This past week at The Popshop, Cornell’s hub for creative, entrepreneurial-minded collaboration and project brainstorming, the Cornell community had the pleasure of bringing in CEO and Founder Tim Minton of Zazoom Video LLC, the parent company of Buzz:60 video brand, to share his experience with us in working to develop his digital media business to a platform which creates stimulating short-form Buzz:60 digital videos. Zazoom captures the latest trends circling around current events, music videos, movie trailers, and popular videos. Minton described the ins and outs, the strengths and weaknesses, and the do’s and don’ts for startup businesses.
Tim Minton spent his Cornell undergraduate years in the School of Arts and Sciences studying journalism and acclimating himself to Ithaca by working in newspaper editing and sports radio broadcasting. Shortly after graduation, he started working for the New York Times, quickly moving on to accept an on-air news correspondent position with ABC and then NBC. In 2011, he decided to leave NBC with a few colleagues in order to found Zazoom Video LLC.
His vision was to optimize his resources and build the most valuable video company for numerous devices and platforms. Minton was realistic with his goals and was able to turn stories around quickly and precisely. He had a cutting edge advantage over his competitors because of the journalistic standards he was used to. Minton’s team consisted of experts in journalism, sales, marketing, and mobile information. Their company’s success hinged on their ability to pool together a mix of expertise and know-how.
Here is a list of Minton’s advice for start-ups. It all depends on the type of company and industry you are dealing with, but his advice certainly seems key for the typical start-up:
1) Cash is KING- Have enough to keep the business running for 3 months and make sure to initially keep costs low.
2) Fail fast! Make your mistakes as soon as possible, so you know the direction your company needs to go and what decisions/projects must be eliminated.
3) Keep a strong focus! Start-ups will tend to go in multiple directions, but if the business becomes distracted from the core goal, measures will take longer to achieve. Given that, focus on the initial goals and successes, and deal with the more minor considerations later on. As a content company, Zazoom made a mistake early on by focusing on technology, and they were forced to work around that to become what they are today.
4) Results will not match projections. It is important to be semi-conservative, but not too conservative, as long as you are within the realm of respectability.
5) Cash is once again…..KING! Businesses cannot run out of cash. It will shut down immediately upon that and employees will become angry when management misses payroll. It is important to look at the business model and make sure that there is always enough cash for tomorrow.
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–Sam Newman-Plotnick, Freelance Journalist