By the Numbers: How I built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12,107.09
Because of Truemors, I’ve learned a lot about launching a company in these “Web 2.0” times. Here’s quick overview “by the numbers.”
0. I wrote 0 business plans for it. The plan is simple: Get a site launched in a few months, see if people like it, and sell ads and sponsorships (or not).
0. I pitched 0 venture capitalists to fund it. Life is simple when you can launch a company with a credit-card level debt.
7.5. 7.5 weeks went by from the time I registered the domain truemors.com to the site going live. Life is also good because of open source and Word Press.
$4,500. The total software development cost was $4,500. The guys at Electric Pulp did the work. Honestly, I wasn’t a believer in remote teams trying to work together on version 1 of a product, but Electric Pulp changed my mind.
$4,824.14. The total cost of the legal fees was $4,824.14. I could have used my uncle the divorce lawyer and saved a few bucks, but that would have been short sighted if Truemors ever becomes worth something. Here’s a breakdown of what I got for this amount of money.
$399. I paid LogoWorks $399 to design the logo. Of course, this was before HP bought the company. Not sure what it would charge now. :-)
$1,115.05. I spent $1,115.05 registering domains. I could have used GoDaddy and done it a lot cheaper, but I was too stupid and lazy.
55. I registered 55 domains (for example, truemors.net, .de, .biz, truemours, etc, etc). I had no idea that one had to buy so many domains to truly “surround” the one you use. Yes, I could have registered fewer and spent less, but who cares about saving a few hundred bucks compared to the cost of legal action to get a domain away from a squatter if Truemors is successful?
$12,107.09. In total, I spent $12,107.09 to launch Truemors. During the dotcom days, entrepreneurs had to raise $5 million to try stupid ideas. Now I’ve proven that you can do it for $12,107.09.
1.5. There are 1.5 full-time equivalent employees at Truemors. For me, it’s a labor of love.
3. TechCrunch wrote about Truemors 3 times: the leak, the leak with a screen shot, and the opening. I wish I could tell you I was so sly as to plan this. Michael Arrington thought he was sticking it to me. Don’t stop, Michael!
261,214. Much to my amazement, there were 261,214 page views on the first day.
14,052. Much to my amazement, there were 14,052 visitors on the first day.
$0. I spent $0 on marketing to launch Truemors.
24. However, I did spend 24 years of schmoozing and “paying it forward” to get to the point where I could spend $0 to launch a company. Many bloggers got bent out of shape: “The only reason Truemors is getting so much coverage is that it’s Guy’s site.” To which my response is, “You have a firm grasp of the obvious.”
405. Because some people had nothing better to do, there were 405 posts on the first day.
218. We deleted 218 of the 405 posts because they were junk, spam, inappropriate, or just plain stupid. Interestingly, half the bloggers complained the site was full of junk. The other half complained that I was deleting posts. :-)
3. A mere 3 hours went by before the site was hacked, and we had to shut it down temporarily. I was impressed. The hacker who did this might be the next Woz. Please contact me if you are.
36. A mere 36 hours went by before Yahoo! Small Business told us that we were inappropriate for this service because of our traffic.
$29.96. Our monthly break-even point was $29.96 with Yahoo!
$150. Because Yahoo! evicted us, our monthly break-even point quintupled to $150. If you’re interested in buying a monthly sponsorship for $151, you’d make Truemors profitable. :-)
2. A mere 2 days went by before Truemors was called the “worst website ever” by the Inquirer.
246,210. Thank you God for the Inquirer because it caused 246,210 page views. Yes indeed, there’s no such thing as bad PR.
150. A week before we launched, if you typed “truemors” into Google, you would have gotten 150 hits.
315,000. Eleven days after the launch, “truemors” had 315,000 hits in Google. I can’t figure out how this can be, but I’m not arguing.
4. I learned four lessons launching Truemors:
There’s really no such thing as bad PR.
$12,000 goes a very long way these days.
You can work with a team that is thousands of miles away.
Life is good for entrepreneurs these days.
I recently saw a presentation called Meet Henry and loved it, so I asked its creators, Ethos3 Communications, to help me create a presentation based on these experiences. Here are the slides that go with this speech.
As part of the growing world of Truemors, there are two Truemors add-ons to announce:
Trickler is a standalone application that provides a ticker-tape interface to Truemors.
AffinityBar is a Truemors toolbar for FireFox and Internet Explorer.
Here’s the bottom line: Whether Truemors succeeds or not, I learned a helluva lot. One thing is for sure: no entrepreneur can tell me that he needs $1 million, four programmers, and six months to launch this kind of company. With products like WordPress, MySQL, and Salesforce platform, things are a whole lot cheaper and easier these days.
For not a whole lot of money and time you can get something out there and see if it works. If it does, hallelujah: there’s no better time to raise money than after your prototype is scaling up. Indeed, you may not ever need to raise money. Fyi, there is no worst time to raise money than when you have nothing but an idea. Actually, there is a worst time: When you’ve burned through the first million, and you haven’t shipped or gotten any dogs to eat the food.
I end with a truism (as opposed to truemor): There’s only one way to find out if your idea will succeed, and that’s to try it, so go for it.
PS: We’d love to have a few more “truemorists.” These are folks with “accounts” at the Truemors site. Anyone can post via voicemail, text, email, and online submission, but truemorists can create, edit, save, and delete their truemors. Also, their names appear in green to distinguish their posts from those of non-truemorists.