October 21, 2010
Want to become a published author? Yeah, me too. In most cases, this is accomplished in one of two ways:
- Gaining recognition from one of the major publications. For 99.9% of writers, this is nothing more than a pipe dream.
- Self publishing and distributing an ebook. This has been the popular route for many bloggers over the last few years, but a writer is limited by the size of his/her own audience. There’s little hope for new discovery.
Add to the equation that building an aesthetically pleasing layout can be a serious investment of time and money, and most writers quickly dismiss the e-book idea.
That was then. BookBrewer is now.
“[Our service] lets people turn blogs and documents into e-books within a few minutes,” says Dan Pacheco, co-founder and CEO of BookBrewer. Not only is ebook publishing easier than ever, but their recent partnership with Borders, allows for excellent exposure as well. “Borders Get Published powered by BookBrewer” incorporates the BookBrewer service into the massive Borders ebook library and email newsletter. Escaping obscurity can potentially be faster and easier than ever.Dan was nice enough to do a quick video interview in addition to a great written interview (see below).
Tech Cocktail (TC): BookBrewer’s partnership with Borders is undoubtedly a major victory for you and your team (in addition to the CrowdPitch Award). Can you briefly explain what, if any, hurdles you had to jump in order to land the deal? What advice can you pass along to entrepreneurs hoping to accomplish a similar feat?
Dan Pacheco (DP): We started talking about our concept four months ago with Jon Nordmark, who had contacts at Borders. We met Jon through the Founder Institute, an intensive four-month technology training and mentoring program with sessions all over the world.
In early June we were just refining the pitch for BookBrewer and were showing off some rapid prototypes of the idea using Axure Pro (an amazing tool for that kind of thing). A few weeks later we were invited to present it to a Borders executive. We then spent the next two months creating an alpha, which we promoted in highly-targeted Google ads and Twitter posts to attract an impressive collection of charter authors. When we finally went into beta a month ago, we were able to show Borders not only that we could execute our vision, but that we could also attract the kind of authors they were looking for. All of that made it very easy to craft and sign a deal.
My advice to other entrepreneurs: create good ideas, but also show that you can deliver on your promise. Communicate with your potential partners at each step of the way. Anyone who invests in your company — whether through funds or reputation — is taking a risk on you, and they want to know that you can deliver over the long haul. Think of every interaction as the beginning of a potentially longer courting period.
TC: Speaking from experience, can you offer any words of wisdom on what not to do in the process of starting a new company. Is there any moment in the process where you look back and wish you could do it differently?
DP: My only regret is not starting up my own company earlier. I should have done it about 6 years ago. I’m having a blast! Of course there are also uncertainties, but as many rock climbers in Boulder can attest, that’s part of the thrill.
TC: Are there any other words of wisdom that you would like to convey to aspiring start-ups?
DP: It’s important to think through your business plan and understand your customer, but there’s something else that’s actually more important. Make sure you are absolutely passionate about what you’re doing, and understand your reasons for doing it. Not everything will be easy, and if you’re going into a startup simply to make a killing and you don’t have a higher goal to propel you through the dry times, your startup could very well kill you. Life and business are about more than just acquiring money and things. Meaning trumps all of that.
While the phrase “Do what you love and the money will follow” does not always hold true with every endeavor, I still believe that doing what you love is ultimately what matters most. “Do what you love and reward will follow” is probably more accurate. Do it enough times and it will probably pay off with money as well — statistically speaking. In between that monetary success you should except a lot of dry spells. Creating meaning is what will help you make it through those periods.
TC: What other exciting products, services, and partnerships can we expect from FeedBrewer?
DP: We don’t talk about partnerships in the pipeline, but we have a working list of 50+ companies — mostly content-related — that we think are sitting on some very attractive potential eBooks. The eBook market has grown more than 200% in just one year and is on track to generate $6 Billion of a $20 Billion annual book market in the U.S. alone. Once these companies realize the potential, we think they will jump in and redefine the book market.
Magazines are perfect eBook authors, and most don’t even know it. Over many years they create evergreen content that is supported by time-bound advertising, and it then goes into archives, never to be seen again. We think they can use BookBrewer to create eBooks that will generate instant revenue (for example, recipe collections or workout routines).
We’re also thinking a lot about how video and, for lack of a better term, “user experience” will change the eBook experience. When you look at what iPad apps like FlipBoard and Boulder-based Graphic.ly do with images and visual presentation, it makes you wonder how long “readers” will be OK with simple text and images. Textual books will always be around and we think they’re great, but after self-publishing authors play with the iPad their imaginations start to go wild. They’re already asking us if we can let them embed videos in their content.
TC: The “About Us” page on FeedBrewer indicates the name was inspired by your team’s mutual love for Colorado craft beer. Are there any consensus favorites amongst the group?
DP: Hands-down: Hazed and Infused from Boulder Beer, followed by Illusion Dweller from Mountain Sun. I also can say with certainty that the Mountain Sun Brewery off Pearl Street has one booth that is magic. Whenever you sit in that booth with someone else, something special will happen that affects your life for years afterwards. It’s happening to me two times already!
Thanks again, Dan.
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