Blogging SmallBiz Toygaroo

BannersBroker – the old, its not me, its you, story.

Recently on my blog post declaring BannersBroker a scam someone posted a comment giving a second-hand response from BB UK rep, Jamie Waters. Being the good netizen, I went over to Jamie’s blog and commented on his posting (and video) called Explaining Banners Broker Slightly Differently.

I said:

Hi jamie,

I have heard that you have commented on my blog posts about BB (see ) by saying that I do not know how BB makes money (which of course I do… by a ponzi scheme!) and that somehow I managed to sign up for the ‘wrong kind’ of publisher arrangement with BB.

When I contacted BB to become a publisher I was never told of the two types. Why on earth would I want to advertise BB only? I am running a large website with lots of traffic… I want to make money, not get people into your pyramid.

If you can tell me how to change to a ‘proper’ BB publishing option – where I actually show ads from this supposed massive pool of advertisers you have – then I will do it today and gladly update my articles.

I sent BB over 1 million (yes, million) impressions in the course of a month. For that I made… $0. I sent the same amount of impressions to our other, real, ad network that we use and made $8000. So, tell me what the problem is?

I would love to make money from BB. Show me how!

Jamie promptly got back to me (echoing exactly what this third party had claimed Jamie had said):

I’m afraid I have never heard of you or your blog Phil, but judging by the tone of your post I will not be following your link either. If you would care to educate yourself on how the business works and the current status of the publishing platform I suggest that you contact support, or the Independent Contractor for the country in which you are from. But by coming on my website and claiming that I am involved with a Ponzi scheme you have lost all credibility in my opinion. I wish you all the best in the future. Jamie

So, sadly, I won’t be seeing Jamie’s comments on my site here any time soon. But, I decided to fire back. What the hell.

Jamie Waters your name (and your opinion) was placed on my blog by someone claiming to have spoken to you directly. Funnily enough, what they said you said is exactly what you have replied here! Go figure!

FWIW I do know how the online advertising business works… very well. It is one of the ways I make my income.

I am currently a BB ‘publisher’ – for several months now. I send over 1 million impressions a month to BB and have yet to see a penny (whereas our other ad spots are paying out significant 4 digit amounts per month). That seems odd to me.

No one from BB ever responds to repeated emails or even phone calls (mysteriously the ‘right people’ are never in). The ‘independent contractor’ (ie the person who signed me into the MLM pyramid) knows quite literally nothing about computers or advertising and no one up the chain

seems to either. They (and BB) are simply interested in getting someone to buy more ad blocks – and surprisingly not interest in someone who could put those ad blocks before a lot of eyeballs.

Doesn’t that strike you as strange?

Similarly, BB is the only ad network that refuses to provide traffic or conversion stats.

All in all, BB seems to be a revolutionary ad network alright – one that doesn’t need a place to show its ads!

You may not care to view my blog, but, hundreds of people a DAY are coming there and reading what I have chronicled about my BB experiences over time.

Now… on to your video (which, by the way, is nicely done!) In your example I/my company is the landowner. BB have never paid us anything. And, I have been watching my ‘billboard’ and no ads have ever appeared. So… there is no ‘Starbucks’. All the is happening is that the bag of money is going from the stick man to BB. The buck stops, quite literally, there.
Please, bring me an independent website owner that will claim otherwise.

So… as for my claims, in fairness, I am not the one who’s credibility is in question!

I sit in expectation, awaiting Jamie’s response.

Toygaroo… the final chapter is numbered 7

Sadly today Toygaroo announced that it was closing down. It has been an interesting and exciting ride for me. And I worked with some great people. But, not every business works. What seems good on paper doesn’t always pan out.

Over the past 20 months I’ve received some great feedback from people who love the idea. That kept us going.

From a technological point of view it was exciting to me. I got to progress the software core that I developed for FilmAmora and move it on to a new market (the US), a new sector (toys) and a larger budget! This was a great experience as a software developer – something that a lot of us don’t get. The chance to run a bank of servers, integrate with high end systems and build something that billed lots of money is cool! (Now, of course I come from the betting world where we turn over more in a day than Toygaroo did in its lifetime, but its different when its your name on the masthead).

From a personal point of view I met some great guys in Toygaroo and getting to spend time in LA was awesommmmme. I’d never really been to LA much (one trip to Hollywood back a few years ago for business) and I had some locals showing me around. Nice!

Life is all about progression, and I know that Toygaroo was a few stones along my zen path. I’m excited to hop onto the next one.

I’ll be writing more about the Toygaroo experience in the coming weeks. There’s a lot to tell.


Choose your partners carefully

When I say choose your partners carefully I am talking about in business. I think it is maybe more important in business than in your personal life! Rarely in your personal life is there a contract to think about.
Each partner, no matter how big or small, has a role to play in a business. When a new partner comes in that role has to be defined. And, there has to be some way of making sure that the partner DOES what it expected of them.
Small businesses do not only require injections of cash. In one sense finding financial contributors is easy. You are only looking for one thing: money.
But finding a partner that will contribute what is really needed to make a small business work (ie experience and an expansion of your circle of contacts) is much more difficult. Beware of investors who promise to be the latter, active type, but in fact really only want to be the former, passive type. The biggest risk is that you will give em the benefit of the doubt and skew your terms in hoping to attract such an active participating investor.
The problem lies in this: what do you do if that partner does nothing?

I don’t have a solution here. Except to offer that both sides of a partnership need targets and goals and if neither side makes an honest effort at going after those goals then perhaps a dissolution or renegotiation is in order.

Seems only fair. If you are not going to do what you promised or offered then the terms should change.

So – choose your business partners carefully.

SmallBiz Toygaroo

Toygaroo in TechCrunch – and growing up

TechCrunch did a nice article about Toygaroo and the Shark Tank appearance… and the resulting investment from Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary. It looks like the company and the site are starting to get some traction and we are still getting some great traffic – even after the ridiculous original spike from being on the show the numbers are still very good!

For us as a company of course this is a learning experience. We’ve gone from 5 people with an idea to having some serious investment. That means firming up how we work internally – assigning more concrete roles, etc. Being several thousand miles away shelters me somewhat from the storm, but even here in FilmAmora central things are having to change!

The hardest part is actually that time difference. Like most things it has pros and cons! One of the big ‘pros’ is that I can work on the site in the morning my time and release a new version while it is still around 4am over there! The con of course is that I am having to check email and respond and be involved up until at least midnight (and the wife is getting tired of it!).

But, until such time as it is financially viable to move closer (and personally desirable… if THAT ever happens) things are how they are!

Next month I am off to Japan for a while – which is then going to mean I am many hours out in the other direction. I’m not really wanting to spend my time in Japan huddled over my computer (wearing a Radiation suit, if things keep on going as they have been!) – but you have to do what you have to do.

Of course, Toygaroo are not my only obligation. The juggling is also a component of figuring this whole thing out.

SmallBiz Toygaroo

The word is out about Toygaroo and Shark Tank!

So, now that the show has aired, and most people have watched it either live or via DVR, we can start talking about it!

If you want some details on what transpired you can read: this article.

Basically, we took $200k from Kevin O’Leary and Mark Cuban in exchange for 40% of the company. These two bring some good things to the party – O’Leary ostensibly (I will let you Google it to see what I qualify the statement) has some good contacts in the toy industry and Cuban brings some good internet scaling and content delivery chops.

Only time will tell just how this whole arrangement works out but of course we are excited about the prospect of what the future might bring!

Toygaroo is America’s biggest, best and perhaps only quality toy rental company. Right now we only service the continental US (even though I am a Canadian living in Spain! Go figure). Plans range from around $30/month on up, depending on how many toys you want and for how long.

Under the hood Toygaroo runs on Ruby on Rails and utilizes a version of the software we developed for I am on board as CTO.

Since the airing of the show – 2 days ago – we’ve had over 100,000 page views and a whack of signups. In other words – it pays to be on TV!

SmallBiz Toygaroo

The immediate aftermath of a Shark Tank appearance

Last night my company, Toygaroo, was on Shark Tank (America’s version of Dragon’s Den). Our segment was around 8 minutes long.

Let me say that we hadn’t really done any advertising before and our pageviews, pre-sharktank, were pretty close to 0, once you factor out employees and testing.

Yesterday we had 70,000 page views. All of those were within an hour of each showing (east coast and west coast). I’m putting in a screenshot of our analytics because it is so dramatic.

Thankfully our servers survived fine, and our Ruby on Rails app suffered no issues!

For all of you on upcoming episodes… you’ve been warned!

SmallBiz Toygaroo

My company Toygaroo on Shark Tank premiere.

My new company is Toygaroo. Toygaroo is an innovation in the toy business. It is a rental company – similar to let’s say something like NetFlix – where you can rent toys instead of buying them. It was started by some great people out in California and I was brought on as CTO, bringing along the great platform that we have been running FilmAmora on for 3 years.

We’ve had a big break in that we are going to be featured on the official season premiere of Shark Tank. Shark Tank is the American version of Dragon’s Den (why it had its name changed I have no idea). Anyway, the show airs tonight, March 25th, at 8pm on ABC.

Once the show is over I can start blogging more about the company and its future! Exciting Stuff!