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10 Creative And Inspiring Ways People Got Early Jobs At Hot Startups

With Facebook going public and producing 1,000 millionaires, the rest of us are left wondering: 

Why didn’t I get that job?

Getting an early job at a startup isn’t easy, especially if it’s generating a lot of buzz.

We searched for inspiring stories from early startup employees and found creative ways people landed jobs.

The all seemed to do a few things right:

  • They knew the products well
  • They made themselves stand out, not just their resumes
  • They knew the right people and had great timing
  • They were proactive and persistent

View more at Business Insider

Posted in Uncategorized.

Chiến lược nội dung cho kỷ nguyên mới

Nhiều bạn làm nội dung có lẽ nên suy nghĩ mấy điều viết trong phần dưới đây

1 – Sắp sửa quay lại thời đại của Content is King. Cụ thể quay lại như thế nào, khi nào thì sẽ quay lại, liệu chắc chắn tới đâu thì quả thật mình không rõ và cũng ngại giải thích. Đại loại là nó sẽ đến theo cảm quan, kinh nghiệm và một số lý lẽ. Như vậy, nếu bạn tin vào điều này, thì là tới lúc nên nhẩy lên con tàu Content.

2 – Tuy vậy, content bây giờ sẽ không giống thời xưa. Pageview và time on site không còn nhiều giá trị như trước vì lý do đơn giản là MXH có quá nhiều page view, và content không thể cạnh tranh bằng pageview với các thể loại MXH hoặc game.

3 – Khi Pageview và time onsite không còn nhiều giá trị thì cái gì có giá trị? Đó là Reputation (Uy tín). Uy tín về sự trung thực, uy tín về tính chính xác, uy tín về tính chuyên gia, v.v… là cái tạo ra giá trị cho content. Và tiền sẽ chỉ kiếm được từ giá trị, và chỉ có tiền mới giúp bạn duy trì và tái đầu tư vào content uy tín. Nhảm có thể tạo ra traffic nhất thời, nhưng cái đọng lại là uy tín.

4 – Nói như vậy không có nghĩa là không cần pageview và lượng độc giả. Vẫn phải có đủ ở một mức độ nào đó, nhưng khi có đủ rồi thì thêm là vô nghĩa, lúc đó uy tín mới là cái có nghĩa.

5 – Content sẽ không chỉ dừng lại ở ở website của bạn. Xem xét và tạo điều kiện cho publish và republish nó vào email, điện thoại, và MXH.

6 – Money tới từ đâu? Quảng cáo vẫn là một nguồn, nhưng sẽ không còn là nguồn chủ đạo. Revenue model của content sẽ sớm được cách mạng, là gì chưa ai biết, nhưng sẽ tới rất sớm. Vì vậy, nếu bạn đầu tư vào nội dung, hãy thử các mô hình revenue và quan sát những người khác thử

7 – Cuộc cách mạng vĩ đại về content sắp tới, nếu tin vào điều đó hãy mạnh dạn lên tàu. Nhưng đừng đua theo các cuộc đua nội dung nhảm nhí mà người ta đang làm như hiện nay.

Và cuối cùng, tất cả các điều trên đều là giả định, thiếu cơ sở lập luận, dựa trên suy nghĩ lệch lạc của tác giả.

Theo TanNG

Posted in Uncategorized.

Meet India’s First Billion-Dollar Internet Startup

Flipkart, the “Amazon of India”, is raising $150 million at a $1 billion valuation, says a report by VC Circle. If true, that would make it the first internet startup in India to reach that number.


The lead investor is General Atlantic Partners. Flipkart had previously raised money from Accel Partners and Tiger Global Management.

Flipkart was co-founded as an online bookstore in 2007 by two brothers who initially bootstrapped it. It’s now diversified into general e-commerce, a la Amazon. It’s now on a $70+ million revenue run rate according to the VC Circle report.

India’s e-commerce market is estimated at $1.5 billion, which isn’t a lot, but this is obviously going to grow a ton along with the rest of the country. And it’s interesting to see how Flipkart is doing given reports that Amazon is going into India this year, and looking at buying other e-commerce companies there.

Posted in Uncategorized.

8 Crucial Elements of Startup Success

Most people understand that a high percentage of startups never make it. So what if you could give yourself a leg up on the competition? Below is a list of tips that may help your startup get to the next level. These ideas are not revolutionary, and many successful startups already have these qualities. Why not ensure yours does too?

1. Hire Great Coders

If you don’t have the skills to code, make sure you find someone with a solid programming background who can implement your idea. You want to make sure that person has built successful websites with features similar to your own vision. That way, you know they have the right skills for your startup. An inefficient coder will take a long time to launch the site, wasting time by making minor changes and fixing bugs. You will lose valuable time and potentially miss the opportunity to capitalize on first-to-market advantages.

2. Launch Your Product Site Quickly

Sometimes you’ll encounter a last-minute opportunity to add features to your product. However, this can delay the launch. You might consider it worth the wait, especially if the added features will further engage customers. However, make sure to launch as soon as possible with the critical functionality. You can always make later changes to improve your site and product. Furthermore, you’ll be able to start gathering valuable feedback from your customers. If you’re insecure about a hasty launch, let customers know they’re viewing the beta version of the site, and they can expect improvements soon.

3. Identify Your Users

If you’re developing a product, make sure you truly understand the needs of your end users. You might assume that potential customers are seeking your particular solution, only to discover after launch that your product might be too expensive or doesn’t precisely repair the problem. Make sure that you take some time to understand exactly what your users need, and what they are willing to pay for.

4. Don’t Target a Small Niche

Solving a problem for a targeted niche is not a bad idea — the smaller the niche, the less competition you may face. The downside is that you might not gain enough users to render a profit. Make sure to perform market research to understand the scale of consumers interested in your product. Also, plan to expand the niche once you service its need. When you evolve your original idea into adjacent markets, you will increase the probability of exponential growth.

5. Raise Enough Money the First Time

As most startups know, determining how much money to raise is difficult. Raising enough money in your seed round will carry your business through inevitable growing pains and redesigns, but it’s important to retain enough money to develop the final product your users will love. You don’t want to spend all your time convincing investors to sign that next check that will keep the company afloat. Investors would rather you spend it further developing the business and getting them a timely return on investment. You want to raise enough money initially so that you can hit a major milestone and have something to show investors.

6. Don’t Waste Money

As obvious as this one sounds, startups waste money every day. They often overspend on things that can wait until later, or on a tool that doesn’t get them the expected results. By outsourcing a variety of activities, however, startups are now becoming less expensive to launch.

One area in which startups waste money is hiring too many employees too fast. You need to make sure you can fill up the entire day of each (indispensable) employee. Early on, only hire people who add required functionality that cannot be fulfilled by current staff. You should also determine whether a person can be hired as a short-term, temporary resource (i.e. outsourcing), or whether hiring a full-time employee is the right, long-term solution. Employee salaries contribute to high overhead expenses, and should be carefully controlled at the beginning of a successful startup.

7. Have Multiple Co-Founders

A startup can be very time-consuming. Although you envisioned its concept, you may lack the required skills to launch your idea into reality. Therefore, divide the work among trusted partners with necessary skills sets, and be able to bounce ideas off each other freely.

Dave McClure states that the ideal startup has a hacker, a hustler and a designer. The hacker can code, the hustler brings in the business, and the designer architects the concept to make it appealing to a consumer or investor. You may have one or all of these skills, but often not enough time in the day to wear all of the hats. If you can’t convince a co-founder to come on board and fill a role, it may be a red flag that your idea needs tweaking.

8. All Or Nothing

We’ve all heard the saying “don’t quit your day job, kid,” but in the world of startups, any time spent focused on outside tasks is an opportunity for competitors to beat you to market. You need to focus all your time on your startup if you want it to succeed. And this may mean quitting your day job.

If you’re building a product, targeting customers, and trying to attract investors all in your spare time, you don’t have your priorities lined up. If you dedicate all your time to your startup, you will have more drive to successfully get it to market, because now your livelihood depends on it.

This list doesn’t guarantee that you will succeed, but it will give you some benchmarks to compare yourself against. Can you think of any additional characteristics that successful startups have going for them? If so, leave them in the comments.

Source: Mashable

Posted in Advices.

Airbnb takes on Europe. Will it revolutionize the industry, again?

Three years ago, Airbnb was a tiny startup that no investor wanted to touch. Whether not returning emails, or providing a flat out, “No” the San Francisco based firm had a “snowball’s chance in hell” of getting out of the gate. According to co-founder Brian Chesky, noted angel investor Paul Graham, “even thought it was a terrible idea.”

Airbnb is an online marketplace for renting private or commercial living space that ranges from apartments and rooms to hotels and futons. The site encourages users to post any kind of accommodation, and solicits user reviews while allowing for property verification and secure transactions.

Fast forward three years, and you’ll find a flourishing organization with 130,000+ listings in over 15,000 cities in 184 countries around the globe, with 1.9 million bookings having passed through Airbnb’s doors. Since successfully attracting the likes of Sequoia Capital and Greylock Partners, as well as a handful of others including Ashton Kutcher, Airbnb saw a growth rate of over 800% between January 2010 and January 2011. It’s exactly this type of growth that’s fueling rumors of a $100 million round of funding, and a $1 billion valuation.

With the recent acquisition of Hamburg, Germany based Accoleo, Airbnb is clearly signaling that it’s ready to take its user-experience focused business model to the European market.

Airbnb offices in EuropeIn the 6 weeks since the acquisition, former Accoleo employees have been on a tear; first becoming a part of the Airbnb family (and all the SFO based training that goes with it), returning to Germany to open the company’s first official European office, and finally, recruiting a hand picked selection of city representatives from some 400+ applications. The firm now has local representation on the ground in 10 cities across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, with offices established in Berlin, Munich and Vienna in addition to the Hamburg HQ.

With more than 60% of Airbnb’s revenue generated outside the U.S. market, founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk recognized the need for expansion and localization. Much more than just translators, the Hamburg office of Airbnb has marketing and programming autonomy, allowing them to interact with consumers not only in a language they speak everyday, but in a culture they live everyday. Germany country manager Gunnar Froh adds that they’re building up an infrastructure that is much larger than the German speaking market, and expects that rollouts to other countries across Europe will follow the same localized model.

One of Airbnb’s most successful actions is to do what co-founder Brian Chesky calls “the unscalable,” meaning, getting out and meeting face-to-face with hosts that have listed their property on the platform. Sticking true to this formula, Airbnb hosted its first European meetup at the betahaus in Berlin approximately 2 weeks ago. To kick things off with a bang, both Chesky and Blecharczyk were in attendance. Approximately 70 hosts attended the presentation/Q&A/networking event, with a number of helpful ideas surfacing on how to further localize and improve Airbnb for the European market.

Coming up next week, the Hamburg office is hosting a dinner-cruise boat tour for the most active hosts in the city, offering them the opportunity to not only share their experiences with Airbnb directly, but with other hosts, further building a community of enthusiastic brand ambassadors.

And while Airbnb might be enjoying its initial EU kickoff, that’s not to say that it’s alone in the European market. The Samwer brothers, a trio infamous for their clone/poach/resell tactics (eBay, Groupon) have recently launched Wimdu, as well as Chinese sister site Irizu; and Yelp imitator Qype founder Stephan Uhrenbacher has launched 9Flats. According to Froh, Airbnb has looked into a number of issues, even consulting with a German law firm, but at the end of the day, has decided not to focus on the imitators and put its energy towards product innovation and customer experience.

Airbnb Germany Country Manager Gunnar Froh“When you go to headquarters in San Francisco, it’s quite striking what people are working on there. The product that we have right now is nice, but it’s not the final product, and it’s going to change a lot over the next couple of months. And this is where all that effort goes.

Airbnb is the sort of Mac of this market. In many cases people just want to buy a Mac due to the user experience. They absolutely like the product, and they don’t care that another computer will work just as well, they simply want the quality of design and a better experience.”

Germany country manager Gunnar Froh

The European branch of Airbnb is setting out to establish the best customer support experience possible. It has registered a 1-800 number for the German market which is expected to go live within days, and the customer support modus operandi is true to Airbnb’s roots. The German market call center is sitting in the same building as operations and not outsourced to a ‘support farm’. Likewise, Airbnb agents are not measured on how much time they spend on the phone with an individual in order to resolve the issue. Agents are fully briefed, and have a large degree of flexibility when it comes to resolving the conflict. “The first book on excellence in customer support was written about Amazon. We want the next book to be written about Airbnb,” comments Froh.

Further tying into the overall user experience, Froh points to the Facebook integration that went live at the beginning of May this year. “This is just a glimpse of something we’re developing that will come out soon,” says Froh. The Airbnb Social Connections tool allows you to plug the service into your social graph via Facebook Connect, giving you instant access to over 32 million connections between users, providing real-human opinions about a host or property. “Apart from usability, trust is one of the most important issues. Trust that people will actually book, or accept a booking. The social connections established on Facebook are a proxy for the degree of trust that you can have in a person.”

Froh also referenced credit scores in the past, and how they were and are used as a metric when it comes to fiscal responsibility and overall credit worthiness. He says that in today’s sharing economy, perhaps only those with a certain ‘trust score’ would have access to certain items, or that those with a high trust score could be paying different rates with an individual with a low trust score. This score would be calculated in part through Facebook, which is why Airbnb is already collaborating with the Palo Alto based social network in creating a network that transcends the online world and has real value in the physical world.

Airbnb was by no means an overnight success. It launched more than once, and over the course of three years, has begun a massive shift in the way individuals approach traveling. With success comes imitation, and it’s refreshing to see that Airbnb is taking the legal high road, letting clones clone, and imitators imitate, all the while staying true to its roots, and striving to deliver the best possible experience, bar none. And if Froh’s hints at upcoming technological advancements are any indication, Airbnb could be poised to revolutionize the industry. Again.


Posted in Uncategorized.

Google acquires social network, The Fridge

The social network Fridge announced that it has been bought by Google and would become part of the internet giant’s fresh new social network Google+.

In a post on its blog, Fridge announced that it was closing, and its staff would be “folded into” the Google+ team. Fridge had previously announced to its users they were “in the process of making some changes” and that planning “to to shut down our product”.

According to the post, Fridge was looking forward to continuing the vision of creating exciting “social group experiences across the web” and that their team” strongly believes in the group social experience and couldn’t think of a better place to realize our vision” than with Google+.

As pointed out on CNet’s analysis on the surprising acquisition, “It’s an interesting move for Google+, whose signature feature is its circles, which are managed by each person rather than as collaborative groups”, which is how Fridge worked.

According to AFP, there were reportedly 20 000 groups on Fridge and it had some 40 000 users monthly.

To those users, Fridge said in it’s post, “We heard you loud and clear over the weekend,[when they announced they were closing] so we’re expanding the time during which your Fridge data will be available for offloading. While you will no longer be able to post anything new to Fridge, you will still be able to download and save your data until Saturday August 20, 2011″.

As is the norm with Google’s acqisitions financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, however, according to a 2010 report on Techcrunch, Fridge had, at that time, raised some US$500 000 in funding from angel investors.

However, in the haste of shutting down and being “folded into Google+”, as the post said, it would seem Fridge — at the time of writing — had forgotten to take down it’s YouTube videos explaining “What is Fridge”.

In both — only the first can be verified as being an “official” Fridge video as it is posted on the Fridge website — along with pointing out that “my groups in the Fridge are totally private, so only certain people can see certain groups,” it goes on to say, “My family, friends, and I, can share whatever we want, without worrying about other people or groups seeing it. Not that random person from school, not Google, and especially not my boss”.

The second video, goes on to say, “on the Fridge, you can choose to be good or as naughty as you want without having to be afraid of your mom, boss, or even Google finding out about those crazy party times”.

Quoted by AFP, a spokesperson for Google in part said “the Fridge team shares our vision”.


Source: memeburn

Posted in Uncategorized.

Hadoop & Startups: Where Open Source Meets Business Data

This guest post was written by Kovas Boguta, Head of Analytics at Weebly. In 2009, Kovas wrote a guest post about visualizing real-time social structures.

A decade ago, the open-source LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Python) stack began to transform web startup economics. As new open-source webservers, databases, and web-friendly programming languages liberated developers from proprietary software and big iron hardware, startup costs plummeted. This lowered the barrier to entry, changed the startup funding game, and led to the emergence of the current Angel/Seed funding ecosystem. In addition, of course, to enabling a generation of webapps we all use everyday.

This same process is now unfolding in the Big Data space, with an open-source ecosystem centered around Hadoop displacing the expensive, proprietary solutions. Startups are creating more intelligent businesses and more intelligent products as a result. And perhaps even more importantly, this technological movement has the potential to blur the sharp line between traditional business and traditional web startups, dramatically expanding the playing field for innovation.


Even a modestly successful startup has a user base comparable in population to nation-states. The resultant mass of user data creates problems and opportunities. Problems because understanding the value of every user and transaction becomes more complex. Opportunities because the collective intelligence of the population can be leveraged into better user experiences.

Until just a year or two ago, analyzing this scale of data required the same kind of enterprise solutions that LAMP was created to avoid. Multiyear, multimillion dollar deals with the likes of IBM, Oracle, and Teradata. Of course, almost no startup can afford that kind of expense. Furthermore, the closed-source technological pedigree of these solutions makes them incompatible with startup engineering knowledge and culture.

Enter Hadoop. Hadoop solves these data processing problems in a way that is both startup-compatible, and technologically superior. As an open-source project developed by and for engineers, it’s very practical and squarely in the mainstream of startup engineering practice. And its architecture of map-reducing across of a cluster of commodity nodes is more flexible and cost effective than traditional data warehouses.

Given the pent-up demand, it’s no surprise then that Hadoop is blowing up. To see how an open-source project is doing, the first thing you do is look at the developer mailing list traffic. If you gather all the Hadoop-related mailing lists and plot the number of messages, you get the classic hockey stick growth curve:

In today’s world, it’s not much of a stretch to say that the future of technology is shaped by developer adoption. As more engineers and more startups adopt Hadoop, its capabilities are becoming a default assumption when designing the products and businesses of the future.


At the high-level, there are 3 areas where Hadoop is finding application in today’s startups: 1) Analysis of customer behavior, 2) Powering new user-facing features, and 3) Enabling entire new lines of business that were previously out of reach.

Eventbrite is an example where Hadoop is powering new user-facing features. The rapidly-growing events service lets organizers manage and promote their events, and helps users find relevant events to attend. To help grow the company faster, their data services team is using Hadoop to feed intelligence in, under the hood, into various parts of the product. For example, a recommendation system helps users find relevant events, and an automated classification system helps reduce user friction for creating new events.

At Weebly, we’ve deployed Hadoop to get measures of customer value — which users are going to bring in the most revenue, and how can we most effectively target them? This is a fairly complex calculation, involving many factors and data sources. With Hadoop, we can say “Let’s just compute it.”

A final category of usage is startups built from the ground up on Hadoop. Backtype, a marketing intelligence platform, is perhaps the archetype of the new species of startup made possible by Hadoop. The team of three engineers run its operation, consisting of over 25 terabytes of data and 60 servers for data processing, serving the dashboard UI, and providing data APIs to other companies. The industry incumbents have a huge investment in teetering older architectures, with little chance of matching Backtype’s iteration cycle.


Despite Hadoop’s utility, the predictable backlash has claimed it is overhyped, pointing to shortcomings like ease of use, ability to process realtime data, limitations of map-reduce for social graph data, etc. But this is like criticizing LAMP for PHP’s ugliness before Ruby on Rails took the stage, or MySQL’s scalability issues before Memcached sidestepped them.

The key to understanding Hadoop’s significance is that it’s not just a specific piece of technology, but a movement of developers trying to collectively solve the Big Data problems of their organizations. As the Hadoop growth curves illustrate, the technological foundation for a data-oriented open-source ecosystem has been laid, and a family of related technology is starting to emerge. Exactly in the same way Rails, Memcached and arguably even the Cloud emerged from the LAMP movement.

Already, HBase is rapidly gaining credibility as a realtime processing system, while efforts like Spark point to generalized architectures that can handle tasks like network analysis. And on the usability front, Cloudera has done much to simplify installation and administration, though more opportunities remain.

What is most remarkable is how the startup world is collectively creating this ecosystem: Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a whole slew of earlier-stage companies are very actively contributing to the tool chain. This illustrates a new thesis or collective wisdom emerging from the Valley: If a technology is not your core value-add, it should be open-sourced because then others can improve it, and potential future employees can learn it. This rising tide has lifted all boats, and is just getting started.


There is an iron curtain in today’s tech world, separating startupland from the enterprise. Two technological ecosystems, engineering practices, and ultimately assumptions about what kinds of businesses are possible. But with Hadoop, startups are now creating substantial innovations on what is essentially business data, creating a common platform highly relevant to both worlds.

Hadoop is the ultimate trojan horse in enterprise IT. It strikes at the heart of business — the data — in a way that adds value immediately, while setting the stage for viral growth in the future, connecting the two ecosystems and the technological and cultural levels. The potential end result: a greatly expanded playing field for future startups, and cheaper, more flexible, and more relevant
solutions for the enterprise.

From the beginnings of computing, enterprise IT has ultimately been about the data. But the Kafka-esque proliferation of proprietary solutions and solutions to the solutions has made innovating on business data nearly impossible. You might have a better mousetrap, but you’re toast if it doesn’t “integrate”.

So who is going to integrate Hadoop in the enterprise? Amazingly, it’s the vendors themselves. Partially because of the hype, and partially because of real advantages in areas like unstructured data processing, the vendors are falling over themselves getting Hadoop-branded solutions to market. See for example EMC’s line of Hadoop data appliances, and IBM’s Hadoopified Big Insights platform. A Hadoop arm’s race appears to be well underway.

And now the key point: Hadoop adoption in the enterprise provides a hook for the rest of the open-source ecosystem, from data analysis, to web and mobile technologies, to the engineering talent pool. With a standardized Hadoop integration point, one can just download the Yahoo Latent Dirichlet Allocation code from Github and start datamining customer support emails. Or customize the Hive frontend for business analysts. Or use HBase to coordinate realtime dataflow between divisions. Or connect the data backend to any number of web or mobile applications. This massive catalog of open source software and hugely talented pool of developers can be “integrated with” via Hadoop.

In short, Hadoop has the potential to make the enterprise compatible with the entire rest of the open-source and startup world, by starting with the data and then extending out to the rest of the family tree, from the web, to the cloud, to mobile, to best practices for software engineering management. For once you can systematically manipulate the data, you have the keys to the kingdom.

Posted in Lessons.

Digital marketing: Next steps for startups

Promoting your startup effectively is a critical step towards ensuring that your business makes it from being a big idea to a well known and self-sustaining concern.

In a previous article, on Digital Marketing and what startups need to get right from the start, I mentioned that building a new business is like caring for a baby. Now it’s time to teach your baby to walk!

Once you have completed the initial steps in marketing your business online, it is time to get serious about the next two steps and make sure that your business has legs. The initial steps are:

  • Website
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Pay Per Click Marketing (PPC)

This is not to say that the first steps are complete and you can forget about them and move on; but rather that you should now build on to your existing marketing arsenal.

Content and social media are incredibly intertwined and they must work together with every other aspect of your digital marketing strategy in order to be as effective as possible.

The following two important aspects of digital marketing will help to ensure the longevity of your fledgling business in the digital environment:


Web content is critical to convincing your potential customers that they need to use your product to make their lives better and solve their problems. There are five key things that content must have in order to make it compelling:

  • It needs to be able to tell a story
  • Make sure that you are invested in your content
  • It must add value to the reader
  • Include a price tag or value proposition
  • Be a timeless as possible as great content does not date

Further to being compelling to human audiences, your website content must be equally compelling to search engines.

It is appropriate content, combined with the other ranking factors, that will ensure that your website ranks highly in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS).

Social Media

The new buzz word of the marketing world. Social media has very quickly become the “go to” aspect of marketing and it definitely does deserve to be there. Ideally for new businesses the major platforms to explore would be : LinkedIn; Facebook and Twitter. Each of these social networks have their own idiosyncrasies and a cookie cutter, “one size fits all” approach does not work.

Facebook audiences respond incredibly well to promotions and competitions, while Twitter is ideal for quickly sharing short bursts of compelling content and having that content shared again and again.

LinkedIn on the other hand is a true business network where you can highlight and profile a specific set of skills that will ultimately allow prospective clients to trust you (especially if you are selling a service). You can also create a business profile where your specific services/products can be highlighted and promoted on LinkedIn.

How does a business properly harness content and social media?

The key take away from this is context. There needs to be context in what you are saying on your site and on your social media platforms.

This context is what makes your content relevant to your audience; and it is this relevance that is the first step to converting them into customers.

As a business you need to understand your potential customers frame of reference and then construct your content around this. This is how context is built.

The working together of your website, SEO, PPC, content and social media profiles are a recipe for digital marketing success and will ensure that you as a business owner are able to raise your baby from being a fragile new born through to a brave and exploratory toddler. There are many more aspects which are equally important in ensuring the success of your business; but these foundation steps are critical.


Posted in Lessons.

Justin.TV: The Movie

While the historical accuracy of Facebook tell-all The Social Network was questionable, the movie did tremendously well at the box office. And at the Golden Globe Awards and the Oscars. Now Hollywood producers are looking for the next big story around a tech company. Next up—Justin.TV.

LA-based production company Riche Productions has bought the rights to the story behind the development and founding of live video streaming startup Justin.TV. For background, the startup was founded by Justin Kan, Michael Seibel, Kyle Vogt and Emmett Shear, who were all buddies from college (Vogt went to MIT, the others graduated from Yale).

Prior to starting Justin.TV Kan and Shear founded an online calendar program Kiko, and even got funding from Y Combinator. Unfortunately the product failed and the pair sold the business on eBay for around $250,000.

Justin.TV got its start back in 2007 as Kan livecasted his life with a camera hooked up to a backpack that was loaded with batteries and modems, letting thousands of viewers watch his every move. It was basically the beginning of the live stream era. Even the Today Show took notice of Kan’s stunt .

Flash forwards four years, the Y Combinator-backed company has become one of the most popular live streaming platforms on the web. And Justin.TV has spawned a few businesses, including an Instagram for video, Socialcam, and a live-streamed gaming portal. You can watch our TC Cribs feature on Justin.TV’s office here.

So why did Riche Productions, which has produced Starsky and Hutch, Family Man, Bride Wars, and many other blockbuster movies, choose to buy the rights to the story of Justin.TV out of the thousands of other successful tech startups that have been launched by college kids? Peter Riche tells us in an exclusive interview that compared to some of the previous movies that have profiled tech startups (i.e. The Social Network), he wanted to find a story where success in the entrepreneurial tech world has helped bring founder friendships closer (as opposed to spurring lawsuits).

It’s true—despite the complications of founding a startup, and dealing with all of the challenges that fledgling businesses face in the tech space; Kan, Seibel, Vogt and Shear all remain close friends. And all are still actively a part of the company and involved in its day-today activities and development.

Riche says he still isn’t sure what will make sense for Justin.TV in terms of the format of a piece; and his company is evaluating whether a movie or TV show make sense.

While it’s impressive that the Justin.TV guys have been able to grow their friendship despite being on the roller coaster of creating and sustaining a startup, I have to wonder whether this would make a movie that would have the same appeal as The Social Network. I’m no filmmaker or screenwriter, but drama and conflict does seem important in developing a quality, dimensional film.

As my colleague Alexia Tsotsis wrote in her initial review of The Social Network, the movie was built around heavily dramatized controversy and the exposure of the cold, calculating (and fictional) Mark Zuckerberg. Despite the fact that Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of the story included inaccuracies and fictional story lines, the drama, ruthless characters and arrogance were all part of what made the movie so fascinating to the mainstream public.

On the other hand, considering Riche’s experience in producing comedies, a comedic movie or TV adaptation of Justin.TV’s story could be interesting.

Would you watch a TV show or movie based around the Justin.TV story?

Posted in Founder Stories.

Startups Must Patch Their Holes — 4 Skill Sets To Help Do Just That

A good entrepreneur is always an optimist by nature. He or she must also be a realist, which is not always a characteristic that comes naturally to us entrepreneurs.


Entrepreneurs often fall into the trap of thinking we are without weakness and that we are able to cover all the needs that may arise when forming a startup. However this is never the case.

One of the key first tasks of entrepreneurs starting an online business must be to identify weaknesses and form strategies on how to overcome them.

The best way to patch weaknesses is by bringing in others.

To turn an online startup into an internet empire, a great number of things need to go right. Each of these components require an expertise that can only be acquired with the right talent on board.

Here are some of the key skillsets for which a patch may be required:

  1. Engineering: I still meet people ‘learning to code’ in order to build their online empire. Forget about it! Either hire the talent, make the talent vested partners, or see angel developers.
  2. Marketing: Marketers are a special breed of human. They see PR opportunities while ‘on the job’ that you cannot replicate by reading a Marketing 101 book. If you do not have that ‘knack’, you must find it either through hire or bringing in a vested partner with that talent.
  3. Sales/Business Development: If your product requires a sales drive and you have never sold before, be honest with yourself and acquire the talent via hire or partnering with somebody with the ability to sell.
  4. Leadership: This is the hardest ‘hole’ for entrepreneurs to admit they have; the ability to lead. Every entrepreneur wants to be the owner of their idea, however this does not mean they are born to be the CEO of their startup. Identifying the gap of leadership requires deep soul-searching, but my advice is if you see that this is a hole in your armor, do not let it drag your business down. Some of the brightest entrepreneurs in the world sit on their boards and hire CEOs to lead their projects.

I have not met a superhuman who can cover all the aforementioned skillsets. Some of the leaders in business, such as Donald Trump and Richard Branson, put their success down to surrounding themselves with the right people.

Bringing in others is the best way to maximize a startup’s chances of success.

How do we do this?

You can bring in others by identifying which of your weaknesses they can plug, and paying them a consultancy fee (usually hourly) to consult your startup. Or hire them part- or full-time.

Alternatively, you can offer these experts some ownership in your startup in exchange for a more lasting consultancy.

My preference is for the latter. While you lose some ownership in your business, you gain a person (or people) with a vested interest in your startup. This means they are more likely to want to see it succeed than if they were a paid consultant giving one-off advice.

Most entrepreneurs I meet as CEO of KAYWEB Angels aren’t trying to build a $10,000 business. They are trying to build multi-million dollar empires.

When playing with sums that large, what pain is there in losing a few per cent equity if what it brings you is an expertise that may help you reach your desired bottom line?

Posted in Lessons.