I like companies that have a tolerance for failure. Not that I like failure – just that I view it as the fastest and most effective way to experiment. Rather than spend hour researching and doing focus groups- just try it. There is nothing like the validation of a paying customer.
This is not to say that I do not believe in doing any research. One of our investments is in General Sentiment which is a market research company that uses the internet and natural language processing to read what people are saying about a product or company. The beauty of research these days is it can be instant. Rather than a focus group of 20 people, use the internet as an almost unlimited focus group. Using a product like General Sentiment can dramatically increase the efficacy of the advertising spend. But I digress…
One problem some companies have is they zap their people for any failure. I try hard to not do this if the failure had logic. Try things.
Fail often – obviously, try lots of things. As you discover what is working, do more of it. And what does not work gets cut and is not a failure, it is a learning of what does not work. More companies fail from not trying than fail from trying too many things (although I do recognize the power of focus too. Alas, entrepreneurship is a trick balancing act)
Fail Fast – If something is failing- don’t be stupid, stop doing it. In a ideal world we would always know when to cut our losses. There is an appropriate balance between persistence and cutting quickly.
Fail Cheap. No failure should be big enough to sink the company. Set low budgets and stick to them.
Failure is a great way to experiment. Failure allows us to innovate.
Good failure is one of many small failure, happens quickly and does not cost too much. Fail Often, Fail Fast, Fail Cheap.
One of Canrock’s experiments through SEO Pledge is building web sites from scratch to see if they monetize. One example of this is Howdoyouguides that has articles on such topics as how do you cure sore muscles and how do you stop smoking etc. These are loosely based on our highly successful site Howtogetridofstuff which has articles like how to get rid of poison oak or Japanese Beetles through to how to get rid of tree stumps.
Another experiment SEO Pledge is doing is putting American Health Journal medical content videos like stages of cancer or what is a heart murmur (we now have the largest collection of these sorts of professional videos anywhere on the internet)up on youtube.
100% Utilization is the Key to Success
One of our investments is in SEO Pledge.
One principle of good business is 100% utilization of resources. So we encourage our investee companies to have lower priority projects they can work on with any excess time or resource they might have.
SEO Pledge has a number of excellent tools they use to help companies get on first page of search results. They also understand how to monetize sites. And they have a knowledgable staff that knows how to get content found and read.
When they have time between paid clients, they spend time monetizing sites they own. These sites (and there are thousands of pages) cover things like How to get rid of Skunks, How to get rid or fruit flies or How to get rid of acne. Google likes users to have a good experience. They want users to find what they are looking for and to find quality information. So for the sites that SEO Pledge owns themselves, they spend time making sure the quality of the content is high quality and adds value (adding value is a good mantra for any business in any circumstance).
Interestingly enough, these “side projects” have become profitable so now use more than just excess resources.
So for business success – consider 100% utilization of resources. Use any excess for skunk works projects (pun intended)
Being a Futurist – picking trends
Part of our success has been in identifying and capitalizing on trends. One trend we see is greater movement to video on the internet increasing in importance. This is partly because Google says it is so they rank video high in search results. Partly because bandwidth is high and pervasive. And partly because such a high number of people are video learners.
Video can be a “lazy” thing for people to do.
Canrock Ventures invested in American Health Journal, a video site with hundreds of high quality video interviews with doctors on health issues from peripheral vascular disease, chronic pain and addiction to nasal spray addiction . Can this sort of site go viral? Not in the traditional sense of the word. It is not the sort of thing that people would say is cool so pass on to their friends. It is the sort of thing people will want to find though when they search. People with health issues want quality information.
Some of the health issues covered include:
and lots of other topics.
Canrock Ventures Investor Day 2010
Canrock Ventures will host our 1st annual investor day today. Each one of Canrock’s portfolio companies will give a brief presentation, followed by Q&A. Canrock portfolio companies include: Three2N, Karma411, General Sentiment, Hatsize, CooCoo, Sparkologee, SEO Plege & Canrock Labs.
NYS Attorney General Andrew Cuomo Visits Canrock
Andrew Cuomo today toured Canrock Ventures on Long Island to discuss his NY Works Agenda and unveil the members of his Downstate Business Advisory Council.
“New York has what it takes to be the economic capital of the country – from innovative entrepreneurs to a competitive workforce,” Cuomo said. “It’s time for our State government to get on the same page by providing businesses with the resources they need to thrive.”
Serving as ambassadors for Andrew’s NY Works Agenda, a comprehensive seven-part business development and job creation plan for New York, the Council will reach out to business communities and review Cuomo’s plan to improve the State’s business climate.
Photos from the visit – Click here
NYS AG Coumo’s campaign site
NYS Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s “NY Works” Agenda: We recommend that you read pages 69-84 which pertain to ways government can remove some of the obstacles to creating new, successful technology companies, like we are doing today at Canrock Ventures.
NY Works Agenda – Click here