Paul Ruderman is the founder and CEO of Update Zen and is available on Clarity to discuss team productivity, efficiency and execution, and budgeting. 

My new startup, UpdateZen, has just entered BETA this summer. It has been an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience getting UpdateZen from concept to BETA in under a year. Difficulties and big decisions every single day. But the beginning – the epiphany – came very quickly, and very easily.

The reason, pure and simple, is because I decided to solve a very sharp pain that I was experiencing in my prior company, a pain which no other solution on the market had yet solved. I didn’t have to conduct myriad brainstorming sessions with friends and colleagues to figure out what kind of company I should start next. I knew the problem, and I knew it inside and out. I was essentially Customer #1.

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Marketing is often treated as a bad word in Silicon Valley. To many, it connotes bloated budgets and the use of psychological trickery to make up for the fact that your product sucks.

If a product is good, we are told, it should simply sell itself. We celebrate good design, clean code, and clever ideas, while disregarding marketing as a fuzzy practice whose benefits are immeasurable at best, and dubious by most accounts.

But the truth is that many of the best products are created by marketing geniuses. Because to make a product sell itself, you have to build marketing into the product.

Over the past few years, I’ve helped build and market mobile apps that have reached hundreds of millions of people. I’ve also built several apps that flopped.

Here are some lessons I learned from those experiences on what makes a product sell itself: Read More…

Lewis Howes

Webinars can be a powerful marketing strategy, and on August 14th at 11AM PST/2PM EST, we’re hosting a free Clarity Live session with Lewis Howes. Please feel free to share this event and forward it to your friends. You can register here. Read More…

Clarity - Compete

The chart above depicts Clarity’s monthly unique visitor count over the last year, from June 2013 through June 2014. After months of minimal traction, Clarity experienced a growth spurt between January and February of this year.  The question is why. Read More…

Mobile Phone
This post originally appeared on Feld.com. See Brad Feld’s recent Clarity Live talk on the power of startup communities here

I was sitting with the founders of a company we’ve funded the other day talking about their competition. I love this product and I use it every day. It doesn’t yet have widespread adoption, but it as extremely actively used by the early adopters.

This company has several competitors – long time incumbents with somewhat stale, but useful products, and several new competitors, including well-funded and noisy ones. I use several of these products regularly in different situations and have encouraged the founders to use them also. Read More…


“The problem with abstractions (like reports and documents) is that they create illusions of agreement. A hundred people can read the same words, but in their heads, they’re imagining a hundred different things.”

– Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson – Rework

How much time are we spending on planning for great work instead of actually doing great work?

We’re in love with the chase, the big vision at the end of that proverbial rainbow where higher purpose, a healthy bottom line, an enviable internal culture and a pack of ravenous, ultra-engaged customers all melt together in a pot of perfect. Read More…


Risk is the characteristic that distinguishes a startup from any other type of business. Imagine the experience of quitting a stable, secure job to venture into the unknown. It’s terrifying, and if you’re reading this blog post, you know how terrifying this experience is — because you’ve probably done it.

That’s why Eric Ries wrote The Lean Startup — to help companies navigate and minimize these risks through minimum viable products (MVPs), rigorous experimentation, and a commitment to learning.

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Last year, I launched a social marketing automation app. To give you a sense of scale, it actively generated millions of impressions and hundreds of thousands of engagement events (follows, retweets) across Twitter for users in 41 different countries.

Because impressions drive conversions much like a more traditional ad network, this also means it’s spinning off a large amount of data on social engagement and follower interactions. So far I’ve just been letting the data build up, until this past weekend when I decided to dust off my rusty SQL skills and have a look around.

Here are five new things I learned looking at a random data slice of 100,000 Twitter follows.

First, some stats about our overall sample of followers:

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Content Marketing

You’ve heard it time and time again — content is the future of marketing. And being the smart, savvy entrepreneur that you are, you respond tactically by writing blog posts, authoring whitepapers, and maybe even commissioning a few infographics.

You watch your analytics like a hawk, realizing something scary. Nothing is happening. After pouring out your heart and soul on Medium — or your company blog — your web traffic is still flatlining. You’re pissed off.

You’re also not alone.

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Broken Heart

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Feld.com and has been re-published with permission. Love what you’re reading? Be sure to check out Brad Feld’s upcoming Clarity Live talk about the ‘Power of Startup Communities’ on Wednesday, July 9th. We’ll be opening up the waiting list, so stay tuned!

Recently, I wrote a post titled After Your First Big Success, What’s Next? The comment thread was powerful and fascinating, as was the direct email feedback I got, including the following note: Read More…

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