Tag Archives: startups

Announcing “Startup Attention & PR 101″, Now on Udemy

I’m thrilled to announce the launch of “Startup Attention & PR 101: From Launch to Damage Control and Beyond“, my 19-lecture online Udemy course. I’m also thrilled to announce that half of the course’s proceeds will be donated to THRIVE-GULU, a not-for-profit dedicated to building rehabilitation and community centers across Africa, starting with Gulu, Uganda.

“Startup Attention & PR 101″ is a deeper look at how to better work with the press. This is not a course about traditional PR. Instead, it’s a deeper dive into what makes a journalist tick and how you can can take advantage of that for your company or cause.

The course covers four broad themes:

  • How Journalists Think
  • How to Launch a Product
  • How to Keep Users Interested
  • How to Deal With a Press Crisis

This course won’t make you a journalist’s best friend, but I hope it will give you more clarity to how journalists make decisions and how that affects you and your company.

As I noted above, I am donating half the proceeds from this course to THRIVE-GULU. Thrive was founded in 2010 by Professor Judy Dushku to assist the communities of Northern Uganda to heal from the traumatic events of war, sexual enslavement, extreme poverty and lost opportunities. It’s a charity I’m honored to have supported in the past, and one I’m thrilled I can support now with this course.

So take the course, tell your friends and send me some feedback, because I will be adding more material based on your feedback.

~ Ben

The Rise of the Freemium Business Model

During the Dot Com Bubble, the most popular business model was spend like hell to drive growth and buy million dollar Super Bowl ads. The focus was not on business models. After the rash, we endured a lull. But now, a new breed of Internet company exploded onto the scene, a movement most know as Web 2.0 (more accurately, social media).

Although accelerated growth still remains the dominant goal of most Internet startups, they have avoided many of the mistakes of Dot Com Bubble companies. They have paid special attention to building business models, primarily advertising-based ones. But now that model has come under fire, and a newer model is gaining in popularity: the freemium business model. I want to talk a little about its rise and the future of freemium in online business.

The Woes of Internet Startups

Recently, the problem has not been overexuberance, but the inability of many Internet companies to build sustainable profits. Many social media websites rely on advertising dollars to generate revenue. Advertising is the primary source of income for Google, Digg, Facebook, and almost all blogs. But for a lot of these companies, advertising has not been enough.

An example: the social media powerhouse Digg is still unable to amass a profit after four years. It incurred a loss of nearly $5 million in the first three quarters of 2008. Powerhouse Facebook faces these challenges as well. Its value has plummeted from a $15 billion dollar high to a speculated $3.7 billion because of monetization concerns. And with the economy (and advertising eCPMs) sinking like a boulder in a lake, venture capitalists have ratcheted up the pressure on their companies to turn a profit or shut down.

A great deal of discussion has occurred on social media channels over the best business model for companies in the Internet industry. More and more, companies are turning away from advertising-based business models and turning towards the freemium model. In the freemium model, you offer a free or trial version and a paid, advanced version of your product.
Continue reading