[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]This isn’t some form of sadomasochism on my ego.
Eventually I’ll share how I ran my business out of my college post office. What it felt like the morning after I left a salaried job to awake to the reality of no salary at all. And how out of two million active Facebook advertisers, I stand as one of the first.
Forget establishing a brand, let’s establish trust. I need to admit that I generate many grand ideas.
I come up with them in the car, sometimes in complete silence with the hum of the tires against the road acting as the soundtrack for my next project.
Ideas flash in front of me while I sit on my couch watching Netflix. Ideas flood my mind as suds gently glide down the side of a pint glass. Ideas keep me up at night as much as they put me to sleep. Sometimes I exhaust them, first.
I wish I typed this to you on a Remington or Hammond. Some millennial I’ve turned out to be.
But let’s get back to failure.
I’m not talking about “I sent out an e-mail to my whole office with the wrong information,” type failure.
The following three failures stand out in my memory because they were catalysts for personal and/or professional growth. Some of them were major setbacks that broke my spirit or my bank account.
This is my ode to them. This is my own to them.
Just remember, history is written by the winners.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”afterbrite” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Lato%3A100%2C100italic%2C300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C700%2C700italic%2C900%2C900italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_single_image image=”252″ border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]If the saying goes, “Fail often, fail fast, and fail cheap,” file this one under all three.
I had a good thing going with Hurricane Productions in 2009. My best friend/business partner and I were on the precipice of making it a full-time gig.
But ‘DJing’ always bothered me. I never aspired to be Robbie Hart of ‘The Wedding Singer.’
We were better than that. Our skill sets were strong in both web design and video.
And we had a friend from college who was unhappy at a design agency. His dad owned a small business and needless to say, he wanted to pass the entrepreneurship bug to his son.
He loaned us office space in his building, a duet became a trio and we started ‘afterbrite.’
First, we had a hard time establishing a name. Second, my previous 50-50 partnership with Hurricane made its way to the negotiating table in the thought we would include a third. That quickly fell apart. In hindsight, that’s a small success in this massive failure.
Most of my days consisted of running back and forth from Rutgers football practice or editing high school sports videos for my full-time job as a reporter. On my drives from New Brunswick down to our loaned office space in Ocean Township, I called Hurricane clients and setup appointments at the afterbrite office.
I should have never taken the liberty to use the space as both the site of our new start-up and Hurricane Productions. But Hurricane made money, afterbrite didn’t.
Plus, I never once took a payment from any of our afterbrite projects. I know that sounds dumb. But I needed to put skin in the game. At the time of inception, we were working on leftover projects from our new partners’ old job.
I never liked handouts.
We were knee-deep in builds for a few websites and never truly had time to create our own web presence. That’s right, we started a web company without a website. We didn’t have phone number, either.
Let’s not confuse failure with fault. When the dust settled at afterbrite, it was my fault.
At least that’s the propaganda tied to the story. But for a long time, longer than we were even in business, I bought into that theory.
Eight months into starting a company and we shut it down – too many voices without enough vision.
From a professional standpoint, it took me a few short weeks to bounce back. I left my full-time job. I opened my own office. And in one year, I grew my business by over 100 percent in revenue.
But from a personal standpoint, I reeled for a long while, almost two years. I damaged a friendship and started succeeding in spite of it. I never felt right about anything. I wouldn’t quite call it depression but it was damn close.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Dapper DIY” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Lato%3A100%2C100italic%2C300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C700%2C700italic%2C900%2C900italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSErrCmR84E”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The Concept:
Create sponsored, shareable content.
The project showed glimpses of promise.
Feedback poured in from all over: Our host was too ‘Jersey,’ (meaning appeal beyond our regional was slim to none). Some people liked the idea of ‘how-to’ videos but couldn’t figure out how we could make money from it.
Men’s Wearhouse didn’t really like the piece. This episode didn’t fit its corporate model of men showing men how to dress.
I still think content like this with the right vehicle or right sponsor could be successful. But I had to let it go.
We never intended to make this an ongoing series unless someone paid for it. Maybe someone will, eventually. (See, I haven’t let it go completely, yet.)
It still lives on YouTube to the tune of 4k+ views and counting. (Anyone interested?)
We filmed a few other shorts for the series with different hosts, different concepts, but nothing clicked.
We never released another episode.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Video Ad Campaign on NJ.com” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Lato%3A100%2C100italic%2C300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C700%2C700italic%2C900%2C900italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_video link=”https://vimeo.com/14380590″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The Concept:
Be a step ahead of competitors – ad placement where they weren’t, on a platform they hadn’t thought about.
For DJ entertainment (and many industries at the time, actually), no one advertised on NJ.com.
Plus, I created news and sports content for the Star-Ledger and NJ.com (see ‘afterbrite’ above for details on my full-time job).
I hoped that someone would see the pre-roll video ad, visit the Hurricane dot-com and realize the content they watched on NJ.com was created by me.
The marketing department of NJ.com didn’t understand video in 2009-10. It certainly wasn’t ready for local advertisements for anything other than cars or real estate.
And between us, you could skip the ad by refreshing your web browser.
We received monthly reports riddled with jargon and bloated metrics.
Fail cheap? We didn’t.
For a company bringing in just 80k at the time, the 10k bill for this ad campaign hurt in the short-term. But we did learn about tax write-offs.
We stopped the campaign after six months and invested those ad dollars into Facebook.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]