Raising money, being a profitable venture from the get go and finding a golden opportunity is no easy drill for any entrepreneur.
Ben Huh, a former journalist, says it can be done and he just did it.
His holding company Pet Holdings, which run a slew of comedy-heavy, user-generated stuff, sites that the curate topics are based on user votes and interest in the content. Some of their wacky properties are: I Can Has Cheezburger, also known as LOL Cats, FAIL Blog, which shows user-submitted photos of all manner of things and people that are, well, failing at something and Memebase, that tracks Internet memes. Check all of them out. They are amazingly entertaining.
Under Ben’s leadership the company just raised a $30 million round of Series A financing for expansion. The funding round was sponsored by Foundry Group’s Brad Feld. The two met about one and a half years ago and developed a strong relationship. Feld said, “It’s a combination of a great team, a great leader and an ability to create something that can become a very large media property”. See full story from VentureWire.
In 2007 Ben bought the main Cheezburger site, also known as LOLcats, from two entrepreneurs in Hawaii and built it into an online collection of the funnest pictures of animals with the site’s signature misspelled captions plastered over them.
The company has grown to become the largest humor network in the world with growth to 16 million monthly unique visitors and 375 million monthly page views.
Holy feline!! With traffic like that, it’s no surprise that they earn lots of income from ad revenues and merchandise.
Congrats Ben! and all the cats and folks that helped him build his empire. And thanks for the inspiration.
Is there more room in this market space of completely goofy, user-generated content, weird named ventures? What niches have not been tapped yet and can they dance more than one song?
Top photo credit from I Can Has Cheezburger, author unknown.
Also, check out: 5 tips to manage the painful side effects of progress and change.
KEY STRATEGY- Better align all several companies, passions and goals.
Last year, I hosted a planning meeting with some of my top advisers to figure out how to make Oddpodz a profitable and sustainable venture.
Oddpodz has been a work in progress:
If we had a theme song, it would sound something like this.
Try, learn, fail.
Get clearer on who we are. Do it. Adjust.
Try more, learn, fail.
Try again, learn, make small progress forward.
Try again, learn, get clearer on what we need to be to. Do it.
(Repeat chorus) Try more, learn, fail. Keep at it. Improve everyday.
Like Seth Godin proclaims, Try stuff. Fail. Repeat. This is the fuel for success.
That day of planning lots of great ideas were generated. And we’ve implemented many of them, which have made us better, stronger and smarter.
However, the number one recommendation that day was to better align my core competencies (as the leader of the company and the Branding Diva®) with all of my interests, my speaking, my consulting and Oddpodz. I’ve done that this past year and it is working. I have more balance, peace and influence, and made more money in two of my other businesses, which is allowing me to fund Oddpodz long tail. Long tail is a term that was coined by Chris Anderson, founder of Wired. Long tail means: the distribution and inventory costs of businesses successfully applying this long tail strategy allows them to realize significant profit out of selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items.
Oddpodz, the site, will remain a content rich series of blogs to help creative-minded entrepreneurs. Under the corporate entity we will are developing niche tools specific to segmented industries. This will be our long tail. The first one is for restaurants. I’ll be sharing more on this soon.
So what does alignment look like?
- Doing what you do best. For me, it’s writing. Oddpodz is a publishing model.
- Be a clear brand voice. Not watered down with a distractions. Oddpodz is an extension of ME.
- Help people with your expertise. Mine is branding, marketing, entrepreneurial expertise. Oddpodz focus is just that.
- Laser focus on highest margin revenue and brand opportunities first. Oddpodz is a long tail company, my other companies are not. That’s OK.
- Strategically leverage and streamline everything. As Oddpodz is getting older, we are simpler and a cross-promoted company with a known brand, MOI!
Are you an entrepreneur with several ventures, some doing well, and others challenged? Can better alignment with your core, your brand, be the answer?
It’s an idea.
For more on strategies, check out: 12 questions to ask yourself while planning your 2011 marketing strategies.
moneytrackin’ is a free online webapp that allows you to track all your expenses and income easily and without effort, thus allowing you to have a clear view of your financial situation. It intends to be a simple yet powerful online budget management tool.
- Control as many accounts/projects as you want
- Log all your transactions (expenses/income) and tag them to organize them better
- Keep informed of your financial situation at a glance, viewing at any time where your money goes
- Share tips with other users and take advantage of the community knowledge to save money
- Anonymity, we respect your privacy
- Sharing budgets and collaborative working of many people together on the same account
- Public API to allow the integration with third party applications
Time tracking, expenses, invoicing, estimates, and online payments done your way. Cashboard does it all, and does it for free.
- Send PDF invoices, estimates, and receipts.
- Accept payments online – no more waiting for checks.
- Track expenses and re-bill them to your clients.
- Track billable and non-billable hours for yourself, your employees, and contractors.
- Kee p your clients in the loop and let them know where their money is being spent.
- Fully customize Cashboard’s appearance to look like your own project management and billing solution.
- Integrate smoothly with 37signals’ Basecamp
- No software to install, no money down,
- no long-term contracts to sign – ever.
- Free version
- $0 for life
- 1 Active Employee
- 1 Active Client per month
- 2 Active Projects
- Unlimited Estimates
- Brandable interface
- Bank-grade 128 bit SSL encryption
A recent report on entrepreneurship by the Kauffman Foundation showed that people 55-64 years old experienced a large increase in business-creation rates from 2008 to 2009. Starting a business over 50 is not uncommon anymore. But it can be a lot more complicated than becoming a business owner in your 20s or 30s. Over 50, many people have property, retirement savings, college funds, and other assets that could be put in danger if the business goes bad.
John Gerber, founder of www.UpstartLegal.com, provides the following tips to people starting a business over 50:
1. Protect Your Retirement. One advantage of starting a business later in life is that the entrepreneur may be in a position to finance the business through funds accumulated over the years, such as a retirement plan. Sometimes, funds in a 401K , for example, can be used to finance the startup of a business without incurring withdrawal penalties. Additionally, the entrepreneur may have personal assets, such as home equity, that can be tapped as collateral for a loan. This can be a two-sided sword. Both options put the entrepreneur’s “nest egg” at risk if the business is not successful. So while these financing options offer an opportunity that may not be available to younger entrepreneurs, they need to be balanced against the risk of losing assets that may be difficult to replace.
2. Be Careful with Family. Many new business owners over 50 go into business with family. This could include a spouse, sibling, or child. While this may be very rewarding personally and professionally, there are also some potential legal pitfalls. Make sure to have a partnership agreement at the outset. It should outline ownership, responsibilities, and what happens if one partner is no longer involved (voluntarily or otherwise) or the partners have an unresolvable dispute about the business. If family is not involved in the partnership, they may still do work for the business. Make sure to have clear employee or subcontractor agreements in place to avoid conflicting expectations and future problems.
3. Plan for the End. A new business owner over 50 needs to establish an exit strategy – basically a business will. There are 2 key parts to this. First, how will s/he derive value from the business after s/he is no longer active in it? Can the business be sold? Is there a family member who should take it over? Or employees? Second, what will happen to the business if the owner is no longer living? Who makes decisions about its operations and/or disposition? The business owner needs to plan for the transition on retirement or death and to put legal succession and estate plans in place for these possible situations.
John Gerber is a corporate attorney who has provided strategic legal services to new and growing businesses for almost twenty years. By founding UpstartLegal.com, John found a way to extend his extensive professional expertise as a corporate attorney, executive manager and business builder, and his passion for supporting entrepreneurs and growing businesses, to new businesses outside of his local practice area.
Leveraging stuff may not sound like the ultimate academic growth term, but it is certainly a key strategy when you are a small business or start up. Leverage means to milk something without buying a dairy farm and stuff is anything that you can find and legally use to help achieve your goals.
The team at Oddpodz is doing our best to crank out useful content and create educational tools. But we know we need to provide you our readers and community with more. You need a way to engage, participate beyond blog commenting and shooting us occasional emails. We thought about finding an spiffy application where you can post questions, and while that might be nice, it would be pretty primitive tool at best.
We use Linkedin a lot to help drive traffic to the site. The Linkedin team has done a stellar job (with the help of a few million bucks in funding) to build out the solid functionality of the site, thus allowing its members the ability to do many cool things for free. We like free and really like technology that someone else has paid for. BINGO! A tool Oddpodz can leverage!
Here’s how it works. We just set up a group in Linkedin for Oddpodz. A Linkedin group is the perfect place for Oddpodz to attract new folks and to conduct discussions with our readers. After you join the Oddpodz group, you can ask questions, share answers and voice opinions, all in a nicely developed suite of tools that Linkedin maintains. Members of the Oddpodz group can also manage how often they want to be updated with new discussions etc.
Here’s what you need to do to get in on the discussion.
1) If you don’t have a profile on Linkedin, you need one. That’s your first step. For some great tips on setting up the best Linkedin profile check out, the social media Ta-Do list and a past blog on social media.
2) Build your network of business associates and colleagues. My network, as of 7.12, has close to 500 folks in it. To find me, search under people and type in “Karen Post.” You are welcome to join my network.
3) Now go to groups and search for Oddpodz. Request to join and unless you are a Russian spy, a snake oil salesman or spammer, you are in like flyn!
4) Next, need help with a entrepreneurial issue or marketing challenge? Go to start a discussion (in the groups section), post a new discussion with your questions and we will do our best to provide you with some good, timely advice. And the really awesome thing is, as the group grows so will the pool of smart brains to help you.
This is officially an entrepreneurial experiment. We have great intentions, but it is a launch and learn, so be patient with us. And as always, thanks for your support!
FREE funding tools and resources
Have a great idea, but need funding to make it happen? Oddpodz discovered a great resource that we highly recommend you check out and take advantage of these valuable FREE tools. They are called Funding Universe. They connect qualified entrepreneurs with active VC’s, angel investors and lending sources. In addition, FundingUniverse provides services to help entrepreneurs prepare for investment, such as helping them create compelling business plans and pitches, advising them on strategic business direction, and preparing them for investor scrutiny. At the time of this posting they have helped over 41,060 Entrepreneurs.
FREE tools include:
Dozens of Podcasts & Webinars by Angel Investors on Raising Investment Capital (featuring Bill Payne, John May, Kala Marathi, and Will West)
- Startups across Progressive Stages of Growth (PDF)
- 5 Questions to Ask Angel Investors (PDF)
- Accounts Receivable financing (PDF)
- Bill Payne’s ebook the difinitive Guide to Raising Money from Angels (PDF)
- Tips to Setting up a New Business (PDF)
- Secrets to Pitching an Investor (PDF)
- 5 mistakes Entrepreneurs make when presenting to Angels (Podcast)
- The 7 Secrets to Raising Capital (Webinar)