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“Build a valuable asset first then leverage.”

This interview was written by Stephany Zoo, Marketing Cofounder of BundShop.com.

Stephany: How do you grow our mailing list?

Stephen: Concentrate on one single metric: total number of subscribers. Build a valuable asset first then leverage. Focus on syndication. Don’t have too many metrics; your resources are too small to start. Seek partnerships that designers are not going to find themselves. Be essential to their success.

BE RELIABLE. There’s nothing wrong with starting out as a services company. You’re not going to IPO, but you will make money and build relationships. Be known for excellent performance and reliability. One of our first clients when we were building websites was Disney producer, we wanted this contract badly. We probably earned $3k per contract before. This was a $40k contract. We spent all of winter break coding to meet their deadlines. Later we became their exclusive web developer, our friend who relied on us ended up becoming ABC’s producer during the “who wants to be a millionaire” era. We ended up giving up holidays a year later to build the gaming app for who wants to be a millionaire. Sold that for $150k, could have sold it for $800k because they turned it over to another company for 1.5mil a few months later.

So, BE RELIABLE. And another friend, rockstar investor Jerry Wu’s advice:: BE PATIENT.

Friends are the best business partners. I can’t think of a single Silicon Valley startup not founded between friends. You can call on friends to go above and beyond. It’s also good to have a young team, when you’re 20 something you just have no concept of what can and cannot be done. There’s power in that.

Unpredictable power law distribution. During early days of Rotten Tomatoes, 1/3 of our traffic came from the search query “Map of the World”. Simply because we had a movie title Map of the World early on, and it stuck. Totally unpredictable, but 1/3 of traffic! You never know what’s going to stick. Expand your content, expand your SKUs.

For the first three years you will be inside the tornado. My friends that are entrepreneurs, they don’t look outside for 3 years. You’re absorbed in the details, the execution. Lift your head for a bit, but too many ideas will distract you, stay focused.

Entrepreneurs in hindsight wanted to change the world. At the time, your goal is to solve a small problem. It’s arrogant to start out saying “I’m going to change the world.” Zuckerburg didn’t start out trying to change the world, just wanted to make a catalog of hot girls. This is how ideas catch; they solve a small problem, and then catch fire and turn into a game changer.

Stephany:  What concerns you on a daily basis?

Stephen: For us, it was the question, what movie should I watch this weekend?

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