Success is about not giving up

by Hamlet Batista | September 15, 2007 | 26 Comments

boxer.jpgOne 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.

Dear Hamlet, 

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 

Time:   7:30am-7:30pm

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!

 

Hamlet Batista

Chief Executive Officer

Hamlet Batista is CEO and founder of RankSense, an agile SEO platform for online retailers and manufacturers. He holds US patents on innovative SEO technologies, started doing SEO as a successful affiliate marketer back in 2002, and believes great SEO results should not take 6 months

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