Posts tagged startup
Posts tagged startup
So this weekend I am working on a few thing:
1. The email blast for next week - based on the state that our users live in
The thing that I have learned about this campaign is NOT to make it seem as though we are asking for money. It is necessary to appeal to people on the basis that they have the chance to participate in something important - something big that is being built.
2. Email outreach to bloggers that we have worked with in the past. In return for spreading the news about our campaign we will offer them some of the cool giveaways that we have built into the campaign.
3. An article on women in tech who are currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo
So - this is exciting. Today I read an article by @usertesting - Steven MacDonald on UserTesting.com
And in it he mentions www.ScreenPopper.com so I’ve built a pop up to direct our traffic to the Indiegogo Campaign that we are running. We get a lot of traffic on our site and I being able to send any of it to the Indiegogo site would be a good win for us and might boost our GOGO Rating which would mean Indiegogo would feature our campaign - which would be a huge bonus and help drive our eventual success.
I’m really excited about seeing how the ScreenPopper might affect our campaign. The site has a free trial so I have tried that out. If it works well - it might make perfect sense for us to use it in other ways on our site as well. They have a very cool option that lets you put a tab on the side of the screen and I think we might use that to push out coupon codes for affiliates on our site. We’re an affiliate for Diapers.com which is a great site for our users, and being able to send them there with a coupon code could be a really good thing. My mind is already swimming with things that we might do with it.
What else have I done in the past few days? We got an answer from our local Westfield Patch.com editor and she asked us some questions about our fundraising campaign. Hopefully they will carry and article on our campaign and that might help too.
So - we’ve still got high hopes for this - as we close in on 35 days.
What did I do today?
Alright - well - I can see how people say that once you launch a crowdfunding campaign your whole life revolves around it.
So today (after I did my first full time job, my second part time job - welcome to the life of a single mom entrepreneur!) I spent time doing the following:
1. Adding advertisements to our site for the campaign. I swapped out all of our affiliate ads for ads pointing to our Indiegogo campaign - highlighting everything from our giveaways to just making small $dollar donations.
2. Tweaked two major email pushes we are making.
One to Investors
One to bloggers
We’ll be sending these out on Monday and Tuesday. We use Mailchimp (which I love), and then we’ll include personal messages on the emails as well.
3. Sent out a Facebook post (on my personal page). I’ll also use one of the ads as a photo on a Facebook update to our Hatchedit.com users
4. I also have a good plan using the Networking tool that is part of Twitter app Embedle. I’ve been wanting to try this feature out for some time and THIS is the perfect opportunity!
CONFESSION: Yesterday was New Year’s Eve and I didn’t really do much of anything to promote the campaign.
BUT - today - I worked on an update letter to send to all of the people we reached out to over the past year regarding funding and investing in Hatchedit.com.
We have met with a few people and pitched at quite a few venture capital events. We have also made use of investor sites such as AngelList.com. The thought is that we will send those people a 2013 Year End Review of our Accomplishments along with the information on our New Project and the Indiegogo Fundraising Campaign.
I LOVE customer service interactions.
Tonight I got to speak on the phone with one of our users. That is always a BLAST for me.
It still blows my mind anytime I speak with an actual Hatchedit.com user.
How amazing to have built a product that people find a use for in their life.
Nothing more potent and addicting than knowing that you are providing a service that people need.
Thanks Hatchedit.com users!!!
I was watching Project Runway All Stars last week (on DVR - not sure when it aired) - and yes - I am admitting that sometimes I DVR Project Runways - look - there’s not a TON to choose from on tv…
Anyway - this one episode claimed that the show was going to have DIGITAL INTERACTION with the audience. Well that perked my ears up. Sounds cool.
I wonder what they are going to do?
What would the Jetsons be doing to interact with Project Runway?? (because please if you are going to tout yourselves as having a digital interaction with your audience - you really better Jetson the hell out of me).
They would pick pictures sent in by viewers. The interactive part is that the pictures would be sent in through Twitter (which wouldn’t even let you send in an artsy Instagram filtered photo now anyway). SIGH.
They may as well have told us to mail the pictures in. So much for digital interaction.
Its been a long day.
Its been a lot of long days.
Entreprenuriship is definitely glamorous.
It was a typical day.
Wake up - shower, dress, get kid to school
Remember to give her lots of cash. For lunch money. For afterschool snack. For taxi service to tennis lesson. For dinner at tennis club.
Make taxi reservation.
Drop her tennis stuff off at my sister’s house so she has it afterschool.
Go to starbucks. Order Venti Mocha.
Kill 30 minutes reviewing emails and site stats.
Try to order breakfast sandwich - learn deli is not serving breakfast.
Go to work (and by work I mean the temp job I do 40 hours a week to keep food on the table!)
Eat sleeve of ritz crackers for lunch.
Drive through bumper to bumper traffic to Hoboken.
Attend NJ Tech Meetup group.
Smile and chat with people during networking session.
Tweet brilliant angel investor’s talk.
Hoof it back to car and drive 30 minutes home.
Spend 5 minutes of quality time with kid.
Eat leftover quesadilla that kid didn’t finish for dinner. (silently berate myself for not yet going to supermarket to replenish food lost to Hurricane Sandy 12 day power outage).
Work on site stuff.
Put together info for pitch to brands.
Procrastinate working on white paper.
Decide to write Tumblr post.
Take picture for post. Spend 5 minutes lamenting how my fat knees look. (How does one get fat knees when all one has eaten all day is a coffee, a sleeve of ritz, and two pieces of leftover chicken quesadilla????)
Procrastinate on going to bed because I’m just going to lay there thinking of the million and one things I should be working on.
Hope to get 6 hours of sleep before I do it again.
You know why I will do it again? Because I love it.
You know how I can do it again? Because I helped build www.hatchedit.com the very site that as a mom - lets me stay organized and coordinated with my support network.
I consider myself very lucky. I was able to flee to my parents house last Wednesday after the Hurricane hit and have been warm and comfortable in their house waiting for electricity and heat to be restored to my apartment in Springfield.
However, having 5 days with nothing to do and not much planned is not ideal when you are an entrepreneur and are chomping at the bit to get USERS USERS USERS!!!
So - I sat here, made a list and tackled everything I could in the downtime - rather than be tempted by all of the soap operas my mom has had running on the television. Hopefully this may give someone else some ideas of things that can be done in downtime.
1. Create a new video.
I used Powerpoint and Camtasia to create the below video which we will swap out with our old one and use on our landing page. I think it looks pretty sleek! I bought the music online pretty cheap, and bought all of the images on iPhoto (I’m paranoid about copyright infringements - and I’m also an artist that likes to play by the book when it comes to other artists’ work). The music site I found was pretty damned cool - melodyloops.
Pretty cool right?
I’m also working on some step-by-step videos for some areas on the site that need better “how to” prompting. Videos are hard because they really require a person to sit down and think it out and create and edit at a few hours a clip. You can’t really just do it for a few minutes at a time - so this hurricane refugee thing really worked well on forcing me to sit still and get this all worked out.
Also - FYI - it took quite a few tries to get “right”. At first I had a lot of wordy voiceover talking. But then - I thought about my filmmaking roots (NYU TISCH Grad here!) and everyone knows you only use voiceover when your story or imagery is weak. So I rethought all of the imagery and found we didnt’ really need the voiceover at all for this video. (Although I will do voiceovers for the briefer “How To” videos) And isn’t that music great?
2. SEO your YouTube Account - I went back in to our videos on our YouTube channel and tried to really make them more search engine friendly. Re-tagged them and put in our new lingo.
3. Brush up on your social media skills. This weekend I learned all about buying youtube views as well. We’re experimenting with that - we’ll see what happens. I find all of this very interesting. And heck - its cheap - so we’ll see. I will take it with a grain of salt now if anyone ever tells me a video of theirs has gotten 100k views. Because you can get that for about $100!!
I am also taking the time to try and be more vigilant about interacting with our Facebook followers - and using Embedle.com to upload interesting stories to my Twitter feed.
4. Check your Brand. How are your branding efforts doing? Thinking about tweaking some things? Take some time to sit down and really think about what should define you to your users. Then go back and see if your wording on the site and in social media - matches what you want your brand perception to be.
5. Press - go through and organize press contacts and your press outreach plan. I’m also working on the release of a big white paper later this week (although I’m procrastinating like a mofo on actually writing the damned thing!). But I can procrastinate through organizing the press outreach and then its not so bad. :)
We just returned from Bloggy Conference (#bloggycon), which was held at the Hyatt in Downtown Cincinnati from Thursday September 27-Saturday September 29th. After doing a number of conferences this year, we have become used to large crowds, loud noises, and generally needing nothing shy of a full fireworks display to grab the attention of attendees. So, this conference was quite a welcome change up for Megan and I – as we shared the sponsorship space with only a handful of other great brands, and had time to speak with almost every attendee one on one. Wow. That’s a pretty amazing experience.
Don’t get me wrong – large conferences are great, and a lot of fun. But for a sponsor introducing a new company – or even a new product/brand – it is very important to make some sort of actual contact with people in order to tell them about what it is you are selling (or in our case giving away for FREE!). And even if there are a few thousand attendees at an event – you still can physically only talk to a certain amount. So at some point it does become more about the quality of the conversations than about the quantity of conversations – especially if that is what is important to you.
Our initial thoughts after leaving Cincinnati and BloggyCon? We felt that the interactions we had with attendees were possibly more valuable than other conferences we attended. This was because we had the chance to meet with tech savvy women (who also tend to be the mom-influencers within their social circles), and to walk them through how Hatchedit.com works. Additionally, we had time to ask each person about their blog, their life, their home situation so that we could show them different ways that Hatchedit.com might help make their life easier.
Homeschooling? Hatchedit.com is a great way to organize lesson plans and keep track of assignments and projects.
Special Needs Child? Coordinating doctors’ appointments is an enormous part of juggling those extra responsibilities. And for some of these moms – who are also businesswomen, they really need a tool that lets them manage their family schedules (including making changes) from the road. Once you show a mom how she can input information on her calendar or on a to do list of medicine dosages and know that grandma, or dad or the sitter who is at home will also see them – the smile on her face will light up your entire day.
Married? No Kids? Sometimes I feel bad about the fact that we target moms because it’s the user group that makes the most sense to reach first in getting our product out and into the public eye. We conceived of Hatchedit.com before Megan actually gave birth to her little Miss M – and she saw how it would fulfill a need in her life trying to coordinate her schedule with her husband’s. Instead of sending each other invitations to individual events (like the invitation to the Saturday golf she actually wasn’t really ever being invited to!) through Outlook (where you still can’t see your spouses calendar) they could have both populated the Hatchedit.com calendar and seen what the other had planned – and probably avoided a lot of arguments.
Not Married? No Kids? – We were able to speak with more than one person who wasn’t married – but as I like to point out – everyone has family somewhere. Realizing that a heavy travel schedule for work, might be something your mom may want to track even if she lives far away…or being able to see what siblings or nieces and nephews are up to can make people feel more connected to their families especially as we all feel like we are getting busier every day. Sending invitations and coordinating workouts or girls’ night out with friends is even easier if you are all sharing calendars!
Single Parent? Divorced? Chances are you are coordinating a custody schedule somewhere – and chances are even higher that custody schedule is causing a lot of unnecessary arguments. Being able to give another parent the ability to see what is going on in kids’ lives means there is no more “well your mother/father didn’t tell me about that” argument to be made. If your kids are older, and they have a Hatchedit.com account it also gives them the chance to be more proactive in managing a schedule between two households too.
At Bloggy Conference, with plenty of time to really delve into people’s lives I had conversations around each and every one of these situations. Those conversations also gave us some great ideas for other groups that might find a real niche use for Hatchedit.com
We really had a great time, and found enormous value in a user base that was so willing to listen to us, connect with us, and give us great feedback on what they need in their lives.
Thanks ladies of Bloggy Con!
Okay - I admit it - I was totally slacking.
Our FAQ page looked like CRAP. (I really should have taken a before picture). But TRUST me.
It was all WORDS!
I love words, but had I been a new user, I too would have thought - crap - if they have this much to tell me about how to use the site - I’m scared already.
In fact, according to our Google Analytics report an astounding 89% of new visitors DROPPED OFF the site after visiting the FAQ page.
So I spent the day doing a big revamp.
Now we SHOW - we Don’t tell.
I tried to keep it light. Fun. Pretty. Like our site.
I’m sure I can keep tweaking and improving it with time.
I’m also going to do a series of 30 second videos (30 seconds! that’s gonna be TOUGH!) and include those in different areas of the site when people might need to see all of the ways that they can leverage HATCHEDit.
Who says there is EVER a SLOW Time?
To See our FAQ page - go HERE
LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!
Well - its a damned good thing I stopped to smell the roses over the weekend at BlogHer - because this week the shit hit the fan in the personal aspects of my business life, and it feels like the whole world is collapsing around me.
Thankfully - that is not true.
Thankfully - our immediate reaction is never to give up - but to figure out how to best survive.
Thankfully - my family kicks ass.
But the reality is - my personal $$ flow is out. Nada. Nilch. Zippo. Zilch.
That’s a tough nut to face. I mean - if I were a twentysomething - I’d shrug it off, buy some Ramen and couch surf.
But I’m not 20. I’m 41. And my kid hates to couch surf even though - that looks to be exactly what we will do.
Wonder why there aren’t more women entrepreneurs out there?
Entrepreneurship has better results when you have experience.
When you have experience - you are older.
When you are older - you tend to have more responsibilities.
When you have responsibilities it is harder to look them in the eye and say - “no”.
So the shit has hit the fan.
But we will get through it. Things are really just starting to gel - so while I am crumbling a bit on the inside - it is not a full on meltdown - because as bad as it is - I feel crazy optimistic at what the future holds.
My kid on the other hand - who faces the prospect of switching schools 3 weeks before the fall semester may not be quite as optimistic as me.
But when I stated the obvious - “We are all healthy. We have each other. That is all we need to get by in this world” we both started to feel better.
Nobody said it was going to be easy. I never imagined it would get so hard.
Marissa Mayer is a great pick for Yahoo, and on top of that exciting information we found out that she is pregnant.
Awesome for her! Truly. Pregnancy - for anyone who has been through it (ME!) can be the best and the worst time of a person’s life. But - barring extreme medical conditions (which can happen to anyone at anytime anywhere) it has limited bearing on whether or not someone can successfully accomplish their professional commitments. (FYI my business partner Megan helped me launch this business from her sixth month of pregnancy through childbirth and the first months of her daughters life - ALL while also holding down a full time executive position at an investment firm - women can TRULY do Spectacular things).
Of course, pregnancy isn’t really the issue. I mean - out of sight, out of mind for most men (and that surprisingly includes a gigantic belly sticking out in front of you). Seriously - I did some of my own research - and found that SO FEW MEN give up their seats on the subway for pregnant women that it is ASTOUNDING.
Anyway - I am sure the concern isn’t whether or not Marissa can run a company now - the concern and the focus will be on whether or not she can run a company once her bundle of joy arrives. And, I’m sure there will be multiple articles on whether or not she deserves the company - or the bundle - because it seems as though the general consensus is that motherhood requires sacrifice, and too much business success means you aren’t sacrificing enough of one for the other. (Its way too crazy a thought that there are women who are so mentally superior to men that they could successfully run a business with anything less than 200% focus).
But PLEASE - for the LOVE OF GOD. DO NOT be the asshole who write’s the article “Can Marissa Mayer Have it All?” (I’m talking to you Freelance ladies aiming for choice real estate in The New York Times or The Atlantic Monthly).
Of course Marissa Mayer can have it all. She is smart, successful, young, and as far as we can tell has a supportive partner in life. She can hire a team of childcare experts to help raise her child, and she can certainly afford to make every ounce of her time away from Yahoo as easy as she pleases so that no extra energy is wasted not appreciating her family.
Let’s put it this way - should she choose - Marissa Mayer will not likely need to spend time out of the office worrying about how to balance the bills at home (starving Peter to pay Paul), or cleaning her bathrooms and doing 8 loads of laundry in a weekend, or clipping coupons to make ends meet while still putting groceries on the table.
Women - let’s stop doing ourselves a disservice by focusing on the the women who have every advantage life can give them in maintaining a successful work/life balance, and instead concentrate on the women who struggle each day to make ends meet to provide for their families - and do not have the LUXURY of deciding “maybe I’m working too hard, and not spending enough time with the kids”.
With wide swaths of women either raising children alone, or working long hours out of necessity (whether it be because they have a spouse that is unemployed, or underemployed, or for some reason cannot be employed) it is imperative that we ask ourselves why our own Government does not back women and make it illegal to pay them less than their male counterparts.
It will be interesting to learn what Mayer’s pay package will be. At that level of the game, one would hope that things are so public, and her level of intelligence so high that there will be no discrepancy between what she is being paid and what her male predecessors have been paid. However, when you are counting in the millions - little of that number will have an impact on her ability to “have it all”.
Take a woman who works just as many hours in a much lower position, and subtract $20,000 or $30,000 a year from what she would make as a man - and we start to see why the answer is no - the bulk of women will never have it all - because we have made it financially impossible for them to have it all.
But to the mainstream media - don’t you worry your pretty little talking heads over it - Marissa Mayer will be just a-okay.
Marissa Mayer has blazed trails in Silicon Valley — as Google’s first female engineer, as one of its most prominent executives when she oversaw its search business, and as a serious technologist who was also willing to show her feminine side.
Now she will blaze a new trail, as a pregnant woman taking the helm of a major public company….READ MORE»»
The main point of this article in AdAge is:
"The results were a mixed bag for Facebook that illuminated some of the challenges it will have in scaling ad revenue, but it also indicated that some of Facebook’s perceived challenges with marketers — such as not providing enough transparency and data — are overblown.
The results also revealed confusion on how to calculate return on investment on Facebook and how to compare that to spending in other social and traditional media channels.
Remarkably, Ad Age readers surveyed speak in virtual unison on two questions. Nearly 86% of those surveyed say they currently use Facebook as a marketing tactic. Only 55%, however, say they currently advertise on Facebook, and nearly 88% said they would implement Facebook content without advertising at all.”
As a business that tried to get the word out about our own site via Facebook - and had MISERABLE results. The thing is - I don’t know if that is advertising in general - or just the limits of Facebook advertising. Because you cannot have a slick agency design your Facebook ads - because they don’t have regular advertising options (which may be the factor that wins the social media war for Google+ in the long run - if they can exploit that.
But I find this all interesting - because only six months ago - people said to us - don’t worry about how you are going to make your money - just get users. And now, suddenly everyone looks at us skeptically and says - so - your revenue model is advertising - right?
Golly Gee Whiz it makes me so happy to be able to tell them NO. I feel like some days we are too smart for our own good. :)
Its late and I am kind of totally pumped up.
We’ve had two conferences in a row that we’ve been lucky enough to attend. And part of that privilege means we have gotten to learn some really cool things - including information about Angel Investors.
Last week at the Princeton Marriott - there was an event sponsored by www.NJEN.com the New Jersey Entrepreneur Network - and invited entrepreneurs were able to mingle with about a dozen Angel Investors from the NY/NJ area. Part of the event included a five minute presentation by representatives of each Angel Network - all of whom spoke about what they are looking for in making investments.
The most important thing?
"Can You Deliver?"
Time and time again, the angel investors stood up and said, that the majority of their decisions to invest rested on their belief that the entrepreneur asking for funding would be able to deliver on their concept.
Much of the rest of the advice included a large dose of common sense.
1. Do your research.
Know what industries specific investors actively invest in. The majority of the investors speaking with us at the event are currently active in the medical and technology sectors.
2. Think like an investor.
When putting together your pitch, answer the questions that investors are going to ask. Know what their background is. Know what their expertise is, and think about what angle they are going to approach you in their line of questioning. Be able to tell them about the market you are targeting, how large it is, and perhaps most importantly: What problem you are solving for that market, and how/why you are going to do it better than the competition
3. Know about the funding trends in your sector
Interestingly, Angels are looking to invest in firms to get them to the next round. The next round is typically Venture Capital. If VC firms have backed off a specific area, and are not funding at historic rates, then angels - by necessity will also back off that area - because the numbers do not favor those investments reaching the next level.
4. Include your address and contact information on your pitch deck.
One angel investor pointed out how many times they receive pitch decks without this information. Typically entrepreneurs think that since they are sending a pitch deck via email that contact information is sufficient. But pitch decks are distributed, and not always with the original email. So it is important that there is a clear way to contact the entrepreneur.
5. Don’t burn your bridges
People can get angry. Funding periods can stretch out due to unforseen occurrences. When an entrepreneur needs money, and feels under the gun it is easy to grow impatient or even angry at a process that can suddenly seem longer or more complicated than you planned. Don’t let that frustration put you at a disadvantage. Even pitches that don’t wind up being funded can put you into contact with people who can offer you contacts to other angels. Remember that you never know what a team can do to help you, even if that help doesn’t come in the form of money that you were expecting to receive.
6. Network within the area that you are targeting
When you network with people in your industry - you may find that you can align yourself with a champion who knows you and believes in you and/or your idea. That sort of connection can make a world of a difference. Some areas where you might find a champion? Service providers. Networked introductions weigh more heavily to angel investors than cold calls. If you are having trouble reaching out to an angel investment group sometimes your lawyer, or accountant may be able to make that introduction for you.
7. Be enthusiastic.
Believe in yourself and your product, and that enthusiasm will draw investors in. As it was pointed out angels are investors not donors. They want to fund the dreams of entrepreneurs, but they are funding those dreams in the pursuit of profits. Your enthusiasm is one of the best ways to convince an angel that you are indeed the person that can deliver. And remember, enthusiasm doesn’t always mean being happy and joyous, it means having a passion about the space you are in, and being well read and knowledgeable about that space. If you know everything their is to know about your audience and your competition and you are driven enough to know potential pitfalls you will be able to answer all questions that investors can throw at you and show them that not only do you have a clear path to success, but that you can think on your feet, and realistically consider the eventual obstacles that every entrepreneur finds they have to out maneuver on the road to success.
I am co-Founder of www.Hatchedit.com, a free social network for families that officially launched in January 2012. Running a New Jersey-based tech startup with a bootstrapped budget often means facing difficult decisions regarding where and how to market our product. One such decision was whether or not to invest in an appearance at TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY Conference held earlier this month.
Because we are hoping to raise funding within the next 12 months TC Disrupt was one of the best options for announcing our existence to the tech and VC community. As a Startup Alley Exhibitor we pitched to attendees on Day 1 and were given passes to attend the panels and presentations on Day 2 and Day 3.
Overall, the experience was overwhelmingly positive, and we consider it an investment with an excellent return. We were lucky enough to be interviewed for TC tv, which has resulted in an uptick in subscriptions, and we also received positive feedback from attendees. In addition to making some (hopefully) valuable connections, we also gained some insights as to what works best for presenting to a crowd of peers and investors.
Read the full article HERE