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!