 

  • General Entrepreneurship, which is mostly tech,
  • Social Impact 
  • Healthcare & Life Science...

...these entrepreneurs have undertaken countless hours of prep on their own, formally with our EIRs and informally with our professors and advisors many of whom are Tufts alums who have been through this process as entrepreneurs. 

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Tags: Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, 2024 sales and marketing best practices, 2024 Business Planning

Marketing & the Importance of Events in an AI world!

In today's lightning-paced world of marketing, do events and conferences still hold a significant position in your marketing toolkit?

While they demand meticulous planning and often represent a hefty chunk of your customer acquisition cost, the answer is a resounding YES—events are indispensable!

 

In my continuing quest this year to simplify the definition of "What's Marketing?", what I absolutely know is that the essence of Marketing's success lies in one basic principle: "Generate qualified leads that yield desired outcomes at the lowest sustained cost!"

No fluff. No vague terminology. Just results-driven results, measured by expense over numbers of days.

If we opt to include events in our marketing arsenal, acknowledging their substantial cost, we must exercise even greater discipline: 

  1. Direct Sales Capability:
    Events should offer opportunities for immediate product sales. Consider a recent B2C pop-up event for our Tufts entrepreneurs, where hundreds purchased products, providing both revenue and valuable feedback.  https://derbyecenter.tufts.edu/

  2. Uniqueness: Stand out from the crowd! Whether it's a symposium on climatetech or an annual conference, differentiation is key. I recall how HubSpot, in its infancy, captivated attention with everyone wearing orange jumpsuits and providing short innovative demos using iPads.

  3. Expense Management: Beyond venue and fees, scrutinize necessity.  Ask: "How many attendees are essential?" and "Do all sales representatives need to attend?"  Rationalize expenses to maximize ROI.

  4. Defined KPIs Consensus: Establish clear, measurable goals. Determine prospect interest indicators, follow-up protocols, messaging strategies, and conversion rates—all within a rapid time frame. Without strict KPIs, event participation lacks purpose, and just maybe, you shouldn't attend at all.

This week's highlights showcase the power of impactful events:

At my Wednesday's Tufts Marketing class, we were honored to host David Meerman Scott, renowned for his expertise encapsulated in our course bible:  "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" His visit was nothing short of transformative, from AI insights to engaging anecdotes about The Grateful Dead.

The session was met with enthusiastic participation, culminating in a standing ovation—a testament to David's unmatched prowess in the field.

In my two decades of teaching marketing, David stands out as an unparalleled luminary in the field.

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Tags: Teaching entrepreneurship, Teaching at Tufts University, Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, 2024 sales and marketing best practices, 2024 Sales Planning, 2024 Business Planning, 2024 Marketing Planning

Leap Year, March 1st & Q1 Sales Quotas

Unless you're one of the 362,900 people in the U.S. born on yesterday's Leap Day, like rapper JaRule or motivational speaker Tony Robbins, the day was "just a day", except, of course for all of us salespeople with only one more month to meet our Q1 Quota. 

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Tags: Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, 2024 sales and marketing best practices, 2024 Sales Planning, 2024 Business Planning, 2024 Marketing Planning