For those following our path through our start up phase we made quite a few changes with the new year. Here is a quick summary:
1. We moved away from a deep focus on MIT research to a broader approach looking at efforts of “lesser” schools. For one thing there is a huge amount of compelling research work going on around the globe. The other reason is that MIT is so good at what they do there are dozens if not a dozen dozen corporate officers, venture capitalists and technology business writers swarming all over the place. When a pin drops at MIT it sounds like an earthquake everywhere else. On the other hand we have been able to find very good research work that struggles for recognition in other places. We can probably find more opportunities to add value in the latter.
2. Even after carefully selecting a handful of distribution partners to work, with we discovered they just don’t fit our model. So out went Research & Markets, Reuters, Payloadz and a few others too small to mention. We built our own distribution infrastructure and have chosen to work with S&P/Capital IQ to the extent we need a dedicated institutional investor channel.
3. We opted for new web development tools like WordPress for the blog and plain old HTML and PHP/MySQL for the website. Dreamweaver is still used a bit but most of the site can be edited simply as text. For the record Yahoo Sitebuilder and tools like it get you started but then make it very hard to move to a more powerful platform. If I had it to do over again I would have started out with CSS, HTML and PHP to begin with.
4. No advertising, only sponsorships. We played around with AdWords, AdSense and competitors over the year to understand them. They certainly work well for many businesses but not ours. We have found some sponsorships to work well for us in terms of finding customers and similarly believe we have many potential sponsors for 2007 that want to reach out to our client base.
5. Go monthly. We published some industry and company reports in 2006 but not nearly enough. Part of the solution is to create a train that leaves the station regularly – that’s the monthly. The other is to have a hard production plan for industry and company reports that will start modestly and adjusted as needed. By adding an institutional membership level we make it possible to push out unedited content that might or might not be part of our research agenda but is unquestionably of interest to institutional investors.
6. After spending much of 2006 learning we are dramatically scaling back our conference attendance in 2007. Although we will miss being there we’re building tools and content that should be on the agenda one year rather than sitting around listening to what others are doing. To us this is a better use of our time now. We will still do FiRE 2007 and may only do TED in 2008.
As soon as things settle down we will update our resources page that tracks the tools and services we are using in our business.