Flowtown co-founders Dan Martell and Ethan Bloch had a vision of how a company and its solution could help users leverage their personal networks across the social continuum to connect, engage, create value and grow. They knew the answers to their WHY questions, and had a reasonably good handle on WHAT they wanted to create. The next step was to get to the HOW. To do that, they rely heavily on three values that guide not only the company decisions but also they players that they bring to the team. They are:
- Love to learn – personally, professionally, and as on organization
- Measure – everything that matters
- Go Direct – we do not have time to beat around the bush – go directly to the person you need to work with or communicate with and get it done.
This year, at AZEC10, Ethan will be coming over from San Francisco to join our Arizona entrepreneurial community for a day of idea sharing, connections, and value creation as we gather for the Fifth Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference on November 17, 2010. Since August is National Inventors Month, it was the perfect opportunity to have a chat about the journey to FlowTown with Ethan.
A serial entrepreneur, Ethan Bloch is no stranger to the needs of small businesses. He started his first ecommerce website at the age of 13 and that led to other ventures, and hosting WSYK, an Internet TV show which was syndicated to Revision3. Today, as the CEO of Flowtown, Ethan combines what he has learned along the journey with the talents of a great team to add value in a new way. Here is a bit of what he had to say.
JKW: Tell me – What is Flowtown?
EB: Flowtown is the place where you can see which Social Networks your customers are on.
Today everyone is trying to expand their business and engage in customers in new ways. but for many businesses, especially small businesses, what you have developed over the years is a database of email addresses. With Flowtown, you can leverage that valuable data into a wealth of new information as Flowtown shows you all the different social networks your customers are on including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace and more. This gives you the insight to need to see who your customer audience is, what they are talking about (a great indicator of what they care about), it can also help you find new people to engage with and best of all, it provides tools help you deliver more value to your customers and to measure the return on investment you are making in getting more social.
JKW: I’ve seen lots of interesting inventions in the social space, but for them to move into the innovation category, they need to be used and create value. Flowtown is still young company, where are you along this path?
EB: We’ve focused on the small business space as the customer segment where we can add the greatest value. Today Flowtown has over 15,000 businesses who use our services on either a monthly subscription or by accessing al a carte services. Our customer base tracks to our focus with 80% of our customers falling into the small business segment. Our early adopters are web savvy entrepreneurs who are looking to expand and grow by engaging deeper with their customers across the social map.
JKW: Those are great numbers for this stage in your evolution. Has it always been a smooth road?
EB: No way. Our first iteration of the product failed. But we were reminded of an important lesson. To do stuff in a vacuum is dangerous. That was a hard lesson to learn. But when we started with the second generation product, we learned from what our customers were telling us. We simplified our model, revised how we priced it, and BEFORE we built it, we asked our target customer base – is this what you want AND will you pay for it. We measured results and when we got to the target number of “Yes” answers that is when we started building it again. This process took us 10 – 11 months, but in the end we had a product that met the customers needs AND that they are willing to pay for. Today we listen to our customers and they give us great ideas.
JKW: Guiding customers across the social landscape is a big job to do on your own. Are you up to the task?
EB: You can’t do it alone – that is why we reached our and formed relationships with great partners including MailChimp, iContact, BatchBook, Wufoo and many more.
JKW: I am inspired by great inventors and entrepreneurs. Who inspires you?
EB: Ben Franklin (inventor and entrepreneur), Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates.
JKW: Well this has been just a glimpse into Ethan’s life and journey at Flowtown. Don’t miss out on meeting him and learning more when he is here with us in Arizona at AZEC10 on November 17, 2010. (You might want to register today. Space is limited and the early registration discount is a great way to save.)
Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned….we have some more inventor profiles lined up a we celebrate National Inventors Month this August.