One of the most important lessons in life I learned in college. My grades were high enough to qualify for honors, but I was too confident in my abilities at times. I did not study much and even failed one of my classes, which incidentally disqualified me automatically from graduating with honors. I remember how that affected me and how it affected my performance for the rest of my college career. When I realized that I might fail that same course during my “second round” at it, I grew what you might call a pessimistic attitude. At this point, I sat myself down, reflected about my attitude, and decided to turn the tables around. I made a commitment to never give up. In hindsight, I am glad I had this experience because it taught me that in order to succeed you need to fail—and to try again until you reach your goal.
We've been working on RankSense, our flagship SEO software suite, for three years now. It is the culmination of my dream and I am really proud of the work my team has accomplished. They have managed to pack most of my SEO knowledge into an extremely sophisticated, yet very simple to use, piece of software.
We, along with 700 other companies, submitted our product to the TechCrunch20 conference (now TechCrunch40) back in July in order to launch and demo RankSense to the general public for the first time. At first I was very hesitant to submit because of several factors working against us:
Jason Calacanis, a high-profile blogger and one of the conference organizers, is a very well known hater of all things SEO.
Our company, the developers and the management team are all based in the Dominican Republic, a developing country known for beautiful beaches, baseball players and cigars—but not exactly technological achievements.
Our first language is Spanish and not English, which would be nicer for a live presentation.
Even though we had so many reasons against us, I decided to submit our company anyway. Why? While attracting investors and getting additional funding would help us reach our goals faster, for me the biggest opportunity is for viral marketing purposes. People attending the conference represent what Seth Godin calls the sneezers—people with a lot of influence that can help spread our product/idea to a wider audience. That alone is worth more than anything else.
I did not hesitate when they announced the DemoPit and purchased the ticket to secure us a slot. A week later we were told we were among the 100 finalists—a great validation of our product concept. Early on a Saturday morning we demonstrated our product to Heather Harde and everything went fine, except maybe for a little weakness in the business Q&A.
Needless to say, I was disappointed when I learned that we did not make it to the final group.
Thank you again for participating in the TechCrunch20 semi-finalist consideration process. Thanks also for your patience both with respect to the timing and format of our 20-minute power interview sessions last week. It was a really exciting week for us to learn about more than 100 leading-edge start-ups, but we know we put you through a grueling scheduling process and appreciate the generous spirit in which you responded.
I am sorry let you know that Nemedia was not selected as a final presenting company of the conference. We have just a limited number of slots to highlight specific trends, verticals, business models and geographies. The process was extremely competitive, and we hope you still feel great about being one of our finalist companies. We really enjoyed learning about your business. We hope you’ll keep TechCrunch apprised of your launch progress—we love start-up news.
Even though you won’t be a presenting company, we do hope that you’ll still choose to join us at the conference. We have so much exciting new technology to share and discuss, and of course lots of networking and socializing too. Please take advantage of our 50% ticket discount here: [URL] ($1247.50 vs. $2495 regular price.)
We’ll continue to look for ways to highlight our final candidates as part of our conference agenda. We hope to see you September 17-18. Best regards,
Jason, Michael and Heather
If I were a quitter, like in my early college days, I would have canceled our DemoPit presentation and probably regretted it later, imagining how it would have gone. Fortunately, I decided to move forward and I've been working hard with my team to improve the product, the business and marketing plans, and I hired a firm to create a nice promotional video. I decided that we would need to do our best to stand out from the crowd in the DemoPit.
It seems that I chose to do the right thing. I just got this email from the conference coordinator:
BIG NEWS: YOU COULD STILL BE ONE OF THE TECHCRUNCH40
We’ve decided that conference attendees should select their favorite DemoPit company to be the 40th presenting company at the conference. Each attendee will be given two uniquely colored chips (one color for Monday, the other for Tuesday) to vote for their favorite DemoPit company of the day.
We will tally the chips after lunch on Tuesday, and the company with the most votes will have the afternoon to prepare their pitch for the 3:45 pm afternoon session. Companies are not obligated to compete for the 40th slot. However, companies may not pool their chips together or sell them to one another. This is the audience choice slot. You will be fully eligible to win the $50,000 TechCrunch40 grand prize.
TechCrunch40 company pitches are a strict 8 minutes each. The AV team will hook up your laptop from one of the two podiums on the stage. If you wish to think ahead, the pitches should be product / demo focused, not powerpoint slides of company background / mgmt team, etc.
CONFIRMED DEMOPIT RESERVATION
Date: Monday, September 17
Location: Gold Ballroom, Palace Hotel
You have the table for the entire day, on Monday. You can come and go as you please, a
s you ar
e free to enjoy the entire two-day conference with your full-admission ticket. We regret that the hotel does not have storage space for DemoPit materials.
We look forward to seeing you on Monday and look forward to an exciting two-day adventure.
–Jason, Michael and Heather
The 39 companies that were selected will have only 8 minutes of pitching time. We had to practice a lot to get our product demo down to 10 minutes for Heather, so I guess it is going to be a real challenge for many companies out there. Now the 40th company selected from the DemoPit gets to present for a full day (at the DemoPit), plus the eight minutes of on-stage presentation—a clear advantage.
We might not make it to the 40th pending slot, but we will do our best to try and get there. As Jason's vote doesn't count now, it doesn't matter if we are SEOs from the third world or that English is not our native language. 🙂 It is up to the attendees to judge our company and product based only on the quality of our live presentation.
Wish us luck!
September 15, 2007 at 3:43 pm
Hi There, I wish you all the luck in the world. Swing by our stand on monday! regards, Ernstjan
September 15, 2007 at 6:10 pm
Ernstjan - Good luck to you too! See you there. We plan to network a lot.
September 15, 2007 at 6:53 pm
I keep my fingers crossed. Good luck to you and your team! PS: You made my day with this post, I am serious. Thanks ;)
September 16, 2007 at 2:41 pm
September 15, 2007 at 9:36 pm
Hey Hamlet. All the best for you and your team. Knock em dead!
September 16, 2007 at 5:00 am
Techcrunch40’s slot number 40 is a wild card. at Roam4free
September 16, 2007 at 12:00 am
[...] company with the most chips gets to present on Tues. What a great move from Arrington and Calacanis More below “We’ve decided that conference attendees should select their favourite DemoPit [...]
September 16, 2007 at 10:58 am
Good luck Hamlet, I really hope you win. If you miss out I am sure your product will still make a very good impression and generate a lot of interest.
September 16, 2007 at 2:42 pm
Jeremy - I appreciate your words and thanks for private testing and for your valuable feedback
September 16, 2007 at 11:03 am
Good luck with TechCrunch and the launch. I think anyone who has set up their own business would agree with your statement: "in order to succeed you need to fail", althought not catastrophic failure obviously :P
September 16, 2007 at 2:42 pm
Thanks David. Let's hope that tomorrow we win!
September 16, 2007 at 7:06 pm
Suerte!, good luck.
September 17, 2007 at 2:08 am
September 17, 2007 at 1:29 am
My best wishes!
September 17, 2007 at 2:09 am
thanks a lot, Sebastian
September 17, 2007 at 5:43 am
With or without the TechCrunch, I’m sure Hamlet will achieve his goal. His product is just what everyone need….keep going…..Eldad
September 17, 2007 at 11:18 pm
Failures are the best lessons but only few learn from them. My first internet business wasn't very successful. I failed in some terms. Now I am starting again more confident, knowing my weaknesses I work on with lots of experience. Good luck with your software, Hamlet. People "outside" don't realise what price you pay for the success. Money on your bank account and achievements that look so sweet are always fruits of very hard work, every morning, afternoon and nights (when everybody else sleep in bed). Everyday is a challenge to stay positive. Against your emotions, lack of energy. It is worth because a great occasion might be waiting just round the corner.
Share Your Sphinn Love!
September 19, 2007 at 8:48 am
[...] A post I like [...]
September 20, 2007 at 6:39 am
I wish you the best of luck, EB
September 20, 2007 at 7:28 am
Hamlet I will be praying for you, best of luck. Your Tio Erick
September 20, 2007 at 1:28 pm
Thanks for your Support! The conference was a great success. We didn't make the 40th place, but we did generate a lot of interest and leads from VCs and the likes of AOL and Intuit. It is clear that not everybody thinks SEO is BS as Jason Calacanis. We are still working really hard as we don't feel the product is ready to be out of private beta. I still need some rest to get enough energy to start posting and networking as frequently as before. Stay tunned.
September 20, 2007 at 10:55 pm
Good to hear, and best of luck. :)
dude » Ambitious people
February 8, 2008 at 3:23 pm
[...] The qualities of an ambitious person I know are the way he does everything. He does not quit unless he really have too. The person also has many ideas that could make him richer.He doesn’t know how to quit really. It just that he wants everything to be perfect. He just doesn’t give up. [...]
April 21, 2008 at 7:00 am
We all want to be at the top of our game, but sometimes set backs can make us stronger and help us determining weaknesses, sure this can be demoralizing and difficult, but to stay in the ring and fight it out, I.E. never quit. This is what sorts the men from the boys. I am also an SEO consultant and I am surprised if you have developed an SEO and marketing software or strategy you did not use it yourself to promote your business before offering it to the rest of the world?
June 6, 2008 at 6:57 am
I have noticed that when I feel most like quitting I am often on the verge of a major breakthrough. I don't know how or why that works but it seems to be true.
June 13, 2008 at 12:35 am
You're so right about not quiting. But doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results isn't recommended either.