Bradley Brown

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Updated: 13 hours 2 min ago

Passion, Drive and Hunger

Fri, 2017-06-23 14:21
Starting a business is nothing short of an ultra marathon times 365.  If you ask people why they do it, you'll get a wide variety of answers.  Some people might say "the money" but behind most any answer you will receive is an iceberg underneath (90% of an iceberg is under the water).  Others will say they are simply crazy.  The true reason is very complex.  It's not usually one reason, but passion, drive and hunger are key components to one's success.

If you like challenges, you'll have plenty.  I view the startup world like a 6 dimensional puzzle.  Move one piece and 6 others (or 1,600,000) move with the piece you moved.  Time is one of the dimensions.  Sometimes you see results quickly and other times results take years.  Sometimes you have a "feeling" something is going to work and other times you'll have empirical data.

I always tell people that if you work your ass off for 20 years straight, you'll wake up an overnight success one day!

So what are you going to do?  Keep dreaming or make your dream a reality?  Do you have a mentor that you can turn to?  1 or 100 mentors?  Friends and family are leaders in self deception...i.e. do you have someone who will give you the real answer?  The shredded wheat answer?  Have you asked a customer for money?  That's usually the best indication of whether you have something real or not.

I started my first business when I was in high school.  Sure, lawn mowing was a business, but I started developing software (i.e. games) and got my 10,000 hours of programming in before I started college.  I sold my games to the manufacturer of my computer when I was in college.  That was exciting!  My passion, drive and hunger continues.

I taught a class called New Venture Creation at the University of Denver.  It was a 4 credit course.  Since college credits cost about $1000 per credit hour (or more), that's $4000 per student.  I brought 20+ mentors (successful business people) into my classroom every quarter.

As a mentor and director in an organization like Founders Institute, along with 30-50 other mentors, we coached a number of amazing people into successful businesses.  I absolutely believe FI is one of the best investments into your future.  You can expect mentors, education and growth through the process.

In Real Estate it's Location, Location, Location - In Startups it's all about Sales, Sales, Sales

Thu, 2017-02-16 18:32
Sure, you could argue that marketing is important or execution or support or product quality, but when it comes down to what you really need to focus on, it's all about sales.  You have to have a high quality product to sell, you certainly need to be able to support it, and it has to be scaleable, but if you don't have customers, you won't have a business.

I've built a number of software as a service (SaaS) businesses from the ground up.  It's hard work!  One of my favorite best practices, like in the lean startup is getting to your MVP (minimum viable product) as quickly as you can.  It's great to hear prospects saying no to certain things and yes to others.  Once you have an MVP and your initial customers, you know exactly where to improve your product, what requires your support and ultimately how to sell to more customers as well as how to sell more to your existing customer base.

Drumfire Sales Search (  solves the sales equation for you with process and people.  In this blog post, I've outlined 6 businesses that we've worked with and the approach we took from start to finish.  Generally speaking, the outline of our approach/process is here.

This video walks through the process with a short explainer video:

Step 1 is always the assessment.  It's important to build out the game plan, which often involves the following steps.  Your business might know and understand your value proposition.  You might know exactly who your ideal / target customer is too.  This assessment is key to your sales success.  Our typical steps to establish the game plan include:

1. Value proposition
2. Ideal/Targeted customer
3. Identify decision makers and method
4. Prospecting strategy
5. Go to market plan
6. Establish pricing
Tools are required to sell your product or service.  Once you know who you're selling to, you need get your message down.  As Mark Twain said, it takes a lot of time to write a short letter, just as it takes a lot of time to get your elevator pitch down.  Summarizing what you do isn't easy.  How quickly can you summarize what you do?  In my days of owning an Oracle consulting (or professional services) firm, my early message was very complicated and confused my early prospects.  As time went on, we shortened our elevator pitch.  In the end, it was pretty simple - we were "Oracle Experts."  I would often say to the CEO of a company, "if you hear someone in your company mention Oracle and a challenge they are having, please call me."  That message worked.  Having the proper materials is important as is having a CRM that allows you to track and monitor your sales activity.  Some of the tools we help you develop include:

1. Develop elevator speech
2. Marketing, messaging and presentations
3. Select and customize appropriate CRM
4. Identify individual sales tools
5. Sales training

At Drumfire, we have our own proprietary solution that will help seed your prospect base if your customers are businesses.  It's called NorthStar and it's evolved over the last 20 years.  Back in the early days of NorthStar, I used it to find companies who were running Oracle's web server.  Today it's used to find businesses in any business category and then to read through all of the websites pulling key information about competitors, specific terms, email addresses and more.  There will be more information on Northstar in the examples below.
Drumfire's origins revolve around the staffing industry.  You will have short and long term requirements around sales in your business.  You might need to establish regions, which we can help with.  Maybe you're taking your first products to market and you need to find those first team members that can sell your MVP.  Team makeups change over time.  Here are some of the steps we help you with around your team:

1. Determine long term hiring plan to include regions and levels
2. Identify candidate makeup
3. Job descriptions and comp plans 
4. Have quotas in place for every level
5. Go to market recruitment plan

Focus is your number one priority.  Scalable execution is key to your success.  Success can easily hide a lack of focus and execution.  In my Oracle consulting business, when we didn't know and understand our pipeline (in our early days), we got caught with a lack of backlog.  When the "cliff" hits your business, it can be a real surprise.  We help you understand the importance of having strong visability to your pipeline.  We also feed your pipeline with prospects so you constantly have new prospects to call on.

1. Create pipeline report
2. Integrate and align sales objectives with corporate objectives
3. Present to potential clients
4. Negotiate
5. Deliver

As mentioned above, NorthStar is our software that finds businesses matching your target customer criteria.

Here are a couple of videos that explain NorthStar in a bit more detail:

Here's a specific example of NorthStar in action for a company with an irrigation solution like Nest:

And one last video, which explains it for an imaginary new pool product:

Let me explain the approach we take to help you find your customers.  I've provided examples for 6 different business segments:

1. Staffing Firms
    a. Healthcare
    b. Oil and Gas
2. Real Estate Infomercial
3. Cannabis Regulatory Compliance Business
4. Nest for Irrigation
5. Virtual Yoga Business
6. Rehab Marketing Firm

Sure, we have databases full of companies and email addresses, but we typically search the web "right now" to find your prospects and then we read through every single website looking for keywords, competitors, and more.  This takes time and resources.  It can take as little as a couple of days and as much as a month.  And...NorthStar continues to run regularly to find new prospects for you month after month.  You'll get access to your NorthStar dashboard and the full platform as you'll see below.

Staffing FirmsLet's say you own (or run sales/bus dev for) a staffing firm.  You probably know exactly what types of companies you're calling on every day.  How do you find/identify those companies?  Do you care about the industry they are in?  Revenue metrics?  Number of employees?  Most staffing firms specialize in a niche from IT to engineering to sales to you name it.  Let's look at 2 examples of companies that we used NorthStar to find potential clients.  These prospects get fed right into the CRM and MAS systems.  What's most important to you?  Do you need a phone number?  An email address?  The head of HR?

Healthcare Staffing
How many companies in the US are based around healthcare?  What are the categories that they group themselves into?

We ran NorthStar looking for businesses in "healthcare." We find these businesses "now" (i.e. it's not a canned list of businesses - it changes every single day.  We harvest them by zip code.  Pulling the tip 10% of the zip codes (which is typically covers about 80% of the businesses) we found about 200,000 (195,670 to be exact) businesses around the US that identify themselves as being in healthcare.  They group themselves into a number of categories (many are grouped into multiple categories) as you see here:

CATEGORYPROSPECTSDoctor & Clinic24575Home Health Care Service & Supply13820General Practice Medicine;Doctor & Clinic;Neurology9322Doctor & Clinic;Neurology7311Car Insurance;Insurance;Life Insurance;Home Insurance5554Home Health Care Service & Supply;Doctor & Clinic4876Long-Term & Hospice Care4826Senior Service;Long-Term & Hospice Care2624Home Health Care Service & Supply;Long-Term & Hospice Care2619Home Health Care Service & Supply;Business Alarm Systems2520

It's interesting to see that the top group are Doctors and Clinics - they are just more than 10% of the companies we found.  When you put this data onto a map, it's very interesting to see how your prospects are distributed across the US.  You might have preconceived notions about where your prospects are.  Are most of them in the states with the most people (NY, CA, IL) or are they not?  Here's the distribution by state - notice how low NY is!


Here's another look at the data on a map:

We are able to pull a lot of important information about each of your prospects, which includes:
  • Company Name
  • Full Address (Address, City, State, Zip)
  • Phone Number
  • Latitude and Longitude
  • Ratings and Reviews
  • Website

We use the website's URL to spider through their website to determine things such as:

  • Email Addresses on their website
  • Competitor Mentions
  • Specific Terms on their website
  • Social Media Platforms they are on (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, etc)
  • Is their website mobile enabled?
  • Do they have a "current" (HTML5) website?
  • Do they mention your company?

There is SO much information that we can glean from a company's website!  Use your imagination and let NorthStar do the work!  This client asked us to get them a list of companies specializing in revenue cycle management.  That's an easy term to search for.  We added "back office" into our search terms too since that's sometimes used.  The category did provide us with just over 300 people in the billing category.  These terms are even more effective at narrowing down your prospects!

Here's what their dashboard looks like:

Our clients (hopefully you're one of them) can drill into information any way you can dream of.  

Water, Oil and Gas Engineer Staffing

Another client asked us to find all of the power plants in the US that mention gas turbines on their website or they mention the M501J gas turbine.  That's getting pretty specific isn't it!  If you want to know exactly who you should be calling on based on talent you currently have available or based on a demand surge, how else could you find this type of information?

Here's a look at their dashboard that we provided them access to:

You can see that Texas has the most power plants (over 2,800) and Oklahoma is next with about 800 and then Colorado weighs in at 565.  We loaded the 22,083 power plants into their database (with over 2,400 email addresses and over 13,000 websites of which over 2,600 of them were mobile or HTML5 websites and 1,700 had social media) and they were off to the races.  We found about 50 power plants that mentioned gas turbines so they focused on those 50 first.  We only found 1 power plant that mentioned the M501J, but 1 is better than none!  Not every concept we come up with is going to pan out, but more pan out than not!

Real Estate Infomercial

The "Direct Response" (DR) world is an interesting world full of infomercials geared at getting to consumers, typically to buy their goods or services.  The real estate world has had a number of people who focused on the DR space - many of them "bad" (i.e. they just wanted your money, not to really help you).  A new entre into the DR space approached us about their business.  One side is the B2C (business to consumer) side, which infomercials and other solutions like StarStar are excellent at helping.  The other side of the business is that they plan to deliver their services through existing Realtors.  In fact, the Realtors could be customers.  Real estate agencies are registered businesses that we can identify with NorthStar.

We ran a test to see how many agents we would find in the US.  After processing about 25% of the zip codes (15,072 to be exact - out about 45k zips), we found 225,379 companies.  177,979 of them have "Real Estate Agent" in the category.  Here are the top 10 categories:

CATEGORYCOUNT(*)Real Estate Agent71837Real Estate Agent;Commercial Property Management35252Real Estate Agent;Real Estate22403Real Estate6501Real Estate;Real Estate Agent4169Real Estate Agent;Property Management;Commercial Property Management3741Property Management;Commercial Property Management2255Real Estate Agent;Other Real Estate;Commercial Property Management2100Real Estate Agent;Property Management2096Real Estate Financing1976

We figured that the Realtors that would move interest these guys are those who talk about REO, Fix and Flips, Short Sales, Investors, Buy Back, etc. on their website, so we searched for these terms.  Sure enough, 4,295 of those businesses mention these terms.  It's always important to be able to triage the businesses that you're going to call on first.  If you say they have to mention one of these terms AND they need to promote their social media, the list is reduced to 2,362 agents of which only 1,925 have a mobile or current (HTML5) website.  Multiply that number by 4 (since we've only processed about 25% of the country) and they will end up with about 8k agents to call on.  That's nearly impossible without an autodialer like ConnectAndSell - after all, we have phone numbers for every single agent!

Here's what the distribution looks like across the US:

Cannabis Regulatory Compliance BusinessOne of my good friends is in this business.  They help the medical and recreational cannabis businesses keep current with their paperwork.  We searched 3 different categories (cannabis, alternative clinics, and marijuana to find these businesses.  We then searched each site for terms such as cannabis and marijuana.  The most important piece of data for them at this point is an email address.  They also wanted to know how many shops we could find in the US, but they wanted to start in Colorado.  Overall we found 6,447 email addresses.  Limiting it down to Colorado, we came up with only 274 records.  They said that calling doesn't work (the workers are too stoned), so an email is critical for them.
Here's a breakdown of shops around the US:

Nest for IrrigationOne of the first clients to use NorthStar was a Denver-based company that has an irrigation (sprinkler system) timer like Nest (for the home thermostat).  They had a theory that California, Colorado, Arizona, and Illinois would have the most irrigation specialists (sprinkler guys).  Here's how it actually panned out:

So California, Florida and Texas are the biggest states.  Colorado, Arizona, Illinois, not so much.  Setting up sales people across the country would likely require at least one person in each of these states.

We also established a NorthStar scoring system from 1-16.  Points were established for their social media presence, mentioning their competitors, mentioning them, if they talk about "low voltage" and more.  Their dashboard allows them to move the dials to view the irrigation distribution across the country based on their NorthStar score.

Here's what the US looks like when we search out irrigation companies that have a NorthStar score of 8 or more that also mention "low voltage."  It looks like we just removed most of the west coast doesn't it!

If we reduce the minimum score to 1 and remove the low voltage requirement, the US is very well covered:

Virtual Yoga Business
As many of you know, prior to this venture, I was in the subscription and transactional video on demand business.  We had a number of clients in the fitness business.  Subscription businesses are recurring revenue businesses that keep on giving (i.e. generating revenue) once you get customers signed up.  In fact, if you have a $10/mo product and you add 10 new customers a day for a year, your ARR will be over $400k with a low churn rate.  That's powerful!Yoga businesses are typically recurring revenue businesses - people pay month after month.  So why not create a subscription Yoga business that you can attend right from home?  Why build your own Yoga studio to this?  Why not just put cameras in existing Yoga studios and allow them to post their live video sessions for anyone in the world (who has a subscription) to attend the class?
Again, using NorthStar to find existing Yoga studios is easy enough!  Maybe they want to see if the studio already has a video or DVD for sale.  What else might they want to look for?  Hopefully you're getting the picture here.  NorthStar can help you triage your calling list to determine who to call and in what order. 

Rehab Marketing Firm

A marketing firm specializing in providing referrals for rehab centers, asked us to find the "good guys" in this business.  Many "bad guys" enter this business and scam people for money.  It's always difficult to imagine that families are tricked in their worst hours of darkness.  It's easy enough to identify rehab centers around the US.  However, they decided that they know the top 10 firms in the country that they are going to focus on first and then they will come back to us.  We appreciate a focused sales approach. 

As I stated in the title, it's all about sales in the end.  The more sales you have, the more revenue you have and ultimately the more success you'll have.  In the services business, each person that's billable is additional revenue.  In the product business, each new sale is additional revenue.  Let's go get some business together!  Give us a call at 303.223.4304 or visit us on the web.  Or send us a note (through the website).  We would LOVE to work with you and be successful together!

Netflix Genres

Mon, 2017-02-06 11:10
Today Netflix posted a "secret" list of "easy to access" genres...easy for the technical person anyway.  So I created this list to help you find them anytime you want.  Save this post and just go directly to any genre.

Action & Adventure: Go
Action Comedies: Go
Action Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Go
Action Thrillers: Go
Adult Animation: Go
Adventures: Go
African Movies: Go
Alien Sci-Fi: Go
Animal Tales: Go
Anime: Go
Anime Action: Go
Anime Comedies: Go
Anime Dramas: Go
Anime Fantasy: Go
Anime Features: Go
Anime Horror: Go
Anime Sci-Fi: Go
Anime Series: Go
Art House Movies: Go
Asian Action Movies: Go
Australian Movies: Go
B-Horror Movies: Go
Baseball Movies: Go
Basketball Movies: Go
Belgian Movies: Go
Biographical Docs: Go
Biographical Dramas: Go
Boxing Movies: Go
British Movies: Go
British TV Shows: Go
Campy Movies: Go
Children & Family Movies: Go
Chinese Movies: Go
Classic Action & Adventure: Go
Classic Comedies: Go
Classic Dramas: Go
Classic Foreign Movies: Go
Classic Movies: Go
Classic Musicals: Go
Classic Romantic Movies: Go
Classic Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Go
Classic Thrillers: Go
Classic TV Shows: Go
Classic War Movies: Go
Classic Westerns: Go
Comedies: Go
Comic Book and Superhero: Go
Country & Western/Folk: Go
Courtroom Dramas: Go
Creature Features: Go
Crime Action & Adventure: Go
Crime Documentaries: Go
Crime Dramas: Go
Crime Thrillers: Go
Crime TV Shows: Go
Cult Comedies: Go
Cult Horror Movies: Go
Cult Movies: Go
Cult Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Go
Cult TV Shows: Go
Dark Comedies: Go
Deep Sea Horror Movies: Go
Disney: Go
Disney Musicals: Go
Documentaries: Go
Dramas: Go
Dramas based on Books: Go
Dramas based on real life: Go
Dutch Movies: Go
Eastern European Movies: Go
Education for Kids: Go
Epics: Go
Experimental Movies: Go
Faith & Spirituality: Go
Faith & Spirituality Movies: Go
Family Features: Go
Fantasy Movies: Go
Film Noir: Go
Food & Travel TV: Go
Football Movies: Go
Foreign Action & Adventure: Go
Foreign Comedies: Go
Foreign Documentaries: Go
Foreign Dramas: Go
Foreign Gay & Lesbian Movies: Go
Foreign Horror Movies: Go
Foreign Movies: Go
Foreign Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Go
Foreign Thrillers: Go
French Movies: Go
Gangster Movies: Go
Gay & Lesbian Dramas: Go
German Movies: Go
Greek Movies: Go
Historical Documentaries: Go
Horror Comedy: Go
Horror Movies: Go
Independent Action & Adventure: Go
Independent Comedies: Go
Independent Dramas: Go
Independent Movies: Go
Independent Thrillers: Go
Indian Movies: Go
Irish Movies: Go
Italian Movies: Go
Japanese Movies: Go
Jazz & Easy Listening: Go
Kids Faith & Spirituality: Go
Kids Music: Go
Kids' TV: Go
Korean Movies: Go
Korean TV Shows: Go
Late Night Comedies: Go
Latin American Movies: Go
Latin Music: Go
Martial Arts Movies: Go
Martial Arts, Boxing & Wrestling: Go
Middle Eastern Movies: Go
Military Action & Adventure: Go
Military Documentaries: Go
Military Dramas: Go
Military TV Shows: Go
Miniseries: Go
Mockumentaries: Go
Monster Movies: Go
Movies based on children's books: Go
Movies for ages 0 to 2: Go
Movies for ages 2 to 4: Go
Movies for ages 5 to 7: Go
Movies for ages 8 to 10: Go
Movies for ages 11 to 12: Go
Music & Concert Documentaries: Go
Music: Go
Musicals: Go
Mysteries: Go
New Zealand Movies: Go
Period Pieces: Go
Political Comedies: Go
Political Documentaries: Go
Political Dramas: Go
Political Thrillers: Go
Psychological Thrillers: Go
Quirky Romance: Go
Reality TV: Go
Religious Documentaries: Go
Rock & Pop Concerts: Go
Romantic Comedies: Go
Romantic Dramas: Go
Romantic Favorites: Go
Romantic Foreign Movies: Go
Romantic Independent Movies: Go
Romantic Movies: Go
Russian: Go
Satanic Stories: Go
Satires: Go
Scandinavian Movies: Go
Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Go
Sci-Fi Adventure: Go
Sci-Fi Dramas: Go
Sci-Fi Horror Movies: Go
Sci-Fi Thrillers: Go
Science & Nature Documentaries: Go
Science & Nature TV: Go
Screwball Comedies: Go
Showbiz Dramas: Go
Showbiz Musicals: Go
Silent Movies: Go
Slapstick Comedies: Go
Slasher and Serial Killer Movies: Go
Soccer Movies: Go
Social & Cultural Documentaries: Go
Social Issue Dramas: Go
Southeast Asian Movies: Go
Spanish Movies: Go
Spiritual Documentaries: Go
Sports & Fitness: Go
Sports Comedies: Go
Sports Documentaries: Go
Sports Dramas: Go
Sports Movies: Go
Spy Action & Adventure: Go
Spy Thrillers: Go
Stage Musicals: Go
Stand-up Comedy: Go
Steamy Romantic Movies: Go
Steamy Thrillers: Go
Supernatural Horror Movies: Go
Supernatural Thrillers: Go
Tearjerkers: Go
Teen Comedies: Go
Teen Dramas: Go
Teen Screams: Go
Teen TV Shows: Go
Thrillers: Go
Travel & Adventure Documentaries: Go
TV Action & Adventure: Go
TV Cartoons: Go
TV Comedies: Go
TV Documentaries: Go
TV Dramas: Go
TV Horror: Go
TV Mysteries: Go
TV Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Go
TV Shows: Go
Urban & Dance Concerts: Go
Vampire Horror Movies: Go
Werewolf Horror Movies: Go
Westerns: Go
World Music Concerts: Go
Zombie Horror Movies: Go

Selling Books on Amazon vs. Intelivideo

Thu, 2015-09-17 21:44
For the last couple of years I've heard that publishers don't like selling their books through Amazon.  The way I heard it described sounded like Amazon was forcing (or pushing) you to sell books for under $10.  It's actually pretty complicated as to how their pricing works, so I've attempted to simplify for you here.  If you want the details, you can read more here:

Basically you have to pick which plan you’re on.  The 35% or 70% royalty plan.  At first glance, you would ask - why would anyone pick the 35% royalty plan?  Let's see, you do all of the research, write the book, take a book through 5 edits and get it to the point of publishing and Amazon is going to keep 35 "or" 70% of the revenue generated?  Logically who would say they only want to keep 35%?  It's more complicated - i.e. strings are attached to each choice.

If you pick the 70% royalty plan, you keep as much as 70% (minus delivery costs and with about 100 other rules) of whatever they sell it for.  But according to the small print, on a number of your sales, you’ll actually keep 35% of whatever they sell it for.  Here's the real kicker - if you want to keep 70% (minus delivery costs, VAT, etc), they force you to set the list price to $2.99 to $9.99 AND by the way they will keep 65% if they sell it in other countries, etc.  If you choose the 35% royalty plan (keep in mind, they are are keeping 65%), you can set the price between $2.99 and $200.  You can sell it for less than $2.99 (i.e. down to $.99) if you have a small book (i.e. less than 10Mb footprint).  They also say that the list price must be at least 20% below the lowest physical list price for the physical book.  Wow - SO many rules!

So Amazon charges (keeps) 30% (minus delivery costs) to 65% (and it’s usually this amount) and has minimum and maximum prices you can charge and a lot of rules AND it’s Amazon’s customer (not yours).

The 2 pricing options are explained (and tough to understand) here:

And their FAQ is here:

We're soon to release (secure) eBook functionality at Intelivideo.  So how does it work?  If you pick the Pro Plan, you keep 85% of the revenue and you can set the price to whatever price you want.  We have some other fine print, but overall I can assure you that our pricing is WAY better than Amazon's offer - and it's your customer.  You can sell them more products.  You can do promotions to them.  You can upsell them.  I'm shocked by Amazon's model and now understand the frustration others have!

Loose Rules Sink Fools

Tue, 2015-09-01 22:11
You've probably heard someone talk about how awesome it is that they get to bring their dog to work.  Or how there is NO dress code.  Or they have unlimited vacation.

Many corporate cultures have what I would call loose rules.  Most people do not like confrontation - in fact, many people will do anything to avoid it.  Which means they will not tell you when you're in the gray area of the corporate culture - but believe me, they take note.

Loose rules include dress code to bringing dogs to work and many others.  Does dress code matter for the job you're doing?  What if you're in sales and NEVER leave the office?  What if you RARELY leave the office, but sometimes you do?  What if the CEO stops by and says "hey, can you run to this meeting with me (or for me) tonight.  Then they look at how you're dressed and say "maybe next time?"  Yes, you're within the "rules" but it WILL affect your career - and not usually in a positive way.

Bring your dog to work.  Where's the line?  What if someone gets a puppy, which they bring to work every day?  Yes, puppies are cute, REALLY cute. What if you're the person that brought the puppy in every day?  You spend an hour taking the puppy for a walk, taking it outside (while it has you trained rather than visa versa).  Or worse yet, every time your boss walks by, someone is distracted by petting your puppy?  They cute!  Too cute to pass!  You're negatively affecting productivity.  Again, this is not likely to work well for your career.

Many companies have gone to unlimited vacation.  What if 2 weeks after you start, you take a 2 month vacation?  According to policy that's OK, but I wouldn't expect you to have a job when you return.  Where's the line?  What's gray?   What's acceptable?

Are you within the rules in each of the above examples?  Absolutely, but loose rules have unspoken rules.  Rules nobody will actually admit to quite often.  Startups go through a number of stages in a very short period of time.  People are evaluated regularly based on the current company stage.  Some people survive from one stage to the next and others do not.  Those who are not performing or viewed as not performing (e.g. taking care of their puppy all day) do not.

Don't let the loose rules sink your career!

A Startup is Like Making a Trip to Each Continent

Sun, 2015-08-30 22:43
Maybe you realize how difficult it is to go from an idea to a successful company.  Maybe you've attempted one (or more) yourself.  Is the American dream a startup?  It is for some, but not all.  If you start a company and you're the only employee and you don't get paid, is your business a startup?  Is it successful?  Beauty and success are in the eye of beholder.  You might hear people suggest you set your sites and expectations lower so you guarantee success.  In fact, you might hear a lot of different conflicting things over your life.  In Founders Institute we call this "mentor whiplash."  One mentor says yes, another so no.  One says go and another says stop.  There's no right way to do most things in the startup world.  Set your own goals - think about your definition of success and strive for it...every day.

One thing I do know is that MOST people need a partner or partners to "complete them."  In other words, we all have gaps (and strengths) in our personality.  Your partners should fill your gaps.  If they don't, your company will have a gap.  If you're a perfectionist, you're going to want to find a partner who isn't.  If you're a detailed person, you're going to find a partner who isn't.  If you don't have any gaps, congrats!  I have many!

So how is a startup similar to making a trip to every continent?  First, when I say startup, I'm referring to a funded startup.  If you're trying to build a lifestyle company (i.e. one that provides a nice lifestyle for you), don't take someone else's money to do this - they will NOT be happy.  If you can build a business on your own and without any money, that's a dream come true for many.  That's not my dream.  So like I said, the basic premise here is that you're building a business that is going to require capital (i.e. money) to get it going.

When do you raise your first dollar?  My preference is to raise money as soon as you can.  In other words, don't spend any more of your own money to start the business than you absolutely need to.  Even if you have money.  Why?  Because in my view, if you can't get someone else to believe in your idea, it probably isn't a fundable idea.

So let's say you start your trip in a rich continent such as North America.  You can get to a lot of places by driving around.  Some might be safe, some might not.  In fact, you can probably get to your second continent without hopping on a plane - i.e. South America.  We could say that's similar to your "self funding" stage of your business.  At some point you're going to have to take off on a plane to get to the next continent.  In the startup world, continents are like "fund raising series."

The first round of funding (continent 1 - North America) is your own cash.  Make this your smallest and quickest continent to get behind you.  The second round (continent 2 - South America) is your seed round.  This is sometimes called the friends and family round.  Get people believing in your idea ASAP.  Get your seed funding ASAP.  The 3rd round, your Series A round (continent 3 - Australia) is a stretch.  It's a long and big flight.  Most companies frankly never get to this phase.  Maybe you're able to go to Europe instead and the flight is shorter.  It's still a long way and you better have the fuel you need to get to that next round.

So yes, if you start in North America, using your own money, you might have a lot of money.  You might have a nice vehicle to get to your next continent.  But at some point, to get to continent 3 of 7, you're going to have to take off.  When are you going to fuel up next?  Are you going to attempt to fly around the entire world without refueling?  Of course not.  That would be similar to trying to raise $1B in your first round of funding.  It will never happen.

Seed round valuations tend to range from $1M to $3M.  If you're a proven startup person and 100s of other "ifs," you're probably not reading my blog, but yes, you're seed round valuation would be higher.  If you only have an idea, you're initial valuation may be $0 and it could be less than $1M.

If you try to fuel up in the middle of the ocean, you're going to run out of fuel and crash.  If you stop in a dangerous place (i.e. the wrong investors, investors who run out of money, investors with the wrong expectations, etc), you could also be extorted for money.  Depending on where you stop, fuel could be reasonable or it could be expensive.  The more you need the fuel, the more expensive it is.  All of this is true in the startup world too.  If you don't make it to the next continent (funding stage) with your fuel (funding), you're done.  If you stop in the wrong place (i.e. you don't have the right metrics in place by the time you get there), your next funding round might not be fatal, but it could be VERY expensive (i.e. a low valuation equal a high percentage of stock you give up for very little money).

It's important to plan your trip (i.e. startup).  It's important that you can make it to the next continent safely.  Where you start is important.  Focus is important.  If you deliver a message like "we'll do that" for everything a potential investor brings up, they will not want to give you the fuel (cash) you need.  What if you pulled into a gas station (called an FBO in the flight world) with $1000 on you.  Let's say the FBO has a casino in it.  On your walk to the casino you notice a bar, so you stop in there.  You go into the casino and bet $500 on black.  What would your crew (your employees) have to say about your behavior?  A bit confused about the goal?  A lack of focus on the goal here?  What would your investors (i.e. the FBO employees) feel about your ability to pay for the fuel?  Have a mission and live for it.  Know what you need to do and do it.

Whatever you do, bet the farm on your focus.  One thing, not 2, not 3.  Don't try to be more than one thing.  Don't fuel up or raise money in the wrong location (i.e. bad investors) or at the wrong time (i.e. middle of the ocean).  Keep in mind that you MUST get to the next continent with whatever you have from your last funding round.  In other words, DO NOT try to raise money $30k at a time.  You'll spend all of your money raising money and you'll end up in the middle of the ocean without any more fuel.  Each round needs to get you to the next round -'s going to be costly or deadly.

Prepare for your trip.  Be ready.  Your investors are your lifeline to the next continent.  Respect them and do what they expect you to do to get to the next round.  If you don't, you both lose - unless they get your company and then they do something good with it.  But that's not what they want.  That's not what you want.  Good luck and safe travels!

Thank you to Daniel Feher for the use of his amazing maps.  You can find more great maps on his website:

Worrying about the 4th Bullet?

Sun, 2015-08-23 21:12
I love analogies that are very meaningful and get the point across.  I often hear businesses talking about different subjects that concern them.  You could say this is similar to the days of the old west where people carried their weapons on their belt and used them at will.  Back then, did people worry about the 4th bullet in the gun?  Of course not.  They worried about the 1st bullet.

So why is it that in business we're often worried about the 4th bullet that's going to kill us?  For example, let's say your business needs revenue, has expenses, is not making a profit.  Should you worry about your legal contracts?  Should you worry about employee retention?  Employee onboarding?  Other topics?

Of course those things are important, but...what's most important?  How do you get to profitability?  More revenue?  Fewer expenses?  More customers?  More from your existing customers?  The 1st bullet that will kill a business is the lack of revenue.

In real estate, the 3 most important things are location, location, and location.  In business, the 3 most important things are focus, focus, and focus (on the 1st bullet).

Focus on the 1st bullet every day, not the 4th bullet!

I have an idea for an app, what's next?

Tue, 2014-12-30 18:44
This is a question that I get asked quite often.  My first thoughts are:

1. An app isn't necessarily a business.
2. Can you generate enough revenue to pay for the development?
3. There is usually more to an app than just the app.
4. Which platforms?

I thought I'd take this opportunity to address each of these points in more detail.  Before I do this, I think it's important to say that I don't consider myself to be the world's leading authority on apps, so I should explain why I get asked this question.

In 2008, when I saw my first Android phone, I was very intrigued by the ability to write an app for a phone.  I had this thought - what if I could develop an app that would I would sell and it paid for my lunch every day.  How cool would that be?  I was a Java developer (not a great one, but I could write Java code) and the Android devices used a Java development stack as their base.  So the learning curve wasn't huge for me.  More importantly, I only had to invest time, not money to write an app.

I was very much into Web Services at the time and Yahoo had (still has actually) some really cool Web Services that are available for public use.  These are based on what they call YQL (Yahoo Query Language) and since I'm a SQL (Structured Query Language) guy at heart, YQL and Web Services were right up my alley.

One of the uses of YQL included providing a location and getting all of the local events in a specified radius from that location.  So I thought I should create an app that would allow anyone to find their local events that they were interested in.  I created my first "Local Events" app and put in the market.  Not many people downloaded the app (it wasn't paying for lunch), so I started thinking about how people searched for apps.  I figured they would search for the events they were interested in - singles, beer, crafting, technical, etc.  So I created "Local Beer Events" and "Local Singles Events" and many other apps.

Another YQL search that Yahoo provides is for local businesses - again, from a specific location.  So my "second" app was centered around local businesses.  One again, I thought about how people searched for apps and I created a local Starbucks app, local Panera, local Noodles, etc.  The downside of this app was that Starbucks and many others didn't like me using their name in app name due to trademark infringements.

Back to my story of paying for lunch - I quickly paid for lunch each day and my goal became to generate $100 a day, then $1000 a day.  I did generate over $1000 in many days.  I experimented with pricing and learned a lot.

In the end, I ended up taking all of those apps off the market...or actually Google took them off the market for me.  Likely due to my app names or because I had spammed the market with over 500 apps or who knows why.

I wrote a book for Apress book on the business of writing Android apps and I spoke at numerous conferences on the topic.

It was at that point that I decided to rethink my app strategy.  What could I build that would actually be a business?  Could I charge for the app or did I need to offer an entire service?

So back to my questions above:
An app isn't necessarily a businessIf you're a developer and you can develop 100% of the app with no costs, this may not apply to you.  Most people have to pay for developers and servers to deploy an app.  A business is typically defined as an entity that makes a profit.  So income minus expenses is profit.  What will your income be from your app?  Do people actually pay for apps today?  I believe they do, but not often...i.e. there must be a LOT of value to pay for an app...especially to have enough people paying for your app.  Let's say you price your app at $2.  How many copies do you have to sell just to pay for the development?  What about the ongoing support costs?  If you paid $20k to develop the app, you would have to sell 10,000 copies to "break even."'ll have to support the app, keep it running, upgrade it, etc.  Most apps (like books) never sell 10,000 copies.  So...just creating an app isn't necessarily a business.
Can you generate enough revenue to pay for the developmentLike I said above, generating revenue for an app is tough.  Paying for the development of the app is tough.  Maybe you can generate revenue other ways?  Think about this a LOT before you decide to proceed with developing your app.
There is usually more to an app than just the appMost apps aren't standalone apps.  Sure, my "Local Starbucks" app was "standalone" in some regards, but it wasn't in other regards.  It relied on the Yahoo Web Service to deliver current Starbucks locations.  I had someone approach me about a "Need a Loo" (find a local bathroom in London) app.  They had the data for all of the bathrooms...but this changed frequently.  Could I have built the app and had the data be included in the app?  Yes, but...when the Loo locations changed, I would have had to update the app, which isn't an ideal solution.  So I had to build a database and a Web application that allowed them to maintain Loo locations.  Then I had to build web services that looked up the current Loo locations from the database.  In other words, most apps involve databases, web services, and back end systems to maintain the data.  All of these imply additional costs...which imply additional revenue that must be generated to sustain your business.

I wrote 5 books for Oracle press on the topic of web applications, web services and the like.  I know how to build the backend of apps, this was the easy part for me!
Which Platforms?When you think about an app, you might be thinking of an iPhone app if you have an iPhone or an iPad.  You might be thinking of an Android app if you have an Android phone or tablet.  There are SO many development platforms today.  iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Apple TV, Kindle Fire TV, and literally about 100 more.  There are cross platform development tools, but they tend to be what I call "least common denominator" solutions.  In other words, they will alienate someone.  If it looks like an iOS (iPhone/iPad) app, it's going to alienate the Android users...or visa-versa.  For this reason, native apps are in vogue now.

Every platform is about $30k or more in our world.  Again, all of these are expenses...that must be recouped.
Why InteliVideo?
I thought long and hard about my next generation of apps that I wanted to create.  That's when I determined that I needed to create a business...that had apps, not an app that was a business.  The video business was a natural progression for me.  I wanted to have the ability to sell my educational material (Oracle training) and deliver it in an app.  We have a LOT more than an app.  We have an entire business - that has apps.  So when you think about developing an app...think about the business, not the app.


Mon, 2014-12-22 11:27
We've struggled to figure out what to call this next generation of video delivery.  Is it "video on demand?"  The industry insiders are very specific in calling it TVOD and SVOD, which stands for transactional and subscription video on demand respectively.  Transactional video on demand means that consumers can buy or rent a video and watch it on their device.  Subscription video on demand means that consumers buy a subscription and they can watch a grouping of videos as a part of their subscription.

But what does all of this have to do with consumers and how they talk about "video on demand?"  I certainly don't hear consumers using that term.  In fact, when my son recently posted a video on Facebook, my mother-in-law (his grandma) said "that was a really cool DVD Austin."  Later she asked "that was a DVD, right?"  You could hear her questioning herself about the use of the term DVD.  Austin was a little taken back by the question, paused and said "yes grandma."  He didn't want to get into the details that a DVD is a physical implementation of storage, not a method of playing a video on Facebook.

That got me thinking about what I originally labelled this new technology as - i.e. an eDVD.  This would allow people to continue to referring to online videos as DVDs - specifically eDVDs.  So how do we change the world's view of these terms and get everyone to start calling them eDVDs?  Now that I've declare it, the world knows, right?  Well...not quite yet, but I'm sure very soon :)  Spread the word!

Digital Delivery "Badge"

Sun, 2014-12-21 00:44
At InteliVideo we have come to understand that we need to do everything we can to help our clients sell more digital content. It seems obvious that consumers want to watch videos on devices like their phones, tablets, laptops, and TVs, but it's not so obvious to the everyone. They have been using DVDs for a number of years - and likely VHS tapes before that. We believe it’s important for your customers to understand why they would want to purchase a digital product rather than a physical product (i.e. a DVD).

Better buttons drive sales.  Across all our apps and clients we know we are going to need to really nail our asset delivery process with split tests and our button and banner catalog.  We've simplified the addition of a badge on a client's page. They effectively have to add 4 lines of HTML in order to add our digital delivery badge.

Our clients can use any of the images that InteliVideo provides or we’re happy to provide an editable image file (EPS format) so they can make their own image.  Here are some of our badges that we created:

Screenshot 2014-12-16 19.39.25.png

On our client's web page, it looks something like this:

Screenshot 2014-12-17 14.01.11.png

The image above (Watch Now on Any Device) is the important component.  This is the component that our clients are placing somewhere on their web page(s).  When this is clicked, the existing page will be dimmed and the lightbox will popup and display the “Why Digital” message:

Screenshot 2014-12-17 16.31.54.png

What do your client's customers need to know about in order to help you sell more?

What does an App Cost?

Sat, 2014-12-20 17:59
People will commonly ask me this question, which has a very wide range as the answer.  You can get an app build on oDesk for nearly free - i.e. $2000 or less.  Will it provide the functionality you need?  It might!  Do you need a website that does the same thing?  Do you need a database (i.e. something beyond the app) to store your data for your customers?

Our first round of apps at InteliVideo cost us $2,000-10,000 to develop each of them.  We spent a LOT of money on the backend server code.  Our first versions were pretty fragile (i.e. broke fairly easily) and we're very sexy.  We decided that we needed to revamp our apps from stem to stern...APIs to easy branding to UI.

Here's a look at our prior version.  Our customers (people who buy videos) aren't typically buying from more than 1 of our clients - yet.  But in the prior version I saw a list of all of the products I had purchased.  It's not a very sexy UI - just a simple list of videos:

When I drilled into a specific product, again I see a list of videos within the product:

I can download or play a video in a product:

Here's what it looks like for The Dailey Method:

Here's the new version demonstrating the branding for Chris Burandt.  I've purchased a yearly subscription that currently includes 73 videos.  I scroll (right not down) through those 73 videos here:

Or if I click on the title, I get to see a list of the videos in more detail:

Notice the colors (branding) is shown everywhere here.  I scrolled up to look through those videos:

Here's a specific video that talked about a technique to set your sled unstuck:

Here's what the app looks like when I'm a The Dailey Method customer.  Again, notice the branding everywhere:

Looking at a specific video and it's details:

We built a native app for iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod), Android, Windows and Mac that has all of the same look, feel, functionality, etc.  This was a MAJOR undertaking!

The good news is that if you want to start a business and build an MVP (Minimally Viable Product) to see if there is actually a market for your product, you don't have to spend hundreds of thousands to do so...but you might have to later!

Do You Really Need a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

Fri, 2014-12-19 10:39
When I first heard about Amazon's offering called CloudFront I really didn't understand what it offered and who would want to use it.  I don't think they initially called it a content delivery network (CDN), but I could be wrong about that.  Maybe it was just something I didn't think I needed at that time.

Amazon states it well today (as you might expect).  The offering "gives developers and businesses an easy way to distribute content to end users with low latency, and high data transfer speeds."

So when you hear the word "content" what is it that you think about?  What is content?  First off, it's digital content. pages?  That's what I initially thought of.  But it's really any digital content.  Audio books, videos, PDFs - files of any time, any size.

When it comes to distributing this digital content, why would you need to do this with low latency and/or high transfer speeds?  Sure, this is important if your website traffic scales up from 1-10 concurrent viewers to millions overnight.  How realistic is that for your business?  What about the other types of content - such as videos?  Yep, now I'm referring to what we do at InteliVideo!

A CDN allows you to scale up to any number of customers viewing or downloading your content concurrently.  Latency can be translated to "slowness" when you're trying to download a video when you're in Japan because it's moving the file across the ocean.  The way that Amazon handles this is that they move the file across the ocean using their fast pipes (high speed internet) between their data centers and then the customer downloads the file effectively directly from Japan.

Imagine that you have this amazing set of videos that you want to bundle up and sell to millions of people.  You don't know when your sales will go viral, but when it happens you want to be ready!  So how do you implement a CDN for your videos, audios, and other content?  Leave that to us!

So back to the original question.  Do you really need a content delivery network?  Well...what if you could get all of the benefits of having one without having to lift a finger?  Would you do it then?  Of course you would!  That's exactly what we do for you.  We make it SUPER simple - i.e. it's done 100% automatically for our clients and their customers.  Do you really need a CDN?  It depends on how many concurrent people are viewing your content and where they are located.

For my Oracle training classes that I offer through BDB Software, I have customers from around the world, which I personally find so cool!  Does BDB Software need a CDN?  It absolutely makes for a better customer experience and I have to do NOTHING to get this benefit!

Elephants and Tigers - V8 of the Website

Thu, 2014-12-18 21:54
It's amazing how much work goes into a one page website these days!  We've been working on our new version of our website (which is basically one page) for the last month or so.  The content is "easy" part on one hand and the look and feel / experience is the time consuming part.  To put it another way, it's all about the entire experience, not just the text/content.

Since we're a video company, it's important that they first page show some video...which required production and editing.  We're hunting elephants, so we need to tell the full story of the implementations that we've done for our large clients.  What all can you sell on our platform?  A video?  Audio books?  Movies?  TV Shows?  What else?  We needed to talk about our onboarding process for the big guys.  What's the shopping cart integration look like?  We have an entirely new round of apps coming out soon, so we need to show those off.  We need to answer that question of "What do our apps look like?"    Everybody wants analytics right?  You want to know who watched what - for how long, when and where!  What about all of the ways you can monetize - subscriptions (SVOD), transactional (TVOD) - rentals and purchases, credit-based purchases, and more.  What about those enterprises who need to restrict (or allow) viewing based on location?

Yes, it's quite a story that we've learned over the past few years.  Enterprises (a.k.a. Elephants) need it all.  We're "enterprise guys" after all.  It's natural for us to hunt Elephants.

Let's walk through this step-by-step.  In some ways it's like producing movie.  A lot of moving parts, a lot of post editing and ultimately comes down to the final cut.

What is that you want to deliver?  Spoken word?  TV Shows?  Training?  Workouts?  Maybe you want to jump right into why digital, how to customize or other topics...

Let's talk about why go digital?  Does it seem obvious to you?  It's not obvious to everyone.  Companies are still selling a lot of DVDs.

Any device, anywhere, any time!  That's how your customers want the content.

We have everything from APIs to Single Sign On, and SO much more...we are in fact an enterprise solution.

It's time to talk about the benefits.  We have these awesome apps that we've spent a fortune developing and allowing our clients to have full branding experience as you see here for UFC FIT.

We integrate to most of our large customers existing shopping carts.  We simply receive an instant payment notification from them to authorize a new customer.

I'm a data guy at heart, so we track everything about who's watching what, where they are watching from and so much more.  Our analytics reporting shows you this data.  Ultimately this leads to strategic upsell to existing customers.  It's always easier to sell someone who's already purchased over a new customer.

What website would be complete without a full list of client testimonials?

If you can dream up a way to monetize your content, we can implement it.  Credit based subscription systems to straight out purchase...we have it all!

What if you want to sell through affiliates?  How about selling the InteliVideo platform as an affiliate?  Our founders came from ClickBank, so we understand Affiliate payments and how to process them.

Do you need a step-by-step guide to our implementation process?  Well...if so, here you have it!  It's as simple as 5 steps.  For some customers this is a matter of hours and for others it's months.  The first step is simply signing up for an InteliVideo account at: 

We handle payment processing for you if you would like.  But...most big companies have already negotiated their merchant processing rates AND they typically already have a shopping cart.  So we integrate as needed.

Loading up your content is pretty easy with our platform.  Then again, we have customers with as few as one product and others with thousands of products and 10s of thousands of assets (videos, audio files, etc.).  Most of our big customers simply send us a drive.  We have a bulk upload process where you give us your drive and all of the metadata (descriptions) and the mapping of each...and we load it all up for you.

Our customers can use our own sales pages and/or membership area...or we have a template engine that allows for comprehensive redesign of the entire look and feel.  Out of the box implementations are simple...

Once our clients sign off on everything and our implementation team does as's time to buy your media, promote your products and start selling.  We handle the delivery.

For those who would like to sign up or need more information, what website would be complete without a contact me page?  There are other pages (like our blog, about us, etc), but this page has a lot of information.  It's a story.  At the bottom of the page there is a "Small Business" link, which takes you to the prior version of our website...for small businesses.

As I said at the beginning of this blog's amazing how much thought goes into a new web page!  We're very excited about our business.  Hopefully this post helped you think through how you want to tell the stories about your business.  How should you focus on your elephants and tigers?  How often should you update your website?  Go forth and crush it!

This new version of our website should be live in the next day or always, I'd love to hear your feedback!

Elephant Hunting

Wed, 2014-12-17 11:00
Most every startup that I've watched (and been part of) has grand plans of virality.  Build it and they will not just come to you, but they will flock to you!  There is a dream that what you have built is going to change the world and it's going to be so obvious to everyone that they will want to share the news with all of their friends.  It's a good dream and there is a dose of reality that hits you dead in the face at some point.

When I started InteliVideo, it seemed SO clear to me that we had developed an amazing offering that everyone would tell all of their friends about us.  It was also clear to me that all of my friends who were in the training business (doing training in person or virtually - via WebEx) would choose to start offering their training through our platform.  After all, they have a brand, they have a customer base and they want to provide their training to their customers.  They certainly don't want to put their training into YouTube and serve it up for free.  They certainly don't want their customer to watch their training and then at the end of the video for them to see 10 of their competitors videos to choose from.  This seemed so obvious to me. clearly wasn't clear to them because they didn't flock to our platform - even though I offered it to them repeatedly.

After all, I knew just how easy it was for me to create my content (i.e. record a video lesson), bundle up a series of lessons into a product, set a price and away I went, selling my training online.  I knew just how excited and energized many of my students were to be able to watch my training.  They could watch it one time or 1000 times - at their own learning pace.  I could see their progress!  In fact, I knew that many of students came to me and asked for additional custom lessons, which I charged them a consulting fee to produce for them (i.e. $200 for one lesson).  I set up the lesson at $200 in the platform (without any videos in it), asked them to pay for the lesson, then I recorded it and attached it to the product...and reduced the price of the lesson for future purchasers to $15-25.  In other words, I created new content for a fee AND I was able to sell it time and time again.

You see, I've written 6 technical books (on average about 1000 pages each) that took 6-12 month of my life to write.  Sure, it generates credibility in a subject area, but it doesn't generate a lot of direct revenue.  Whereas recording and then selling a video-based course requires less than one one hundredth of the effort of writing a book for the same, actually better output.

Where am I going with all of this?  Well...after trying to convince 1000s of small business owners that they should use our platform, offering them free trials to see just how easy it is, talking endlessly about what's in it for them, we concluded that this futile effort of virality is insanity.  The common definition I hear for insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.  We continued to try to convince people - sure with more convincing messages - but the "conversion rate" (the number of people who signed up and were successful) was not good.

When we stopped and looked at who are real customers are that generate real revenue, we quickly discovered that they are what we might refer to as elephants.  Big companies who completely understand how to develop, curate, sell, and ultimately deliver valuable content to their customers...who buy from them time and time again.

So we changed our approach and our website to communicate to the elephants.  This new approach will go live today.  The "old approach" will show up as a "Small Business" link at the bottom of the page.  The new approach explains the deeper details of integration, APIs and things that are important to the larger companies who know to sell their valuable content.

We've had GREAT success with our elephants and we're VERY excited about where they are taking us!  We have a TON of new functionality that we continue to roll out each week.  We have integrated with a number of shopping carts.  We've created a new template system that will allow us to create a completely different look and feel for each of our clients.  We're launching a whole new series of brandable apps in the next few weeks.  We completely understand just how important our apps are to our success and have spent a fortune recreating our apps from the ground up.

It's been an exceptionally gifted ride over the last year.  We finalized our series A round this summer. Startups are an adrenaline junkie's dream job.  One day you're riding high on your laurels of success and the next day you're wondering how you're going to get to a cash flow positive position.  All the while, life, real life goes on.  Your family continues to age, grow up, build their own businesses and maybe you're not out having as much "fun" as you might like to.  For me that translates to not riding my dirt bike or snowmobile as much as I would like.  But I'm having fun in the business - that's the tradeoff.

That's what I call opportunity cost.  Each day you could be doing what you're doing or something else.  Take a minute to think about the cost of what you're doing right now.  Should you be hunting virality or elephants?

DRM Free Downloads - Is That OK?

Fri, 2014-08-22 23:01
I talked to a prospect today that was using a competitive platform to deliver their video products.  We talked extensively about differentiation of InteliVideo over their current platform (from brand to analytics to customers to apps and so on).  But one thing that came up had to do with DRM free downloads.  You might think that's a good thing if you don't understand what it they did.  I said "so you're OK with your customers downloading the MP4 and putting it on YouTube or emailing it to their friends or throwing it on a thumb drive."  He said, "no, our customer's can't do that."  So I showed him the language on their website (DRM free downloads), to which he replied, "right, it's protected."  When I looked puzzled, he said "what is DRM?"  I said DRM stands for Digital Rights Management.  You can think of it as protection.  So that wording is saying "you get this video that has NO protection, use it as you wish."  Of course there's likely wording in the click through contract that says the customer is only supposed to use the content on their own devices.'ve just handed them a risky piece of content. my humble opinion, I was say that "no" - DRM free downloads is not OK.

How the Big Boys Do It!

Fri, 2014-08-22 17:03
We have a number of VERY large (video on demand) customers.  We've broken our customer-base into 3 categories:

1. Infoprenuers - these are companies who do something and have video, but video is not their primary business.  For example, RunBare.  Their primary business is teaching people how to run in your barefeet.  They do have a video on this topic, along with books and other items.  Another example is BDB Software, which is my original side consulting business.  I started it to sell online Oracle Application Express training.  So all the business does is video, yet, I'm the CEO at InteliVideo.  That's my primary business - so BDB is just a side business.  You could say that Infoprenuers are wannabes.

2. Enterprise Content Providers (ECP) - these are companies who's primary business revolves around selling digital goods, education, etc. online.  These are the "big boys" of our industry.  In this blog post I'm going to talk more about how the Infoprenuer can become an ECP.

3. Corporations - these are companies that use video content to educate their own employees.  They typically aren't interested in selling their videos, they are interested in protecting their videos.

So how do the big boys become so big.  Like any business, it's typically over an extended period of time.  Even those who focus on infomercials are not usually overnight successes.  Take P90X or Beachbody.  They've been selling DVDs for MANY years.  Infomercials contribute to their success, but also the fact that they figured out how to do affiliate marketing is another large piece of their success.

So how do they do it?  Creative marketing, marketing, and more marketing - lots of it!  Promotions, A/B split tests, refining the message and analyzing what works and building on it.  Said another way, they are professional marketers!  You might ask - social marketing or pay per click marketing or SEO or.... - the answer is yes.

You want to get big?  Well's time to focus.  On what?  One guess!

Employee or Member Training

Wed, 2014-08-20 20:12
Do you have a group of employees or members that you would like to train?  Would you like to make the training available for a limited time only - such as for 2 weeks?  Would you like to have the ability to take the ability to view the training away at your discretion (such as when an employee leaves the company)?  Would you like to know who watched which videos?  For example, did Jim watch the introductory video on Tuesday as he said he did?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, I have great news for you!  The InteliVideo platform supports all of these needs and more.  In fact, you can upload any number of videos, you can group them as you wish, you can give people access or deny access at any time (even if they have downloaded videos to their iPad, they will no longer be able to watch them once you deny access.

Below I'm going to run you through an actual use case for a company that's using our platform to train their employees.

Signing Up for an InteliVideo AccountSigning up for InteliVideo is an easy, painless and free process.  First, go to the InteliVideo site and click on "Sign Up:"

You will be asked for your subdomain name (typically something like your company name), first name, last name and email address.  Finally, just fill in the Captcha (anti-spammer protection) information and click on "Create Account."

You will then receive an email that will provide your InteliVideo account information.  Congratulations!  You're getting closer!
Customizing the Site with Your Logo, Color Scheme, etc.
Once you create your account, you'll be taken to the "Display" page within the InteliVideo administration / backend pages.  This is where you can update your subdomain name, logo, color schemes, page header, choose a template (look and feel) and so much more.  We work with most of our customers to make sure that the look and feel of their main website matches the look and feel of their InteliVideo website.  If you want to point your domain to our website, we can do that for you too.  For example, if you signed up for and you want to change it to, we can even do that for you!
Signing Up for a Paid AccountUnder "Account Settings" and then "My Plan" you can sign up for a paid account.  The highest value is in the $249/year account.  It includes more videos, storage, etc. in the plan.  You can always go over the number of hours or minutes provided, we just charge by the minute for those overages.

Uploading Your Video(s)Uploading your videos is easy!  Simply drag and drop your videos into the platform and we do the rest for you!  When you click on the "Videos" tab, you'll see an "Upload Videos" button.  Click on this button, which will present you with a window like this one:

You can drag and drop any video file into the "Drag file here" section or you choose files, import them from Dropbox, download from a URL and there are other options.  If you have 100s of video files, we will work directly with you to get your videos into the platform.  Most of our customers who have more than 100 videos will send us a hard drive with the videos and we'll upload them.

Once the videos are uploaded, we take care of transcoding.  Transcoding is just a fancy way of saying that we convert just about any source video file format (MOV file, AVI file, VOB, etc.) into a number of different resolutions and formats so that your video will play on any device.  Another way of explaining this is that we take care of the hard stuff for you.

You'll see your videos in the list along with a status.  If the video file is corrupt, you would see an error message, but most of the time once your videos are transcoded, you'll see that you can watch the video as you see here below:

You can also edit the details (i.e. the description, if it's a public or private video, etc.) by clicking the edit button:

As you can see, you can edit the short (title) and long description here.  You can also indicate whether a video is public or private here.  Public means anyone can view it for free.  Private means you must be a member (or buyer) to view the video.  The override image allows you to upload an image that should be used as the default background image for the video.  If you don't upload an override image, we extract the first frame of the video and we use that image.

If there is a 1:1 correlation between your video and a product, you can click on "Create Product" in the list of videos page above.  Most of the time a product is made up of more than 1 video, but sometimes this is a good starting point for a product.  You can always add more videos to a product.
Grouping Your Video(s) into a ProductIf you didn't click the "Create Product" button above, you'll need to create a product.  A Product is simply a bundle of videos that you wish to offer to the public, for sale or for members.

Click on the "Products" and then click on "New Product."  You'll see that there are a number of options here:

Again, you can set a short (title) and long description for your product.  You can determine whether the product is available to the public, members only or for sale.  If it's for sale, you can determine if the product is a one time payment, a rental, subscription or installment payment.
Offering Products for Sale
If you want to sell your products, you must connect your InteliVideo account with a Stripe account.  If you don't have an existing Stripe account, you can create one through our platform.  If you already have a Stripe account, you can connect to that account.  Either way, click on "Connect with Stripe" and we'll walk you through step-by-step what if required to connect InteliVideo and Stripe.
Granting Access to a Product / VideoAny product that is available for sale or for members only can be granted access (or revoked/denied) manually.  Click on the "Customers" tab, which will show you a list of your existing customers/members.  To add a new customer or member, click on "New Customer:"

Enter the first and last name along with the email of the person and select any products that you would like them to have access to.  IPs allow indicates how many unique locations you want the user to be able to access your video from.  The default is 8.  If you wanted them to be able to access it from one computer only, you could change this to 1.

You can view any customer/member by clicking on their name from the customer page.  You can click on "Edit User" to disable the user.  As you can see here, when you drill into a user, you'll see their usage stats:

When you edit the user, you can disable the user at any time.
Timed or Dripped ContentWithin the details of every product, you can reorder the videos and the order they are displayed in by dragging any video into the correct order:

You can also set up a delayed delivery schedule or "drip schedule" for each video.  In other words, if you want Module 1 to be available for days 0 through 7 (first week), you can set that schedule up.  If you wanted all of the videos to be available for 3 weeks, you could set each video to 0 through 21.

Knowing Who's Watched WhatThe InteliVideo platform tracks all of the usage for every video whether it's watched streaming or downloaded and watched on a plane.  You saw one example of those usage statistics for a specific customer/member above.  There are MANY other ways of slicing and dicing the data to know what your customers/members are watching, what they are having a difficult time with (i.e. they are watching repeatedly), and what they aren't watching.  You can see where (in the world) they were when they were watching, what devices they watched from and so much more.  We are data guys, so believe me when I say "we track everything!"
Employee / Member's Viewing OptionsWe support about every device out there for viewing.  Most video platforms only support streaming videos.  This limits your members to watching when they have an Internet connection.  We have apps for iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android (phones and tablets), Chromecast, Roku, Windows computers, Apple computers and much much more.

The apps manage which content users can access and they keep track of those usage statistics when people are disconnected from the Internet and they upload those stats when the person's phone, tablet, laptop, etc. "phones" home.  This allows your customers or members to download a video, yet they don't have access to the source video file.  Therefore they can't archive it to watch it later.  They can't email it to their friends.  They can't post it on Facebook or YouTube.  It also allows you to control when they can no longer watch the product.  If you deny the user, they won't be able to watch the content any more.  The bottom line is that we protect your content and we don't allow people to access the content when you're done allowing them to have access.
Sign Up Today!If you're ready to sign up for an account at InteliVideo, please do so now!  We would love to have you as a customer!

Update on InteliVideo

Thu, 2013-02-21 18:57

Pivot UpdateIt's been a while since I wrote a blog entry.  I guess we've been heads down working for a while now.  I'm finally coming up for some air!  When we started InteliVideo, the focus was on providing a marketplace for people who wanted to sell their video content.  After talking to 100s of people with video content, many of which sell millions of units a year, it became clear that we needed to create a number of pricing (and service) options for our customers.  The marketplace is "high end" from a cost (to our customers) perspective.  We used to get a lot of questions about how we are different or better than iTunes.  We'll be able to answer that some day since we'll do a better job of promoting our customer's content than iTunes, but for now we're going to pivot a bit.  Since we don't really have a marketplace in place yet, we decided to focus on providing authenticated access to video content.  This could include putting a paywall in front of videos, but could also mean that our customers can simply tell us who can access a video, how long they can access it for, etc.  This could be done through our API or via an email to us (that will be read and processed automatically).  So the "slight pivot" is moving from the marketplace mentality to paywall / authenticated video viewing.  There are plenty of places that can host your videos, but providing a paywall (or authentication) in front of your video - not so much!

We developed a short video explaining what we do for our customers.

I would love to hear your feedback on this video.

When I started my consulting business, TUSC, in 1988, I wondered about how to price our consulting services.  A good friend of mine, Steve Silver recommended we ask our customers what we should charge.  This seemed counter-intuitive to me.  Would customers be honest with pricing our value?  The answer was yes - they were VERY honest about what they could pay for our world class Oracle consultants.

At InteliVideo we did a lot of research on the market and have now arrived at a pricing model.  We'll disclose this soon - when we release our new website.  It was exciting to work through this, to run it by potential customers for feedback and now to close on this chapter.

As you can see, we'll have features that are available by classes of customers.  Our monthly bundles provide HUGE value to our customers.
New sales site
In the process of revising our message, we revised our website accordingly.  Less focus on the marketplace and more focus on the value we provide to our clients.  The feedback on the site has been good!  Our primary customers are currently those companies who have historically been in the DVD replication business.  These folks have witnessed a change in their business over the last 5 years.  Many people have been quick to point out that if they receive a DVD they don't even have a DVD player anymore.  We're providing the video on demand platform for these companies.  You would never know that InteliVideo is the platform behind their offerings!  We're a complete white label solution for them!

New "Player"
We reworked our "player" in the browser to simply that for our customer's customers:

We list all of a customers videos (that they have purchased) on the right.  The top left of the page provides branding for our customers.  Below the list of videos we created an "upsell" section for our customers to advertise other things that might be of interest to their customers.  At the bottom of the page, we list all of our players (beyond the browser).

Clean, simple, easy to use!
PartnersWe've also added a couple of world class partners/founders to the business.  I'm going to assume the CEO role.  Monty Sooter, former CIO at Corporate Express (a huge customer for TUSC) and former COO for ClickBank is our President/COO.  John Hayward has joined us as our CTO.  I'm very excited to have these guys on my executive team!

Whole new design in actionI mentioned in a previous blog post that I was big on Crowdsourcing logos, website development, etc.  The last round of UI work was done through CrowdSpring (and others through 99Designs).  I really enjoy that process and the end result.  This provided us with an excellent revision in our site's look and feel.  We're in the process of using Mike Stemple to design a whole new look and feel throughout the site.  Mike's an amazing guy and so much fun to work with!  We're also working on our site flow.  It's time!

We have clients, who will upload their videos, categorize them, monitor sales and how often they are watched, and the like.  This is our "white" site.

We also have customers, who will actually be our customer's customer - i.e. they will buy a video.  This is our "dark" site, which is supposed to look and feel more like a TV.  This site will have its own set of features and benefits such as being able to watch your video on any platform.

We are working heavily on our admin side of our "white" site too.  This will provide our clients with the analytics they need, but just as important is the uploading, categorizing, etc. that I mentioned above.

A big part of our focus has been that we protect our client's content or intellectual property.  In other words, we don't simply email a customer an mp4 file and let them figure out how to play it.  We also don't email the mp4 to protect the content creator's content / IP.  In other words, that would make it very easy for them to upload it to YouTube and make it public content.

One player that we were missing was a player for the laptop or desktop computer.  Sure, you could stream the content and watch it on your browser, but you couldn't download it and watch it on an airplane (i.e. disconnected from the internet)...and you had all of the baggage of streaming too.
Laptop/desktop client
Our first attempt at a laptop/desktop player was with HTML5.  We spent December realizing this was a futile effort.  HTML5 has a lot of "disconnected" or "offline" functionality built into it.  However, HTML5 is SUPER buggy and you can't download large files (which video files are large), so we spent January creating our laptop/desktop client in Java.  With Oracle's Java FX we were able to create a client that runs on Windows, Mac, Linux AND we were able to create installers for all 3 environments / operating systems.  Our laptop/desktop player looks a LOT like the browser-based functionality...but allows you to download any of your videos.  It also manages subscriptions (i.e. you can't play a video when your subscription ends).

Android, iOS and RokuWe've had players for Android, iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Roku for a while now.  However, our iOS player didn't allow you to download your content to the device.  We reworked that application, so it now provides that functionality.  At some point we'll develop players for all of the smart TVs that are out there.  Our Android app works on the Google TV, but there are Yahoo, Samsung, etc. smart TVs out there.

SubdomainsOne feature that I love that we added is the "subdomain" functionality.  This allows our customers to establish their own subdomain within InteliVideo.  We can create an ENTIRE video site for them here or we can automatically display all of the videos in their sales library.  For example:

This allows our customers to create their own branded marketplace in seconds!

I'm always interested in your feedback, ideas, comments, suggestions!  Every day is a learning opportunity.

eDVD - From Concept to Implementation

Thu, 2012-11-01 21:07
I love the process of starting a new venture.  It's an iterative process where you come up with a concept, take it to the market for feedback, develop a minimally viable product, take that to the market for feedback and the loop continues until you have customers - or you're dead (i.e. out of time, out of money, etc.).  We're very focused on the former - lots and lots of customers!

InteliVideo start around the concept of delivering educational courses online...and allowing people to charge whatever they want to charge for a course and getting to keep 70% of it for themselves (i.e. an education and training monetization marketplace).  After talking to the market (i.e. training people like myself), I learned that many trainers enjoy traveling the world doing their training.  Unlike me, they aren't so interested in making money while they sleep.  My class is available on the InteliVideo site and if you know any trainers who want to make money while they sleep, direct them my way!  Everything is self service!

We then changed our focus to those who had existing video content they were selling (or not selling) - i.e. those people/companies selling DVDs.  After a number of discussions, we then learned that people who produce videos and then want to sell them typically go to a distributor to fulfill their sale needs.  These distributors make their customers (i.e. the producers) pre-pay for about 1000 DVDs to be distributed on average.  If they produce 30 DVDs, at any one time, they will have at least 30,000 DVDs in stock.  Those up-front costs are considerable.  These distributors also require that the producer signs a contract that says they (the distributors) have exclusivity for distribution.  That makes sense, but there is a small catch in that exclusivity.  It typically states that they can't sell their video content in ANY media - i.e. even media that hasn't been invented yet.  Specifically, if they are selling DVDs for them when they signed the contracts in 2008 and then the iPad was invented, changed the world and everyone starts moving to the digital world, these video producers are stuck!  They can't move to the digital world because of their contracts.  In other words, they no longer really own their content.  So we quickly learned that this "long tail" market wasn't a good market to focus on.  All of the "self-service" functionality (to upload, categorize, index, search engine optimize, etc.100s of videos) we built for this market works great however!

Now...this isn't true for everyone who produced video content, but it's true for a large majority of them (i.e. we'll call them the "long tailers."  It was certainly the industry norm of 2008.  Those who had a bit more leverage, actually read the contract and likely disputed that clause.  Or...they simply went to a DVD duplicator (with no handcuffs) and used or built their own sales engine.

As I've said before, good start-ups pivot (and twist and turn) to find their market.  DVD duplicators have a number of customers.  Finding customers who bring you customers is a great thing!  At the same time, most DVD duplicators have not moved into the digital world just yet.  Many that we've met with have seen their sales drop to as little as 10% of what they once were!

Here enters InteliVideo pivot #2.  Sure, we still have a platform that will work for educational training purposes AND we still have a platform that works for those video producers who actually own their content.  We also have built an excellent CRM (customer relationship management) email campaign management system into InteliVideo.  This allows those with video content to email (after all, email still rules the world) a video sampler (or trial subscription) to a prospective customer, to know how much video every prospect watched and take actions based on this information.

DVD duplicators needed an additional piece of functionality, which we've now added to InteliVideo.  This is what we call the eDVD functionality.  DVD duplicators are used to authoring DVDs for their customers.  They want to make the DVD look exactly the way they want it to look.  We quickly learned that many of them saw this as clear differentiation for them.  They not only duplicate the DVD, but they create the look and feel for their customers before doing the duplication.  The (physical) DVD review process alone requires shipping or delivering a physical product today.  Not with an eDVD!  They can of course continue to deliver a physical DVD for any or all of their customers.  But with a simple email, their customers can review an eDVD AND they can now offer an eDVD solution to their customers - transparently through InteliVideo.

For a company like Schooled that has a physical DVD for their customers, the standard InteliVideo look and feel is something like this:

You can see that the video is at the top, chapters to the right, pricing below, social media below, etc.  However, as we learned from the DVD duplicators, each producer may have their own way that they wish to display the look and feel for their eDVD.  So we created an eDVD authoring tool (through the browser).  This allows schooled to have a page that looks exactly as they want it to look.  For example:

This is powerful functionality for our customers!  Try it out here!

We're seeing some real traction with the DVD duplicators.  If you know someone in that business, point them our way!  We would love to help them move into 2013 with many differentiators over iTunes, Amazon, etc. marketplaces - here's a shortened list of functionality over the iTunes market:

  1. Cross platform - iTunes is for iPhone/iPad only.  Versus InteliVideo, which is available on iPhone, iPad, Android phones, Android Tablets, Google TVs, Yahoo TVs, Roku, your browser, etc.  In other words, it’s truly cross platform.  We also offer “in app purchases” on Android, Roku, iPhones and iPads, but there’s a cost of doing that.
  2. Pricing - We have a LOT of flexibility on pricing.  We can gladly charge the same fee that iTunes (and Android and Amazon) market does – which is 30% of the gross fees.  But we can offer a variety of pricing offerings.  We tell our customers that “if you can dream up a way to charge people, we can implement it.”  In other words, a company like Subway could use our platform for training…and we could charge per employee rather than per “customer.”
  3. White labeled offering - InteliVideo is a white labeled offering – in other words, you can put some HTML code on your website and sell your videos through your site.  It looks like your site, but everything goes through InteliVideo - payment to delivery.  Think of the InteliVideo platform just like you think of  Google Analytics - plug and play.
  4. eDVDs – as mentioned above, we allow you to design your own “skin” for your videos – just like you can author a physical DVD, we allow you to do the same for an eDVD.
  5. Social marketing – we offer a social component to videos – you can post a comment and people can then view a sample of the video before they buy.
  6. Bookmarks and Chapters – we allow you to have any number of videos that you group into an eDVD and you can break up a video into any number of chapters.  Customers can bookmark their own sections in the videos too.
  7. Referral / Affiliate network – we allow you to allow your customers to put some HTML code on their website and they get a referral fee – you set the fee they get (i.e. could be 5% or could be 95%).
  8. Email campaigns / CRM – we have a built-in CRM system that allows you to send out any number of emails to people.  When they click on the unique link in the email, we create an InteliVideo account, send them the details for that account and track everything about that person.  We know what they watched, how long, etc.
  9. Virtual classrooms – you can set up a course through InteliVideo and you can monitor any number of students.  You can watch their progress.
  10. SEO – We integrated with Google Analytics, so you can track your clicks, etc. through them, but we also log every click, etc.

We'll certainly keep you posted on our progress as we continue to pivot, twist and turn and we would love to hear your feedback, comments, questions, and thoughts.

#Oracle #Cloud is Here!

Thu, 2012-09-06 20:25
Well, the long awaited for #cloud offering is finally here from Oracle.  This post will walk you through the registration process.  My next blog entry will walk you through the setup, configuration, installation, etc.

First, just go to and click on the "Register for Access" button:

Then Oracle asks if you need to create a new Oracle account or if you already have one.  Answer accordingly.

If you need to create a new account, answer the questions...

If you already have an Oracle account like I do, just sign in:

Tell Oracle which of their many cloud offerings you want to try out:

Now just sit back and wait for your account to be created.  I was in the Early Adaptor (EA) program, so I had everything in the EA version.  I just signed up for my new "production" version of the offering.  In my next blog I'll let you know how long it took to get my account set up and I'll show you what I had to do from there.  The above process took me all of 1 minute...

Sign up - good luck!