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A Start-up Story: Part 2

Posted by Paul Edmondson on February 15th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Last week I wrote about how we got started. This is a continuation of our story:

It's 2008 and still relatively early in the life of our company.

We've kept our burn in check so far. I feel in my gut that we have to find a way into media sales and our engineering driven team needs some sales DNA or else it's going to be tougher to integrate down the road. I want to avoid the oil and water situation.

We bring on our first sales person. She's charismatic, entrepreneurial, and been involved in everything from online gambling to selling brand ads for a green ad network. She begins to work on establishing relationships with Ad Networks and performance advertisers, but struggles with CPG and display advertisers. It's 2008. We try co-reg. It's weak at best and impossible to justify engineering resources. Direct lead and CPA relationships aren't touching what AdSense is bringing us. My gut says we need to stay focused on a few big deals and create deep relationships with a few brands. She doesn't think it will work. Her frustration grows and she soon leaves. The investment of several months of direct sales is sunk and gone.

Note to self for the next time we try sales: Over communicate the plan and make sure we are on the same page about timing to get traction. Get someone who's ready to stick it out.

Back to our ad sales story: Hunker down. I'm good at that. No ad sales yet. So let’s save money, grow traffic and remember what' my uncle says, "It's easier to save money than to make it."

2 Responses to “A Start-up Story: Part 2”

  1. Col says:

    Paul, why don't you look at specific category advertising on a smaller scale for hubpage users? This way you can create a huge range of smaller advertising opportunities for the community of hubpage users being the main paid customers. That in itself will probably help gain some larger brand name attention. As an example, i run a canvas and poster site, i would happily pay to advertise on pages that are in the canvas, or gift categories. Surely there is a small advertiser for each category? and surely there are more than a few of them?

  2. @Col HubPages does accept contextually targeted ads via AdSense with many options to target specific categories. These perform exceptionally well on HubPages and are the main reason we are able to cover our bills.

    Directly scaling highly target-able content areas for ads ourselves hasn't proven to be a viable option because of the volume in anyone micro segment. We wish it weren't the case, because, I think your comment makes a lot of sense in theory.

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