Lessons Learned: Seeing What Sticks
Someecards co-founder and CEO Duncan Mitchell talks about how he and his team decide which of 20 ideas are worth trying.
00:06 Duncan Mitchell: I'm Duncan Mitchell, I'm co-founder, CEO of Someecards. We started this company in 2007, Brook Lundy and myself, he's the other co-founder. We were working in online advertising. We worked together for years as kind of art director, copyrighter partners. He was on the copy side and I was on the art side. Then we were creative directors at different at agencies. He kind of came to me one day and said, "I have a horrible idea." I said, "What?" And he said, "Let's make an ecards site." And I said, "It sounds fun, let's do it."
How did the idea come about?
00:45 Mitchell: I think part of it was, this was the way we communicated to each other over email. A lot of kind of giving each other hard time. A lot of... You are in the office across the hall from somebody and kind of saying stupid things back and forth all day. And there was no real place to go to kind of have a anything pre-made in that voice. So, it seems like... Occasionally you're sending a birthday card or something like that and you look at the ecard sites that were out there, there was never anything even close to our sense of humor. Anything we wouldn't be embarrassed to share with somebody.
What are some of the challenges you have dealt with?
01:30 Mitchell: We have a card on the site that said something along the line, "I'm an internet expert who doesn't know anything about the internet." And we we've been doing stuff online since the beginning of the web and there were so much we didn't know once we started this company. So we have to kind of learn about... We used to create ads but we didn't know anything about, "How you deliver ads? How much you sell them for? How you negotiate selling them? What other things you have to give advertisers to make them want to work for your site? How much traffic you need to be attractive to what kind of advertisers?" and all these things. Or even running a website, all the scaling issues and like every time you double your traffic, your costs go up for hosting and technology and optimizing your code and all these things. So, there's so many things that we didn't know.
What are some things you have learned along the way?
02:24 Mitchell: We always have 20 ideas. So the other thing is to be good at looking at your ideas, figuring out which ones are worth trying. You have to evaluate those against, how much they're going to cost to produce, what you really think the potential is, what resources you have, those kinds of things. So, it's not necessarily like, "Always be ready to adjust," but it's, "Keep innovating," and sounds weird for publisher but I mean in terms of both like the product, the website and the type of content. So, keep innovating, throw things out there and see what sticks.
Do you have a favorite e-card?
03:04 Mitchell: I don't have a favorite. There's tons out there but considering the economic climate right now, they reposted an old one that said something along the lines of, "Everything I know about the economy comes from trading places, everything I know about financial services comes from trading places" and, I don't know, I have a soft spot for that one and it's really relevant right now.