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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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?

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Posted on 06/04/2009 by

Hey, You Never Know? author sourabhhajela



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