Kevin Rose, the 33-year old founder of social bookmarking phenomenon Digg, spoke recently at Webstock in Wellington, New Zealand and offered up some tips for entrepreneurs. Given that Rose himself founded and built his now ancient (6 years old!) company while working at another fulltime gig, he knows whereof he speaks. Web Marketing strategist Elyssa Pallai, a previous contributor to this blog, was in attendance and compiled the tips into a good old-fashioned “Top Ten” list.
I am especially enamored of number 3 below, and am available to chat with any brilliant innovator seeking my sort of “Grey Matter”!:
1: Just Build It: You don’t need anyone’s approval and in fact, you probably won’t get it, so don’t even try.
2: Iterate: Build, release and iterate. Make a list of the features you want to create over the next six months and get going! For small companies, once a week; for larger companies, maybe twice a month.
3: Hire Your Boss: Make sure you hire people that you would want to work for, who challenge you and you can learn from.
4: Demand Excellence: Ensure staff are committed to and understand your vision. Passionate, committed staff have a tendency to rub off on people. There is nothing like a new junior developer who runs circles around everyone to get people hyped up and raise the bar! Stay involved in the hiring process as long as you possibly can.
5: Raising Money: The higher your valuation is, the more equity you have to work with. Beg, borrow and steal. Be creative about finding ways to cut costs. For example, tell the bar you are having a “birthday party” instead of a corporate event (which they would charge you $5,000 for). Rent servers, don’t buy them. Don’t just take the cash, make sure your investors can add value. Stick with angel investment. Venture capital mean board meetings, which is a huge sap on time and resources.
6: Hack the Press: Hit up the lower-end bloggers at your favorite tech blog. They have just as much opportunity to write about your product as any other blogger on the team. Attend the after-event parties. The same crowd that attends the events also goes to the parties, but the parties are free.
7: Invest in Advisors: Give away a small amount of stock to advisors (which they can vest after a few years) who you can call on in a pickle or for general advice as issues arise. Set the ground rules so you and the advisor know how much time you have access to.
8: Connect With the Community: Hold a live town hall where you can collect feedback and get advice from your users.
9: Leverage Your User Base to Spread the Word: Facebook notifications is a great example of how to do this.
10: Analyze Your Traffic: Pay attention to how people are using your site, and then learn and evolve. Use Google Analytics to understand and track traffic sources and entrance and exit paths.
Elyssa Pallai is the Marketing and Experience Manager at ReadWriteWeb. Elyssa has been working on the web since 1997 in the USA, UK and New Zealand. This, and her other articles, can be found here.