Why 50,000 monthly active users weren’t enough to stop his company from pivoting – with Spun co-founder Scott Lindenbaum

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April 19, 2013 at 7:41AM
What happens when a great idea runs its course? How does an entrepreneur who is deeply invested in a product – one that is on the fringe of popularity with a strong following – let it go, refocus and become re-energized around a new idea? That’s exactly what this episode is about – the renewal part – and that’s exactly what Scott Lindenbaum did when the company he co-founded gained traction but just not quite enough to make it soar.

Scott’s company, Broadcastr, was all those things a mobile startup was supposed to be: Innovative, mobile-first, leveraged user-created content and funded with a seed round of $1 million. So what happened?

This isn’t the story of reluctant change, in fact, this is a story about identifying the need to change before it was necessary. You see, Scott, like many true entrepreneurs, thinks a lot. He thinks about why his product isn’t having the uptake it was supposed to have. He takes into consideration the signs of adoption – or non-adoption – and how his team can or can’t influence it. He ponders the complexity of his offering and constantly questions how many behaviours need to be changed in order for his offering to become habit. He seeks, asks and questions everything – and, in my opinion, never let’s the ink dry.

So what to do when the uptake isn’t as fast as hoped? For Scott and his team it was taking the lessons they learned in the launching and running of Broadcastr – a location-based audio tagging service – to build something that brought those lessons forward. The result is Spun, a location-contextual news application developed with the invisible guidance of Apple, the patience of good investors and the leadership of an incredibly sophisticated and smart team.

This episode is one for the ages – really. It is a deep dive into the process Scott and his team used to determine that Broadcastr wasn’t the right product for right now, how they used habit-forming research as a test for success for Spun, how they worked with Apple to get the UI/UX right and how they plan on generating revenue going forward. We also dive into the challenges with traditional media and how companies like Spun can help move audience for them.

Look, this is a long one – over 75 minutes – but to get a glimpse into a company and entrepreneur in transition is rare. This type of episode is why I do this. The lessons learned – the thought process Scott went through – will help you mature your offering, help you question the state of your product and give you inspiration to forge forward with the impossible decisions mobile entrepreneurs face every single day.

Doing what Scott and his team have done isn’t easy, it is oftentimes necessary and really is the true sign of a real entrepreneur.

Here is a quick reference of what we covered in the show.

1. What happened to Broadcastr? 2:20
2. What are the challenges of a user generated content service? 4:30
3. What are the 6 hurdles to habit for UI/UX design 6:11
4. How did Broadcastr stack up to the 6 hurdles? 8:20
5. What is Spun 9:15
6. What was it like to stop Broadcastr and pivot 14:45
7. 2 challenges they found with Broadcastr 16:10
8. Quick tour of the Spun interface 22:00
9. Why include sound where and when you did in the app 24:45
10. How long did it take to nail the UI/UX 28:45
11. Has your team over thought this app? 35:45
12. Did Apple commit to your product? 39:45
13. How did you get on Apple’s radar? 42:30
14. What about dilution of your intellectual property? 47:45
15. How do/will you make money? 51:00
16. What happens to big media content creators? 55:00
17. What happens to Spun when most of media is behind a pay wall 58:30
18. How important is location for Spun 61:01
19. What about location based marketing as a revenue stream 65:30
20. “Goat Thoughts” by Scott Lindenbaum 69:00