Reflections on start-up life: Week 42

This is one of those “it’s easier to write you’re going to do it than it is to do it posts”.

Last week the focus was public relations. Well we have set the wheels in motion, but nothing big has happened yet. Like so many things we dive into, there seems to be some magic sauce we are missing. Turns out that just writing articles isn’t all that it takes to have people falling over themselves to publish them (OK, that’s very tongue in cheek — I didn’t really expect that). But turns out PR professionals do have a role in this space after all :-)

Time kills us. It takes longer to write an article than we think (especially when targeting a niche publication and we want to make sure it’s really good), or we try to put together a general release that reads like self-indulgent crap that I’d never read anyway, so why would anyone else. So there lots of effort for what with the benefit of hindsight is a very uncertain return. Then in conversation with my Dad whose been involved sales and marketing for years he describes PR as “the soft stuff”. And he’s right — it’s still not tackling the direct problem head on which is we’ve got a product, you’ve got some money, how is our product meeting your need such that you’d pay us to help you with it.

It’s weird. People from the UK write to us and say “ This is an amazing tool! Is Tribalytic planned to be available for the UK?” but we can’t seem to drive new sign ups in Australia.

Twendly had peaked after a few weeks at something like around 8,000 people on one day searching for people talking about things, yet as a product it did only one very very small slice of what Tribalytic can do.

The big difference? Twendly was global and free.

So how much of a barrier to entry is a paid sign up? Things I want Alex and I to ponder this week.

  1. We stepped away from an Enterprise Play to be a Consumer Play ( Are we back at being an Enterprise Play and if so, are the reasons we stepped away from it the first time still valid?
  2. For a consumer play, scale matters — at least “all” of AU or a lot more of a global market. How can we tackle this (for example, should we get on to the Twitter sample hoses, scale out and go nuts). The reasons why we wouldn’t do this in the past might still be the same now however (money, time).
  3. How married to the pricing model that we have are we? What’s more important, a few premium paying customers or lots of cheaper paying customers? Have we actually tested the cheaper consumer model yet? Should we. Are we even at a premium price yet? Maybe we are too cheap!

At one level nothing changes, keep at it, keep trying to build the publicity, keep trying to meet with people — but sooner or later I think we need to acknowledge that this current approach is not optimal yet. We need to tune it, and I think we need to do more than tweak, we need to try something very different in our approach to market. It could be a different way of selling (start cold-calling) or a different pricing point, or a different target client market or any number of things, but I don’t want to get to next week without having tweaked one of the dials all the way around and see what happens.

As Alex said in his last post “Be patient and persistent”. In this roller-coaster that is a start-up, perhaps the most amazing thing is how I can completely agree on Wednesday morning, but by Friday night feel frustrated that things aren’t moving fast enough and quite convinced that we need to do something radically different.

On a positive note, our article went up on The Next Web — here’s the interview.



  • Next Web Article
  • Some nice positive comments about Tribalytic from paying users and also others interested in it

Lessons Learnt

  • It’s always harder than you think, even when you think it’s going to be hard:-)
  • More a pondering… are we repeating some earlier mistakes?

Goal this week

  • Keep pushing the PR angle
  • Review and reconsider the business model / pricing plans — implement any necessary changes.