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The SuccessLab Podcast: Where Entrepreneurs Collaborate for Success

Feb 25, 2015

Welcome back to the SuccessLab Podcast! I'm in The Lab with John Biggs, East Coast editor of TechCrunch. We talk networking, breaking into the startup scene, and navigating the testy waters of PR.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your journey? What brought you to TechCrunch?

I ran Gizmodo for a little while. They got rid of me there, and immediately, like a week after, I got a call from Mike Arrington about Crunch Gear, which was going to be a gadget site for TechCrunch. I ran that for a few years, and it got folded into TechCrunch proper. Now, I guess I'm the only surviving TechCruncher from those days.

2. How do you manage being an editor, building a startup, and advising another?

I'm not sure! I'm starting to try to say no a little more. Right now, I'm able to manage it because I try to compartmentalize the things that I do. When I'm writing, I'll do 1,000 words a day, rain or shine. If I'm doing a podcast, I'll try to record it as quickly and easily as possible, essentially streamlining all the things I need to do. The most time I spend during the day right now is just trying to get cool stories together for TechCrunch, put cool things up, reaching out to startups to try to help them out, that sort of thing. My day's essentially full.

3. You are obviously very immersed in the startup scene. Are there common challenges you see many startups face?

I think the biggest question is, "How do you get started?" What do you have to do? I used to understand this only in theory, but essentially, you have to have a product. You can't sell something that doesn't exist, unless you have a proven track record in The Valley and people are going to invest in you. It's been a challenge, but it hasn't been too much of a challenge to get folks to listen to us. They're all excited about listening to us. But right now, The Valley doesn't want to drop almost any money into ideas that don't actually have products. You basically have to build a product, and that's the hardest thing to do.

4. If you could offer one piece of advice to an entrepreneur trying to build their business, what would you say?

You have to be ready, and you have to be calling people all the time. You have to be talking to people. If you're trying to network, you need to reach out, you need to follow up, and you need to do your due diligence. It's a lot of work, and it's frustrating, and it's boring. A lot of people just want to build something cool. But the boring stuff gets you to the cool stuff.

5. There have been numerous blog posts written about how to get on TechCrunch…are there any tips you can share?

Email us. There's so much out there right now that it's really difficult to grab everybody, but if you know who you're talking to, if you actually know who you're approaching and understand them, it's fairly easy to get in. The vast majority of the time, you won't get a response, but you can say, "We've got this cool thing, and we want to show it to you." And it has to be a thing—it can't just be an announcement that you hired somebody new or you changed something slightly. Everybody's essentially chasing the same story. I'm trying to find a story that nobody else has.

6. What media do you follow?

I read Y Combinator news, and I follow a lot of Reddit boards to take a look at the smaller things that are happening. I follow smaller sights.

You can reach out to John Biggs at or on Twitter at @johnbiggs.

This Week's Biz Hacks

If you do plan to reach out to media on your own, these two Biz Hacks can help point you in the right direction: Similar Web and Just Reach Out.

I’ve talked about Similar Web before, but in this scenario, you can use it to find other similar sites. For instance, if you’ve got your sights set on the likes of TechCrunch, but you’re not sure where else to reach out, you can use Similar Web to find other sites like TechCrunch. You can also see top referring sites where people venture to after they leave TechCrunch and other sites TechCrunch users visit.

Just Reach Out is a site that allows you to search a specific topic and see who is writing about it. Keep in mind: This tool is a jumping off point. You’ll want to do more research to make sure you are not pitching off-topic or pitching a story they’ve already written about.

Quote of the Week

"Big shots were once small shots who kept shooting." ~ Rev Run

Thank you to John Biggs, Ed Zitron, J.J. Colao, and Vivek and Chase from NeoLight for sharing their story and insights. The music in this episode included “Float” by The Lab Rats and “Once I Went to You” by Kara Square.

Until next time, have a prosperous week!

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