The Near Futurist
5Oct/12Off

So I’ve got this idea for a business…

We've all had that moment when we come up with the most awesome business idea that will no doubt change the world. Most of these ideas are shrugged off, as we move on to more pressing things in our lives right in front of us. But what if you decide that you do want to take this idea seriously and build a business. The first question that any potential entrepreneur has to be, "Is this idea worth spending time on to grow it into a business?" Put another way, a certain amount of cost is sunk to build a business (time, money, resources), so can we be sure that the corresponding revenue will be there sustain and grow the business?

This is of course the proverbially $64M question (or in Apple's case, as of Oct 2012, possibly the $640B question!). I've spent time thinking about this question over the last several years, as I encountered variations on this during my time at Google, StumbleUpon, and Media Camp (Turner). I recently spoke with an entrepreneur looking to build a business, and worked with him through the things he needed to know for himself to come up with a solid case for why he should (or shouldn't) start his business. I've collected and cleaned up the list that we went through, and have posted it here. Hope you find it helpful, and of course, I would love to hear your feedback! Also, it's worth noting that this is for a business that would primarily rely on advertising for revenue, and potentially include third-parties to partner with to help drive growth and revenue.

Who is our user or customer?

  • Who is the user or customer for this business?
  • What demographic is the business going after? Age, gender, location.
  • What is the value this user derives? Are they saving time, or spending time?
  • What will keep the user coming back?

Who is our advertiser?

  • Who will pay for this, and why?
  • How much are they willing to pay?
  • Is this additional cost, or cannibalized cost? (i.e. Are they pulling existing budget, or new line item in spend?)
  • What is the advertiser's value from spending on your product?

Who is our partner?

  • Who will integrate this, and why?
  • What is the revenue model with partners?
  • Is there prestige with the partner's brand association?
  • Is there value with knowledge/expertise that the partner brings?
  • What is the value proposition for the partner?

Advertiser segments

  • Size
    • Small (individuals, experts, celebrities)
    • Medium (SMB)
    • Large (companies, orgs)
  • Industry vertical
    • Media
    • Finance
    • Travel
    • CPG
    • Automotive
    • ...
  • Goals
    • Direct response (CPC, CPA)
    • Brand awareness (CPM, rev share?)
  • Budget
    • <$100/month
    • $100-$1000/month
    • >$1000/month

Publisher segments

  • Size
    • Small (individuals, experts, celebrities)
    • Medium (SMB)
    • Large (companies, orgs)
  • Type
    • Media publishers
    • Companies/orgs?
    • Celebrities
    • Bloggers, experts, tastemakers

How to gather data

  • Surveys
  • AdWords/FB/StumbleUpon ads
  • Focus groups
  • Conferences/networking events
22Sep/11Off

Mint: a refreshing new way to do web analytics

Yesterday, I discovered a site that was using Mint for its web analytics. My first responses were, in order:

  1. "Someone is using a web analytics package other than Google Analytics?"
  2. "Oh I'm sure this thing sucks, how can it be good?"
  3. "HOLY CRAP."
Mint web analytics

A fresh and minty way to look at web analytics?

Because GA has become so prevalent and synonymous with web analytics, I often forget that there are others out there. And Mint is one of these often overlooked packages. But let me tell you: IT ROCKS.

OK, there are a number of reasons I find myself liking Mint, but in the interest of expediency, here are my Top Ten Reasons Why I'm In Love with Mint:

  1. Your data, you host, you control. With Mint, it's not a hosted solution; it's a download-and-install-on-your-server solution that uses your service and databases to track. That means that any tracking that happens is done by you, and any analytics data is generated, stored, analyzed, etc. by you and you alone. There's something comforting about all your web analytics data not being in the hands of a giant, multinational corporation (albeit one of the better ones).
  2. It's beautiful. The developer of Mint (yes, it's just one person) has taken much care to make the interfaces look beautiful. If you're staring at numbers and charts a lot, aesthetics go a long way.
  3. It's simple to install, simple to use. Installation took me all of 30 minutes, and using it is just an URL on my site. It's fast (or as fast as my site is) and the UI is laid out nicely and intuitively.
  4. It's inexpensive. $30 is all you will pay to have stats for one of your domains. Not $30/month, but $30. That's it. The joy of it not being a hosted service!
  5. It's extensible. With Peppers, you can add any number of plugins to extend the functionality of the tracking service on your site. It ranges from the mundane (Doorbell, which dings anytime you're viewing stats and a new website visitor stops by your site) to the I-didn't-know-I-needed-that (Birdfeeder, which tracks your feeds properly, something GA never got quite right) to the critical (Backup/Restore will make sure you are prepared in case something bad happens to your site/data).
  6. It's maintained. The developer, Shaun Inman, is regularly updating not just the main tracking service but all the relevant plugins very regularly.
  7. It provides you with a compatibility suite to figure out if it will work before you buy. It's like a test-drive. Here, take it for a spin, see if it works with your situation. No? No harm done. Yes? Only $30. More businesses should operate this way.
  8. It's fast. Since the speed of Mint relies solely on how fast your actual website is, you don't suffer from the issue of "Waiting for google-analytics.com..." showing up in your users' browser status bar.
  9. It works even when my site is framed. When my content is served up within an iframe (like in Google Images or StumbleUpon), Internet Explorer and Safari will not allow a third-party cookie to be written, thus foiling any attempt to track via Google Analytics (or any other hosted tracking service). That means my data is accurate, and I don't spend time debugging why some of my content is not being tracked.
  10. It's flexible in licensing. Yes, it only costs $30. But you can decide which domain it runs on, and change it anytime you like. That means I can move it around when it comes time to do so.

So there you have it. If you are looking for great web analytics, and maybe you've grown just a bit wary of hosted solutions like GA, I encourage you to check it out. And when I said, "HOLY CRAP," I wasn't just stunned at what I had found. I was also describing a fantastic little Mint plugin.

Enjoy your Mint!