Tag Archives: Entrepreneurship

Things I learnt running Vulcan Post

So for those who know, I have been running Vulcan Post for quite some time now, since August 2013. Here’s what we have achieved so far:

  • Over 1,500,000 people around the world has read Vulcan Post.
  • On average, we have 200,000 unique readers per month.
  • We are averaging 5 – 6 articles consistently per day.
  • We have grown to almost 30 writers, mostly contributors. We are planning our expansion to Malaysia now, and exploring new product offerings for our readers.
  • We have shot 5 episodes of Vulcan TV so far, on track to hit our planned 10 episodes by end of the year.

Really excited to share that we have managed and built all of this organically, in just 9 months.

Here’s a couple of things I’ve learnt:

Consistency

Consistency is underrated. It’s similar to being disciplined in things you do. For Vulcan Post, since I started it, I told myself and the team that no matter what, every single day we must keep our article quantity consistent. We are now averaging 5 – 6 articles per day, published every hour from 10.30am. We want to hit the ideal number of 8-10 articles.

Consistency means that readers can expect new content every time they come in. For example: if a reader is having lunch at 1pm, he can expect to read 3 new articles on Vulcan Post that day (10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm). This is very important in instilling reader’s loyalty and building return traffic. For Vulcan Post, 1 out of 4 of our readers are returning readers.

So how do we build consistency in the team? We schedule them in advance. What this means is that for all our articles tomorrow, we have all of them scheduled tonight, one day in advance. This ensures that we have our articles and content ready for publishing the next day. So everyday, we have time to look for new topic and write new articles without fighting against time or worry if we haven’t hit our quota of the day.

Of course, this takes a lot of discipline.

Content Partnership & Brand Equity

For Vulcan Post, we are excited to be working alongside some great partners such as Yahoo Singapore, Coconuts Singapore, Evernote, Facebook, The Smart Local, Twenty First Tech and many more. We are also fortunate that companies open their door for us to feature their office space and speak to their executives for Vulcan TV, our official video channel.

These partnerships are important because they attract other brands to come work together with us. As we help build up their brand equity through our distribution channel, they also build up our brand equity.

80 – 20 Rule

The 80 – 20 Rule holds true for us as well: 80 per cent of our traffic comes of 20 per cent of our content. We generally follow the 80 – 20 rule:

  • 80% of our stories are news and opinion pieces, 20% of our stories are buzzfeed-ish articles
  • 80% of our content follows the editorial strategy we set out for Vulcan Post, 20% of our content are fresh new content we experiment with
  • 80% of our traffic are generated by 20% of our writers
  • 80% of our content are produced in house, 20% of our content are from content partners and guest posts

The question then is, how do we identify the 20% of the things that matter (which brings in 80% of the results)?

Experimentation

I am a big fan of experimentation, and all writers have full flexibility to explore the topics and content they love. Want to do a movie review? Go ahead. Tech round up? Done that. Things you didnt know about a country? Works well. If it doesnt work, we kill it. That’s the only way we know what content may stick and what may not.

This goes in line with the 80 – 20 rule. Constant experimentation ensures that the chances of you discovering the 20% of the things that matter (which brings in 80% of the results) are significantly higher.

The same goes for writers. We are also fortunate to have a lot of people who wants to contribute on Vulcan Post. Over the past 2 weeks, we have about 7-10 people emailing us to see if they could join our team. We are keen to take them in, because again, that is the only way we discover great talents. (Of course, this causes a new set of problem, which i might share in another article).

Hardest to manage: Human

Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve learnt and is learning is this: human is the hardest to manage. Different expectation, different opinions, group think.

Motivation

One of the most important about running Vulcan Network is to constantly motivate myself and be really disciplined. As i am the one setting the milestones and timeline for the whole company, everything can crumble if I am not disciplined enough to keep things running.

It has been quite a lonely journey so far, but there’s no turning back. I wont lie and say that there werent time that I doubt myself and what I am doing, or whether I am making the right decisions. There are definitely time where I wake up and wonder what am I doing. But of course, more importantly, I have to trust myself to be able to brush it off and just get back to work. 🙂

What’s next

Vulcan Network, started in September 2013, aspires to be a company managing a few business portfolios. Vulcan Post was never the end game. It’s not big enough.

Vulcan Post was started because I wanted to start a product company, but i didn’t know what it was yet. What i do know is this: for the company that I am trying to build, I would need a distribution channel for it. But that should not be an excuse for me to not do anything about it, hence Vulcan Post was started. Vulcan TV and a few other products came along after that.

Here’s the different business units under Vulcan Network:

  1. Vulcan Post: Our main distribution channel. This is where people discover us. We report on Internet Lifestyle news, and we are writing for the mass public, people who are curious about technology.
  2. Vulcan TV: Our video channel. This is where we highlight the great companies and culture behind popular Internet websites. So far we have featured Viddsee, TripAdvisor, Zalora, Facebook and Groupon. There are three segments: Interview with an executive about company and vision, Interview with an employee about office culture, and then an office tour. I am very bullish about Vulcan TV and video being a better medium for story telling, and definitely excited to push this further.
  3. Vulcan DigestOur official weekly newsletter. We have almost 2000 subscribers now using Vulcan Digest to keep updated with our news on Vulcan Post and Vulcan TV.
  4. Vulcan PrintOur e book division. It was a side project I did last year. We will be converting some of our best stories on Vulcan Post to e-books too from time to time.
  5. Vulcan ConsultancyOur consulting arm, which we are working alongside some great clients on website development, mobile app development, digital marketing and PR consultancy.
  6. Vulcan: The content recommendation engine we are working on. The Outbrain of Southeast Asia. This is what’s gonna determine where we will be at in the next 5 years. This is our trump card.

Cant wait to:

  • Increase our daily article numbers to 8 per day on Vulcan Post!
  • Finish shooting 10 – 12 videos for Vulcan TV this year!
  • Start working on our second ebook for Vulcan Print!
  • Reveal our key clients for Vulcan Consultancy!
  • Launch Vulcan and grow it!
  • Cant wait for our growth the next 9 months!

Is it too much? Some might argue so.

To me, it is very manageable: all 6 items are necessary, and they are interconnected with one another. They power each other. In fact, we are thinking of possibly including another Vulcan brand, but that might stretch our resources too thin. If you were to break down each item to its individual time resources needed, you would quickly realize that it is very manageable.

And I still have time to write this blog post too. 🙂

 

An Open Letter

This is an open letter to my cofounders, my cofounders to be, my colleagues, my colleagues to be, my partners, and all my awesome friends.

This is our time.

With the advancement of technology and access to the internet, everything that we need to build the things that we want has never been so easily accessible before. New applications and technologies are built everyday and things which were once hard to be built which needed deep knowledge of how the different web technologies work are now easily accessible. There is an app for everything. However, just as every tools needs a master craftsperson to use it, it is up to us to leverage all these abundant resources. This is our time to use them to equip ourselves and prepare for opportunities that might knock on our doors soon.

“This is our time. Until that time stops – for one of us, for both – it is our time. Now. Will you waste it, because you are afraid?”
― Diana GabaldonDrums of Autumn

Why should we care?

Because we are more empowered than ever before to make things happen, the only time in our life that we can focus and do the things which matters, for the ones we care, for our family, and for the society. We only have 60-70 years of our life, and do we want to live our life 30 years from now regretting that we did not try harder when we were in our prime time? If there is a time where we can make this happen, the time is now, because as we grow older, we will be bogged down with responsibilities such as family commitments. We should care because we are capable of making an impact to the ones that matters to us, to make a change and contribute to the society, and to make meaning to our lives.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– Mark Twain

What we have to do?

Seth Godin says this: Pick yourself. If you want to start a movement, start it. If you want to publish a book, publish it. It is up to us to be focused, and believe in the things we do, and make them happen. But we have to be fast, because time slips by second by second, minute by minute as we procrastinate, and it is yet another weekend today. We have to be focused. We have to want it bad enough. Because there are a lot of amazing people out there making it happen right now as you read this, and they are hungry and motivated. We have to be willing to sacrifice the comfort, security, uncertainty, because success seems to be a matter of holding on when others have forsaken you and when other have given up. We have to be constantly moving forward bit by bit everyday.

“Reject the tyranny of picked. Pick yourself.” 
― Seth Godin

This is our time. Lets work together, and make things happen.

This represents a personal opinion and if you have read this far, you should follow me on Twitter. Also, always love to help and grab coffee with anyone!

Exploring the world

I have always wanted to go to Silicon Valley and explore and immense into the ecosystem over there. Why Silicon Valley? Simple. Because the web started there. It’s like if you want to learn or explore about cheap clothing, one would go Gwangzhou, simply because there are a lot of cheap cloths there, giving one an opportunity to know how things work and experience their production line first hand. Or like religion, where if you are a Christian, you would want to visit Jerusalem, where Jesus was said to be born there.

So since I am interested in the web space, Silicon Valley is the natural choice.

Then it comes to the question of, when is a good time to go for a 4-6 weeks trip. I think the best time to go is when you are about to graduate. When you do that, you can experience the energy and get motivated by the ecosystem there and then you can work harder when you are back to graduate. A lot of people tell me the place is simply amazing and everyone is constantly discussing about technology and everyone is bound to be working on something. The awesomeness is so much so that a University is announcing a Entrepreneurship free dorm for those who do not want to be part of the entrepreneurial hype.

Is it better to go after you get some working experience and have some savings in your bank? Personally, I think once we graduate, with matters such as repayment of loan, house hunting, job hunting, work, relationship etc, we would not be in the mood of exploring the world, and ‘absorbing’ the energy. Life would just be bogged down by all these distractions.

So yeaps, it’s definitely a good time to visit the place you always wanted to visit when you are going to graduate. Live. Dream. Explore.

Did a simple search, turns out you need about RM500 for a tourist visa to the states, and on top of that, you need to prove ties before you can enter the states, even for tourism purposes. “Ties” are the various aspects of an individual’s life that bind him or her to a particular place, such as a job, family or property.

A lot of friction.

Photo: Designyoutrust

This represents a personal opinion. If you have read this far, you should definitely follow me on Twitter.

On Blogspots, Entrepreneurship, and Instagram

On Blog shops

Just found out from a friend that blogshops can make good businesses in Singapore. While I always hear that there are blogshops owners in Singapore who makes 5 figure monthly incomes, the statement doesnt really hit me until my friend told me that an item of a blogshop which she was eyeing on, slated to be on the blog at 9pm, got snapped up and sold out by 9.10pm. Wow. While it not be representative of the whole fashion blogosphere, if done properly, blogshops can actually be a good source of side income. Reinforces the fact again that, if females buy your product, you have an addressable market.

On entrepreneurial ideas + Instagram

There are sooo many startup ideas outside there right now. Whatever that you can think of, whatever problem that you have, there will be a solution out there, or someone will be building one for it. Ultimately, at the end of the day, the one who wins, is the one which:

  1. Measured the right metric and made sense + use of the data collected
  2. Focuses on one key thing and make it real good
  3. Sexy User interface.

And on Instagram, in case you havent heard, it was just acquired by Facebook for a whopping $1 Billion dollars. Thats 1000 million dollars. For an app which no clear business models, what can be learnt is the 3 points which I mentioned just now.

Quote of the week:

It is important to plan for your future, but also more important to be present in the now.

Photo: Cultofmac

This represents a personal opinion. If you have read this far, you should definitely follow me on Twitter.

Another reason to stay at N-House

Here’s another reason why you should stay at N-House:

Photo: Hung and Ritesh and myself working on our startups at N-House Kitchen.

Love how we all gather and work on our respective startups in our cozy kitchen at N-House, Blk15 PGP., even when its late at night.

We motivate each other, and keep each other on track, and when we are hungry, supper is available next door at Super Snacks. 🙂