February 28, 2007

Fastest way to get to $50M?

Jeremy Liew raised a great question on the Lightspeed Ventures blog this morning: What's the fastest way build an online media business to $50M in revenue?

Jeremy points out three strategies towards building enough traffic to reach $50M:

1) The Bebo.com/MySpace.com approach -- broad reach, not a lot of targeting.
2) The Facebook.com/Terra .com approach -- demographic targeting.
3) The Endemic Advertising approach -- create a website about cars that car companies would naturally want to advertise on, an electronics site for consumer electronics companies to advertise on, etc.

Jeremy I agree with Jeremy's ultimate suggestion that #3 is the best way to go of the three scenarios listed, but I think that the best way to get quick cash flow for an online media company is the subscription model.

I know it may be a little Web 1.0 to bring up subscriptions, but I don't know of another way for a media company to get to cash flow positive faster than with a subscription model. Augment your subscription service with a call center, and your conversions go through the roof and you're immediately bringing in cash.

In the long term, its all about automating the process so the call center fades out and margins go up. There's no reason to pay someone a commission on what a website alone can do. But if you want quick cash, subs with call support is where it's at. It also gives entrepreneurs something to help pay the bills while they build traffic and tweak their UI in order to generate more paid sign-ups and pageviews.

I'm not talking about a WSJ subscription model where you basically get no value out of the site unless you pay. I'm talking about a Pogo.com/espn.com/Skype model that gives you good service for free and great service for a monthly rate.

What do you think? Is the 1.0 subscription model broken, or are 2.0 junkies looking past a simple answer that has been under their noses all along?

February 24, 2007

Using MyBlogLog, or Creating a Posse for my Blog

I just installed a MyBlogLog widget in the sidebar of my blog. Contrary to the text in the widget, this blog currently does not have a posse, but you can see what a blog with a posse looks like by here (scroll down on left) and here (scroll down on right).

Go to MyBlogLog and create an account. The next time you come to my blog, your picture will appear under the widget and you will officially be part of my blog's posse. Not that that means anything special to anyone but me ... :)

February 23, 2007

Getting the Truth from Entrepreneurs

Going to a networking event with entrepreneurs is a blast. As you go around the room, every entrepreneur that you talk to makes it sound as if their company is on the edge of world domination. "We're about ready to close a huge deal with ..." "Our partnership with so-and-so is starting to really pay off ..."

Of course, 90% of it is total garbage. Most entrepreneurs do not have the physical capability to say anything negative about their comapany. It's like asking a snake to tap dance.

If you want to hear the truth about a male entrepreneurs company, ask his wife. She'll give you the truth.

If you've ever been an entrepreneur leading a bootstrapped pre-cashflow company, you know what I'm talking about. Your buddy asks, "How's business?" You say, "We're stoked about what's happening and we're accomplishing some great things right now." Your wife says, "Yeah. He really likes it and he's having alot of fun. I just hope we get paid soon."

Nine times out of ten she isn't saying it maliciously, she's just telling the absolute truth without any of the fluff. When I began my carreer, Anna unknowingly did this to me a few times. I have since coached her on the art of entrepreneur-speak.

If I were an angel investor, I'd be on the phone with the spouse of every entrepreneur I was looking into financing.

Just in case a few VCs and angels read this and catch on to my idea ... all of you spouses out there, repeat with me, "Business is going very well. I'm excited about this month's revenue!"