Work life parallel objectives for 2016
that first step
I’VE NEVER DONE ANYTHING LIKE THIS BEFORE
A couple days ago, I received a connection request from someone on LinkedIn. It stood out for two reasons. First and foremost, the requestor actually took 30 seconds to pose a personalized comment which suggested why he was interested in connecting. Second, he’s a VP and partner with a local venture capital (VC) firm.
This website might be pushing five weeks old, but Gearbox Magazine turns five-and-a-half years old in a couple weeks. Despite all the soft promotion of GBXM (and my efforts, there) in the last five years, I’ve never really considered venture/seed/accelerator capital. Closest I’ve got has been in the last year, when my partner, Deanna, and I started exploring incorporating as a non-profit in order to seek out grant money.
which is more valuable
Following the print (and digital) media for a few years, I’ve come to a simple conclusion.
The audience is typically more valuable than the content.
If a major print magazine sells 3 million copies a month at $1 each, that’s $1MM. Sounds impressive, until you go through an issue, count the number of ads, then multiply that number by the average per-issue ad rate in their press kit. Figure 45% of the roughly 100-page issue is ads. Then assume the average full-page ad price is $100,000. In my research, magazines are typically paid 300-450% more for their audience than their content.
This has long bothered me. The masthead of a “buff book” will list upwards of 50 names. Executives, publishers, editors, writers, graphic designers, printers, marketing and sales teams – and they put out less than 50 pages a month which are not ads?
GBXM issues, when we publish them, tend to run 80+ pages. They’re 100% content and wholly produced by two individuals. I believe the content should be valuable. It should be valuable to readers. Valuable enough that asking a buck or two per copy seems a too-good-to-pass-up deal.
the long game
This, I think, flies in the face of the accelerated startup. Have you ever heard the term “serial entrepreneur?” Basically, a serial entrepreneur is someone who launches a startup, gets a load of venture capital funding, scales rapidly, and gets acquired by Facebook/Google-types. Then they go start the process all over again.
Investors, understandably so, are looking to get a return on their investments. VC firms bankroll startups, allowing them to scale, then look to sell their ownership as part of an acquisition or public offering. It’s the nature of the beast as I understand it.
Which means GBXM isn’t exactly VC material. Sure, I know we’ve got some really good ideas and we’ve proven ourselves willing and able as bootstrappers over the years, but who would invest in an organization where the founder/CEO wants to build for the long game? The plan isn’t to scale and bail. The plan is to build a legacy.
all mixed up
So tonight I’m going to this VC mixer. I’m not sure what to expect. And I’m more than a little nervous about it. I’m pretty sure GBXM isn’t VC material, but I’ve neither seriously researched venture capital nor actually spoken with anyone in the market about it. I know that I don’t know. That’s about it.
Part of me worries I’ll be the awkward guy in the room;
The guy who obviously doesn’t belong because he’s neither concerned with funding nor likely to get any even if he were. Stranger still, there’s this freakishly optimistic (read: naive?) voice in my head thinking, “Hey. They contacted me. Maybe I’m in for a mind-blowing surprise.”
What if, instead, they merely try to sell me on some kind of startup education program? How much will that cost? More than my student loan payments, I bet. I’m trying not to be pessimistic – it’s not my style – but there’s even a voice in my head concerned all my startup dreams are about to come true, which would mean screwing over the folks who just took me on as the 14th employee in their company.
just do it
I’ve never done anything like this before. I have no idea what to expect. I’m a little nervous. I’m a little optimistic. Tonight I’m going to just do it. I’m going to show up after work, smile, take it all in, and be myself. If anyone asks about Gearbox or work life parallel, I’ll gladly get as specific as they like. It’s easy to do when you believe in what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.
GBXM – and this site – will go on with or without third party funding. This is my life’s work.
I’ll let you know how things play out in the days ahead.