Being an entrepreneur is very fulfilling but also a grind at the same time. Thankfully, you get to share your pioneering experiences with a tremendous team of employees and board members. You also get to establish commercial partnerships with some pretty amazing people as well.
Yesterday, we announced our plans to merge NativeX with China-based Mobvista. This merger creates a new beginning for our team at NativeX. I’d like to personally thank all of our alumni, our current employees, and all of our current and past business partners for getting on the trail with us.
Here are four posts which offer some different perspectives on the merger announcement-
I look forward to our new beginning with the team at Mobvista.
Since it has been a while since my last entrepreneurial post, I thought I would blend three of my devotions (kids, work, and outdoors), and spout off a few nuggets of entrepreneurial marketing advice.
Marketing your start-up can be scary, just like how this stuffed lion scared my then one-year old son.
What can we learn from the Cecil the Lion story to guide founders on how to market their start-up?
- Stay in Your Territory– Cecil the Lion was shot after wandering off protected habitat chasing a hunter’s bait. Many start-ups go out of business because they chase too many potential customer segments. Their founders boast about how lean and nimble they are, and how they are pivoting their start-up at a frenzied pace. Most successful entrepreneurs think deeply about who they are targeting, and they design their products with this specific audience in mind. For example, Matt Hall who created the 2015 App Store breakout hit Crossy Road said in an Unconsoleable podcast interview that he designed an earlier successful horse game with a specific young girl in mind he found in a photo with a pony. When someone suggested to Matt he should add an equestrian feature to his horse game, Matt was able to quickly shoot down this feature because he knew that this girl he was targeting wouldn’t want the equestrian features in her game. Crossy Road also has some great, user friendly monetization practices too.
- Be Resourceful When Going after High Probability Prey– Cecil the Lion did not follow his previous successful path when he chose to follow the hunter’s bait. Cecil lived to a mature age because he was successful at killing certain prey (probably antelope, or whatever). Cecil should have stuck with the prey that worked for him and avoided going after whatever flashed in front of him. In the start-up world, founders need to quickly assess which potential customers are closable and then be resourceful in targeting them versus constantly spraying random attempts at all kinds of customers. Usually involved in this process is finding good lists of qualified leads to go after. For example, a start-up friend of mine which is targeting local restaurants told me about some success he had had in getting Groupon sales reps to moonlight reselling his software. These Groupon sales reps already had many local relationships which he coveted, but he didn’t know how he could contact them. This founder looked into Zoominfo’s database and could quickly get contact info for all of the Groupon sales reps which he could market his reseller program to.
- Don’t Fall for Big Game Hunter Tricks– As your start-up starts to grow, a lot of “proven” sales managers will contact founders asking for a big salary based on their track record of success, usually at some other, much larger company. I’d highly advise against hiring these types to your start-up. Your initial hires should take a large salary decrease and be motivated by upside in commission and equity-based compensation. Don’t let these pre-madonna sales managers latch on to the lightening in a bottle you have without taking risk just because they have a nice looking resume.
- Don’t Believe Everything You Read until it is Verified– It was initially reported that Cecil’s brother lion Jericho was found killed by a hunter, then later retracted as it was then confirmed that Jericho was not Cecil’s brother at all nor was Jericho dead after all. Many blogs are quick to rush out stories about some major policy change which may impact your business. Often times there is some evidence to back up their initial post, but that doesn’t mean it is a wholesale policy change. For example, TechCrunch ran a story on how apps with a certain type of video ad format were getting banned. Over the days and weeks that followed, thousands of apps with this video ad format receive Apple’s approval without any issue. (Not that Apple doesn’t change its mind about what is acceptable, and what isn’t.)
Okay… okay. This whole notion of combining advice for marketing your start-up and Cecil the Lion is a joke. There is no relationship between the two topics but all this Cecil the Lion madness got to me. It is a lion people. Get over it. There are far bigger issues globally than a lion who is accidentally killed by a hunter. As for my specific views on this whole Cecil the Lion madness, the perspective I most agree with was written by a local hunter Dave Orrick here.
[Originally posted on Forbes September 16th 2013]
Google Play Developer Program Policies will be seeing some significant changes this week on September 20, 2013. Rob Weber, co-founder of NativeX, weighs in on a potential $150 million in ad revenue at stake and the impact on the Android market.
“In late August Google GOOG +0.02% announced that they would be changing their developer policies… It’s a bold, big move to catch up to iOS. The ad market has kind of been a grey area on Android,” says Weber. “Some ad networks have become very spammy because Google hasn’t been very stringent to this point. It was pretty much anything goes. This is a jump to improve the user experience and an attempt to catch up to Apple.”
The key aspects of these changes are designed to crack down on all manner of “spammy” ad networks, push notifications, and ads in the notification bar space. This will impact thousands of developers and could cause serious damage to companies reliant on these practices.
Read more at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/danieltack/2013/09/16/is-google-killing-150-million-in-ad-revenue/
[Originally posted on VentureBeat July 23rd 2013]
Now that the dust has settled and another MobileBeat has come and gone, we’re left wondering what the big lessons from the show were. Having experienced MobileBeat in the past as a sponsor, speaker, and attendee, there was one big trend I saw popping up at a lot of the panels and talks this year for the first time: the rise of native advertising and sponsored content.
Chances are you’ve probably read a sponsored post on the web and actually enjoyed it. Publishers have embraced sponsored content because it delivers superior value for the advertiser and consumer. Consumers are actually clicking and sharing, which means more money for the publisher.
It’s become so effective and popular that, along with entire blog and news sites dedicated to sponsored content (such as Zemanta), companies are finding creative ways to insert their brand in innocuous places (Solve Media just landed $6 million in funding to sponsor CAPTCHAs!).
Read more at: http://venturebeat.com/2013/07/22/native-advertising-was-the-sleeping-giant-at-mobilebeat-2013/
[Originally posted on Wired.com April 10th 2013]
As both a father and an entrepreneur, I can say with confidence there’s a lot of parallels between raising a kid and starting a company. Both take a lot of time and dedication, you invest a lot of yourself in both, and for both you need to know when to let go of the reins.
Like with a child, you pour your blood, sweat and, tears into making sure it’s the best it can be. However, you need to realize you can’t do everything on your own. Just as when there’s a time you’ll need to drop your kid off at school, there may come a time in a startup when you need to bring in a new CEO to augment the company’s growth and help scale.
In 2007, it was becoming apparent that NativeX could benefit from a new CEO. Since forming in 2000, the company had grown to about 60 people but it was clear that our growth had begun to plateau. The majority of our employees were young guns- most being under 25 years old.
At this time, I had won an arm wrestling contest with my two other founders so I was acting CEO. However, most of the founding team had drifted from the center and were gravitating to other roles such as product engineering and customer relations. It was about that time I recommended to the founding team that we look to bring on a CEO- we hired Andy Johnson to fill the role that year.