The Yipit Iterations, Pivots And Turnaround

Image representing Yipit as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBaseI first visited Vin Vacanti's blog perhaps a year and a half ago. We might have exchanged an email: hello! Back then his blog looked like it got updated once every few months. I had never met him. It was the depth of the recession. Although to a startup that has not made it yet, can look like the curtain is down for no explainable reason.

Yipit got funded, it arrived. I believe I met Mark Peter Davis - not for the first time - on the grounds of Columbia University when he was finishing up on his MBA, and I was there to look for a techie.

Yipit has taken off. That is great for the Yipit founders, and that's great for the users of Yipit. But another thing that has taken off at the same time, seems like, is Vin Vacanti's blog. And I stay on a lookout for blogs by tech
Image representing LivingSocial as depicted in...Image via CrunchBase entrepreneurs. There are many, many good blogs by venture capitalists. But there are very few similarly active blogs by tech entrepreneurs. Name one top tech entrepreneur who has an active blog. I can't think of one memorable one.

In that Vin's blog stands out. It really tells you the story of how Yipit started, how it went through much that it went through. The journey is there at the blog for all to see. I can think of few things as inspiring to other aspiring tech entrepreneurs.

Vin Vacanti has arrived as a tech entrepreneur. But also importantly he has arrived as a blogger. That's a big deal.

It helps to blog. Fred Wilson thinks he could not be a VC without his blog. Do you "get" that? I do.
Image representing BuyWithMe as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBase
What you have to note about Yipit is that without consciously realizing they were ahead of the curve. They were doing what GroupOn ended up doing. That is sweet spot. Even when the Yipit founders were floundering, they were at least in the right forest. This coupon thing has really taken off. Would you say?

Vin Vacanti On That Techie Cofounder

Vin Vacanti
How Our Startup Got Featured on CNN: Yipit’s primary product is to aggregate the best daily deals in your city (Groupon, LivingSocial, BuyWithMe, Yelp, Scoop St and 160+ others) and email the best ones to you based on preferences you set. ..... a policy to reach out to users that unsubscribe to collect feedback. We send them an email explaining that we’re a startup and offer them a $10 amazon gift card to get on the phone with us for 10 minutes and explain what happened. ..... In June, we got an unsubscribe from someone with a gmail address. We reached out to him and he explained via email that he had
Groupon logo.Image via Wikipedia unsubscribed because he lived in Connecticut and didn’t think he would be able to use the New York deals we were recommending. But, he also explained that he was an executive producer for CNN’s Money Unit and wanted to set up a call with us.

How to Go From Hacker to Founder: It took us three long years to learn all of this. How did we do it? We literally wrote all the skills down, identified the experts in each area and methodically read everything they had written. We also learned by releasing a couple of weekend projects: 140it and UnHub

How We Raised $1.3 Million as First-Time Founders: We didn’t have startup experience, we had no real domain expertise (our startup wasn’t going to be about finance) and we didn’t know any investors in the tech community. ..... Exactly three years later, we raised $1.3 million for Yipit, a daily deals aggregator, from Ron Conway and David Lee’s SV Angel, RRE, DFJ Gotham, IA Ventures and a handful of other amazing tech investors. ..... I highly encourage you to consider starting a boot-strapped cash-flow positive business. .... Trying to raise money before traction is largely futile. ..... Fortunately for us, while we spent all this time organizing deals, a very successful company launched called Groupon that created deals in cities. By late January, there were 12 companies now doing exactly what Groupon did. We then pivoted Yipit in February to just focus on aggregating these new daily deals...... By April, we started getting calls from investors wanting to know more about Yipit. At this point, we were getting buzz in the press, signing up users and the industry was on fire as Groupon and LivingSocial were raising huge rounds and there were now 40 plus daily deal services. .... RRE was the first to commit to investing in us and it all got really easy from there..... We had calls, meetings with potential investors almost every day in May and closed the round at the end of June. Aside from investors reaching out to us, the best source of investor leads is to ask the investors who are committing to recommend other investors that might be interested. We also used VentureHack’s AngelList at the very end. .... get a prototype out there and find your traction before you spend time creating decks and pitching investors.
Mark Peter Davis: New Investment: Yipit - Daily Deal Aggregator: Yipit is quickly emerging as the go to aggregator of daily deals. ..... As the daily deal space proliferates (there are now 150 daily deal services) to include a wide variety of niche offerings, consumers need a company to aggregate and filter deals.

GigaOm: My 9 Favorite Startup Lessons From Startup School: Be a Cockroach..... at one point the company basically turned into a collectible cereal box distribution company, and after that died down, the founders lived on the leftover cereal for two months ..... Don’t Do a Music Startup. .... “If You Can’t Sell the Shirt, Don’t Give It Away.” ..... It’s Not Another Bubble. (Really!) ..... Companies that can persuade angels that an acquisition is near and VCs that an IPO is in the future will get the best of both worlds. ..... Some People Are Just Born for It. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that he didn’t really know Facebook was going to turn into anything until it did. Even when the company raised its first outside funding from Peter Thiel, the founders made it clear they hadn’t decided whether or not to go back to school. .... “Before I started college, my youngest sister made a bet with me that she would finish college before I did,” said Zuckerberg. “So I guess I owe her $50.” ....... Join Somebody Else’s Startup. ..... Conviction Isn’t Everything. ..... Groupon CEO Andrew Mason. He discussed how the previous iteration of his startup, a collective activism platform, was a lofty idea but ultimately the wrong one. ....... took just a month to make the first version of Groupon, and since then, Mason’s focus on making Groupon useful, practical, constrained and paranoid has spelled its success ...... company now has a 2,500-person staff that’s a “deal-creating machine” ....... Scaling Also Isn’t Everything. ...... Mistakes Were Made. Facebook’s growth from a site to a platform may seem fated at this point, but it wasn’t.
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