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How to Get Started as a Web Entrepreneur

How to Get Started as a Web Entrepreneur



From a talk given at WebDU 2010, audio available at theNetsetter

From a talk given at WebDU 2010, audio available at theNetsetter



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    How to Get Started as a Web Entrepreneur How to Get Started as a Web Entrepreneur Presentation Transcript

    • What Idea?
      Solve problems you’ve experienced
      Observe and looking for niches/problems
      Help people make money
      Not all businesses are equal
    • A Problem I Have …
      It’s hard to sell advertising for RSS and Email
      The market leader in RSS doesn’t provide Email Digests
      There is no one-stop RSS/Email/Twitter service for publishers
    • My Idea: A Service That …
      Helps people follow blogs with RSS, RSS Digest, Email, Email Digest, Twitter, Facebook, all automated for the publisher
      Helps bloggers make money with self serve advertising on RSS, Email and Twitter
    • BlogFollower
      Disclaimer: I’m not saying this is actually a great idea, but it’s a good example idea. And executed well, probably could work.
      Lots of ideas could be good if executed well.
      It’s not very glamorous or trendy, but it does fulfill a real need for a growing target market
    • Research
      Do other people think this is a problem?
      Is the problem solved already?
      Look fordirectcompetitors
      Look for similar competitors
      Ask around
      BlogFollower Competitiors:Aweber, Feedburner, Feedblitz, TwitterFeed, HeyAmigo (Defunct)
    • Identify the Audience
      Primary Audience: Bloggers
      Secondary Audiences: Readers, Advertisers
      Are these audiences growing or declining?
      How will you reach and capture these audiences? Do you know them well? Do you really know what their problems are?
      Survey them. They may tell you some surprising things!
    • Is There Money in This?
      How will you make money?
      How are competitors making money?
      Be pessimistic. To generate $1,000 p/m:
      $10-20CPM is possible … but $.5 - $1 is more likely. At $1 CPM, you’d need 1,000,000 impressions a month
      For example < 1% conversion for subscriptions. At $10 p/m subscription, you’d need 10,000 free subscribers to convert 100
      Of course you can do better than these numbers, but you should be assuming the worst!
    • Mission and Vision
      What are you actually trying to do?
      A mission should be something that inspires you to work, and should be the reason you are tackling the business.
      I am a blogger, I like blogging, I believe in individuals working for themselves. Therefore for me the reason I’d get into this business would be:To Make Independent Publishers More Effective
    • Start Planning!
      Carry a notebook
      Get excited
      Get obsessive
      Try out competitors
      Learn more about the niche
      Start networking
    • Personal Preparation
      You need to be ready to work hard
      You need to be prepared to carry it alone even if you are planning on having cofounders
      You need to have some money to start off and/or an income to subsidize you
    • Cofounders
      Find people you trust
      Find people who have different strengths
      Find people who work as hard as you
      Find people who you like and get on with
      You need to either:
      lead people
      join someone else’s team
      find cofounders who are happy to lead in different capacities (technical vsbusiness vs product)
    • Who is Going to Do What
      Money? Hours? Skills?
      How will shares be split?
      It's important that you don't look back and feel hard done by and that it wasn't fair
      It's like a marriage - you have to work at it, you have to be prepared to compromise
    • My Core Team
      My Wife: Project Manager, Branding, Organized
      My Best Friend: Detail Work, Money
      My Brother: Capable, Analytical, Business Minded
      My Father: Experienced, Risk-averse, Wise
      Me: Ideas, Instinct, Execution, Confident
    • Money
      Founder investment
      Keeps you focused
      100% ownership
      Outside investment
      Time and attention consuming
      Less control
      Pressure to deliver ROI
      Repayments and Interest
      You own it, but the bank is watching you carefully
    • Accountant and a Lawyer
      Essential in the long run and helpful with initial setup
      Get recommendations
      Meet a bunch of them
      Build a relationship
      Lawyer should advise on company setup and shareholder agreement
      Accountant should advise on company setup and creating your accounts
    • Business Plan
      Think through assumptions and details
      Don’t get bogged down with them, but don’t skip them either
      More necessary if you need investment or debt
    • What is Essential?
      Focus first on the essential, core of the product
      Nice-to-haves can be added later
      You should have a vague idea of how you think the product will grow, but don’t over-plan or over-spec
      How you can break the product into iterations?
    • Blog Follower Features
      Takes an RSS Feed and pushes out RSS Digests, Emails, Email Digests, Twitter Notifications and Facebook Notifications
      Facilitate Banner Ad Sales on RSS and Email
      Self Serve Ad Marketplace
      Advanced Theming and Styling for Emails
      Multiple Payment Methods
    • Concrete Monetization Plan
      What exactly are you selling?
      Who are the buyers? Who are the users?
      How much will it cost?
      Are there fixed costs you need to account for?
      How much would you need to be selling to break even? To reach your ideal profit?
    • BlogFollower Monetization
      Option 1: Subscriptions – charge the publishers
      Lots of small increments
      Easy to estimate and plan around, lots of conversion information out there
      Easy to develop and account for
      Option 2: Advertising cut – take a portion of ad sales
      Potentially very lucrative
      Hard to develop and account for
      Only really works if your publishers are all selling lots of ads … hard to estimate and plan
      Option 3: Charge per email sent, per RSS feed published etc
      May be necessary for emails
      Easy to develop and account for
      Could be lucrative
      Option 4: Mixture
    • Iterations
      Iteration 1:
      Publisher Account System
      RSS -> Twitter and Facebook
      RSS -> Email
      RSS -> RSS Digest
      Iteration 2:
      Digest Settings
      RSS -> Email Digest
      Email Subscriber Management
      Iteration 3:
      Fine Tune and Testing
      Publisher Subscription Billing
      Launch Iteration 1 & 2
      Iteration 4:
      Banner Ad System
      Basic publisher directory
      … and so on
    • UI & Development
      Wireframe out the application
      Assume that UI and Development will be harder and more expensive than you’d planned 
      Contractors? Founders? Staff?
    • DON’T underestimate marketing
      Lots of little startups build decent products
      … but go nowhere
      A mediocre product can go far with good marketing (and you can improve it as you go)
      A great product may market itself … to some extent (but often is teamed with great marketers – e.g. 37Signals)
    • Branding
      A brand should:
      Be memorable
      Have personality
      Is more than just a logo
      A good brand has a story
      The easiest brand path is to tie it to yourself – be the voice of your site/app/service. Be the spokesperson, the evangelist, the story…
    • BlogFollower
      Personal brand through
      Personal emails to users about new features and personally responding to support requests
      Evangelizing and networking with the target audience
      Get interviewed on sites and talk about my experience with blogging to create the back-story for the brand
      Position as the anti-Feedburner (be the little guy)
    • How Will You Find Users?
      Advertising (how much will you spend?)
      Blogging (what will the blog be about?)
      PR (what is the story?)
      Networking (how will you reach out to people?)
      Social Media (e.g. 0atmeal)
    • BlogFollower Marketing
      Networking with bloggers, particularly bloggers whose audience is other bloggers and internet marketers
      Try to get reviewed, interviewed, run giveaways, send T-shirts, …
      Start a blog aimed at helping bloggers promote themselves
      Try some social media promotion with linkbait articles and giveaways (e.g. free icons for bloggers)
    • There’s No Finish Line
      Launching is not the end … it’s only the beginning.Now you have to build a business!
      “If you leave and everything stops, you don’t have a business, you have a job.”
      You need to be systematic in replacing yourself while still ensuring that everything keeps moving.
    • Stay Focused
      Focus on your users
      Marketing to new users
      Improving the product for current users
      Providing great support for current users
      Focus on revenue and numbers
      Accounting should be solid, watch out for cash flow!
      Make sure you have an instinctive feel for what actions correlate with what numerical results
    • Continuously Improve
      If you stand still, your competitors will pass you by
      There is a never ending list of improvements and fixes and upgrades you can make. Be prepared for this
      Improving isn’t always ‘adding’, sometimes it’s removing stuff or streamlining