How Teaching Startup: The Show Almost Failed Immediately

You Can Do Almost Everything Right


First of all, a big thanks to the THOUSANDS of you who watched at least part of the Teaching Startup: The Show trailer last week. I'm pretty excited about this, even though a lot of how it will operate is still shrouded in mystery. That's partly fake-it-until-you-make-it, but I've been told it can be hard to get a handle on my vision for something like this, which makes me all the more grateful to Andy, Kyle, Sean, Jon, and Chop for just grabbing hold and hanging on.

Now, let's talk about how the trailer launch almost failed.

The three-word mission for Teaching Startup is "Take startup mainstream." Video, good quality, unique, fun, valuable video, is the way to do that. And instead of video, let's call The Show a television show, because that's what it is, but if I tell people I'm starting a television show it sounds even crazier that it already does.

That's cool and all, I don't care how crazy it sounds. I'm an entrepreneur. But people need a bridge to get on board with crazy. 15 years ago, electric cars were crazy. Then Tesla.

So anyway, I'm taking startup mainstream using television. But not reality television. That's why I took an unprovoked shot at Shark Tank. They're trying to take startup mainstream using corporate sensibilities.

Good for them. Go make your money. You're doing it at the expense of startup culture, but what do you care? You're owned by NBC Universal.

So four entrepreneurs talking about startup in a unique way in 10-to-15-minute episodes and being all hustle about it.

What's more perfect for that than YouTube?

Well, yeah, maybe a couple years ago.

I knew this effort, this television show, had more in common with Facebook than anything else. It's been years since Facebook was a social network, they're the fourth version of the Internet, like it or not. Much like Google was, a couple years ago, the third version of the Internet (let's call mobile the second). People still think of Google as a search engine. But they evolved into the world's most pervasive advertiser a few years before they owned most of the Internet.

I had a feeling Facebook was charging at that crown. And this television show trailer launch proved that to be a prescient guess.

I started out with the video on YouTube, and two things happened. One, no one found it. With all of the SEO and algos and everything Google has working for it, none of that helped my niche. Facebook has a massive built-in audience and has learned to shove the right content in front of the right people at the right time more often than not, even with all the gripes and fake news and what have you.

The second thing was, after I had to reload the video a bunch of times to fix a CSS issue on the Teaching Startup website, YouTube froze the views and, even two weeks later, is still drastically undercounting legitimate views.

On the other hand, Facebook is not only counting properly (maybe overcounting, but I don't care, I'm not expecting millions of viewers), but it's telling me what I need to know about how, when, and who to target the video at.

I'd spend money to advertise Teaching Startup on Facebook today. YouTube? I'm still watching people view the video legitimately for the first time through their own account and own computer and the view not being counted.

If you ask me, this is because Google Plus never materialized. That opened the door for Facebook. But this corporate, Nielsen-rating-style approach that YouTube is taking with my content is killing me.

And it's the same thing with the written content on the Teaching Startup site. One of the reasons I was able to get ExitEvent so popular so quickly was because of all the things Google was telling me about the traffic. Today, I can't even get Teaching Startup up high enough in the search results, even though EVERYTHING about it is exactly what Google wants.

I just haven't jumped through the right hoops (SEO). Let me tell you how I feel, as an entrepreneur, about having to jump through hoops.

So yeah, Teaching Startup: The Show has the right vibe, the right content, it's the right time, and we're the right people. But we almost hopped on the wrong train out of the gate.

Luckily, I know a thing or two about agility and flexibility.

We'll see if we can fix it when the first episode launches in January.