This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. Serial entrepreneur, venture investor and startup accelerator pioneer Brad Feld has notoriously mocked traditional marketing throughout his career. Rejecting the paint-by-numbers approach to corporate communications deployed by most marketing executives, Brad has embraced unconventional guerilla marketing tactics to help establish his venture capital firm, Foundry Group, as a thought leader in early-stage tech investing. “…companies should… focus on building amazing products. If you have amazing products, the marketing of those products is trivial. If you have $hitty products, the marketing is impossible. Instead of focusing on marketing as an activity… integrate it into (your) products.” Brad Feld, Managing Director, Foundry Group
Coull Offers Advertisers Video Skimlinks This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. As noted in YouTubers Come Of Age - Google Scores A Solid Return On Its Video Development Fund, many YouTube personalities are sensitive to the nature of the ads associated with their content. Some reject pre-roll ads because they increase the viewer abandonment rate. Others shun translucent run-of-site Google ads, because they are distracting and monetize at extremely low rates. In addition, a number of advertisers have invested significant resources into creating libraries of video content which effectively communicate brand and product attributes but are incapable of eliciting a particular action, such as: clicking to a landing page, completing a lead form, or initiating a purchase. Fortunately, several startups have devised tools which make it possible for content creators to maintain the entertainment integrity of their videos while embedding relevant calls-to-action. Such solutions combine the power of a video’s capacity to inform with a direct response ad’s ability to facilitate a desired action.
This article originally appeared on TechCrunch HERE. My son recently tried to call one of our older relatives. He dialed the number and quickly hung up with a confused look on his face. I asked him what was wrong and he replied, “I don’t know. There’s something wrong with their phone, it kept beeping.” I called the number and was amused to hear a landline busy signal, something my cell phone centric pre-teen had never encountered. My son is similarly unacquainted with cable TV. Other than the occasional NBA game, he consumes his video content via our iPad and Xbox. Most of his online viewing is spent on YouTube. He is not alone. Mark Suster, fellow venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur, has written extensively about YouTube’s evolution from dogs-on-skateboards to its current status as an entertainment medium rivaling cable television networks. Mark provides an excellent primer regarding the future of Internet TV HERE. YouTube has over 800 million monthly unique visitors who consume over 4 billion videos EACH DAY. Its evolution has resulted in a new class of entertainment entrepreneur, the creators of professional YouTube content, affectionately known as YouTubers.
Some People Are Indispensable, But No One Is Irreplaceable Reginald Martinez Jackson was also often referred to as a “hotdog” for his self-promotional antics and lackadaisical on-field play. In addition to his reputation as a showoff, Reggie was renowned for deriding his teammates in the press and initiating clubhouse fights. While it is not uncommon for losing teams to squabble, Mr. Jackson fought his teammates in good times as well as in bad. Despite his attitude issues, Reggie was a perennial major league baseball all-star throughout most of his 21-year career. He earned the nickname “Mr. October” because of his consistent ability to hit home runs during clutch situations in playoff and World Series games, which contributed to his teams winning five championships.
This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. Serial entrepreneur Seth Epstein recently gave a keynote address as part of the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Distinguished Lecture Series. During his inspirational talk, Seth shared six hands-on exercises that entrepreneurs can use to harness their fears. Seth began his entrepreneurial career when he dropped out of the University of California, Santa Barbara at 19 years old to start a clothing company, which he eventually built into a national line of denim products featured at Nordstrom, Macy's and Neiman Marcus. Seth was also the Founder and CEO of FUEL, a broadcast design firm that Razorfish acquired for more than $30 million, and is an Emmy Award winner for his work rebranding ESPN's X-Games.
This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. Philo Farnsworth created a technology which underlies one of the 20th Century’s most ubiquitous products, yet he died a man of modest means and is relatively unknown today. Philo was an inventor, not an innovator. He was primarily motivated by the educational potential of his invention, not the wealth it might generate. He freely shared his ideas and technology with others in the hopes that such openness would advance his scientific field of study. Philo’s fellow researchers were not the only people who benefitted from his discoveries. Numerous innovators capitalized upon them as well, creating dozens of multi-billion-dollar enterprises.
This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. According to a January 2012 Forbes article, nearly 16% of the 400 most affluent Americans do not have a college degree. When one considers the 400 richest people on the entire planet, the percentage of non-college graduates doubles. Shocking? Hardly. PayPal Co-founder Peter Thiel has granted 24 people under 21 years old $100,000 each, with plans to allocate additional scholarships in coming years. The primary stipulation is that each Thiel Fellow must drop out of college, for at least two years, and pursue their “entrepreneurial ventures, research and self-education.” For many entrepreneurs, college has little appeal. Academia’s arbitrary, bureaucratic structure, combined with its predominant focus on theoretical issues, causes many entrepreneurs to depart college early. Others, such as Walt Disney and Richard Branson never even enroll.
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” Eleanor Roosevelt - US Diplomat & Wife of President Franklin Roosevelt As an entrepreneur, I helped create companies which achieved two IPOs and two trade sales totaling $385 million. During those same 15-years, I made innumerable mistakes. Entrepreneurship is best learned experientially, both directly and through the experiences of others. Hopefully this article and the accompanying six-minute video will help you avoid learning these mission-critical lessons the hard way.
Because Your Big Break May Start As A Little One This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. Ever heard of the band “Five Cool What?” No? I am not surprised. When opportunity knocked, rather than busting open the door, they first asked, “What do you want?” In 1987 the band was discovered by Ron Fair, a rising executive at Chrysalis Records. Ron brought the band into Chrysalis’ headquarters and introduced them to his staff. According to one of the band members, “They were swooning over us.” Once the tour concluded, the group returned to Ron’s office where he notified them that he would initially sign them to a development deal. He made it clear that this approach would allow the band to re-cut a few of their demos, which he would use to persuade the label to sign the band to a full-fledged recording contract. Without consulting anyone else in the group, one of the members leaned forward and dramatically delivered a line that would haunt each band member for the remainder of their musical careers, “Ron. That deal sounds like a field goal. We’re looking for a touchdown.” Not surprisingly, Five Cool What never spoke with Ron again and failed to score a safety, let alone a touchdown.
“One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not.” Steven Ellis, Professional Pitcher Major League baseball pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than they actually do pitching. The same should be true of an entrepreneur who is attempting to secure money from sophisticated investors. The steps outlined below represent an ideal approach to raising capital from sophisticated investors. Unfortunately, your fundraising efforts will be less linear. You might be at Step 2 with one VC and Step 3 with another. However, the greater degree you can sequentially follow these steps and maintain your discussions with each venture capitalist (VC) at relatively the same stage, the sooner you can spend less time in the company of investors and get back to running your business.