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Entrepreneurship Growth Startups

The Founder’s Toolkit

Over the past 30 years, I have been a founder, co-founder or management team member for 6 startups. Over the course of that time, I have made (or the team) so many mistakes, it would be impossible to count. What’s worse, is that I’ve repeated some of these mistakes because I didn’t properly track decisions and outcomes.

My new Founder’s Toolkit helps with just that and more. It’s a group of 6 tools that will help founders tactically maneuver the rough landscape of startups. It took many years of trial and error to collect these tools and to determine these are the right tools. I hope that you or founder you know can benefit!

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Entrepreneurship Gigable Growth Startups

MVP: Lessons Learned Vol. 1

Back in the early days of Gigable, we worked to release and market our mobile app and ticket platform.  The app was officially released on July 1, 2016.

To introduce the app to our initial audience, we got a booth at Ribfest in Naperville, IL.  This fest is the largest of its kind in the suburbs of Chicago during the summer. There is a big focus on live music which is why we wanted to introduce our app at this event. We also had a big showcase planned for August 19 at Wentz Concert Hall in downtown Naperville.  What better way to promote a live show, than to talk to people at an outdoor music fest in the weeks leading up to the show!? (more about this lesson in Vol. 2)

We got our banner printed, along with a few thousand promo cards. Then we spent 4 days meeting and talking to about 1000 people about Gigable and the emerging artists we feature. The conversations were very positive and we had a good response from music fans regarding our concept.  We ended up getting about 100+ people load the app.

All this is going well, except we didn’t configure a great solution to measure app usage. In hindsight, we should have had a plan to use Mixpanel or GA to get in-depth analytics on usage.  Not just usage, but stickiness.  How often to people come back and use the app on a weekly basis?  Are they saving shows or favoring songs?  Unfortunately, we don’t know.  As of September 7, 2016, we still don’t really know.

The big lesson: Setup methods to measure “viability”! It’s great to say that you are launching our MVP and getting the product out there.  That is a great accomplishment and you look really smart.  But, is it truly viable?  What’s the threshold? What’s the benchmark?  It doesn’t have to be a perfect measure, but directionally, you should be confident to invest more money into the product and marketing post launch. It’s really easy, I mean super-easy to dump thousands of dollars marketing anything. But does it stick?  Is the brand message getting through? How will you know?

These are the questions you will have planned for prior to launch.

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Entrepreneurship Growth Startups

The Problem With “Failing Fast”

As an entrepreneur growing a startup, I’m constantly pushing the envelope. Always trying new things and ways to reach people and inspire them to action. In the startup world (especially tech), everyone likes to throw around the phrase “fail fast.”  Which means, find the stuff that doesn’t work as fast as possible so you can get to the stuff that does work.

The problem with this is that I’m human, with feelings.  When I come up with an idea and push it out into the world and it falls flat, it wears me down a little. When we believe in an idea and we execute on it, there’s a part of us expecting that it will work right. When it doesn’t, sometimes we have to face some harsh truths and adjust course.

After 1000 failed attempts to create a commercial incandescent light bulb, did Edison say to himself, ‘this is stupid and I’m an idiot.’ He probably felt that, but tried 1000 more times and got it right. That belief in the vision to keep going in the face of many failed attempts is some of the most difficult terrain any person will encounter.

Then there are the days where you’ve applied the lessons learned and executed to find that you’ve succeeded. If you can get through this cycle enough times, you are a superhero.

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AI Entrepreneurship Growth

The $15T Opportunity (that’s trillion)

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is set to explode over the next 5 years. After a few years of experimentation and a lot of hype, it seems we’re getting down to business.

A recent Forbes article explains how we got here and where we’re going. As an IT professional who’s been living and learning this stuff since 1989, my take is that the time is right for AI. We’re seeing new use cases every day in every field and from every type of AI application – vision, speech, images and conversation.

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Gigable Growth Startups

Gigable Update: August 2019

It’s really hard to believe we officially launched the beta website for Gigable in December of 2013. It wasn’t even called Gigable then. Our new brand was born in 2014 and we haven’t changed much about it since.

To provide a little more context on why Gigable exists, let me explain a few points. As a gigging musician since 1987, I’ve witnessed a lot of different live scenarios. Many involve playing to a handful of people. All along the way, I thought there had to be a better way to get people out to a gig.

Fast forward 30 years and I’ve learned there are many ways to accomplish a full house. Most importantly, it starts with world-class songs and a great performance. Even then, getting a full room is not guaranteed. It takes many years of emotionally impacting a LOT of people with your music. Michael Gurley said it best, “when a song moves you, the song wins.” And when the song wins, the artist and fan win. In order for a song to move a person emotionally, they need to hear it a lot.

This is all foundation on why Gigable was started. Since 1933, FM radio has been influencing billions of people by showcasing a narrow list of artists and songs (i.e. top 40). There’s a psychology about how people internalize and grab on to a song forever. Radio perfected this for 70 years.

What we’re doing at Gigable is simply just the next generation of “radio.” Curating emerging music and providing a limited selection via playlists. The twist is that we also co-promote the live show at the very same instant.

So, what is Gigable in 2019? We are a music platform that inspires music fans to discover new music and go out to a show. We have a geo-located playlist that helps people find the nearest, next show. We also have a podcast channel that highlights artist interviews and in-studio performances.

Since 2016, our app has been downloaded thousands of times and avid music fans are finding their next favorite artist. This year, we have partnered with a handful of venues in Chicagoland to enable more relevant shows. Some of our venue partnerships include; The Venue, The Haight, Lemont Quarries, Time Out Chicago, Mockingbird Bar & Garden and Hey Nonny.

Soon we will be announcing some exciting new features in conjunction with these venues!

Thanks for following along and get the app if you don’t have it! (It’s free.)

Categories
Entrepreneurship For The Good Growth Social Media Startups

Must Listen: Noah Kagan Podcast

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Fan Funding Gigable Growth Music

What is Spotify (et al.) good for?

Spotify is great for exposure to a worldwide audience. It’s not great as an income source or true fan building.

Release singles to the digital world, then drive new listeners back to a self-branded website to find out who they(fans) are.

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Entrepreneurship Growth

The #1 Rule For A Profitable Business

Of the handful of millionaires that I have met as a result of business success, they all had one thing in common… Their business model was extremely “simple.”

By simple, I mean it wasn’t overly complex with lots of variations or product choices. They found maximum value (need) in the market and delivered a high quality solution.

Not only was their product elegant, their operation was efficient and organized. It’s certainly not sexy, but they printed money.

Not to say rocket science can’t be profitable, but most business owners aren’t Elon Musk.

The #1 Rule for a profitable business

Categories
Growth Ideas Social Media

Follow me on Periscope and Snapchat?

I’ve been testing out a few of the newer platforms lately to get a better idea of how they might work (or not) for Gigable.

I’ll be doing a “scope” (as the kids call it) on Periscope about various topics. You can follow me @mechlin.

Also, starting snapchating and posting some moments to my story. It’s very cool and fun, even for an old guy.  My kids think it’s hilarious that I’m on Snapchat.

You can follow me by snapping this image:

File Jan 05, 2 59 33 PM

 

Categories
Growth Ideas

Don’t Mistake “MVP” for Casual Experiments

Let’s be honest. We want a quick win. Everyone wants a quick win once in a while.  We come up with a great idea and try to figure out the fastest way for that idea to generate money.

This is a huge trap. Building the next Facebook over a weekend and showing it to a few friends does not equal the next $100b company.  But somehow, we believe this may happen.

The truth is; you need to work it hard.  You need to fine-tune the unfair advantage, distill the massive benefit statement and get more people bought in today than yesterday.  How many more?  I don’t know, but more every day and then the day after that.  Get one more believer than yesterday. Then two more the day after.

Make sure you crystalize your vision.  How does this idea/product/service/song resonate when 1m people are looking at it or even using it?

When you perform a casual experiment or side project, you are thinking small at the start.  This is normal.  Will this idea work?  Will anyone care? You do yourself a disservice by dabbling.  Sure, go ahead and tell a few friends.  Are they being nice or are they excited and want to share it? Don’t mistake this process for MVP (Minimum Viable Product).

Someone wrote about getting 10 paying customers you DON’T know.  They will be very honest with you. Once someone pays even $1, they want value in return. The value exchange should be very clear and they should be happy to tell you they are satisfied.  Once you have 10 paying customers you don’t know, throw gas on the fire and go full throttle.  Now you are entering MVP-land. It’s the ONLY way to gain critical mass and call it a business.