News


We’re closing down the MightyBrand application, but we’re still here!

We’re closing down the MightyBrand application, but we’re still here!

Over the course of 2010, it became increasingly clear to us here at MightyBrand that the social media monitoring space was a bad place to do business. The barriers to entry have gotten lower, but ironically, the risks have only increased. Due to increasing risk that Twitter, Facebook, or another major network will change their API and partner policies to make it impossible for services like ours to survive, we’ve decided to close down the application and pursue other opportunities.

So that’s it? Well, not quite. We’ve never been passionate about social media monitoring; rather, we’re passionate about helping businesses understand social media marketing and reach their customers in the most effective way possible. We’ve learned an incredible amount over the last two years, built a good brand, and developed strong relationships with many clients, vendors, and partners. Our goal will be to develop a service or product that leverages those assets to help more businesses make meaningful connections with their customers and grow strong brands online.

If you are a current user of the MightyBrand application, you should receive an email with further information on how this decision affects you, but feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you might have. We’re incredibly humbled and grateful for your support of this product, and we hope to be able to provide you with even more exciting tools and services in the near future.

Thanks again!

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Bootstrapping Takes Guts

Bootstrapping Takes Guts

We’ve written previously about our mistakes at MightyBrand and how we spent six months heading down the wrong road, chasing a market we didn’t believe in and half-assing the customer development process. As a result, we came very close to destroying any hope of ever building a company that we’re really proud of. We’ve also written about how we decided to bootstrap the company, and why. At first glance, it might not seem apparent that these two things are related, but the interplay between bootstrapping and the dangers of destroying your long-term future cannot be overstated.

When you bootstrap a company, you’re going to be short on cash. Very short on cash. Every day is a struggle, especially in the beginning. In the long run, this is probably more benefit than burden, provided you can survive it, because it forces you to be frugal and be very focused on getting to profitability. (On the other hand, when you’re spending someone else’s money, the temptation to throw cash at problems and spend indiscriminately is overwhelming. The people in your organization sense the difference immediately and that attitude becomes part of your culture.)

Because you’re so short on cash, you’ll be very tempted to chase opportunities that offer short-term cashflow. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, except that most of those opportunities will be things that are either orthogonal to your core mission or in direct violation of it. If you don’t have a very clear sense of who you are as a company, what you believe in, what you’re here for, then you’ll end up chasing those opportunities and destroying your brand.

It’s very clear to us now that if we had spent more time at the beginning defining what our mission was and why we were starting this company, what our ethos was, we never would have gone down the road of selling to agencies, no matter how lucrative it is in the short-term. We just don’t believe in what they’re doing.

When Ben and I were talking about this issue and hashing it out, the moment that it became clear to both of us was when we realized that building MightyBrand into a great company is going to be difficult no matter which direction we go, just because of the general space we’re in. There’s easier money out there, so if this company is just about the money, then we’re in the wrong business.

Because here’s the dirty truth: if you want to build a business just for the money, don’t half-ass it with something you sort of enjoy or kind of believe in. Just sell porn or go work in the financial sector or sell terrible enterprise software. There’s great money in those things, and if that’s all you’re after, why bother pretending that you care about it?

Now, does this mean that if you build something that you love and that you care about, it’ll be a success? Absolutely not. We still firmly believe in customer development, great marketing, and busting your ass to deliver a great product or service to a market that wants it badly. But if you want it to be a great brand, it has to be something that you care about. And in order to evaluate opportunities to see if they fit what you believe in, it’s important that you *know* what you believe in.

So write down your mission. Figure out what your values are, what’s important to you. What does your company look like in twenty years? What does your brand stand for over the next century? Arrogant? Sure, a little. But entrepreneurship requires some chutzpah. If you don’t believe in your mission and what you’re doing, why should anyone else?

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MightyReach for WordPress: Track your social media stats from your WP dashboard

MightyReach for WordPress: Track your social media stats from your WP dashboard

On Saturday, I attended Startup School 2009, hosted by Y Combinator. I’ll have a future post on the event, which was amazing, and had a lot of helpful tips on things very relevant to the MightyBrand audience, including marketing, customer service, and changing the world.

Anyway, one of the biggest things that struck me when hearing from the speakers, including people like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Paul Buchheit (Gmail, Friendfeed), and Evan Williams / Biz Stone (Twitter) was this: they launched very rough and ugly first versions of these projects in just a few days and iterated from there. These companies and products are now worth billions of dollars, but they started as small hack jobs that were designed as a quick, fun experiment.

This principle has been expressed a few ways before, but one of my favorites is by Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn:

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

So in that spirit, I’ve decided to launch a quick little plugin that I built Saturday evening, after the event was over. I’d been thinking about how I’d like something like this plugin, but I couldn’t find anything, so I decided to just sit down for a couple hours and knock out the roughest, hackiest version that would still provide some value. I definitely nailed the first part (the code is ugly), but you’ll have to tell me if it adds any value for you.

The plugin is called MightyReach for WordPress, and just like MightyReach.com will do when we launch, this plugin allows you to measure your overall social media “reach” from one place, in this case, from your WordPress dashboard. In keeping with the principle of releasing early and often, it currently only covers Feedburner and Twitter, but we have a long list of other services we’d like to cover, including Google Analytics, Youtube, Facebook, Bit.ly, and more. We also have a lot of feature ideas, but with both supported services and features, we’re more interested in what you have to say, so please contact us and let us know what you’d like to see.

Download mightyreach-wp from WordPress.org

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Got customers? How we almost sunk our startup before it started.

Got customers? How we almost sunk our startup before it started.

Brace yourself kids, because this is a tale of unrequited love, interminable woe, and eventual redemption (no, it’s not about high school). But the redemption doesn’t happen for awhile, so pour a double whisky and shut the blinds so no one mocks you for your tears.

I’ve already written about how MightyBrand started, so I’ll summarize in this post by saying that in early 2008, we got the idea to build a platform for monitoring social media and helping companies engage with their customers. This seemed like a great idea to us, and we had a lot of code from a previous project that we could repurpose for the cause.

The project didn’t seem too huge or overwhelming, so we started building. We coded throughout the rest of 2008 and watched the project grow more and more complex. We eventually launched in January 2009 and waited for the world to recognize our genius. And surprisingly, they did. Sort of. Read more »

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The MightyBrand Name

The MightyBrand Name

Someone over on news.ycombinator.com posted a story asking startups how they came up with their name. I posted a comment there for MightyBrand, but I thought I would cross-post it here, in case someone else finds it interesting.

The story of our name is a tale of the sunk cost fallacy. Back in 2006, we started working on a social network aggregator called BlueSwarm that was very similar to FriendFeed or SocialThing. We originally called it BlueSwarm.org, because the .com was taken, but just before we launched in Summer 2007, we bought the .com, paying way more than we should have. Stupid. Anyway, the launch went OK, we got some press, but after awhile, we realized that the space was crowding fast and it was a difficult idea to monetize, so we put it on the back-burner.

Meanwhile, we launched a little side blog called MightyBrand that covered personal branding through social media. We posted there occasionally, but not much. It was one of those spur-of-the-moment ideas you do on a weekend that gradually lose steam over the next few months.

In early 2008, we decided to take the codebase from BlueSwarm and re-purpose it to be a social media monitoring platform for brands. This is where the sunk cost fallacy comes in: because we paid so much for the BlueSwarm.com domain, we really wanted to use it, so our social media monitoring platform for brands and companies was also called BlueSwarm. We went through these mental marketing gymnastics trying to relate it to what we were doing: “Who’s swarming around your brand?” We launched an alpha prototype under BlueSwarm and applied to YC as BlueSwarm.

Finally, about six months later, we realized that it probably wasn’t the best fit, and it suddenly dawned on us that MightyBrand was actually a pretty good name for what we were attempting to do, and would grow with us as we expand beyond monitoring. So when we launched our public beta in Jan, we completely re-branded as MightyBrand.

The lesson? Don’t hold on too tightly to a domain, name, idea, or project just because you’ve spent a lot of time and money on it. If the future for it doesn’t look good and you have something better on the table, go for it.

PS – If anyone wants to buy BlueSwarm.com, .net, and .org, email us :)

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SF New Tech Demo

SF New Tech Demo

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of presenting MightyBrand to SF New Tech, a monthly startup event in San Francisco.  My presentation skills still need work but I really enjoyed it and we saw a big surge in signups and partnership requests.  A big thank you to Myles Weissleder and everyone else at SF New Tech for the opportunity.  I was also interviewed by Jolie O’Dell for Startup Lucky.  Check out a few pictures and the interview below!

Interview with Jolie O’Dell

Pictures of SF New Tech Demo

Note: To any event producers out there, we’d love to demo MightyBrand for your audience and talk about how to build strong brands online using social media.  Just contact me at ryan@mightybrand.com.

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A mighty fine April

A mighty fine April

April was a huge month for MightyBrand, though we haven’t been blogging much.  Here’s a quick recap of everything we’ve been up to over the last month:

Redesign
We pushed a big redesign of MightyBrand (and this blog), including a new brand with color scheme and logo, done by our good friend Luke Fretwell.  We’re really excited about the redesign and we’d love to know what you think.  Post in the comments!

Speed and architecture improvements
We’ve spent the last two months working on some massive architectural improvements to allow the site to continue to scale and grow as more and more users signup.  You should see a big improvement in the speed of the site compared with the last few months.

Homepage demo
You can now check your brand’s social mentions right from the MightyBrand homepage, just to get a taste of the value that we add.  Check it out!

SF New Tech Demo
A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to be asked to present MightyBrand to a couple hundred attendees at SF New Tech.  The event went well and I’ll be posting about it later today, so stay tuned.

Partnerships
We’ve been hard at work on some really exciting partnership opportunities that we hope to be announcing very soon.  In the meantime, if you’re an agency or marketing firm and you’d like to offer MightyBrand to your clients, please contact us and discuss it.  We’ve got some great solutions that we’d love to tell you about.  Check out our partners page or contact us for more info!

MightyTweets
We launched an experiment in micro-monitoring called MightyTweets.  You can now get notified via Twitter when someone mentions your brand on blogs, forums, Digg, and Twitter itself.  For more info and to try it out, just follow @MightyTweets.

You
MightyBrand exists for you and we were able to spend a lot of time in April getting to know our customers and understanding how we can help build great brands.  There’s nothing we’d rather be doing, so please contact us.  Thanks for making it such a great month…we’re really excited to see what May has in store!

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We goofed.

We goofed.

This morning, our system sent out a batch of emails that were not intended for public consumption.  The intent of the email was to show users who hadn’t visited their MightyBrand account in awhile what kinds of mentions they had been getting in their absence.  Unfortunately, there was a bug in the system and instead mentions for a very small subset of the brands we track was sent out.

We take full responsibility for the mistake and want you to know what we’re doing:

  1. We’ve identified the exact issue and taken steps to correct the immediate problem.
  2. We’re going through all of our email code to ensure there are no other major bugs.
  3. We’re re-evaluating our procedures for testing new features across the entire app.
  4. We’ve tried to contact those affected by the error; please contact us if we missed you.

Again, we’re sorry that we made this mistake and we’re hard at work to make sure it never happens again.  We completely understand if you’re upset (we are);  If you have further concerns or questions, please contact us at support@mightybrand.com or call me at the number below and we’ll make it right.

Ryan & Ben
650.646.3914

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Farewell, BlueSwarm

Farewell, BlueSwarm

It’s done. We finally closed down BlueSwarm.com and redirected all the traffic here, which is a bittersweet moment. BlueSwarm was the first prototype of MightyBrand and we really enjoyed building it and working with all the early users who tried it out. Ultimately, though, we felt that MightyBrand was a better representation of the type of value we’re adding.

If you were one of the original users on BlueSwarm, thanks again for your feedback and testing of our early efforts.  It meant a lot to us and we hope you’ll find even more value on MightyBrand.

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We’re listening. New features and enhancements on MightyBrand.

We’re listening. New features and enhancements on MightyBrand.

Whew, what a week. Last Thursday, we launched the first version of MightyBrand and sent it to a few folks for feedback. The response was overwhelming and encouraging, and we’re very grateful to everyone who took the time to check it out. We’ve been listening to your feedback and we’ve added a lot of features and enhancements that people have requested. We’ve got a lot of other features that we’re working on, but some of them are larger changes and we wanted to go ahead and get these out the door immediately. Here they are:

Pricing plan changes
We’ve added a “Solo” plan that lets one user track one brand for just $12 / month. The other plans have been adjusted as well.

Affiliate program
We’ve launched an affiliate program to let you earn some recurring revenue by referring others to our service. Read more on our Partners page.

Filter by source
On the conversations tab, you can now select exactly which types of conversations you’d like to see.

Search your results
Search through your conversations and mentions by keyword or phrase.

Manual refresh
Addicted to MightyBrand? Keep hitting the refresh button and getting new results.

Misc. changes
We’ve tidied things up here and there to try and make it more intuitive and easy to use, so let us know if we’re heading in the right direction.

We’re really excited about these new changes, as well as the next round of changes that we’re hard at work on. Please let us know what you think, and as always, we’re grateful for any feedback or suggestions you might have.

PS – as with all major changes, there may be bugs and issues, so please don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know if you see any issues or problems. Thanks!

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