Thu, 10 November 2016
117: How the Oto-Tip Campaign Raised $77,000 to Disrupt the Cotton Swab Industry (Crowdfunding Series Part 2)
A team of doctors and engineers wanted a safer alternative to Q-Tips, so they created it. By understanding where potential users were coming from and staying on point with the idea that their product could alleviate those pains, the Oto-Tip gained the funding it needed to go big.
The lesson from Oto-Tip is, before you start any crowdfunding campaign, you must know how your project will improve people’s lives, and you must explain it in a way that resonates emotionally with potential backers. In this week's episode, Lily Truong, co-founder of Oto-Tip and manager of its crowdfunding campaign, explains how they did it.
“My key question I wanted to ask myself was … ‘Why would someone need this? Why would backers resonate with the story? What pain point are you really solving?’” Crowdfunding campaigns can reach their goals when they offer a clear way to deal with common struggles people experience.
In the case of Truong’s campaign, Q-tips, cotton swabs, ear sticks, they all shove wax deeper into your ear, make you itch, and can even puncture your eardrum. The Oto-Tip offers another, far less irritating approach to earwax.
It all goes back to that pitch: Look, there’s a problem, but here’s a way to fix it. Find out how your own campaign can tap into people’s emotions and offer a solution.
In this episode you will learn:
Thu, 3 November 2016
The problem Eskil Nordhaug wanted to solve for people was simple. Videos taken with smartphones or small cameras are notoriously shaky.
So he simply looked at the needs. He asked himself what it would take to build a company selling a mechanical video stabilizer that exceeded expectations—the kind of product consumers needed, the amount of money he would need, the coverage help press outlets needed, the info his project page would need.
The result was StayblCam, and it was precisely this needs-focused approach that led to a smash-hit Kickstarter campaign and the successful company that followed.
Nordhaug says that the same principle can guide the way for any great crowdfunding campaign. “The most successful ones, generally speaking, are the ones that, there’s a need for it,” he says. “It solves a problem. It’s not just some fancy, weird thing that’s made for the sake of being made.”
Crowdfunding appeals to ordinary people with limited funds, so they can’t back every project that breezes by. When people see your product, you don’t want them to shrug and think it’s neat. You want them to whip out their credit card and ask, “When can I get one?” If your product solves a problem that’s long-pestered people, they’re likely to do that.
Don’t make something that people will want in on—make something that people need in on. Nordhaug shared with Foundr this golden piece of advice, and so many more related to running a successful fundraising campaign.
“It’s about creating value for users,” Nordhaug says.
In this episode you will learn:
Thu, 27 October 2016
115: How to Build a Millennial Brand with 10M Monthly Visitors with Derek Flanzraich from greatist.com
There's a common thread in a lot of entrepreneurs' stories: They were facing a problem, couldn't find the solution they were looking for, so went ahead and built it themselves.
That's exactly what Derek Flanzraich did when he started Greatist, a digital media startup that's all about health and fitness, without all the fluff and in-your-face marketing. As someone who has struggled with his weight his entire life, Flanzraich wanted to find a brand that would talk to him on a personal level and not as another client.
Frustrated by the fact that the world was becoming more health conscious, yet at the time seemed to be more interested in shaming those who wanted to get in shape, Flanzraich set out to stake his own claim in an oversaturated market. The key difference, though, was that instead of making his audience feel bad, he would make them feel welcome.
"It wasn't actually about the quality of what we're doing, which we felt that was gonna be best in class or whatever. It was actually the voice that really stuck out," Flanzraich says.
It was a simple change in language, but its message connected with an underserved audience that would eventually translate into 10 million unique visitors every month.
In an era where it seems like every media company is striving for page views above all else, and pumping out nothing but clickbait articles with little substance in order to attract them, Greatist takes a different approach.
"We don't think quantity is a metric that matters. Just like I don't think, increasingly, uniques and page views is a metric that matters. All of these things can be gained and aren't inherently valuable on their own," he says.
Greatist is now one of the world's most trusted brands when it comes to anything about health, fitness, and happiness. It's commitment to keeping a friendly and personal tone in all of its content has resonated with millennials throughout the world. With such a commitment to quality over quantity over everything else, Flanzraich has built from the ground up the kind of branding and engagement that most companies would kill for.
In this episode you will learn:
Thu, 20 October 2016
114: What it Takes to Build America's Largest Wine Brand (Barefoot Wine) with Michael Houlihan & Bonnie Harvey
When you think about wine, you most likely imagine stern-faced sommeliers, or parties where tuxedos and hors d'oeuvres on silver platters are the norm.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey do not fit the stereotype. You probably wouldn't even expect them to be wine-lovers, let alone the co-founders of Barefoot Wine, the largest wine brand in the world. But according to them, the reason they're so successful is precisely because they knew nothing about the industry going in.
Houlihan and Harvey never planned on going into the wine business, but when the opportunity presented itself, they jumped on it.
"If we had known then what we know now, there would be no Barefoot Wine. It's now the largest wine brand in the world, but it would not exist if we had a clue," Houlihan says.
Not having a clue turned out to be their secret ingredient. Instead of being influenced by years of tradition and trying to fit the mold of the wine industry, they decided to do something different and make wine fun and accessible to the average person.
Despite the backlash and criticism they received, despite the fact that they had no established brand or marketing presence, they found a strategy that led them to become one of the fastest-growing wine brands in the nation. To make it even more impressive, it was all achieved without paid advertising.
"It was by contributing to the community, by supporting the same issues that our shoppers were interested in, that we were able to sell our product. Because we weren't paying for advertising, this became our form of advertising. It's what we called 'Worthy Cause Marketing,' and that's what we used throughout the nation when we started to spread the word and grow and expand," Harvey says.
Barefoot Wine has come a long way since its inception in 1986, when Houlihan and Harvey naively thought they would make a profit within four years. Now they're a little older and a little wiser, but they still possess that lively spark that led them to create one of the most popular wine brands in the world.
In this episode, you will learn:
Thu, 13 October 2016
When Zipcar first started it was nothing more than a green Volkswagen beetle named "Betsy." It was parked outside of Robin Chase's house and the key was hidden underneath a pillow on her porch. Inside the glove box was a piece of paper where you would write down the time you rented the car and the time you brought it back. That was it.
These days, Zipcar is the largest car sharing service in the world, with more than 13,000 cars spread across almost every major city in the world.
The first time Chase encountered her idea with Zipcar was when her co-founder came back from a vacation in Berlin. Among her many stories about her vacation, she told Chase about a peculiar business she had witnessed where she saw multiple people sharing a single car. Taken with the idea, Chase immediately began setting out to build a better version.
"It's an idea that we didn't even invent. We just executed it way better than other people," Chase says.
Zipcar launched within six months, with a founder who was a mother of three and had no technical experience. It was 1996, when the internet was still new and very different from what we know today. Nevertheless, Chase was determined to make her startup a reality.
We had the pleasure to speak with Robin Chase about her incredible journey as an entrepreneur, a disruptor and a world-changer, and all the lessons she learned in her inspiring career.
In this interview, you will learn:
Thu, 6 October 2016
Casey Fenton, like many of us in our 20s, wasn't entirely sure where he would go in life.
Growing up in a small town in Maine, he started to think about this entire world that existed beyond the borders of his hometown, and all the experiences he had yet to have. One thing he knew for sure was that his small hometown wasn't going to be offering him any of the new experiences he was looking for.
"That got me to start buying random plane tickets to anywhere in the world," he says.
From there it was traveling from place to place, mingling with locals and getting a backstage pass to the world's greatest cities. It was then that Fenton formed an idea for a business that would end up spanning the globe.
Today, Couchsurfing.com has more than 10 million members in over 20,000 cities around the world. When it launched in 2003, Couchsurfing was a revolutionary concept. It was one of the first businesses to truly harness the power of a sharing economy. Instead of spending money at hotels and backpacker hostels, travelers were instead offered a choice to stay in the homes of hospitable locals free of charge.
Since then, Fenton's business model has been replicated a thousand times over by the likes of Uber and Airbnb, just to name a few.
We had the chance to talk with Fenton about his entrepreneurial journey, starting with being a backpacker to becoming the founder of a multimillion-dollar company with a reach that spans every corner of the globe.
In this interview you'll learn:
Thu, 29 September 2016
For most entrepreneurs, the real test isn't whether or not you can grow a successful business, but how well you can bounce back from failure. For some, this will prove to be too much and they'll hang up the gloves and never try again. For the true entrepreneurs, though, they'll find a way to jump back into the ring no matter what.
That is exactly what Eugene Woo, co-founder of Venngage, did.
“I had like a taste of failure, but I still went ahead anyway and did it again,” Woo says.
After his first startup went under, Woo found himself back in the corporate world feeling like a failure. Despite it all though, he dusted himself off, took it all as a learning experience and refused to give up.
Armed with nothing but a nagging idea about helping job applicants by turning their resumes into beautiful infographics, Woo went ahead and pitched his idea at Startup Weekend in Toronto and, to his surprise, he won. One thing led to another and he found himself quitting his job once again to work on his startup full time.
The startup known as Visiualize.me blew up, getting featured in places like Mashable and Tech Crunch and gaining more than 200,000 signups before the product was even properly released.
But, once again, it was anything but smooth sailing for Woo.
“I made a lot of the classic mistakes. One of the main ones was I started a company with people I didn’t know very well.”
Within a few months, founders started leaving the company, with one even refusing to turn up to an interview with Y Combinator and leaving shortly after. Stung by failure again, Woo didn't know what to do and ended up selling his company. Despite it all, he knew he had a good idea on his hands. He charged right back into the startup world, this time with Venngage, a tool that allows you to easily make your own infographics, and armed with lessons he learned from his previous failures, he was determined to make Venngage a success.
Today, Venngage has tripled in size with over a thousand new leads to their site every day, and over half a million users per month.
We talk with Woo about the invaluable lessons he learned on his journey to success and ask him to share his best advice on how entrepreneurs can overcome their fear of failure, and the best marketing tactics to quickly grow your startup.
In this episode you will learn:
Thu, 22 September 2016
Every morning of every day, Sujan Patel starts his day by getting out all of his creative energy onto paper.
The process is relatively simple. He starts by recording himself talking about whatever topic he wants to write about as a way to order his thoughts. He'll then send this recording to a transcriptionist and when he gets it back he'll spend around an hour cranking out a 1,500-2,000 word blog post. For Sujan, this is the secret to being one of the world's best and most prolific content marketers today.
Just 10 years ago, content marketing just wasn't a thing. Sure, blogs existed but they were rarely used in marketing. Today, content marketing is one of the go-to strategies for businesses everywhere. But with everyone eagerly jumping onto the content marketing bandwagon, simply having a high-quality blog just doesn't cut it anymore.
In order to really harness the power of content marketing and see some tangible results, you're going to need a little out-of-the-box thinking.
"Everyone's writing content for their customers, their existing customers, or who they think their customers are. What I like to do is, I don't even talk about any of that stuff. I talk about content circles. And what a content circles is, is [the] content that circles your industry."
As the founder of ContentMarketer.io, the ultimate tool for content marketers, Sujan is one of the most knowledgable people around, and he shared a ton of his wisdom on the subject with us.
In this week's episode you will learn:
Thu, 15 September 2016
During a creative career filled with awards and recognition, it took Alex Bogusky a while to realize that none of it mattered unless he loved the work.
“You could win the Grand Prix at Cannes—the next day you’re going to go into your office and look at the same dude across the office and try to think of something. It doesn’t feel any better; it didn’t make you any smarter; it doesn’t make anything any easier,” Bogusky says.
He did, in fact, win the most prestigious award at Cannes Advertising. Actually, under his leadership, the firm Crispin Porter + Bogusky won in all five categories, and became the world’s most awarded advertising agency. Bogusky himself was named Creative Director of the Decade by Adweek magazine, and Fast Company has called him both the Steve Jobs and the Elvis of advertising.
Looking over his many endeavors, Bogusky is a hard person to pin down. There’s a friendly, surfery quality about him, but he’s also gained a reputation as a perfectionist and ferocious supervisor. He’s worked for both car companies and Al Gore’s climate change initiative. He’s overseen iconic ad campaigns for junk food, and the most successful youth-focused anti-smoking campaign in U.S. history. Having left the agency six years ago, he’s now focusing on work with a social responsibility component, supporting multiple creative agencies and a startup accelerator.
But for all of the goals he’s achieved, Bogusky says the happiness he’s found in his career comes from loving the journey—that practice of sitting down with other people and thinking really hard to solve a problem.
“I’ve found that I had to learn to love the process and forget all the goals. Because the goals, as you achieved them, they didn’t really change anything.”
In this interview you will learn:
Fri, 9 September 2016
108: The Key Elements to Building a Successful Media Company (The Next Web) with Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
The future of media, if not the present, probably looks a lot like The Next Web, which is odd considering co-founder Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten says it’s not even really a media company.
The Next Web instead thinks of itself as a tech company, firing on multiple cylinders at once, including international conferences, ecommerce, online courses, and of course, one of the most influential and trafficked news sites on the web. Soon they’re even opening up a brick and mortar space in Amsterdam that will serve as hub for technology startups.
“For some people it’s sort of weird, ‘What, you’ve got a conference and a website and now you’re opening a space? That’s a totally different thing,’” Veldhuijzen van Zanten told Foundr (we’ll just call him Boris from now on).
“For us, it’s a logical next step, instead of losing focus or branching out into different areas. They’re all connected by the brand and a curiosity in technology and the future of technology.”
The Next Web actually started as a conference host. Its annual event in Amsterdam draws some 20,000 international attendees.
However, the company is probably best known for its tech news site. That branch of the business is staggering, drawing up to 8 million visitors a month. But with its conferences expanding, its growing online marketplace, and Boris and his partners always looking for the next opportunity, the most impressive thing about The Next Web is how it merges such a wide range of services to meet the needs of its loyal community. And they do it all with a relatively small staff and a squad of remote contributors.
“Everything is part of a circle that is growing stronger over time,” Boris says. “Part of our revenue comes from advertising on the sites with all the traffic we have, an important part is the conference, and now the ecommerce part is growing stronger.”
Next could be research, consulting, video, anything within reason that the people who have come to love and trust the company might want. And that’s the secret to The Next Web’s success. It’s not a company that makes a product—it’s a network of people.
In this interview you will learn: