“Startup Mixology is an inspiring guide to help take that leap in the right direction. Gruber’s advice on delighting your consumers and thinking like an entrepreneur is uniquely tailored to fit today’s modern, wired age” – Randi Zuckerberg
In writing your book, you interviewed many successful entrepreneurs. What was your favorite insight or piece of advice?
I think my favorite piece of advice comes from Bre Pettis, the CEO of MakerBot. I interviewed him at our Tech Cocktail Celebrate conference, and he talked about how obsessed he and his early team were with building robots. At one point, he sold all of his stuff to buy robot parts and thought, “I’m not letting this thing go until it eats me.” He told me: “If you’re not obsessed with your product, screw it, or don’t do it! . . . Kill it right now and get on to the next thing.” After eight-plus years as a founder, I totally understand him – if I weren’t obsessed with connecting communities and helping entrepreneurs enjoy starting up, I couldn’t survive.
Of the “17 key ingredients” for starting, growing, and running a business, which one do you think is least understood by entrepreneurs today?
Probably celebration. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that celebration is a completely underutilized tool for startups. By celebration I don’t mean huge parties or champagne popping, but recognizing the positive moments along the way. You can celebrate with a high five, an impromptu dance around the office, or a walk around the block. Taking a minute to pause and recognize the progress you’ve made so far gives you much more motivation to dive into the next task on your to-do list. But too many entrepreneurs glorify the long hours, lack of sleep, and burnout. Some don’t believe in recharging their batteries – even for a few minutes or a few hours – and that’s not sustainable.
What is the secret sauce for creating marketing delight?
It’s all about the product. Funny videos can only go so far – at the heart of it, you have to have a product that’s extraordinary and absolutely shareable, something that users couldn’t help telling their friends about. It was interesting to hear that Jason Fried, the cofounder of Basecamp, doesn’t put any money into marketing. It all goes into creating a better, more efficient, more elegant product. This is so tiny, but he mentioned to me that when a user forgets to name a list, it just becomes “Untitled list” – it doesn’t pop up some annoying error message. Those little things – the way a product just works – are what create delight. Then throw in a little personality and a little humor (we’re called Tech Cocktail, after all) and people are hooked.
You’re often called a digital nomad for your ability to take your work anywhere. How has this working lifestyle helped you lead a more productive or happy life?
No one ever said startup life was dull, but it can definitely be routine. Especially when you’re working long hours, you might not see much other than the four walls of your apartment and (if you’re lucky) an office. I’m even luckier because I’m forced to break out of my routine – sometimes I’m hosting one of our events in DC or Miami, or visiting in-laws on the coast of Maine, or hunkering down at our Vegas office. Plus, I get to meet tons of entrepreneurs and techies at our events along the way, and there’s nothing more inspirational than that.
Where can our audience learn more about your work?
They can get more information about Startup Mixology at ht tp://tech.co/book, check out our startup and tech coverage at http://tech.co or my personal website at http://frankgruber.co. Or follow me on Twitter @FrankGruber and @
Posted on 7/7/14
Frank Gruber grew up in the Midwest heartland and is an entrepreneur, new media journalist, and investor. He is the author of Startup Mixology: Tech Cocktail’s Guide To Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success published by Wiley. He cofounded Tech Cocktail in 2006, which has grown into a hub for the creative class, offering tech-startup-focused news, events, and resources. Frank has built and launched products for the masses while at AOL, Tribune, and Classified Ventures along with startup efforts like Thankfulfor, Splog Reporter, and more. As a journalist, his works have been featured in a number of top media publications like TechCrunch, Fortune, HuffPo, etc. He was named by Forbes as one of the most connected people in tech. His alma maters include Purdue and Northwestern, respectively. While living the startup life, he also enjoys swimming, strumming his guitar and/or ukulele, warm weather, beaches, and sports – especially the Chicago Cubs.