Last night I officially launched the Ringside Startup project. I actually had soft-launched last Thursday, notifying a handful of people — including the initial advisors. Wanted to work out any kinks before going public. The mistake I made was getting the thing digg’d that night — because come today, the digg is 3 days old — it only had a few diggs over the weekend, and I’m still not sure whether it could ever get to page 1 of digg.com now.
Last night I sent an email out to Pete Cashmore (Mashable), Mike Arrington (TechCrunch), Matt Marshall (VentureBeat), and Allen Stern (Center Networks). Pete posted relatively quickly (around 1am EST), but then posted another 8 posts before I woke up — so the post was buried if you read Mashable. (Note: Don’t compete on a Monday; wait and notify the press late Monday night or Tuesday morning). The others haven’t posted yet that I’ve seen — however other bloggers have done some posting (thank you!).
Received a lot of positive feedback/support from my Techquila Shots readers. Also received quite a few inquiries to the advisory positions — honestly, keep them coming in, but I’m focused on getting the contributions now and then in the future will possibly add more advisors. Right now, there’s nothing to advise on.
I’ve only raised $320 in reader contributions — thus, I’ve started thinking about Plan B options if I can’t raise the funds. I’m thinking I either need to find some larger sponsors — or possibly return the funds and instead find an angel (or two) now, have them invest and give up equity to them… and still openly blog the experience. That’d be fun, because we’d all get to learn the angel investment route right up-front. (Angels, feel free to contact me — note, I’m not asking for anyone’s money right now, just to be clear).
As for larger sponsors — $20,000 is a lot of pageviews — and I’m not sure I could reach the levels that would make it worth it to them. (Of course, if we assume this were to go on for 6 months — and they’re making a one-time payment now — maybe that would be enough pageviews. Note: I’m open to opening up 6 slots on the sidebar like TechCrunch and others do).
I just spoke to Mike Arrington for 15 minutes — I contribute to TechCrunch and even for me it’s impossible to get him on the phone — he’s a busy, busy man. His comments on the idea were to find a way to give up equity to contributors — or specify that the first $X in profits will be divided up to contributors. Something like that could make it more viral — contributors wouldn’t only be getting an education, but would have the possibility of earning a little cash of their contribution. He doesn’t understand why someone would put up the money — “even if someone doesn’t put up the money, they still get access to the blog.” Which is true — but only if I can raise enough contributions. If the contributions aren’t raised, then the project doesn’t go on (everyone gets their contribution back and there’s no insight to be gained from the advisors that are on-board and willing to comment openly).
The big problem why I’m not giving out equity or profits are the possible legal issues — I don’t want the SEC breathing down my neck. From my understanding, I might need a prospectus if I’m raising funds from 35+ individuals — and the individuals have to be accredited investors (or claim to be). Don’t take any of this paragraph as representing the truth — honestly, I don’t know. I’ve put an email out to Jay Parkhill — a VC lawyer that’s on-board as an advisor, to see what he has to say. If anyone has any insight on this, please advise.
FYI – If you’re curious about my traffic stats during this entire cycle, they are available here — although they are only updated once a day (early morning).