Startups Are Hard

Here is a great section of a post from the CEO of FAB

“There’s no way around it, startups are hard. And it’s supposed to be that way. You are trying to do things that no one has ever done before. You are trying to disrupt markets and incumbents. You are trying to change consumer behavior. You are  trying to move your employees out of their comfort zone. 

You are going to make mistakes. You are going to fail. That’s all part of the startup life.

The critical bit is to make sure that your entire team knows and internalizes that startups are supposed to be hard. This is especially difficult when your company is flush with cash and in growth mode. How do you explain to your team that you’ve got $xx millions (or $xxx millions) in the bank but their job is supposed to be hard every day? How do you get your team to spend every dollar like it’s their last and to be obsessively paranoid of complacency?

By no means have I fully figured this one out yet. The natural default for me and for many CEOs is to try to inspire the team each day and focus on the wins, not the losses.

Here are some ways I’ve been trying to keep our team at Fab focused on the “it’s supposed to be hard” bit:

  1. Say it. Say it again. And again and again. In talk after talk I keep reiterating the phrase, “Startups are hard; they are supposed to be hard.” The point is to acknowledge and keep hammering home this thought as a tone-setter.
  2. Celebrate challenges as much as successes. In 2014 I’m instituting a monthly “what sucked this month” review. The point is not to get people down on the business but rather to make sure we stop regularly and really talk through the weaknesses in the business and then make sure we have proper resources focused on improvement.  
  3. Make uncomfortable the new comfortable. Push people out of their comfort zone. Don’t allow group think to get in the way of pushing forward. Inertia is a company’s biggest enemy. 
  4. Measure vs. plan — using the right metrics. It’s too easy when you are growing to just ignore the plan in the name of growth or to focus on the top line instead of the bottom line. It is critical to measure regularly vs. plan and to make sure you are keeping score on the metrics most critical to long-term viability and value creation.”

By Jason Goldberg, Founder & CEO of FAB. 

A New Crest of E-Commerce

E-commerce is evolving. Over the past decade we’ve seen two real crests of e-commerce. In the beginning, commodities provided the initial spark. Jeff Bezos and co. perfected the art as Amazon began bringing products from titans like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Costco onto the uncharted frontier of the internet. Selection, speed, varying price-points and transparent payments were the hallmark consumer value propositions. The bigger the catalogs, the larger the inventory, the better it was. Jason Goldberg, CEO of Fab, calls this age Commodity Commerce. With every crest, there is a trough, but its important to remember that these lows have hidden gems buried within them– they tacitly signal the next trend, the next big opportunity.

There soon came a time where digital media increasingly became more ubiquitous. Youtube, Netflix, Google and Apple began pursuing original content in the form of books, movies, music and more. The archaic traditions of purchasing hard-covers, DVD’s, MP3 CD’s from your local mall venues were soon cast away. This idea of Digital Commerce broadened the purchasing lexicon of your typical consumer. It was an experience elated and unseen. This era shed fears of brandishing your credit card to online venues and encouraged people to experiment with their purchasing habits. Most began owning intangible products at a remarkable velocity, and soon companies like Dropbox began offering cloud computing as a consumer solution for the first time.

The third crest will be something that industry leaders are calling Emotional Commerce. We are on the fast-track to this destination. Every person brings with them a unique background, a distinct taste and an exclusive niche. Marketplaces online will truly be defined by the products they choose to house. These products need to be exciting, riveting, and touching. Ultimately, this means that brand power will be of the utmost importance. Companies should be very meticulous about their marketing strategies. First impressions are everything. Your curation will define you.

Furthermore, this entails a purchasing experience at the other end of the spectrum. Before, in the bland-commodity era, speed was the pursued ideal, encouraging customers to be in and out of online marketplaces. In this 3rd wave, your platform should do the exact opposite. You want your customers to stay and spend time on your platform. You want them to explore it and make personal, intimate connections with your products. These bonds will enrich the word-of–mouth marketing strategy behind your platform creating a respectable viral loop engineered into your customer segments.

I think the most important and thrilling opportunity lay with merchants. The unspoken truth is that the creators of products are the only ones that can truly lead this emotional connection with consumers. It is only natural to allow merchants to sell, distribute, and adhere to their respective networks better. This is the fundamental obligation  of any marketplace. Thus today’s marketplaces have a burning responsibility to offer an unmatchable trove of merchant tools through developing technology. Allow your merchants to drive up sales and traction to your platform with original, heart-felt content only they can provide. Give them credit. As creators, they rightfully deserve it.

This is exactly the plan for Lovaash. We are Empowering Artists.

Mayer Zahid