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GoBig Network Archive
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The Go BIG Network
Go BIG Network, the World’s Biggest Community of Startup companies was recently ranked in HRWorld’s Top 10 Resources to Attract, Retain and Use Rock Star Programmers. Go BIG has been successfully connecting startups with full-time and contract/freelance talent from programmers to C-Level executives. Check out their Startup Jobs and Projects area for more info.
SocialXperience.com is a recently launched social networking / web 2.0 blog that is edited by the teams behind some of the most popular sites on the net. Its customizable Ajax user interface and collaborative nature set it apart from other blogs of the same topic that have received much attention over the past year.
WingSix provides the hosting and server support for CenterNetworks. We have seen huge traffic increases over the past month and haven’t been down at all! They have the absolute best technical support in the hosting business and it isn’t outsourced.
New Conference Sponsorships
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The GoBig Network is a community for startup companies. Founder Wil Schroter is a serial entrepreneur who has been creating Internet startups since 1994. I thought it would be interesting to learn more about his newest project along with his tips for Internet business success. Check out his answer about which site he visits first each morning!
Editor's note: The GoBig Network is a current CN sponsor.
Allen: Can you provide a brief background about yourself?
Wil: I'm a serial entrepreneur. I've started 10 companies which has averaged just under one per year in my career! I've started everything from one of the first Web design companies (Blue Diesel, 1994) to an on-line car lease exchange (Swapalease.com) to the largest network of startup companies (GoBIGnetwork.com). I just love starting stuff, although some of the exits were kinda nice, too.
Allen: As someone who has been working online since the late-90's, what's your favorite part about the Internet? And what's the one thing that the Internet is currently missing?
Wil: My favorite aspect of the Internet as a business is how far is still has to go. People tend to think that all of the "big" ideas have been thought of already. There was a time when people thought 13 states was as much land as needed. I can tell you we have barely scratched the surface on how big the opportunities are going to be. The Internet will be far more important when people forget it's even there anymore and just start behaving in a connected world versus deliberately interacting with it.
Allen: What is the GoBig Network?
Wil: The Go BIG Network is the world's largest community of startup companies. We help startups find funding, recruit talent, and get expert advice.
Allen: How does the service work?
Wil: It's pretty simple. Startups create a free profile on our site of their business. At that point they tell us what they are looking for (funding, talent, etc.) and put that in their profile. They can then search other profiles of investors, job seekers, advisors and such and contact them. Otherwise, they can post an ad on our site and let people reach them directly.
Allen: What's the team like at GoBig?
Wil: There are 15 full time people at Go BIG. Many of them are from previous startups of mine. One of them actually started 5 companies with me previously! We do absolutely everything in-house from marketing to technology to design, so the team reflects that. When it comes to teams, my focus is "small and smart".
Allen: What type of user are you targeting? Who uses Go Big?
Wil: It's not who you would think. People in the tech world tend to think it must be all about technology deals and Sand Hill VC's. The truth is that 550,000 new companies are started every month in the U.S. alone, and most of them have nothing to do with technology.
Therefore, our typical customer is someone looking for seed capital to get an idea off the ground. We get more people looking to fund real estate and entertainment deals than technology deals. The entrepreneurs range from guys who have done it five times to a gal in college with nothing but an idea.
Allen: Who are your competitors?
Wil: We have many competitors, but no one direct competitor. We compete with other ways that entrepreneurs find funding, recruit talent and get expert advice. So we compete with capital raising sites like FundingUniverse.com at the same time we compete with sites like craigslist for posting jobs for startups. We don't really consider ourselves a content company, so we don't compete in any meaningful ways with traditional small business sites like entreprneuer.com or inc.com.
A point that you might find interesting – we haven't found that our customers choose us over someone else. They just tend to use a number of services at once. That's different than other businesses I've run before where it was "us versus them".
Allen: Do you have a monetization plan? If so, can you share some details? Are you funded?
Wil: We are not funded but we are very profitable. I tend to fund my own ventures which makes our go to market timing extremely fast. We make money through Subscriptions (allows you to contact our members) and Requests (ads you post on the site). We don't disclose our revenues but we have no debt, no liabilities and cash in the bank.
Allen: Can you share some details about your marketing plan? How do you get the word out about your services?
Wil: Entrepreneurs (our core audience) are the easiest customers to find because in many ways they are already looking for you. Finding customers therefore is not hard. They are reading blogs like this one and actively seeking out resources. The challenge is getting them comfortable to work with you, since no one is more discerning about doing business with someone than another entrepreneur.
Fortunately we've done well by making the process to work with us very easy. Entrepreneurs can try all of our products for free and play with us before committing. Also, we're pretty transparent. You can see how many active Requests are on the site (over 10,000 at any given time) and how many startups are there (over 80,000).
Allen: What's next for Go Big?
Wil: We want to be great at our three things – finding funding, recruiting talent, and finding expert advice. Now that we have a critical mass of users, we can do all kinds of cool stuff like matching people who might be a good fit to work together (that wouldn't think to look for each other). Also, the bigger we get the more connections we can make, so a lot of our success will literally come from the size of our network.
Allen: If you were to invest in 2 companies today, who would they be and why?
Wil: That's a great question. I'm a big fan of marketplaces like Swapalease.com and GoBIGnetwork.com. So I would look for opportunities to invest in similar startups where people are solving problems by bringing two disparate parties together. I think gaming is an area that needs some marketplace attention so there's some plays I'm looking at there.
I'm very bullish on the entertainment industry right now, too. I'm about to launch a very big play in that space (we can talk about that later) in Q4 which will push my interests in that segment. A while back I did a story on TechCrunch about ScoopLive that was providing an instant selling marketplace for user-submitted paparazzi photos. I just love the marketplace model.
Allen: What are your top 3 tips for people who want to start their own Web business?
- Avoid investment. Seriously, how friggin' hard is it to get to a beta stage on your own dime? Do you really need a million dollars of angel investment to build a Web app anymore? Has anyone noticed how many great sites started with almost no budget – blogger, ebay, craigslist, digg… how come everyone is raising so much money?
- Don't be afraid to charge for your service. Even if you only charge for a premium version, charge for something. At least understand what a customer is willing to pay for. You can always make the paid version free if it's that big of a problem later.
- Don't follow the "hope we sell it" model. The "hope we sell it model" assumes that you will sell the company before you run out of money. It reminds me of people jumping off of a bridge with a bungee cord, with no idea whether or not it will pull them back before they go splat. While that's a well-proven strategy for the biggest hits, I'm just not sure it's a great strategy for companies to follow in general. It's just damn irresponsible.
Allen: What books (offline) are the most important reads for entrepreneurs?
Wil: The only book I swear by is the "The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene. If Darth Vader wrote an instruction manual on conquering the universe, that's pretty much how it would read.
Allen: Which RSS feeds are you reading these days?
Wil: I'm embarrassed to say I read Valleywag first, although I can probably guarantee I'm not the only one. Valleywag feels like the Daily Show of Technology. I'm very skeptical of the behaviors in the Valley, so I tend to agree with many of their points.
Thanks for your time Wil!