The first 6 months at Envato

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I’ve been spending a lot of time in the WorPress as a development platform world lately. I’m finding many business advantagesb in this world for a group of websites I am building to bootstrap a few “baby startups” in areas I’m already interested in – #travel, #classic-cars, #SaaS #Art sales, #techjobs, etc.

What this has done for me is vastly increase my interest in tactical data driven marketing on the web – #growthhacking, #contentmanagement, #agile iterative web development and marketing, and yes, even SEO.

The process is actually fascinating and lots of fun, full of soloprenuers, bootstrap peers, hackers, marketeers and doers. It’s a somewhat different world than the VC funded startup world that is my day job.

The link below is one of the best interviews I’ve seen, from Collis Ta’eed, a very humble and honest guy who started Envato, a marketplace for web dev themes and many other creative resources. In a very short time he covers to first 6 months of his company, unafraid to discuss failures, missteps and instances of pure luck. This is the opposite of many startup interviews where the founder claims brilliance and a smooth path and takes credit for everything.

Very inspiring, check it out…

http://wptavern.com/ceo-and-envato-co-founder-collis-taeed-on-the-first-6-months-of-envato

RE: LOOKING FOR A JOB

Here’s the first part of his note and his bio:

Tom, I need a job. My background is corporate finance and I’ve worked for the best electronic parts wholesale, a top three cable company, and the #1 online bank (PayPal).

And my response:

Eric, I see a lot of people going through this, myself included. Times are worse than I’ve ever seen if you’re not already in a great position. The idea of j-o-b has become harder to get, you have to think in terms of your own brand instead. I’m actually writing a book about this right right now.

It looks like you have lots of energy, and you’re reaching out, you need to channel it into $$$. Also, Avnet is a great background to have.

I usually see everything as a startup, so you look like a finance startup to me. I’ve spent a lot of time recently in the world of e-commerce, it’s an mazing market growing quickly. I’d focus on that if I were you.

Here are some thoughts:

- Are you currently working at PayPal? You could be a paypal consultant and have a pretty strong business.

- E-commerce technologies are very hot right now

- check out commerceguys.com (Drupal)

- woocommerce (WordPress).

Within those companies or similar have many job openings. Or, expertise here can get you some type of work.

- Keep networking and stay positive, negative attitude will scare people off.

- Start a blog about your experience and about online finance. That will help.

- give before you get. Find ways to help others before approaching them asking for something.

I could list plenty more, but that would probably just frustrate you. None of the above is a job, they’re all just ways to hustle to try to get a job.

Let me know how it goes.

TN

I could rubber stamp this answer to many people I hear from ,but usually I don’t even answer. In looking for a higher leverage way to solve this, I’m using my channels to try to broadcast this topic and help many at once.

Job boards are broken, resume robots are broken, so real humans need to get back into the process. If you want to be involved contact me; otherwise, stay tuned here for more.  TN   @tomnora

The Greenshoe = how to repay all those that helped along the way.

MONEY-HUNDREDS

How is it that so many people associated with startups reap the financial benefits, yet others just as close get no financial upside This is a source of frustration among many people in the startup sphere. Imagine if you’re in Silicon Valley right now with no equity in a tech startup, but associated with several people getting six figure “bonuses” because they somehow wound up with some stock in one.

The free parties (or not free) and swag and great stories and boat rides in the bay are nice. Sometimes you’ll even score an iPad or Apple TV, but it’s not the same as being one of the insiders.

Often as startups grow and maneuver their way through the jungle of success or failure, they have a lot of help from those around them.

Often many these people don’t have any equity or upside from their advise or moral support or money lending, or even the spare couch they let you sleep on when you were in their town.

If the startup actually makes it to an IPO, there is actually something you can do.

It’s called the “Greenshoe”. You have to be very careful about this, you can’t imply or promise anything in advance, and it only works when the company goes public, but the Greenshoe is an amazing award for those involved that don’t have equity.

The Greenshoe is an over-allotment of stock options, up to 15% of the total offering at time of IPO. You can offer these options to virtually anyone, friends, family, people who helped your company. Since they’re options, acquirers only exercise if the stock goes up, and have no downside risk or capital outlay.

Upon the IPO event, the option owner can gain the upside if the stock goes up over the initial offering price and essentially collect that difference.

I’ve used it a few times when I was lucky enough to be able to offer it to friends and family. Strangely enough, some people have declined, because they’re not sure it’s legal; they’ve never heard of it. Others have bought themselves a new Lexus with it.

Here’s more info on wikipedia:

Greenshoe

The Greenshoe should provide motivation for all of us in the startup world to try to continuously build our company steadily, continuously and profitably and to know that you can make many peoples lives a little bit better by sharing the wealth. The rewards are pretty amazing.

Contact me at

 #Web #Development #Digital #Strategy #Art| tomnora.com

Another Question I answered on Quora… Talking to CEO and CTO about role as co-founder/COO. First 6 mos are unpaid, they invested 50,000 each so far, and I won’t be required to invest anything but time. How much equity should I ask for?

Where to start? The info is too vague to give a specific answer, but your topic merits discussion and questions.

It’s all about how you are valued

> If they’ve raised $50,000, why can’t they give you some cash? A small amount of cash is very big compared to none. Also shows they value you.

> Don’t agree to deferred cash, you usually never see this.

> Ask to see the bank account, proof of investment. Often this is a “story” or a hypothetical.

Talking to CEO and CTO about role as co-founder/COO. First 6 mos are unpaid, they invested 50,000 each so far, and I won’t be required to invest anything but time. How much equity should I ask for?

> Too many startups now devalue anyone who is not a developer. You need to be positioned as an equal partner, regardless of equity or title.

> The cofounder title is much easier to give away then real stock.

> What are the terms of the equity, same class of shares as them? Vesting?

> Do you have another job? Are you quitting a job? Keeping it? Your equity depends on all of these?

> bottom line – if you’re asking this on quota, it sounds like you already have major reservations. If you really want to be in a startup, want to have the COO title, love their strategy and technology, trust them, and aren’t working right now, maybe go for it.

@tomnora

Nasty Gal hits the wall? An E-Commerce Follow Up…

As many of you know, I’ve been a big fan of the company Nasty Gal for a lot of reasons:

  • an L.A. story
  • Outsider non-techy female makes good
  • They’re Profitable!!
  • They have (had?) the chance to help define the next gen of startups

However, they seem to be in the predicament that many successful startups fall into. They may not want to be called a start up, but they are, because they never made it past PHASE 1 successfully into PHASE 2…

see Nasty Gal Lays Off Up To 10 Percent Of Its Workforce

  • PHASE 1 – Amazing idea or business model, luck, funding, hyper-growth, parties, t-shirts
  • PHASE 2 – Long term business success, sustainable, agile, adaptable business model, ability to survive major downturns, extremely happy employees.

Nasty Gal did many things right, I won’t list them all here. But they also failed in many ways already, and I won’t list all those here (I get paid to do that). I’ll sum it up with one word – Arrogance. I understand their feeling of invincibility; I’ve been there. What the arrogance did was cause them to not open their minds to the experts, not know how to let go of credit for success, not know whom to trust. I know this because I know several trustworthy experts who offered to help Nasty Gal repeatedly over the past 3 years, all rebuffed without even a response in most cases.

Nasty Gal didn’t realize the game gets tougher as time goes on and revenue goes up, unless you’re part of the Silicon Valley/Stanford/San Francisco in crowd, which they’re not. Marc Andreesen ain’t gonna save them, unless he can take over control and put a professional team in there. Continuous steady growth is one of the hardest things to achieve in business. It’s complex, chess not checkers.

Nasty Gal didn’t try hard enough to expand their popularity beyond the “cool people” that got them to $200 million, and they spent too much money on other things. Expanding and reforming your audiences is critical in continuing growth. Look at Facebook, Apple Amazon and others who successfully survived and grew for over a decade – they look much different than they once did.

So now what?

One of the things that can save a company when it goes into a bit of a tailspin is to lean on your employees loyalty to their management and love for your brand, because they’ve been treated well and respected as equal human beings no matter what their title is. The importance of this can’t be underestimated, as your employees tell everyone they know either good things or bad things about their employer. It looks like Nasty Gal will have trouble with that also. If you believe their glassdoor scores and reviews and “word on the street” in L.A., they are on their way back down the bell curve.

The bottom line value for any  company is their list of intrinsic value assets. For an e-commerce company selling trendy clothes online, assets have to come from many things other than the products, mostly from PEOPLE and the way they feel about the company and brand – employees, partners, consultants, vendors – but especially your lowest level employees. Don’t make your employees resent you, make them feel like your success is their success.

@tomnora

Top 10 Landing Page Features

I’m a bit tired of these Top 5, Top 10 etc. lists, just used as click bait. But…

I am doing this anyway for a new site, so I thought I’d ask the community what you think. Here are mine, pretty much in order:

  1.   Short and Sweet – no scrolling, hovering required. Less Is More.
  2.   One click to the lower area – I do this on tomnora.com to reveal a “matrix” mesmerizing animation.
  3.   Pretty URLs – not just readable, but actually nice looking. Add some important keywords but not many.
  4.   Repeat the key Message/Headline – from your email that sent them here. Make it read like a headline.
  5.   No Video on First Visit – Don’t force them to make this choice. Instead, …
  6.   A Beautiful Jumbo Image – One, not 2 or 3. Something awesome.
  7.   Call To Action/Sign Up Form – Entice them to sign up for your …?? try something better than a newsletter.
  8.   Visible Contact Info – Make your email and city (yes, city) very visible. Don’t make them click around for this.

I will post the final page once it’s finished. If you have a better list or changes to this one, please let me know. And/or, if you have a landing page you can share please do.

@tomnora