Paul Berry (previously the CTO of HuffingtonPost) is Founder and CEO of RebelMouse, a platform used by individuals and companies of all sizes to build social experiences on the fly.
Celebrate the ups with the 100% full understanding that as an entrepreneur, you are very much like a heroin addict and a corresponding low is on its way I’ve found that both giving limits to the lows and highs help keep the balance and focus you need to keep making progress.
We have a globally distributed community management team so that we can respond in real time almost 24×7 to any mention, question, feedback on Twitter/Facebook/email etc. This dedication to being unusually responsive not just in business hours as a social platform has helped turn interested customers and visitors into super fans.
I was CTO of HuffingtonPost where I ran product, design and engineering. I often tell entrepreneurial students and others asking advice that for me the meaning of “entrepreneurial” is doing work with no guarantee of pay. So before I founded RebelMouse I was able to learn a ton by just going and getting a lot done and asking for the pay later in annual reviews etc. At HuffingtonPost I was a key part of board meetings and the management team, and it is hard to imagine me doing the job at RebelMouse as well without that experience (and network).
So many interesting lessons in the process of getting funding!! I often say that you should be where you’ll learn the most, and I’ve learned more as a CEO since starting RebelMouse then I ever could have predicted. I’ve been very lucky because I had a lot of investors who knew me very well from my work at HuffPost. The lesson I’ve learned is a) telling the crisp story of your company and what it will become is actually very hard and b) investors are a network, and understanding the relationships they have between each other is really key to understanding each one of them.
I worked very hard using my existing network of everyone I knew to show my earliest thoughts of what RebelMouse would be and then kept coming back to them with progress from design through to production versions. I chose to launch when I had a small group of highly influential people telling me they were super excited and that they wanted to share it as soon as I said it was ok to share. That was vital to both making the best product possible and also to having a launch with buzz.
Everything I’ve worked on in my career (HuffingtonPost, Avaaz.org, TheDogIsland.com, Bplans.com) has been focused on viral mechanics. The most important thing is that when each person sees what you’ve made they almost feel that they *need* to share it with other people before they can move on to other things. This has been absolutely vital to RebelMouse.
I’m extremely proud of our company culture. While our headquarters is in NYC in SoHo, our team is distributed around the world. We are very open – ideas on any product/feature/solution can come from anybody on the team, and everyone on the team can have access and insight into all launches and designs. Everyone on the team has a love of product and there is a positive energy to communication that is a natural result of having like minded people that are excited to see rapid growth. Deep respect for different cultures around the world and different perspectives is important to us.
Because we just raised a Series A, I’m currently trying very hard to move us from being totally scrappy in everything to being scalable at the most important core things. I learned to do this at HuffingtonPost where I started with 3 people on my team and ending with 300 on my team. So right now I spend most of my hours meeting people to interview and recruit, and spend most my hours in the evenings/nights/mornings catching up with the amazing flow of email.
The NYC media/tech/startup scene has been incredibly important to me but I am also proud of being part of the silicon valley network. So much work I have done has been about connecting the NYC media world to the speed and ideas and implementations of the Valley. I grew up in Palo Alto and have lived in NYC for 15 years so the connection feels very natural to me.
I guess this has to fall into the lamest category, but I dress so casually (shorts, sandals, tshirt in summer) that I have had to keep a very small wardrobe of slightly not so awkward clothes for when a sudden vital meeting comes up out of nowhere, and then everyone in the office chimes in on heckling as to whether i just made things better or worse.