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Christian Soschner

Christian Soschner

1 year ago

Steve Jobs' Secrets Revealed

More on Leadership

Aniket

Aniket

1 year ago

Yahoo could have purchased Google for $1 billion

Let's see this once-dominant IT corporation crumble.

Photo by Vikram Sundaramoorthy

What's the capital of Kazakhstan? If you don't know the answer, you can probably find it by Googling. Google Search returned results for Nur-Sultan in 0.66 seconds.

Google is the best search engine I've ever used. Did you know another search engine ruled the Internet? I'm sure you guessed Yahoo!

Google's friendly UI and wide selection of services make it my top choice. Let's explore Yahoo's decline.

Yahoo!

YAHOO stands for Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle. Jerry Yang and David Filo established Yahoo.

Yahoo is primarily a search engine and email provider. It offers News and an advertising platform. It was a popular website in 1995 that let people search the Internet directly. Yahoo began offering free email in 1997 by acquiring RocketMail.

According to a study, Yahoo used Google Search Engine technology until 2000 and then developed its own in 2004.

Yahoo! rejected buying Google for $1 billion

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google's founders, approached Yahoo in 1998 to sell Google for $1 billion so they could focus on their studies. Yahoo denied the offer, thinking it was overvalued at the time.

Yahoo realized its error and offered Google $3 billion in 2002, but Google demanded $5 billion since it was more valuable. Yahoo thought $5 billion was overpriced for the existing market.

In 2022, Google is worth $1.56 Trillion.

What happened to Yahoo!

Yahoo refused to buy Google, and Google's valuation rose, making a purchase unfeasible.

Yahoo started losing users when Google launched Gmail. Google's UI was far cleaner than Yahoo's.

Yahoo offered $1 billion to buy Facebook in July 2006, but Zuckerberg and the board sought $1.1 billion. Yahoo rejected, and Facebook's valuation rose, making it difficult to buy.

Yahoo was losing users daily while Google and Facebook gained many. Google and Facebook's popularity soared. Yahoo lost value daily.

Microsoft offered $45 billion to buy Yahoo in February 2008, but Yahoo declined. Microsoft increased its bid to $47 billion after Yahoo said it was too low, but Yahoo rejected it. Then Microsoft rejected Yahoo’s 10% bid increase in May 2008.

In 2015, Verizon bought Yahoo for $4.5 billion, and Apollo Global Management bought 90% of Yahoo's shares for $5 billion in May 2021. Verizon kept 10%.

Yahoo's opportunity to acquire Google and Facebook could have been a turning moment. It declined Microsoft's $45 billion deal in 2008 and was sold to Verizon for $4.5 billion in 2015. Poor decisions and lack of vision caused its downfall. Yahoo's aim wasn't obvious and it didn't stick to a single domain.

Hence, a corporation needs a clear vision and a leader who can see its future.

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Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

1 year ago

Provide a product roadmap that can withstand startup velocities

This is how to build a car while driving.

Building a high-growth startup is compared to building a car while it's speeding down the highway.

How to plan without going crazy? Or, without losing team, board, and investor buy-in?

I just delivered our company's product roadmap for the rest of the year. Complete. Thorough. Page-long. I'm optimistic about its chances of surviving as everything around us changes, from internal priorities to the global economy.

It's tricky. This isn't the first time I've created a startup roadmap. I didn't invent a document. It took time to deliver a document that will be relevant for months.

Goals matter.

Although they never change, goals are rarely understood.

This is the third in a series about a startup's unique roadmapping needs. Velocity is the intensity at which a startup must produce to survive.

A high-growth startup moves at breakneck speed, which I alluded to when I said priorities and economic factors can change daily or weekly.

At that speed, a startup's roadmap must be flexible, bend but not break, and be brief and to the point. I can't tell you how many startups and large companies develop a product roadmap every quarter and then tuck it away.

Big, wealthy companies can do this. It's suicide for a startup.

The drawer thing happens because startup product roadmaps are often valid for a short time. The roadmap is a random list of features prioritized by different company factions and unrelated to company goals.

It's not because the goals changed that a roadmap is shelved or ignored. Because the company's goals were never communicated or documented in the context of its product.

In the previous post, I discussed how to turn company goals into a product roadmap. In this post, I'll show you how to make a one-page startup roadmap.

In a future post, I'll show you how to follow this roadmap. This roadmap helps you track company goals, something a roadmap must do.

Be vague for growth, but direct for execution.

Here's my plan. The real one has more entries and more content in each.

You can open this as an image at 1920 pixels

Let's discuss smaller boxes.

Product developers and engineers know that the further out they predict, the more wrong they'll be. When developing the product roadmap, this rule is ignored. Then it bites us three, six, or nine months later when we haven't even started.

Why do we put everything in a product roadmap like a project plan?

Yes, I know. We use it when the product roadmap isn't goal-based.

A goal-based roadmap begins with a document that outlines each goal's idea, execution, growth, and refinement.

You can open this as an image at 960 pixels

Once the goals are broken down into epics, initiatives, projects, and programs, only the idea and execution phases should be modeled. Any goal growth or refinement items should be vague and loosely mapped.

Why? First, any idea or execution-phase goal will result in growth initiatives that are unimaginable today. Second, internal priorities and external factors will change, but the goals won't. Locking items into calendar slots reduces flexibility and forces deviation from the single source of truth.

No soothsayers. Predicting the future is pointless; just prepare.

A map is useless if you don't know where you're going.

As we speed down the road, the car and the road will change. Goals define the destination.

This quarter and next quarter's roadmap should be set. After that, you should track destination milestones, not how to get there.

When you do that, even the most critical investors will understand the roadmap and buy in. When you track progress at the end of the quarter and revise your roadmap, the destination won't change.

Bart Krawczyk

Bart Krawczyk

1 year ago

Understanding several Value Proposition kinds will help you create better goods.

Fixing problems isn't enough.

Numerous articles and how-to guides on value propositions focus on fixing consumer concerns.

Contrary to popular opinion, addressing customer pain rarely suffices. Win your market category too.

Graphic provided by the author.

Core Value Statement

Value proposition usually means a product's main value.

Its how your product solves client problems. The product's core.

Graphic provided by the author.

Answering these questions creates a relevant core value proposition:

  • What tasks is your customer trying to complete? (Jobs for clients)

  • How much discomfort do they feel while they perform this? (pains)

  • What would they like to see improved or changed? (gains)

After that, you create products and services that alleviate those pains and give value to clients.

Value Proposition by Category

Your product belongs to a market category and must follow its regulations, regardless of its value proposition.

Creating a new market category is challenging. Fitting into customers' product perceptions is usually better than trying to change them.

New product users simplify market categories. Products are labeled.

Your product will likely be associated with a collection of products people already use.

Example: IT experts will use your communication and management app.

If your target clients think it's an advanced mail software, they'll compare it to others and expect things like:

  • comprehensive calendar

  • spam detectors

  • adequate storage space

  • list of contacts

  • etc.

If your target users view your product as a task management app, things change. You can survive without a contact list, but not status management.

Graphic provided by the author.

Find out what your customers compare your product to and if it fits your value offer. If so, adapt your product plan to dominate this market. If not, try different value propositions and messaging to put the product in the right context.

Finished Value Proposition

A comprehensive value proposition is when your solution addresses user problems and wins its market category.

Graphic provided by the author.

Addressing simply the primary value proposition may produce a valuable and original product, but it may struggle to cross the chasm into the mainstream market. Meeting expectations is easier than changing views.

Without a unique value proposition, you will drown in the red sea of competition.

To conclude:

  1. Find out who your target consumer is and what their demands and problems are.

  2. To meet these needs, develop and test a primary value proposition.

  3. Speak with your most devoted customers. Recognize the alternatives they use to compare you against and the market segment they place you in.

  4. Recognize the requirements and expectations of the market category.

  5. To meet or surpass category standards, modify your goods.

Great products solve client problems and win their category.

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Victoria Kurichenko

Victoria Kurichenko

1 year ago

Here's what happened after I launched my second product on Gumroad.

One-hour ebook sales, affiliate relationships, and more.

Image credit: Karolina Grabovska. The image was edited in Canva

If you follow me, you may know I started a new ebook in August 2022.

Despite publishing on this platform, my website, and Quora, I'm not a writer.

My writing speed is slow, 2,000 words a day, and I struggle to communicate cohesively.

In April 2022, I wrote a successful guide on How to Write Google-Friendly Blog Posts.

I had no email list or social media presence. I've made $1,600+ selling ebooks.

Evidence:

My ebook sales on Gumroad

My first digital offering isn't a book.

It's an actionable guide with my tried-and-true process for writing Google-friendly content.

I'm not bragging.

Established authors like Tim Denning make more from my ebook sales with one newsletter.

This experience taught me writing isn't a privilege.

Writing a book and making money online doesn't require expertise.

Many don't consult experts. They want someone approachable.

Two years passed before I realized my own limits.

I have a brain, two hands, and Internet to spread my message.

I wrote and published a second ebook after the first's success.

On Gumroad, I released my second digital product.

Here's my complete Gumroad evaluation.

Gumroad is a marketplace for content providers to develop and sell sales pages.

Gumroad handles payments and client requests. It's helpful when someone sends a bogus payment receipt requesting an ebook (actual story!).

You'll forget administrative concerns after your first ebook sale.

After my first ebook sale, I did this: I made additional cash!

After every sale, I tell myself, "I built a new semi-passive revenue source."

This thinking shift helps me become less busy while increasing my income and quality of life.

Besides helping others, folks sell evergreen digital things to earn passive money.

It's in my second ebook.

I explain how I built and sold 50+ copies of my SEO writing ebook without being an influencer.

I show how anyone can sell ebooks on Gumroad and automate their sales process.

This is my ebook.

My second ebook on Gumroad

After publicizing the ebook release, I sold three copies within an hour.

Wow, or meh?

I don’t know.

The answer is different for everyone.

These three sales came from a small email list of 40 motivated fans waiting for my ebook release.

I had bigger plans.

I'll market my ebook on Medium, my website, Quora, and email.

I'm testing affiliate partnerships this time.

One of my ebook buyers is now promoting it for 40% commission.

Become my affiliate if you think your readers would like my ebook.

My ebook is a few days old, but I'm interested to see where it goes.

My SEO writing book started without an email list, affiliates, or 4,000 website visitors. I've made four figures.

I'm slowly expanding my communication avenues to have more impact.

Even a small project can open doors you never knew existed.

So began my writing career.

In summary

If you dare, every concept can become a profitable trip.

Before, I couldn't conceive of creating an ebook.

How to Sell eBooks on Gumroad is my second digital product.

Marketing and writing taught me that anything can be sold online.

Joseph Mavericks

Joseph Mavericks

1 year ago

You Don't Have to Spend $250 on TikTok Ads Because I Did

900K impressions, 8K clicks, and $$$ orders…

Photo by Eyestetix Studio on Unsplash

I recently started dropshipping. Now that I own my business and can charge it as a business expense, it feels less like money wasted if it doesn't work. I also made t-shirts to sell. I intended to open a t-shirt store and had many designs on a hard drive. I read that Tiktok advertising had a high conversion rate and low cost because they were new. According to many, the advertising' cost/efficiency ratio would plummet and become as bad as Google or Facebook Ads. Now felt like the moment to try Tiktok marketing and dropshipping. I work in marketing for a SaaS firm and have seen how poorly ads perform. I wanted to try it alone.

I set up $250 and ran advertising for a week. Before that, I made my own products, store, and marketing. In this post, I'll show you my process and results.

Setting up the store

Dropshipping is a sort of retail business in which the manufacturer ships the product directly to the client through an online platform maintained by a seller. The seller takes orders but has no stock. The manufacturer handles all orders. This no-stock concept increases profitability and flexibility.

In my situation, I used previous t-shirt designs to make my own product. I didn't want to handle order fulfillment logistics, so I looked for a way to print my designs on demand, ship them, and handle order tracking/returns automatically. So I found Printful.

Source

I needed to connect my backend and supplier to a storefront so visitors could buy. 99% of dropshippers use Shopify, but I didn't want to master the difficult application. I wanted a one-day project. I'd previously worked with Big Cartel, so I chose them.

Source

Big Cartel doesn't collect commissions on sales, simply a monthly flat price ($9.99 to $19.99 depending on your plan).

After opening a Big Cartel account, I uploaded 21 designs and product shots, then synced each product with Printful.

Source (the store is down to 5 products because I switched back to the free plan)

Developing the ads

I mocked up my designs on cool people photographs from placeit.net, a great tool for creating product visuals when you don't have a studio, camera gear, or models to wear your t-shirts.

I opened an account on the website and had advertising visuals within 2 hours.

Source

Because my designs are simple (black design on white t-shirt), I chose happy, stylish people on plain-colored backdrops. After that, I had to develop an animated slideshow.

Because I'm a graphic designer, I chose to use Adobe Premiere to create animated Tiktok advertising.

Premiere is a fancy video editing application used for more than advertisements. Premiere is used to edit movies, not social media marketing. I wanted this experiment to be quick, so I got 3 social media ad templates from motionarray.com and threw my visuals in. All the transitions and animations were pre-made in the files, so it only took a few hours to compile. The result:

I downloaded 3 different soundtracks for the videos to determine which would convert best.

After that, I opened a Tiktok business account, uploaded my films, and inserted ad info. They went live within one hour.

The (poor) outcomes

Image by author

As a European company, I couldn't deliver ads in the US. All of my advertisements' material (title, description, and call to action) was in English, hence they continued getting rejected in Europe for countries that didn't speak English. There are a lot of them:

I lost a lot of quality traffic, but I felt that if the images were engaging, people would check out the store and buy my t-shirts. I was wrong.

  • 51,071 impressions on Day 1. 0 orders after 411 clicks

  • 114,053 impressions on Day 2. 1.004 clicks and no orders

  • Day 3: 987 clicks, 103,685 impressions, and 0 orders

  • 101,437 impressions on Day 4. 0 orders after 963 clicks

  • 115,053 impressions on Day 5. 1,050 clicks and no purchases

  • 125,799 impressions on day 6. 1,184 clicks, no purchases

  • 115,547 impressions on Day 7. 1,050 clicks and no purchases

  • 121,456 impressions on day 8. 1,083 clicks, no purchases

  • 47,586 impressions on Day 9. 419 Clicks. No orders

My overall conversion rate for video advertisements was 0.9%. TikTok's paid ad formats all result in strong engagement rates (ads average 3% to 12% CTR to site), therefore a 1 to 2% CTR should have been doable.

My one-week experiment yielded 8,151 ad clicks but no sales. Even if 0.1% of those clicks converted, I should have made 8 sales. Even companies with horrible web marketing would get one download or trial sign-up for every 8,151 clicks. I knew that because my advertising were in English, I had no impressions in the main EU markets (France, Spain, Italy, Germany), and that this impacted my conversion potential. I still couldn't believe my numbers.

I dug into the statistics and found that Tiktok's stats didn't match my store traffic data.

Looking more closely at the numbers

My ads were approved on April 26 but didn't appear until April 27. My store dashboard showed 440 visitors but 1,004 clicks on Tiktok. This happens often while tracking campaign results since different platforms handle comparable user activities (click, view) differently. In online marketing, residual data won't always match across tools.

My data gap was too large. Even if half of the 1,004 persons who clicked closed their browser or left before the store site loaded, I would have gained 502 visitors. The significant difference between Tiktok clicks and Big Cartel store visits made me suspicious. It happened all week:

  • Day 1: 440 store visits and 1004 ad clicks

  • Day 2: 482 store visits, 987 ad clicks

  • 3rd day: 963 hits on ads, 452 store visits

  • 443 store visits and 1,050 ad clicks on day 4.

  • Day 5: 459 store visits and 1,184 ad clicks

  • Day 6: 430 store visits and 1,050 ad clicks

  • Day 7: 409 store visits and 1,031 ad clicks

  • Day 8: 166 store visits and 418 ad clicks

The disparity wasn't related to residual data or data processing. The disparity between visits and clicks looked regular, but I couldn't explain it.

After the campaign concluded, I discovered all my creative assets (the videos) had a 0% CTR and a $0 expenditure in a separate dashboard. Whether it's a dashboard reporting issue or a budget allocation bug, online marketers shouldn't see this.

Image by author

Tiktok can present any stats they want on their dashboard, just like any other platform that runs advertisements to promote content to its users. I can't verify that 895,687 individuals saw and clicked on my ad. I invested $200 for what appears to be around 900K impressions, which is an excellent ROI. No one bought a t-shirt, even an unattractive one, out of 900K people?

Would I do it again?

Nope. Whether I didn't make sales because Tiktok inflated the dashboard numbers or because I'm horrible at producing advertising and items that sell, I’ll stick to writing content and making videos. If setting up a business and ads in a few days was all it took to make money online, everyone would do it.

Video advertisements and dropshipping aren't dead. As long as the internet exists, people will click ads and buy stuff. Converting ads and selling stuff takes a lot of work, and I want to focus on other things.

I had always wanted to try dropshipping and I’m happy I did, I just won’t stick to it because that’s not something I’m interested in getting better at.

If I want to sell t-shirts again, I'll avoid Tiktok advertisements and find another route.

Aure's Notes

Aure's Notes

1 year ago

I met a man who in just 18 months scaled his startup to $100 million.

A fascinating business conversation.

Photo by abhishek gaurav on Unsplash

This week at Web Summit, I had mentor hour.

Mentor hour connects startups with experienced entrepreneurs.

The YC-selected founder who mentored me had grown his company to $100 million in 18 months.

I had 45 minutes to question him.

I've compiled this.

Context

Founder's name is Zack.

After working in private equity, Zack opted to acquire an MBA.

Surrounded by entrepreneurs at a prominent school, he decided to become one himself.

Unsure how to proceed, he bet on two horses.

On one side, he received an offer from folks who needed help running their startup owing to lack of time. On the other hand, he had an idea for a SaaS to start himself.

He just needed to validate it.

Validating

Since Zack's proposal helped companies, he contacted university entrepreneurs for comments.

He contacted university founders.

Once he knew he'd correctly identified the problem and that people were willing to pay to address it, he started developing.

He earned $100k in a university entrepreneurship competition.

His plan was evident by then.

The other startup's founders saw his potential and granted him $400k to launch his own SaaS.

Hiring

He started looking for a tech co-founder because he lacked IT skills.

He interviewed dozens and picked the finest.

As he didn't want to wait for his program to be ready, he contacted hundreds of potential clients and got 15 letters of intent promising they'd join up when it was available.

YC accepted him by then.

He had enough positive signals to raise.

Raising

He didn't say how many VCs he called, but he indicated 50 were interested.

He jammed meetings into two weeks to generate pressure and encourage them to invest.

Seed raise: $11 million.

Selling

His objective was to contact as many entrepreneurs as possible to promote his product.

He first contacted startups by scraping CrunchBase data.

Once he had more money, he started targeting companies with ZoomInfo.

His VC urged him not to hire salespeople until he closed 50 clients himself.

He closed 100 and hired a CRO through a headhunter.

Scaling

Three persons started the business.

  1. He primarily works in sales.

  2. Coding the product was done by his co-founder.

  3. Another person performing operational duties.

He regretted recruiting the third co-founder, who was ineffective (could have hired an employee instead).

He wanted his company to be big, so he hired two young marketing people from a competing company.

After validating several marketing channels, he chose PR.

$100 Million and under

He developed a sales team and now employs 30 individuals.

He raised a $100 million Series A.

Additionally, he stated

  • He’s been rejected a lot. Like, a lot.

  • Two great books to read: Steve Jobs by Isaacson, and Why Startups Fail by Tom Eisenmann.

  • The best skill to learn for non-tech founders is “telling stories”, which means sales. A founder’s main job is to convince: co-founders, employees, investors, and customers. Learn code, or learn sales.

Conclusion

I often read about these stories but hardly take them seriously.

Zack was amazing.

Three things about him stand out:

  1. His vision. He possessed a certain amount of fire.

  2. His vitality. The man had a lot of enthusiasm and spoke quickly and decisively. He takes no chances and pushes the envelope in all he does.

  3. His Rolex.

He didn't do all this in 18 months.

Not really.

He couldn't launch his company without private equity experience.

These accounts disregard entrepreneurs' original knowledge.

Hormozi will tell you how he founded Gym Launch, but he won't tell you how he had a gym first, how he worked at uni to pay for his gym, or how he went to the gym and learnt about fitness, which gave him the idea to open his own.

Nobody knows nothing. If you scale quickly, it's probable because you gained information early.

Lincoln said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I'll spend four sharpening the axe."

Sharper axes cut trees faster.