A few weeks ago, I attended a talk at the UW Business School by Mark McGuire of Jellyfish.com and Alice.com fame. He talked about his experiences starting, running and selling Name Protect and Jellyfish during an hour talk and a generous question and answer period. As a fellow UW Poli Sci major and entrepreneur, I really enjoyed the entire talk. It was great to see another non-business major succeed as an entrepreneur. For me, the most interesting parts of the talk were his “Big Three Advantages” to being a startup, taken from his blog.
Mark’s three advantages are:
Speed and Agility – Big companies can’t move as fast as you
No History – Statups have no baggage and nothing to protect
A Different Kind of Employee – Start up teams can accomplish amazing things
I think he really hit the nail on the nail on the head with all three of these points. It led me to reflect on my experience with ExchangeHut to see if we had used all of these advantages to their fullest potential.
Speed and Agility
When we first started, we were able to move more quickly than any other site. Even when other startups entered the ticket market, we were able to move more quickly to meet our customers’ needs. When the UW athletic department introduced the Ticket Marketplace or Facebook created a classified system, we were able to keep pushing our streamlined, agile vision for ticket sales. Speed and agility were definitely our most important advantages.
When one piece of our website did not work as well as we had planned, we quickly moved onto a new plan. We did not have to worry about upsetting revenue or a previous customer base, precisely because we did not have any history. This advantage over Facebook allowed us to gain market share and become the dominant player in the student ticket market, while they slowly developed classifieds.
A Different Kind of Employee
We were lucky enough to find a programming team that bought into the start up ideology. We were able to convince our team that we had “the power to change the market” and make a big difference in how students bought and sold tickets.
After looking back at our experiences, I’m confident that Mark is right about these advantages. I’d also like to thank him for taking the time to come talk to a bunch of college students who are interested in entrepreneurship. It’s always fun to hear big success stories about startups, especially Madison based ones!