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Rooster Teeth – A T-Shirt Company in Disguise

When Rooster Teeth was founded in 2003 it was little more than a few friends making a non-sense video series called Red vs Blue, spun out of the Halo video game saga. RvB, as it was soon known, then became the house hold staple to many teenage and college aged young men. Over the next decade this small comedy study grew and began producing content such as Achievement Hunter (a video series of their friends playing games, think Twitch.tv), The Know (an internet news source for all things gaming related), my personal favorite RWBY (a very well done cartoon series), and much more.

Now located is Austin, Texas this company has expanded it’s content offering and company size too. With the 2014 acquisition by Fullscreen Media they received the monetary backing to continue to grow their venture as a subsidiary. New animation engines and additional staffing were added to improve the already impressive body of content.

All of these entertainment accolades aside, one must wonder how the company makes money to exist. The answer is remarkably simple, through their loyal fans. Some subscribe to a membership model giving early, and sometimes exclusive, access to content. Most buy paraphernalia such as posters, sweatshirts, and t-shirts. The CCO (Chief Creative Office) laughably joked that they weren’t a content company at all, they were just a really well disguised t-shirt company.

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Sean Parker

Sean Parker the co-founder of the music service Napster and the former founding president of Facebook started his internet entrepreneurial days a little bit differently than most. Parker showcased himself in the tech world by hacking into computer networks and companies around the world. This led to the FBI to his front door when he was only 15. Sean was forced to do community service with other trouble makers.

During his time doing community service, Parker would meet Shawn Fanning. Together they would start a small internet-security company that helped firms get rid of hackers. This business would ultimately be unsuccessful but would create a successful friendship.

Parker’s next project put him on the map for the CIA. It earned him an internship with them and a check for $80,000. Parker would use this to convince his parents to put college on hold while he pursued yet another internet project.

Parker along with Shawn Fanning would start a file sharing service called Napster in 1999. Napster quickly became popular with music lovers. The music sharing aspect of Napster attracted tens of millions of users. This made Napster a target of the music industry which led to its fall. This would leave him without a place to live and with very little money.

Parker was saved when he noticed the new online service called Facebook. Parker saw so much potential in Facebook that he met with the founder, Mark Zuckerberg. They instantly became friends and Parker was named the company’s founding president.

Some of you may have seen the movie The Social Network and know how this story ends. But if you haven’t seen it. It does not end well. At least the Facebook part of the story. Parker had a long history of partying, which led to him being arrested for suspicion of possessing cocaine. This would be what made him leave Facebook.

Although his time at Facebook was cut short. It didn’t completely end his career. He would later help bring Spotify to the U.S. Which we all know was a massive success and still is.

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Patreon: Sustainable Income for Creators

The Internet has introduced many new career opportunities into our culture. However, it wasn’t until recently that “YouTube star” was a viable career. Thanks to an internet based startup, content creators can have a truly sustainable income. Patreon is a platform that connects content creators with their fans financially. Creators retain 100% ownership of their content and Patreon keeps a 5% fee of all revenue brought in. This is a great way for fans to support artists and creators they love. Fans can pay a few dollars per month or per post to support and thank the creators for their work. John Green, host of the YouTube channel CrashCourse, said, “Patreon is our only source of funding where passion matters more than views.” This is a revolutionary model that reaches across the boundaries of views and ads – connecting artists to their audiences and involving them in the creation process. Patreon isn’t limited to just video content – artists, photographers, writers, animators, comedians and musicians have all used Patreon to successfully connect with their fans in a way that encourages them to keep producing art.

As the Internet becomes more and more engrained into our culture, it will be interesting to watch how entrepreneurs channel its characteristics into business models. A business like Patreon would never had been possible before the interconnectivity offered by the Internet, and there wouldn’t have been as strong of a need for it before the Internet, either.

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Mentor Box

 

“The more you learn, the more you earn.” ~ Warren Buffett

 

Today our modern landscape is changing faster than we can blink. Merely a decade ago Amazon.com was something to laugh at, now it is the single largest retailer in the U.S. Hiring practices used to be based on pedigree and risk minimization, now Zappos.com offers its new employees $3,000 after training to quit (a tactic to rule out employees who do not truly wish to be there). My point remains the world is changing faster than we leymen can reasonably keep up with.

Those who struggle most from this changing landscape are today’s CEOs: Tasked with leading a company into a future. Burdened with the mantle of financial security for their staff. Expected to perform a hundred hours worth of work in a mere sixty hour work week. It is difficult to say the least.

Astoundingly it is seen that the CEOs of some of the most successful companies share one common practice, they read. They don’t just read though, they consume information at an alarming rate. Refreshleadership.com summarized a plethora of surveys from these miracle workers discovering that the average book count for a single year among the upper echelon of business was a stunning one-hundred books per person. So how does someone so consumed by business and responsibility find the time to read so much? Frankly, I think the best of the best must have some sort of genetic abnormality which relieves them of the necessity of sleep.

What about the rest of the world? For them a new venture has appeared, Mentorbox.com. This site delivers three books per month with cheat sheets and quick memorization tools so that the CEO on the go can quickly gleam the useful ideas and move on in mere minutes a day. The price tag is slightly high for the average man, but not for the average CEO. Priced at $225 per month on a monthly subscription model this service is not aimed at the average employee. Still it has caught on in the right spheres and is already a cash positive venture due in part to the co-founder’s reputation as a knowledge guru.

Tai Lopez made a name for himself (and quite a few conspiracy theories) with his YouTube ad Here In My Garage, where he stood next to his Lamborghini and bragged instead about his books on the wall. It quickly went viral and earned him a name. He was later featured on a TedTalk where he claimed to read a book a day and branded himself in that manner. With this type of personal branding he took his following and launched Mentorbox.com which immediately sold out and went cash-positive.

  1. http://www.refreshleadership.com/index.php/2013/01/average-ceo-reads-45-books-month/
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Flow Hive: How Bees Went Viral

Flow Hive Beekeeping

Bees didn’t used to be a topic of conversation. These days, we’re hearing more and more about how the bee population is in danger, and the repercussions of the bee species dying off. For years, not much was done in the consumer world to combat this. We all worried about prices of honey rising, and maybe planted some wildflowers in our backyards, but that was about it. At least, until the Anderson family came along.

The Andersons have been beekeeping for three generations. Father and son duo Stuart and Cedar Anderson recognized a problem in the beekeeping industry – harvesting honey was disruptive to the bees, and often resulted in the beekeeper being stung. “There must be a better way,” Cedar remembers thinking at a very young age – he began beekeeping when he was only six years old. Stu and Cedar tinkered with designs for almost a decade before coming up with the Flow Hive.

Stu and Cedar launched an Indiegogo campaign in February 2015 that would quickly become one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns in history. Their humble goal of $70,000 was reached within minutes of going live. Flow Hive holds the title of the most successful campaign ever launched on Indiegogo. So, what’s their secret?

For starters, they had identified a problem and pain that seriously lacked a solution. Bees were already on the forefront of people’s minds – Flow Hive offered a way for people to be connected. Stu says, “I think people saw Flow as a sort of drawbridge to connect them with the natural world.” Nothing like this product had ever been offered before, and they had an already established niche market of beekeepers – but their market extended past that because of the usability of the product. With Flow Hive, anyone could be a beekeeper.

 

The Internet played a massive role in the success of Flow Hive. They started a social media campaign less than a month before their Indiegogo campaign began. The goal was to tap into their personal networks and gain a few beekeepers, but the videos Cedar had made for the campaign went viral – the Andersons attribute it to help from friends and family and a genuine interest in bees and the concept of beekeeping. Their campaign page was clear, descriptive, and showed the passion Stu and Cedar had for their project. By the end of the campaign, Flow Hive had raised over $13 million from 38,000 contributors.

Flow Hive is a perfect example of how the Internet can exponentially grow the success and reach of a start-up. Without it, there’s a slim chance we would have heard about a normal father-son duo from Australia and their groundbreaking idea to innovate beekeeping.

Check out the Andersons’ story of the Flow Hive invention process:

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Politics, Net Neutrality, and Internet Entrepreneurship

As Internet Entrepreneurs, I think it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t be anywhere without the Internet. Millennials can hardly remember a time before we had constant access to information at our fingertips. We’ve been spoiled, older generations might say. Would we be able to adapt to a change if one occurred?

Our new president, like him or not, will play a role in shaping how the Internet currently operates. Net neutrality may not have been a major talking point during Trump’s campaign, but it very well may be something he seeks to change during his first 100 days in office – in fact, he’s already made steps to change it. If you’re unfamiliar with net neutrality, it’s basically the agreement that consumers can use the Internet how they want, when they want – it prevents companies from charging extra for “fast lanes” or blocking certain types of content. In 2014, Trump tweeted his plans to get rid of net neutrality. Ted Cruz also voiced his agreement, tweeting about net neutrality and calling it the “Obamacare for the Internet.” Internet providers like Comcast at AT&T have generally opposed net neutrality, for reasons that aren’t hard to understand – less regulation means doors can open up for more profits.

It’s interesting to look at this from both an Internet consumer and an Internet business perspective – typically less regulation on businesses is seen as a positive change, allowing businesses to generate more profits and run more successfully. As a consumer, the idea of having to pay more so my Netflix doesn’t stop every few minutes to buffer sounds horrendous. How might this change affect Internet entrepreneurs? Could it make it harder for startups to launch via the Internet, or is it beneficial from a profits and economics perspective?

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