“What the hell were you thinking?” and more questions I get daily about my new startup
- Michael Beckerman
Since I have been working full-time on my new startup over the past few years, The News Funnel, I have come to accept the fact that most people I meet think that I am nuts for doing what I am doing. Inevitably, when presenting my new site, I always get asked the same two basic questions: 1) I have no clue what your site does and what the hell you are talking about?!?!
2) Are you friggen nuts for leaving your PR firm and doing this?!?!
At first, I must admit it made me kind of nervous to hear this all of the time. And, maybe since I kept hearing it over and over again, day after day, I was indeed the crazy one. But then again, there is a part of me that actually gets more motivated and determined as more people tell me I’m nuts!
It was the same thing I was told when I started my first company, a PR firm, without any formal training or education in the field.So what was I actually thinking?
I had this vision of the intersection of media and company news. And what if I could build a platform to distribute this news to business professionals and other outlets? And what if this content was all curated to meet each individual’s content needs?
Well, that was my vision about 4 years ago.
I didn’t have the benefit of knowing anyone in tech or even knowing anything about the sector but I set out to build it anyway. I just had this gut feeling that kept gnawing at me day after day; that if you don't change and adapt in business, you're toast.
In 2010 when I officially left my firm, things in B2B tech were starting to accelerate and become more prevalent in day-to-day life, but still it was nothing like it is today.
I sensed that change was in the air and it was going to impact every aspect of business. I didn't want to be the guy who got complacent and who was overrun by those more innovative than I was.
With The News Funnel, I was focused on one industry, real estate, and my goal was to help solve a HUGE problem for companies and professionals alike. The incredible challenge I saw while running my PR firm was the inefficiencies associated with news distribution. In the really old days, we would manually distribute news to our media contacts. Then we used wire services. And then, a lot of the trade media went away because they couldn't sustain their model.
Everything went online but the content landscape was a giant mess. No targeting. No distribution. No efficiencies. No filtering. Everyone was overwhelmed by how fragmented the news and content available to them became. There was essentially no way to distribute news to the industry anymore and there was certainly no efficient way to consume it either.
So fast-forward to today and we are still growing and building our site. Is it a platform? Is it a wire service? I think it’s both actually. We have gotten a few hundred thousand real estate pros to give us a shot and we are learning every day. The real point is that no one really knows where this is all heading. Change is constant and it’s the wild wild west out there in media land and I am happy I am one of those trying to figure it all out.
I recently read this great article by someone who actually knows what the hell they are talking about and it made me smile because it answers the some of the questions I get asked every day: WHAT WAS I THINKING WHEN I STARTED OUT ON THIS JOURNEY?!?!
Maybe I am not so crazy after all? Maybe our site is where the future is headed. Or maybe I am just nuts like most have told me.
Whatever the answer is, I am content knowing I am focused on “where the puck is heading, not where it is” to quote the great philosopher Wayne Gretzky.
So, the main message I am trying to make is that in today's business environment, unless you embrace change and try new things on a consistent basis, you will get overrun. No competitive advantage is safe anymore.
Every single industry and every single professional is vulnerable to being "disrupted" unless you get this. Whether it's as simple as embracing new tools like Slack or being as crazy as I was and building a new site to solve a problem you see in your field, doing nothing is no longer an option. Just look at the changes in the media landscape I mentioned in this blog or think about your own industry, the status quo is now a death sentence in business. And anyone who isn’t working on disrupting their own business, to me is really NUTS!
To quote another great philosopher that I deeply admire…
"Those not busy being born are busy dying" - Bob Dylan