Pretty much from the beginning we did not like the idea of just purchasing land (domains) and wanted to do something with them. We felt we had no control over the business cycle and even though we were buying, we were spending most of our time building software, the thing we really were passionate about. In 2003 I set a SEO driven venture with a colleague, the concept was around mini content sites, travel related. Within few months we were dominating Google in some verticals, at times 8 out of 10 results for decent travel keywords were our sites. Later came what is now known as the Florida update, and that with a combination of my colleague “getting involved” was a fatal combination for that venture. I called it off, much money lost, as well as valuable time. I moved on..
Later I moved into my next big venture, Assista. Some of you remember this one. I found my calling, or so I thought. I spent many years working on this project, large staff (in-house full time employees), hundreds of servers. While I was highly passionate about it no one else seems to be. We sent traffic to the site however visitors did not stick around, did not interact. Many thought it was a neat concept however it wasn’t enough. Neat on its own does not cut it in business, especially if one day the business has to support itself. As the economy worsen I decided, as hard as it was, to call it off as well.
Off to the next venture, here comes Bido. Bido was and still is a tough project. Most of my peers, especially those at the top of the food chain, hated everything about it, did not stand by me, nor supported in any way. Few were saying it is again a “neat idea” but their actions contradicted their talks. They would not participate, they would not step up and take the necessary risks I believed we all need to take to move our industry forward. Luckily though, we did something that the top of the food chain would not do: We catered to the hungry domainer, not to the fat cats out there. We catered to those who want to figure it out, did not necessarily make it big just yet however were more than willing to learn, try, hustle. For the lack of support we’ve gotten from our peers, this group made up for it and so much more. We needed someone to believe in us and they were there - they still are!
See, it is hard to venture out of your comfort zone, away from the known, away from what your peers are doing. It is hard to do something different, something that is not easily acceptable by all. One of my dearest friends, Dr. Chris Hartnett, has invested heavily in .TV domains. Another one, Frank Schilling, bet the house on a new and upcoming service called “SnapNames” long before others have adopted it, and others as I see now, who are believing in Bido and what we stand for, step up and pick up some amazing deals, even though they do not yet see their peers participate. It is the faith they have in themselves, knowing that if they wait for others to take the lead it may just be too late.
It is not easy to do any of this, to go against the tide. It takes extreme faith, some will question your sanity, many will predict the demise of your venture. I wake up every morning trying to figure out how to help others. It may not be the most popular thing to do, it may not be the easy way to riches, but one thing for sure: Helping others will never go completely out of fashion.
As an entrepreneur, if at times you feel lonely, know you are not alone. If anything, you are likely more in sync with the rest of the entrepreneurial world than those who stick with their closed groups. Most of those are followers, they follow the leaders, but what did the leaders do to be where they are? I can assure you, they had extreme faith in themselves, their sanity was questioned, many predicted the demise of their ventures, and many times they felt the same loneliness I sometimes feel.
So today I decided it is time to stop being lonely, time to talk a little about it. A Penny for your thoughts? Have a great weekend, and happy Halloween!