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How tons of press can actually cause you to fail

on September 8, 2011

Here’s some of my coverage of SocialDevCamp Chicago 2011, where I was reporting for Dice. For more coverage and job news, check out Dice News.

Don’t think just because you have a great business idea and it draws tons of press that you’ve created the automatic formula for financial success. That’s exactly what Joshua Karp realized when he got caught up in a whirlwind of press about his new business venture, “The Printed Blog.”

At the SocialDevCamp conference in Chicago, I chatted with Karp after he gave a presentation about learning from failure. Karp admitted the biggest mistake his group made with “The Printed Blog” is they lost focus on what their business objective is, which was to sell local ads in a printed paper around transportation areas, such as train stations.

Karp’s initial success was ultimately his initial demise. He came up with a great idea, which was the world’s only print newspaper comprised entirely of blogs and online content. They got tons of press. Tons of it. So much so that all they could think about was all the press they were getting. They started to believe that they were created some new higher form of art that was going to displace traditional newspapers.

What they stopped thinking about was their business. It became so severe that they stopped cashing checks from their current advertisers. He admitted being arrogant at the time, and being too focused on the art.

He finally realized that they were going in the wrong direction when potential investors, who liked the press, said he wasn’t demonstrating how he could actually make money from this venture. “The Tribune can make papers and not make any money also,” said one investor.

That was the wakeup call Karp needed to realize he had been heading down the wrong path.

Karp took a year off from “The Printed Blog,” regrouped, and then relaunched the blog in handful of venues. Today, “The Printed Blog” is published once a month.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Brittany at Sprout Social September 8, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I'm sure it's pretty easy to get caught up in the press/new attention when starting a businesses, but it's important to focus on the what makes your product/service great in the first place. Sounds like Karp did the right thing to take some time off to regroup, then return with a better version and staying focused. 

Hope you had fun at SocialDevCamp. We had a few team members there as well!

Yoann Valensi September 22, 2011 at 12:03 am

For sure getting some press is sometimes confusing with getting some success. But htat a better problem to handle not having press at all I guess

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