Overview & Objectives
More than 95% of startups will FAIL.
(That's a Problem.)
But WHY the **** is that accepted
as “just the way it is”?!?
(That's a BIGGER Problem!)
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There are many objectives for StartupWhatever.com, but the top 3 are:
1) to encourage consideration, discussion, and implementation of some NEW ReThinkingStartups.com Thoughts & Theories (and Improvement Ideas!)
2) to attract some great execution partners to help launch MANY new "Whatever Network" Startup MVPs (based upon some of these new ReThinkingStartups.com strategies)
3) with an ultimate goal of improving upon existing startup success/fail rates - not only for our own "Whatever Network" startups, but for the startup community as a whole!
12 Entrepreneurial Epiphanies & Lessons Learned
2. IamNOTaCEO.com Part 2: I'm Fired?!? - In 2007, I made the (difficult) decision to “fire myself” as CEO of my own company - and it quickly became the BEST decision of my entrepreneurial career! Six months later, we had raised $750,000 in funding - and six months after that, we were a profitable 7-figure company... (full column soon)
3. Jeff's Background & ViralWhatever.com... (DISCLAIMER: I am REALLY BAD at MANY things! I feel I have to say that before I mention the FEW things that I'm really great at)... My (relatively unique) experience/expertise is creating/evaluating potentially-viral concepts and content that will resonate with large/diverse audiences, intuitively recognizing many factors (the art, science, psychology, math, etc.) impacting virality and differentiating “ideas” from “ideas with vision, strategic direction, and strong potential to achieve a viral coefficient of 1+”... (full column soon)
4. Rejection Hotline / Humor Hotlines / RH Brands: From a small JOKE (to many/bigger jokes) to a Million-Dollar Startup (no joke!)... (coming soon)
5. The Stomach-Punch Feeling of Losing 4 Million Dollars... (coming soon)
6. My Battle With Burnout... (coming soon)
7. My ENTP Epiphany... (coming soon)
8. My ADD Epiphany... (coming soon)
9. Entrepreneurial ADD - Curse or Gift? ... (coming soon)
10. 80% Done... (then I lose interest and my brain gets hyper-focused on a new challenge...
...80% Done? --> 80% D --> 80 D --> 80D --> Iam80D.com / IamADD.com... (coming soon)
11. An Open (Thank You) Letter to Mark Suster - which (ironically? coincidentally?) has sat on my laptop, 80% DONE, for 6+ months...(coming soon)
P.S. Speaking of my Entrepreneurial ADD...
12. WTF have I been doing for the last 3 YEARS?!?
Honestly, even my family and closest friends don't really know what I've been doing / working on all this time (and I truly feel bad for my parents when their friends ask "So what's Jeff up to these days?"), but I think I'm finally getting closer to being able to explain it all... I’ve basically spent the last 3 YEARS (2014-2016) on a ridiculous (albeit insightful) exploratory journey inside my own head: Thinking... Re-Thinking... Reflecting… Questioning... Debating... Observing… Analyzing… Pondering… Reading… Writing… Theorizing… Brainstorming… Planning… and Embracing my Entrepreneurial A.D.D. to explore/evaluate literally thousands of thoughts, theories, and ideas — a fraction of which will be shared via StartupWhatever.com and serve as the foundation for "The Whatever Network" master plan for 2017 and beyond! (much more coming soon!)
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12 Thoughts & Theories (Pertaining to Pervasive Problems & Pitfalls)
“More than 90% of startups will FAIL”
But WHY is that accepted as
“just the way it is”?!?
12 THOUGHTS & THEORIES
(Pertaining to Pervasive Problems & Pitfalls)
1a) Mismatched Skill-Sets Among Founders
2a) "There's no such thing as a bad [xxxx]"...
(If you wouldn't say that about a "logo", a "website", an "app", a "marketing plan", a "sales call", or an "investor pitch", then WHY do we say it about "IDEAS"?!?)
2b) Most people have a pretty good level of self-awareness when it comes to their abilities to play the piano or pilot an airplane - or how good they are at golf or ice-skating. Most ENTREPRENEURS are fairly accurate in their self-awareness of their graphic design abilities or their coding skills - or, albeit to a lesser degree, even their public speaking or sales abilities - BUT, I believe most entrepreneurs have a terrible level of self-awareness when it comes to their ideas, strategy, vision...
3) Coming Soon: Several sports examples/analogies [Michael Jordan: Basketball v Baseball... Why Bill Belichick doesn’t throw, catch, run, block or tackle... (more)]
4) Optimism vs. Realism - and why I think those "Never Give Up!" and "Winners Never Quit!" motivators do more harm than good!
5) Problems with Words & Definitions:
A) “Startup” (Ridiculously - and dangerously - broad / vague / undefined)... [Analogy: It would be ridiculous - and potentially dangerous - to constantly talk about "Water" regardless of whether you meant rain, ice, steam, puddle, or river!]
B) "Entrepreneur" (There are MANY types / Startup doesn't need to be YOUR idea / You do NOT need to be CEO)
C) “Best Practices” (Dangerous when ignoring type, size, stage, etc.)
6) Unasked Question: What’s the GOAL? (5mm? 50mm? 500mm? 5B? Those are HUGE differences and impact so many aspects of a startup; but it's amazing how many equity-holders - investors, employees, co-founders - have no idea what the startup's goals are!) [Analogy: Would you dive into “water” without asking: Bathtub? Pool? Lake? Ocean?]
7) Related to problems with definitions and unclear goals, there is some debate as to what constitutes a startup "success" vs. a "failure" - (I've personally been involved with 4 startups that could legitimately be defined as a success OR a failure, depending on your definition/criteria) - and whether it's 90%, 95%, or 99% of startups that will fail. Regardless of that actual percentage, there's a big misconception that any given founder(s) / any given startup has the same Day 1 success/fail likelihood as any other. (Spoiler Alert: They don't. Relevant Analogy: Just because 6.25% of NFL teams make the Super Bowl each season, does NOT mean that the Cleveland Browns had the same likelihood as the New England Patriots this year)
8) The problems/pitfalls of using OUTLIERS as benchmarks
11a) Investors don't invest in one company; they diversify their portfolio to mitigate risk and increase chances of big wins. I believe entrepreneurs/startups can (should?) now do that too! (more soon)
11b) I believe the ideas of "you must be all-in" and "you must have one sole focus" are somewhat outdated from a time (just a few years ago!) before the cloud and AWS and Shopify and Facebook Ad-Targeting and countless other services made it MUCH easier/faster/cheaper to launch MVPs! (more soon)
11c) Why don't more startups proactively anticipate their pivots? Why not use economies of scale and shared resources to simultaneously build/launch your next pivot (or 2!) BEFORE you're actually forced to? A-B testing is common in marketing campaigns, why not A-B test your core startup/product? (more soon)
11e) What if we start thinking of “Startups” as “Products”... and “Products” as “Content” - while continuing to think of content as marketing??
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12) PREVIEW: The Particularly-Prevalent "Puzzle Pieces" Problem:
Step 2. Read it again; use the drop-downs this time
1) IMAGINE that you have...
...the very real potential to be HUGE - and make MILLIONS of dollars!!!
2) NOW, imagine that you...
...actually take it to the next level and truly realize your (multi-million-dollar) potential!
IMPORTANT: Take a moment to notice how dramatically the situation changes with / without those drop-downs! This simple exercise not only illustrates some of the most common problems/pitfalls in the startup world, but also represents one of the biggest (simplest!) opportunities for improvement!
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12 Improvement Ideas & Initiatives...
“More than 95% of startups will FAIL”
But WHY is that accepted as
“just the way it is”?!?
12 Improvement Ideas & Initiatives:
1a) Debt? No. Equity? No. BOTH? YES!
1b) The ReThinkingStartups.com "Magical 10% Theory" - Short Overview: Adding an additional 10% on a round of funding is almost NEVER a big deal (or a deal-breaker) to an investor at ANY funding level (the difference between $200k and $220k? the difference between $2 million and $2.2 million?) - but (magically?), the dollars that comprise that "insignificant 10%" simultaneously represent a HUGE percentage of the PREVIOUS round. I believe Seed Stage funding would become SIGNIFICANTLY more appealing if investors knew that they would receive that "Magical 10%" from the next round of funding Startup Funding (making them whole or closer to whole, while still maintaining their upside/equity). AND, it would put more money back in the pockets of seed-stage investors (much sooner), thus making more funding available to other startups... I'm not saying it would be easy to start this movement, but if it could (magically?) become a standard practice, I truly believe the "Magical 10% Movement" could have a magical (game-changing!) effect on Startup Investing across the board!!!
1c) "Investment Dollars" vs. "Investment Hours" - In a nutshell: Founders spend A TON OF TIME trying to get funding. In MANY cases, that funding is needed to hire employees. I believe that SOME entrepreneurial employees out there would be interested in that equity... Instead of struggling to find X dollars in funding (to use as salary to pay employees), why not entice employees by letting them work for that equity, the same way they would work for the dollars that you're trying so hard to find. (Equity-Earning Employee-Entrepreneurs!) I'm not talking about insignificant amounts of stock options with long vesting schedules (like startup employees are currently (tricked?) into viewing as a valuable part of their compensation package). I'm talking about REAL chunks of equity - the same kind of equity you'd give up to a real investor to get the money necessary to higher those employees. Every hour/day/week/month of employment would be tied to an amount of equity (based on value of the employee and valuation of the company) - just like every dollar of funding from an investor is tied to an amount of equity based on company valuation. (The primary difference is that you generally get the full round of funding at once whereas the Equity-Earning-Employees would be earning their equity one hour/day/week/month at a time, but that's just a little math/legal work to be done.) If you're a founder struggling to find funding to build your team, then what do you care if you give X shares to an investor for Y investment dollars so you can turn around and pay that Y dollars out in salary - OR - if you cut out the middle man (investor) and use that equity to pay employees instead of salary? (Note: Common response: Most people can't work for no salary. Ok, so they'll work 20 hours instead of 40, get half as much equity, keep their full time job, and either it'll take twice as long or you hire 2 of them... not ideal, but still could be MUCH better for startups who struggle to find funding)... (more soon)
3) Multiple Horses in the Race (more pros than cons!)... (more soon)
4) The "CoFounderator" - a new incubator / accelerator model... (more soon)
5) Startups Within Startups - whether it's proactively anticipating a future pivot and starting it now or even an entirely different concept, when else can you start a startup and benefit from so many shared resources and economies of scale? (while avoiding all the traditional time-consuming parts of starting a startup - finding office space, interviewing/hiring, all the learning curves, etc. - you already did all that!)... (more soon)
6) The S.W.A.N. Startup - "Sacrificing Weekends And Nights"... (more soon)
7) Startups For Students - Spring Break Startups / Summer Startups... (more soon)
8) Severance Startups - That sucks that you got laid off. But what a fortuitous opportunity if you've ever been interested in starting (or working with) a startup but lack of couldn't afforyou're getting severance? No better time to start a startup then when you're working on someone else's dime!
9) Starter Startups... (more soon)
10) Startup Stupor... (more soon)
11) Pitching For Partners ... (more soon)
12) Economies of scale, shared resources, a cross-promotional network effect... THE WHATEVER NETWORK! ... (more soon)
12 Startups?! Nope... SIXTEEN (16?!) STARTUPS?!? -- PITCHING FOR PARTNERS!
- The Starter List of "Sixteen (16) Starter Startups"
- The Process by which we will be "Pitching For Partners!"
(We will be actively seeking MANY execution partners and strategic collaborators - from Digital Marketers & Project Managers to C-Level Executives & Co-Founders! - for ALL startups of The Whatever Network!)
INTRIGUED BY ANY OF THE "STARTUP WHATEVER" ABOVE?
INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN (OR RUNNING?!) ANY OF IT?
WE'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!!!
(Or Jeff @ StartupWhatever.com - for more info and/or to get involved!)
[Jeff's Extended Bio / Background - which he fully admits he is only inserting here as a proactive response to reactions of "Who the hell are you that you think you can pull off something like this?" and/or "What makes you think any of your ideas are any better than anyone else's?"]
Jeff Goldblatt is an Atlanta-based entrepreneur with ~15 years experience with various B2C startups (and an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School). As creator of The Rejection Hotline® (and numerous other viral ventures that have engaged audiences of millions!), he became a nationally-recognized authority on viral media and content creation —
...but then it was like he suddenly just disappeared! Some believe he's in the Witness Relocation Program, some believe he fell off a cruise ship and is stranded on a Caribbean island with no phone or passport, but just last week TMZ reported he's been secretly dating Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, and/or Anna Kendrick, so...
— regardless, there are rumors that he'll be making a comeback in 2017! In the meantime, here's a sample of his work prior to suddenly vanishing into obscurity...
12+ Years Creating “Viral Whatever”
2001: AskTheCollegeGuy.com — an online advice/humor column that “went viral” (before Jeff even knew what “viral” meant) and developed a loyal following of online readers on 839 college campuses, received millions of page views, and was syndicated in school newspapers at universities as large as Penn State...
2002: The Rejection Hotline® — created as a joke in 2001, the humorous fake phone number service took off virally in 2002 (thanks to word-of-mouth buzz and mainstream media coverage by CNN, the LA Times, and much more). It would go on to average more than 10 Million Calls/Year for 10+ years and grew into a 7-figure "Humor Hotlines" business...
2003: Just Thought You Should Know — a collection of email generators (and phone numbers/messages) notifying people of something they might not be aware of (bad breath, body odor, stuff in their teeth, etc.). In particular, the Bad Breath Notification phone number struck a nerve, went viral, and received more than 20 Million Phone Calls itself...
2004: It Could Always Suck More® — with just the right mix of serious inspiration/motivation and edgy humor, the trademarked phrase resonated with the masses, initially going viral via a Humor Hotline (25+ Million calls), but demonstrated additional viral/brand appeal selling 10,000+ “It Could Always Suck More” wristbands.
2005: Screen Numbers — Recognizing a need for secondary phone numbers (for dating, business, CraigsList, etc.), I haphazardly launched ScreenNumber.com in 2005. Despite decent traction (~10,000 users), it was unfortunately never made a top priority. On Sept. 25, 2006, a company named Grand Central launched the same service (11 months after us). Admittedly, they did it better. But it still stung a year later when Google bought them for $95 MILLION and it became Google Voice :)
2006: SnapVine — I had begun speaking at conferences as a Creativity and Viral Marketing expert and I was approached by the CEO of a startup in Seattle (bringing VoIP to Social Media) to be their interim Creative Director as they sought Product-Market Fit. We found it, scaled the product virally, and SnapVine was acquired by WhitePages.com in 2008 for ~$20 Million.
2007: Get Over It Day ® (GOID) — A goofy idea (to create a national holiday?!), but the core idea (that EVERYONE has SOMETHING to get over) resonated with the masses and we received thousands of emails from people telling us what they needed to get over, there were events across the country, national brands offered Get Over It Day specials, and Get Over It Day was announced to the world by Good Morning America, The Today Show, ESPN SportsCenter and more!
2008–2012: Humor Hotlines (RH Brands) — After firing myself as CEO of my own company, bringing on a business partner, raising ~$1 Million in funding and figuring out the “in-call audio advertising” business model, all my other ideas/projects were put aside and we had a great run (4+ profitable years of 7-figure revenue, 200+ Humor Hotlines, 475 Million calls), until...
2013: The Party Is Over :( After Verizon and AT&T made some big changes to the mobile content industry (our main advertisers), we were unable to pivot successfully, and we made the difficult decision to shut the company down — laying off our employees, and selling off our 2000+ phone numbers. [Note: I personally bought back all unsold assets — including The Rejection Hotline and all Humor Hotlines’ audio files — some of which will be re-launched as part of The Whatever Network.]
2014: PredictionLog.com I moved into the Atlanta Tech Village and, while also investing in and advising a few younger entrepreneurs, I THOUGHT I had decided that Prediction Log would be my next full-time startup (the idea being that predictions are everywhere, yet there is no central location to officially log predictions, so there is a permanent record and “Proof that you called it!” I still believe there is a good business opportunity here; BUT, after 6 months development and a moderately-successful semi-private beta test (~300 users, ~500 predictions), I hit the pause button after a few big entrepreneurial epiphanies...
2014–2016: I (finally) took a good hard look at who I am as an entrepreneur — my strengths, my weaknesses, where I’ve been successful, where I’ve missed opportunities, when I’ve felt inspired, when I’ve felt burned out. And I (finally) took the time to process the many lessons I’ve learned from the last ~15 years. I then basically spent 2+ years inside my own head — Thinking… Reflecting… Observing… Analyzing… Reading… Writing… Theorizing… Brainstorming… Planning… and Embracing my “Entrepreneurial ADD” by allowing myself to go down “rabbit holes” to explore/evaluate literally thousands of ideas, a fraction of which will serve as the foundation for:
2017 and Beyond:
"The Whatever Network" — An UNCONVENTIONAL (Unprecedented?) & AMBITIOUS (Asinine?) PLAN to create a huge network of products, services, viral content. social movements, and more! — All in conjunction with “ReThinkingStartups.com Thoughts & Theories” and “Startup Whatever Ideas & Initiatives” to assist me in finding great people to work with (from digital marketers & project managers to CEOs, CTOs, COOs, and Co-Founders!)… and, well, I guess we’ll just see what happens!!!