BegForPost – A Case Study For Entrepreneurs About Creativity in the Face of Failure


Entrepreneurship is full of setbacks. Things don't go as planned, and it's very easy to get discouraged. People will say things to you like "failure is just opportunity in disguise" and you just want to punch them for being so cheery, because it sure as hell doesn't feel like opportunity. And anyway, you've already had many such "opportunities" like setbacks in development, hiring problems, lack of funding, and a twitchy left eye from not sleeping enough. You don't want anymore "opportunities."

Well, it's true, and I have a great example of how creativity solved a problem for a local entrepreneur named Ben Thomas. I've known Ben for a little over a year, and he recently launched Sparkmeter, a site that allows users to post political articles, then vote on the political bias in those articles. Each post ends up ranked on how far left or right it leans.

Ben wanted to get Sparkmeter profiled on TechCrunch, which is the place to be for new web sites (particularly social news sites), but TechCrunch didn't bite. At this point, most people would either shrug it off and move on to the rest of their marketing plan, or continually pelt Michael Arrington with emails until he either blogged about them or blocked their email address. Ben did neither. He decided his story just wasn't interesting enough, so he needed to create one that was.

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If you follow TechCrunch regularly, you know that Michael doesn't much care for PayPerPost. Ben picked up on that and decided to get Michael's attention by creating a humorous competitor called BegForPost where new web startups can post their site and beg bloggers to cover them. He took the time to build something good with a nice design, instead of just throwing something up, and he wrote some very funny content that pokes fun at PayPerPost. The first "beg" on BegForPost was of course Ben begging to have Sparkmeter covered by Michael. It worked. Both of Ben's sites were covered yesterday in a post on Techcrunch. Brilliant move.

So the next time you don't get your way, don't look at that as defeat. Look at it as a chance to prove how smart and creative you really are. Take a page from the Ben Thomas publicity book and study your target so that you can create a story they will find interesting and compelling. Even though we don't like to hear it, there really is opportunity in failure.