Hey, You Never Know?
First a confession. There aren't 7 million of you reading 60 million pages a month on CioIndex. Now, the really sad part: I am way over 17 years of age. (try a few multiples!)
www.whateverlife.com has the viewership of 7 million/month (higher than Oprah's!) and its founder, Ashley Qualls, is 17.
As you wonder, what you are doing on CioIndex getting advice on eBusiness, Ashley - I suggest we call her Ms. Qualls because she deserves the respect - has probably put us to shame by getting a few million more viewers. To make matters worse, she has never spent a dime on advertising. She did not have any VC money - hers is as bootstrap an operation as it gets. She comes from a single parent, average income household in the back of beyond. Folks, this is a real winner we are talking about - so put down that blackberry, stop sipping that latte and pay attention!
So how did Ashely do it? If I knew it, would I be writing about it?
Kidding aside, this story has a couple of pointers for us all.
- Focus on an existing ecosystem if you do not have the money: The oft repeated "first mover advantage" has been shown to be a "first mover liability." It takes a lot of money and time to create your own ecosystem - just ask Webvan. So latch on to an existing one by providing value to its participants. There are 150,000 people who make a living on eBay. There are thousands who have woken up to YouTube and Myspace. Ashley got into business creating page payouts for girls on MySpace.
- Marketing is more than advertising: Asheley, did not spend a dime on advertising. She created a product her customers wanted. She got them to do the selling for her - the viral marketing concept that is much touted
- A business model is often designed by the customer: We make a big mistake when we pretend to know what our customer wants and needs. Ask the customer. Ashley relies on market research on her site that is both simple and effective - she asks her customers
Here is her complete story.
Ashley has won round 1. Can she keep this going?
Posted on 06/04/2009 by