Or, maybe the title of this post should be: Is it an opportunity or a diversion?
If an opportunity for your start-up is:
1. An extension of your current work
2. Improves product or process
3. Boosts your cash flow
Go for it.
For us, the launch of a browser theme focused on Barack Obama’s inauguration (see it here) was a yes to all of those points.
Here’s the back-story.
Our product focus has always been to deliver custom browser themes for leading brands. NASCAR, Huffington Post, you name it. After all, we create a persistent presence with online consumers, which is a great value proposition. What we didn’t focus on was event-driven versions — until recently.
We figured the long-term relationship a fan has with their favorite sports team or music artist, and our ability to reinforce that, was the real business opportunity. It’s good, but it’s not the only opportunity. There’s also a big demand for event-driven browser themes as well.
We started the non-branded work with sports (baseball, football, basketball and so on), but when we launched Christmas, we saw a real nice spike in users. That was quickly followed by an “Oh, shoot!” moment (word choice edited to maintain our PG rating). The Christmas user base would evaporate after the holiday.
So, we scrambled to get a special “Make Merry or Make History” offering in place, which presented a product for New Year’s and one for the inauguration.
The entire effort was beneficial on several fronts. The non-branded and event-based browsers allow us to maintain our build cycles in between client builds (point #1 above). The need to keep these more transient users inspired our BOOM product platform (see related post here) allowing users to seamlessly move between our themes rather than work to get from one to another (point #2). These products have the same business model as our branded versions, so we continue to build a user base that generates revenue (point #3).
By looking beyond our original product focus, we’ve given our business a lift and hopefully more runway – a plus for any startup. And by delivering an Inauguration theme, we’ve given ourselves until the end of January to build our next event-based BOOM.