Revenue Model Workshop at Ultra Light Startups

I recently attended my 6th Ultra Light Startup, where the mission is simple: “Tech entrepreneurs sharing techniques to launch faster and cheaper!”  I’ve covered their recent events including Monetization via AdsOutsourcing, SEO/SEM, and last months most popular Open Source CMS. (I made a video of that event and the article itself was picked up by the well know online publisher SmashingMagazine.)

This months meetup tested a completely new format – the Revenue Model Workshop. At this event, 5 startups were selected to give brief presentations of their business, focusing on their revenue models. It was held at For Your Imagination (special thanks to Kathryn Velvel Jones) in order to support , without a doubt, one of the largest Ultra Light crowds to date.

As usual, the night kicked off with 1 minute elevator pitches by the Ultra Light Audience. This ran pretty smoothly, particularly thanks to Ronald Bradford’s “Entreprenuer Pitch Instructions”. Some of the more impressive and eyecatching companies included:

Following the quick pitch session, guest speaker Derek Lee wowed the audience with his  “Immodest Proposal”…STOP CREATING AD INVENTORY (write up by Sanford Dickert)

  • The long tail is dead.
  • You will not feed your family or pay the mortgage with google Ad Words
  • Figure out your economic value per customer instead of ad impressions
  • Remember the difference between branded advertising and direct response – note that Lawn Doctor was on the prime time CNN show
  • Sell something – unlimited ad inventory is nothing
  • West Coast Model is what everyone is chasing – build a big community of 4M members and then monetize it. The darlings of the current economic world will disappear.
  • East Coast Model is making money – figure out your revenue model – $ for one customer, $$ for more than one, then $$$$ for lots. Pick a revenue model and build it.
  • Don’t get a job now – we are in a recession. In 20 years from now, look at the Fortune 100 then and see how many got started in 2009.

It was a lot to take in for the audience and left people hungry for more answers. Good timing, because the pizza arrived shortly after and the networking frenzy began. After 15 minutes of handshakes, business card exchanges and hardcore networking, the panel was seated and ready to go.

As planned, five entrepreneurs had 5 minutes each to pitch their product and revenue models ($$Cha-Ching$$). The panel would then provide helpful alternatives for the entrepreneur to consider as methods to generate more revenue from their business more efficiently. The presenters were as follows…

The panelists included:

Overall the feedback was helpful for the presenters. Each panelist seemed to have their own perspective and advice, but there were times where they were simply “confused” by the ideas presented.  But overall, the event was successful and the presenters walked away with what they needed to improve their business.

I highly suggest you attend next months meetup, Ultra Light Web Analytics, February 5th at For Your Imagination. The panel lined up is strong and based on the growing numbers, this will be a large/networking worthy venue.

**In order to give you an idea of what it was like to present, I have decided to sacrifice my video for the sake for your viewing pleasure:

Posted under Events, Ultra Light Startups

Which CMS? Drupal vs. Joomla vs. WordPress

I recently attended my 5th Ultra Light Startups and as expected, it was a success!  I have covered their recent event topics including Monetization via Ads, then Outsourcing, & last months SEO/SEM. But this months topic was highly controversial: Open Source Content Management Systems (CMS). Topics included:

  • The most popular Open Source CMS’s – Drupal, Joomla & WordPress.
  • Examples of successfull startups on each platform.
  • What are the main differentiators between the platform.

For those of you unaware of this event, the mission is simple: “Tech entrepreneurs, sharing techniques to launch faster and cheaper!” It is a great source of networking with a panel also included to help drive engaging/helpful discussions to improve your startup.

As usual, the night kicked off with 1 minute elevator pitches by the event participants. Rami Weiss of, explained why this was so crucial: “Pitching is important and practicing your pitch is the only way to perfect it!” (His tips included: Stand Up, Explain What you do, Your Business Model, Funding, Size and Other Stats). There were a lot of web-design and CMS design companies present, but a a few stood out from the crowd.

  • Jason Calderon, – Child naming and website apps
  • Benjamin Horst, -Social wishlist sharing site
  • Michael Meyers, NowPublic – NextGen “Reuters”/1st VC’ed Co. using Drupal.
  • Peter Raymond, Human Condition – Feel what a disease feels like
  • Joshua Russak (Me), – Database of Resume Job Experiences
  • Boris Bulayev, Educate – Educating Africa’s Future Leaders

Also, a last-minute addition, the creator of the website Overheard In New York, Morgan Friedman, talked about how he achieved success with his ‘ultra light’ startup. The best advice he gave came from his Rabbi: “Any problem that can be solved by money isn’t actually a problem”. Following his speech, came pizza+pop+networking which is a core to this event. After a 1/2 hour of business card collection the panelists took their seats. The panelists were as follows:

In the past, I covered the events in a Q&A format on my blog, but I decided to try a new form of event coverage: Flip Video! First suggested to me by Melissa Salas (Director of Marketing,, met her at Affiliate Summit Social 2008), the Flip is a great way to quickly video-capture events and easily upload them 1-2-3 to social video networks. So…instead of taking notes at this event…I put a fun little video together. Questions covered in the video include:”Describe your CMS…“,”Examples of websites that use your CMS“, “CMS Developer Communities“, “What’s next?” and more…

If you liked what you read here, come out to next months Ultra Light Startup Event: Startup Revenue Models. I look forward to seeing you there.

Posted under Events, Ultra Light Startups

Ultra Light Startups Explains “SEO and SEM”

(*if pictures don’t appear above, click REFRESH on your browser)

I recently attended my 3rd Ultra Light Startups! I covered last months event in my article Ultra Light Startups – Outsourcing Your Startup!! This months Topic was SEO and SEM:

  • Principals of Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing
  • Practical advice for maximizing your S.E.O./S.E.M. investment
  • Build vs buy (do-it-yourself vs hire an agency) decision criteria
  • Customer testimonials and entrepreneur experiences with S.E.O./S.E.M.

For those of you unaware of this event, the mission is simple: “Tech entrepreneurs, sharing techniques to launch faster and cheaper!” A room full of 50+ Entrepreneurs with bootstrapped budgets discussing professional techniques on improving their businesses. A great source for networking and information. And more importantly, the panel at this event felt a lot more engaging than the big conferences, but the content and material was just as good, if not better!

I was very impressed with the companies presenting this time around. I made a few notes  about the companies I found to be the most intriguing. presents top 10 and 100 lists in many different categories and brings in over 125,000 page views per month. The funder and CEO of SlipFire, built a web marketing and design company using wordpress (impressive!). I presented, the 1st and only database of Resume Job Experiences and overall, it received good reactions. Other noteworthy companies included SEO Tools company SEO Drop, TurboCourt the TurboTax for law, and the one stop shop and social network for Baby Boomers (I’d like to not that they were recently mentioned TechCrunch and There were many other great presentation and if you want to see the full list of presenting companies, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Once the networking+pizza 1/2 hour was over, the panel was ready to get going. It consisted of the following:

I usually report on the panel in the following manner: Q & A format, where write the question and provide each panelist’s response below it. It lasted about 1 hour, but here’s the most relevant content I was able to write down:

Q: How do you know you’re SEO campaign was effective/is doing well?

  • Sarah: “You’re making money (everybody luaghs)…but note that setting a benchmark is very important”
  • Regau: “I need to know your GOAL in the beginning”

Q: Pro’s and Con’s of doing SEM in a Content Management System (CMS)?

  • Joseph: “WordPress, Joomla and Drupalare great porgrams. If you’re not going to use a CMS and start from scratch, you better be an expert”

Q: How long until you see results?

  • Regau: “It depends on your campaign and goals.”
  • Sarah:”As soon as tomorrow to a couple of months. It really depends on Spider Frequency from Google…oh ya, there are other search engines too (everybody laughs). SEO is like PR, where you have to pitch to the editor every day…and the pitch keeps changing.”

Q: SEO Basics?

  • Regau: “A huge part is how many sites are ranking in your area! How many site are ranking against you?”
  • Sarah: “3 Basics – 1. Make sure a spider can get into your site; 2. Make sure the content is relevant to the text; 3. Internal and External linking.”
  • Joseph: “It’s also important for when people get there, what’s going to happen after that?”

Q: What’s the difference in promoting a Product vs. Services?

  • Joseph: “You should contentrate more on PPC for Products and SEO for Services.”

Q: How much time should one spend on SEO vs. Social Marketing Optimization (SMO)?

  • Regau: “If you’re aiming for the longtail, longer lasting success then SEO…SMO is an ongoing process that needs daily updates.”
  • Sarah: “Utilizing social networking sites will be good for Tomorrow’s success…but you have to keep up with it then.”

Overall it was a successfull event and if you’re interested in going, I suggest going to December 4th: Open Source Content Management Systems (CMS) to hear from Joomla, Drupal and WordPress experts. It’s a guarantee you’ll find what you’re looking for!

Full List of Companies That Presented:

Web100 http://www.web100.comt
Media Contacts
Wanderlust Design
Adulmec LLC
Intresys, Inc.
HomeShop Technologies, Inc.
SEO Drop
RezRedo LLC
Wale Up
College Mogul
Good Health Advertising
Adulmec LLC
Genesis International Corp
Seamless Outsourcing Inc.

Posted under Events, SEO/SEM, Ultra Light Startups

This post was written by Joshua Russak on November 10, 2008


Ultra Light Startups(TM) a SUCCESS!

Ultra Light Startups:”Monetization through Online Advertising”

Me, Graham Lawlor (founer), Max Ramirez

Me, Graham Lawlor (founder) & Max Ramirez (Blinkx)

For those of you looking for a group of entrepreneurs who help each other launch successful tech ventures, then Ultra Light Startups (TM) is the place to be. The group was founded  by Graham Lawlor in New York City,  with contributors and viewers all over the world. Ultra Light Startups meets on the first Thursday of every month, hosted by Rose Technology Ventures in New York.

last week I attended the largest meetup in Ultra Light history with 40+ attending. The panel discussion of the night – “Monetization through Online Advertising” might have been the reason for the size of the crowd. As you’ll see from the presenters bios (included below), the speakers at this event may have contributed to those numbers as well.

Elevator Pitch in Under 60 seconds!

The night started off with “Introductions by elevator pitch”, where everyone in attendance participated in pitching their companies in 60 seconds or less.  Companies ranging in all sizes from fresh start-ups to fully-staffed and successful companies were present. I was a little turned off by some of the pitch’s because of their lack of “enthusiasm”. But that’s why it was important for them to be there that night. They needed to learn from what other people did well. (Kudos to Guilherme Cunha of, for a memorable pitch!)

“Pizza and networking” was supposed to follow the elevator pitch’s, but unfortunately the Pizza was a tad late so we got started on the panel “pre-pizza”. First of foremost, the Moderator, Ronald Bradford, Principal of 42SQL. I’ve seen him around the city at different events and every time he has made himself known. A very smart, sharp and “in-the-know” individual…and kept the panel running smoothly and on-time.

Alex, Max, Noah and Derek

Alex, Max, Noah and Derek

The panelists of the night were…

…Alex Baydin, Founder and CEO of PerformLine
…Derek Lee, Founder and CEO of SocialDough (in the works)
…Noah Robinson, Owner at Mercenary International (his blog here)
…Max Ramirez, Head of online ad sales for

Each were very knowledgeable in their own space, and contributed very well to the topic at hand. I took the liberty of jotting down some highlights. Derek Lee seemed to be very clear that “if this is your life’s work, build your business for 5 years from now, not today. […] You need to know a site is going to make money first, then make it scalable (not the other way around)”.

Alex Baydin stayed closest to the topic at hand pushing CPI, CPC and CPA for best methods of monetization. “CPA is great for a publisher with a small budget” and “CPC is good for contextual targetting”.

Next up was Max Ramirez, who took a different approach with pushing video content. “Right Now is the time to go after video and don’t be shy to call the NBC’s of this world”. Obviously he has the chihulees to call those companies and break deals, but his point was clear…”VIDEO CONTENT = $$”.

Moving into a more brand-aware direction, Noah Robinson’s approach was simple: “WEAR A PINK SHIRT AND GET NOTICED!!” (…with his hat that night, I imagine he got his point across). He also made 2 other good points: “Don’t waste time with branded ads” and “Data is everything”.

Ultra Light Startup Power-Crew!


The discussions went on and the panelists contintued on. Around 9pm the panel ended and everybody headed over for a few drinks at Dewey’s Flatiorn! Overall, it was a great event and definitely worth the $5 fee! The September 4th Ultra Light Startups event was their biggest and best yet. The addition of an interactive panel discussion rather than a single speaker helped boost attendance and I’m interested to see what they do next.

For those of you interested in finding more info on the group, check out their Facebook Group, LinkedIn Group (new), or Mailing List to be sure you receive announcements.

Posted under Events, Online Marketing, Ultra Light Startups

This post was written by Joshua Russak on September 8, 2008

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