Former Pinterest co-founder and designer Sahil Lavingia recently teamed up with his buddies to launch Gumroad, an online destination to make selling “dead simple.” Find out why you’ll soon be hearing about Gumroad everywhere, and see what it takes to be a successful innovator after the jump.
Keep Moving Forward
Sahil could have easily rested on his laurels from his success with Pinterest, but he didn’t. Not too long ago, I attended a BlueGlass Conference in Marina Del Rey, and one of the key things I spotted was that innovators innovate. Anyone who created a successful app or platform didn’t cash in and sip mai tais on the beach; they kept moving forward. They kept looking to create.
If you’ve done something great, don’t stop there. See what else you can do. Doing something great the second time around will be a lot simpler because you’ll find it easier to get investors and support based on past success. Gumroad, for example, collected $7 million through prominent private investors and mega industry giants including the Accel Partners, PayPal’s Max Levchin, Crunchfund, Google’s Chris Sacca and SV Angel’s Ron Conway. These people and companies that are titans in their field essentially handed over millions to a 19-year-old kid.
Forget the Pomp
But Sahil is hardly a kid. He’s a creator and an innovator. He’s an idea man and ideas are the future – no matter how old or young you are. Study the trends and you’ll see innovators don’t wear business suits. They don’t like elitists, and they don’t treat their personal or online space like you’ve just entered Mordor. They’re simple idea-focused people that don’t need or want the pomp.
Find the Gaps
The second reason you should Keep Moving Forward is because round one will have given you a priceless glance at the industry from all sides and engagement with investors, startups, the process, design, launch and users. You’ll know what works and what doesn’t. You won’t make the same mistakes again.
You’ll find it easier to get funding because you’ve proven success and gained trust. You’ll also get more PR because of it, ensuring round 2 starts off with a bang.
For Sahil, he recognized that aside from eBay and Etsy, it’s not really easy for people to sell online. eBay is a junk pile that has to be filtered through. Who has time for that? Only people specifically looking for you will find you. Etsy has a very narrow (though loyal) following but also has stringent standards for what can be sold. And if you’re looking to sell content (see Create a Revolution, below), you’re stuck with Amazon and the time-consuming formatting process – or lesser known Scribd.
Still, all these venues are too segregated for an individual or business looking to sell cross-industry cross-platform products in one simple place. Insiders and innovators, mark this tip!
Create a Revolution
Digital content is too all over the place. Gumroad solves this problem by making selling digital goods online as easy as “sharing on Twitter.” With Gumroad, you can make money from any digital product you want to create and sell, like content, PDF files, multimedia and more. You don’t have to waste time on creating a place to sell this, especially if you’re looking to sell cross-platform content.
I can tell you right now this is going to revolutionize digital content. The problem with digital content bloggers, and journalism is that the bulk of content is free. Free content drives business but there are also problems associated with it including junk content and limited opportunities for small businesses.
The ability to simply and successfully drive content sales will create much needed social classes when it comes to content creators. Not all content is the same so not all content should be treated equally. Of course, you can’t just start selling content without establishing your base first. Once you do, you can play by a different set of rules, one that involves monetization. And you can do this through Gumroad.
Take a cue from Gumroad and create cultural and social revolutions. Yet don’t shy away from using the tools that are already there and have been proven to work. Gumroad is basing its profits on a similar system that many other platforms are currently using. They’re using PayPal to compensate sellers after taking a 5% purchase cut plus 25 cents. Small nickels and dimes still add up when calculated across volume. Volume gets ensured because you’re offering something unique, valuable, usable, functional and inexpensive.