Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

Entertaining Entrepreneurship

VV Show #6 – Scott Heiferman of Meetup

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Entrepreneurs need community. This entrepreneur makes communities. An Illinois native, Scott Heiferman came to New York while working for Sony in 1994. He quickly joined the avant-garde of the Silicon Alley community while growing his new media ad agency, i-traffic. After selling i-traffic to (capitalized companies apparently acquire non-capitalized ones), Scott worked the counter at McDonald’s. Scott left both the food services industry and the advertising business to create something unheard of: an on-line service that gets people to leave the computer.

Show notes:

1:35 Worked at McDonald’s

  • ‘I felt like working, but I didn’t want to hang out with any lawyers or accountants or investment bankers anymore.’
  • ‘It was really nice to get your hands dirty ‘ well, actually, my hands weren’t dirty.’

3:15 Lessons learned

  • ‘We were never really told we should care too much about the customer, and that was a little surprising.’

4:30 Previous ventures

5:30 Meetup thought up

  • ‘Meetup’s a really stupid-simple idea that couldn’t have been done before 2002.’
  • Got involved in mid-90s with the World Wide Web Artists’ Consortium.
  • ‘It was something that had to be done.’

8:15 Challenge of starting Meetup

  • International Meetup days was an important part of it.

9:55 First Meetups

  • ‘It was interesting that it was the Slashdotters and the bloggers who first started using Meetup, because what’s ironic about it is that these are the people that supposedly never want to leave the screen ‘ that they’re most in love with the computer and why would they ever leave it? ‘ but they seemed to be the hungriest to want to connect in the real world.’
  • ‘Today the biggest Meetups are the moms.’

12:30 The Presidential election

  • ‘When people actually get off their butt and actually go to a local gathering about some political candidate or issue, that is newsworthy and that’s a good newsworthy.’

15:00 Scott’s Meetups

16:20 Entrepreneurship geographically

18:25 Making Meetup successful

  • ‘It’s a cliché, but it’s true: it’s all about the team.’
  • ‘Engage people to care, because it’s one thing to make a great product, and it’s another to make something that will get momentum.’
  • Cites marketing writer Seth Godin about the importance of being ‘remarkable‘.

22:10 Media matters

  • Huge fan of and flickr, but those brands are unknown to most people.
  • ‘There’s one holy grail for anyone who cares about getting anything’ no disrespect to the blogosphere but Oprah is where anyone should want to be. We’ve never gotten there, but if you really want mass America to know something, don’t think it’s anything but Oprah that can do that in 2005.’

24:05 Social networking?

25:45 Changing business model

  • Some Meetups are profit making endeavors.

27:00 Meetup in the future

  • ‘Our goals are all about just more of the same.’

28:00 Podcasters’ Meetup in New York

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