Friday, December 21, 2007

tried, failed, moved on

We are stumbling along in the care and feeding of our new site. If you were to compare our current efforts to say, that of riding a bike, i believe we are at the "aching-to-be-cool-but-definitely-not-ready-to-pop-off-the- training-wheels" stage.

Things are still a little, um, "fragile." (are things ever not fragile in a small company? I suspect not)

My favorite thing about a new company is that you can approach things in a totally new way without fear (or knowledge). For example, at Bankrate, my old gig, weekend traffic was always terrible. Had been for years. So calling a meeting to discuss weekend traffic driving ideas would elicit groans from all. "Tried, failed, moved on....." would have been the joint refrain. (We always met anyway, but never without complaints).

Here there are no biases and few preconceived notions - and almost no bad habits. (no really good habits either, but that is separate)

You want to have a meeting to discuss pitching ads to Big Agency X? No problem. Develop marketing ideas? On it!

Fresh starts can be good - for all.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Good news travels

We got a good mention in TechCrunch a week ago. It is a nice overview of our site.

A few thoughts:

1. Mike has a rabid following. We had a flood of visits for 2-3 days after the post.

2. They came, they saw, they read... These are not casual "1-page-and-I'm-out" visitors. They really read. And came back. And read more.

3. It isn't a shy crowd. Want an honest critique? Look online. It may be helpful (or not), it may be mean (or not), but it will definitely be real! (all comments appreciated, not all implemented.)

On this note - my next start-up idea is a site to harness all of this criticism power. It is a site where people post pictures of themselves and then the readers would comment. Sort of like an Internet version of "What Not to Wear," except that instead of Stacy and Clinton bashing your style (or lack there of), it is the rest of us. A "Hot or Not" for clothes. As the consulting crowd would say, "UGSC" - User-Generated Style Content. Highly entertaining.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Is it ready?

A few years ago when I was interviewing for my first real job (quite funny, another day), I read somewhere that if asked about your “weaknesses,” you should not actually tell the truth (“I’m habitually late” or “I struggle with authority” or “at my old job, they called me ‘Mr. CYA’”) instead you should say something that would actually be perceived as a positive to a potential employer.

Something like “I’m a workaholic” or “I’m a perfectionist” represented the ideal answer – an answer that really wasn’t negative at all to a grind-‘em-up kind of boss. As this was clearly the type of boss I attracted, or could find, these were the lines I used. Amazingly, no one asked a pimply 22-year-old guy how he knew he was a workaholic when his most impressive employment to-date had been washing golf clubs at the local country club. I can assure you, I had not stayed late at the golf shop, just scrubbing away to get that perfect shine on Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s wedges.

Anyway, so now that I have worked for 20 years, the funny part is that for a lot of things at work, I am a bit of a perfectionist. My perfectionist streak is just that – a bit streaky. It seems to come in fits and starts – it is not consistent, but it is consistently there. But sometimes, you have to put an end to perfectionism, and go with what you have.

Learn from mistakes, make the product better, repeat. A lot.

We have been working on our site ( since May. It has been fun, frustrating, challenging, humbling [insert traditional entrepreneurial jargon here] and a terrific experience. I have learned a lot about myself – some good, some not – and I believe we are all proud of our effort. Helping people to face a difficult topic is an exciting challenge. To me, the Web was built for this type of niche content.

We have been making big and little changes to the site for at least a month. Some features are missing – the business directory – and some things are a little more “duct-tapey” than I want to admit to myself, but on the whole, I think it’s a strong effort. I have noticed is we all want to keep tweaking – I honestly believe we could keep editing and moving and adding for another six months or more before admitting we were ready.

We picked a date, we fixed ‘til then, we went a bit longer and – boom – we published. And here we are – the unveiling…..