TORONTO (Reuters.com) - Entrepreneur Mike Dougherty’s San Francisco, California-based Web startup Jelli allows users on social media sites to control what gets played live on air. The following is Dougherty’s five-day entrepreneur journal, exclusively for Reuters.com:
Day 1: Monday, May 10
At Jelli we have an informal, aspirational goal to accomplish at least one major "big win" every week, either by being lucky or by being good (it takes both sometimes in a startup). I started this week off with high expectations. We had just acquired the domain jelli.com <jelli.com> at the end of the prior week and are migrating our site to its new home. In addition, we will announce our recently closed Series A financing. We have also been presented with an opportunity to partner with a large and growing social gaming company, to drive traffic and customer acquisition to Jelli. It will be a big week, but then again every week has to be a big one to achieve what we want to achieve.
As usual, I woke at around 6 a.m. PT for morning coffee and to check email, my schedule for the day and the headlines across various news sites and blogs. I made my daily to-do list - I do this every morning religiously. I also always sign into our website - www.jelli.com <www.jelli.com> - to check out what is happening and to review a report on what happened the night before. One of my emails was to contact an existing partner about an outstanding invoice - we need to get paid! After my coffee and emails, I headed to the office.
First thing on my list was a meeting with Jateen and Jeff, the leaders of the engineering team, to review the detailed plan to migrate Jelli to the new Web address. I learned we were on track to do the migration the day before the Series A announcement, which was our goal. We then reviewed the business case behind the strategic partnership opportunity with the social gaming company. There was a piece of the deal which the engineering team was scoping - the delivery costs and scale requirements. Jateen had obtained quotes from two major content delivery networks (CDNs), who could handle this type of traffic, to help us understand the cost of delivery. In addition we reviewed royalty costs for the streaming music, which are a significant component of digital music services. Upon review of the cost/benefit analysis, we determined in the end to pass on the deal.
My next task was to update our board of directors on a time-sensitive item related to our office lease. We are considering expanding our office space and had commenced initial discussions with our landlord to take over an adjacent space.
At the end of the day I spoke with our business development executive, Brook, to review the pipeline of affiliates she was working on. We sign syndication contracts with affiliates and have more than a dozen deals in flight at any given moment, in addition to the pipeline of opportunities we are developing. As part of our discussion, we reviewed term sheet proposal for a new affiliate roll out.
Before heading home, I signed off on a press release for the upcoming Series A announcement, and sent it over email to our VCs at Battery Ventures and First Round Capital for their approvals.
After having dinner with the family and getting my two boys off to sleep, I jumped on email to review the PR outreach plan, and to try to tame my email inbox.
Day 2: Tuesday, May 11
I hold my weekly staff meeting on Tuesdays at which we cover key items related to the product development plan, engineering and operations. In the operations part we spent time discussing a major market radio station affiliate who had not integrated properly to our platform, and our engineering plan to help them get back on track.
After this meeting I worked with Battery Ventures to arrange a dinner in honor of our investors, including our angel investors. It was Battery’s suggestion, which I thought was a great idea. We set up a restaurant location, and I sent out invitations.
After lunch we reviewed the merits of a marketing campaign being proposed by a partner, which included a “special/discounting” strategy to spark affiliate sales leads (“free month off etc.”). Jelli is a unique service and it drives revenue/ratings, so I’m not a fan of discounting to spark interest in launching Jelli. I do not believe that 1/12th price reduction will make a difference in interest in Jelli, so we determined that it would not be effective for our product.
Day 3: Wednesday, May 12
I blocked off part of Wednesday for a media interviews for our Series A announcement, which was scheduled for the next day. My first interview wasn’t until mid-morning, so I grabbed coffee with a new product team member we recently hired from Yahoo! We discussed some longer-range ideas around our “chat” feature.
By 10 a.m. I had an interview with a major press outlet about the Series A news, and discussion of our recent progress (more stations, more markets, great ratings).
We then conducted a bi-weekly engineering dashboard meeting, covering the user experience of Jelli, features, platform, Web operations and network items. It’s a great opportunity to dive into details around our engineering goals, and provide input on priorities if required.
Before lunch, our board approved the office lease expansion, so I told my landlord we wanted to move to the next step in the process, including negotiation of the full lease agreement. Afterwards I had a call to discuss two radio affiliate deals, including a partnership to take us to South Africa. Global Jelli!
Day 4: Thursday, May 13
Big morning, our press announcement hits, related to our Series A. I received a ton of email from folks congratulating us, including some from a few other major VC firms who want to “keep in touch” related to the Series B. The COO of our partner Triton Media sent us a nice congratulatory note and we received a few inbound leads on partnership interest from several large radio groups. In addition, a product executive at a important company in the technology and media space reached out to us to set up a meeting. We also experienced an increase in the volume of cold calls and vendors calling (IT vendors, recruiters, etc.). It seems there are many businesses that track funding events as part of their lead generation processes.
I ended the day attending a evening event hosted by CBS Radio in San Francisco, where I met with the senior VP Doug Harvill. It was a great way to end the day, with the partner who launched us almost a year ago. (We launched on CBS Radio owned LIVE 105 in San Francisco on June 28, 2009).
After the event I checked email and reviewed the outlets which picked up the news coverage.
Day 5: Friday, May 14
It’s been a great week. The team is energized. More congratulations come in on the news of the week. I’ll admit it feels great after all the work and sacrifice the team has made, to achieve our goals to date. If anything, we’re more excited about the next phase. I spend the morning speaking to the heads of our product and engineering teams to discuss strategy presentations they are preparing for our first board meeting.
The day moves quickly. I have my weekly call with the VP of Strategy at Triton, Jim Kerr. We discuss some upcoming marketing ideas, as well as the Radio Ink ConVergence conference, which both Triton and Jelli are attending. I have an interview with a candidate for one of our open engineering positions. We have our bi-weekly “culture” team meeting, at which a core group gets together to discuss ways we can cultivate Jelli culture, which is an important part of our company.
We end the day excited about the future. It was a great way to mark a key milestone in the development of our company, and it led to an increased awareness of our company and growth across many constituents.