Interview: GonnaBe Co-founder Hank Leber on Failing Fast and the Future of Social Data

Learn why Hank Leber quit his job to solve a social problem that people weren't aware of and why he believes failing “hard and fast” is a trait...

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Ticketmaster (Live Nation) and Anheuser Busch InBev have partnered with us — which are huge brands and we’re really excited about what we’re able to do with such large user bases, customer bases, and just opportunities. With just those two brands alone we can make huge things happen.


[These partnerships came] to fruition at the end of last year and we’re excited to put together programs with them as we speak.

[pullquote align=”right”]To me, press comes after you’ve done something remarkable, and then the press remarks about it.[/pullquote]The other thing is we’ve received good press. To me, press comes after you’ve done something remarkable, and then the press remarks about it, but not necessarily in a bad way. Press is good; you get other people’s opinions and then a really good feature story. But you have to do something worth remarking about first.

I’m much more excited about the things that we’re doing than the press that we’re getting (it is nice, though). We’ve showed up in Fast Company, USA Today, Adweek, PandoDaily and Tech Crunch (all leading publications) which is nice.

I think in the press world, the one we are pleased to see out there was the PandoDaily article titled “Google+ is Missing a Huge Opportunity and Should Acquire This Startup Quick“.

Biggest Startup Challenge:

Because the startup scene is growing so fast there are tons of new companies out there. And that’s good and exciting for the startup world, but it makes it harder to raise money because it’s classic supply and demand.

The supply has gone up but the demand has not gone up, and in economics 101, when the supply goes up and the demand does not go up, the price goes down — and that’s what’s happening in the startup world. But it’s not necessarily the actual price going down, [instead it is] the amount of money that you can raise or what you have to do in order to raise money. It is much different now than it has been in the past.

You have to show traction, revenue, and engagement on a platform that’s social media based before anybody is going to give you any money, especially if you’re a first-time entrepreneur. That‘s really tough because you’ve got to do it on your own money or have an accelerator program help you get there. Often [that is] not going to [happen] in 3 months. It takes most companies years to get to profitability in social media.

It was really difficult for us to get funding early on because we were held to a standard that’s almost impossible to reach without funding. You ask for money and they say “No, we’ve got to see the company working first.” But if the company was working I wouldn’t need your money, you know?

So that [was a] catch-22; and every startup feels it. You have to invent your way through and that’s what we had to do our entire first year. It cost me selling my car and selling my old ski boat to keep the company going, but I didn’t need a boat — I needed a business. So I guess you could kind of consider me the first investor.

#1 Tip for Entrepreneurs:

[pullquote align=”right”]Don’t be afraid of failure because it’s not really failure if you’re learning from it. [/pullquote]Don’t be afraid of failure because it’s not really failure if you’re learning from it. If you do it differently next time, then it’s just learning and making progress. The only real failure is doing the wrong thing over and over and over and not changing the way you do things; not making progress at all.

Try a hundred different angles to get your company off the ground. Even if ninety-nine of them don’t work, you only need one to work so that’s fine. Nobody will pay attention to the stuff that didn’t work; they’ll only pay attention to the stuff that did.

In the startup world people are not afraid to try new things and really take it to the extreme. Try and fail fast and hard and constantly and you’ll wind up succeeding a lot faster if you do that — instead of playing it safe.

Connect with Hank on Twitter.

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