“Hublished” is an online social networking platform where experts and brands go to publish and promote recent, live, and upcoming content, and where professionals and enthusiasts go to discover, learn, curate, share, and organize content.
Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Frome’ regarding his start-up ”Hublished”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Hublished” is all about?
The best way to think about Hublished is to visualize a virtual convention.
Hublished is an online social networking platform where experts and brands go to publish and promote recent, live, and upcoming content, and where professionals and enthusiasts go to discover, learn, curate, share, and organize content.
Our main priority is webinar content, but the site will also have eBooks, podcasts, and whitepapers.
Essentially we give a podium to experts and seating room for an audience.
Hublished solves the problem of generating leads for content marketing.
We all have seen the power and effectiveness of content marketing in converting leads into customers, but now we want to convert consumers into leads without having to wait for content to slowly trickle through existing social networks.
My job at Hublished is mainly two-fold.
I handle top-funnel marketing, including PR and overarching digital strategies, and I am the architect of the website, working with our engineers on a daily basis to develop and improve the user interface experience of our site.
2. When has “Hublished” been founded? And what stage is “Hublished” currently at?
We officially were founded in June of 2012, but our concept dates back to March 2011.
We are currently in a dual development stage in which we are developing an alpha version of our site while simultaneously aggregating early users.
As of now the feedback has been almost entirely positive and enthusiastic, and we are very optimistic about our upcoming launch.
3. What is “Hublished”’s business model and how does it work?
We are avid proponents of the freemium model and have such developed a modified version of it for Hublished.
Our goal is to generate leads for experts and brands, whom we call Publishers, by giving them an audience, whom we call Peers, to promote their expert content.
As of now, our plan is that every month Publishers will receive for free a certain number of tokens which correspond to Peers who sign up for their upcoming or recent content.
Once Publishers reach the free token limit, they will have to pay to continue allowing Peers to sign up for their content.
Essentially, Publishers only pay if they are already seeing a return on their content.
This revenue model also allows us to never, ever display an ad on our social networking site, which in of itself is an unheard of feat in the industry.
We never have to give priority to big business on our site.
Priority will go strictly to those who create the best content, whether they are a billion dollar international company, or some random expert in Idaho.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
We have an unusually large team so I will try to make this brief:
The original idea was conceived by myself (Nis Frome), Yair Aviner, and Ben Borodach.
We worked on a project in sales & marketing after high school, and decided to team up to found Hublished.
Ben is the CEO and works primarily on financial and legal aspects of the company, while Yair is the CTO and works on front-end design as well as being the business-to-technology liasion.
I have already outlined my tasks previously.
We then teamed up with NYU student entrepreneurs, Ryan Kuhel and Alex Topchishvili, who focus on our own content marketing initiatives, social media, and community management.
Our engineers, whom we met through connections at Rutgers University and NYU, include Carlos Ospina, Alex Lau, Chris Dilks, and Kyle Byrne.
Carlos is the project manager, with years of award-winning experience running his own software company.
Alex has worked in private industry doing software consulting, and is the lead developer for Hublished.
Chris and Kyle are co-founders of the quickly-growing Rutgers University Mobile App Development (RUMad) club, and join Hublished as technical developers.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
First and foremost, we distinguish between experts and peers.
Our site is geared toward helping both distinct user bases navigate and derive value from the site.
This division keeps the site clean and organized.
We are also the only site where you can sign up for an upcoming webinar, watch it on our site (which will interface with most popular webinar software providers), share the webinar with peers in your networks on our site, take notes, and organize your viewed content.
We consider ourselves to be the first full-service content marketing aggregation platform for experts and peers.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “Hublished” achieved so far?
Because we are still in the development stages, we obviously have no revenue and no actual user base.
We allow experts and peers to sign up for beta invitations once the site has an alpha launch in November.
Included in our early user sign-ups are high-level representatives of two major magazines and a Fortune 500 company.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “Hublished”’s competitive advantage over them?
I know it sounds odd, but we don’t really consider any site out there to be a competitor.
We don’t think that our success relies on the failure or lack of success of any other site or business, and mostly think we’d be beneficial to most similar or auxiliary sites.
In general, we see ourselves fitting the same space Quora did but for interactive content.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
As our original three founders did not have enough technical capability or resources to launch the site on our own, it was a struggle initially to recruit a team capable of developing Hublished.
Thankfully, once we finally finished our business plan and necessary presentations, we were able to raise $75,000 in under 12 hours, recruit excellent engineers, and team up with unbelievable advisors.
Our method for overcoming any obstacle is pretty simple.
We don’t get caught up on ego or groupthinking.
When confronted with a problem, we consult whoever on our team has the most expertise on the issue, weigh the options, and choose.
We only look back to learn from our mistakes but never to regret.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
I don’t think the concept of content marketing is too complicated.
It’s just a major shift for many brands and experts to believe from college students that there is a strategy that is so much more cost-effective than advertising.
Also, there is quite a learning curve for creating webinars, and while we help all of our customers create and improve their content, we do not actually create webinar software for them to use, which is a common misconception with us.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
My top three reasons:
1. We have an incredible idea which has never let us quit. I know it sounds cheesy, but every time we were about to give up or do something else, Hublished brought us back in the game.
2. We have a proven team with many years of experience, incredible technical capabilities, and a cohesiveness that usually isn’t found in companies less than five years old.
3. Our strategic advisors won’t let the ship steer of course. They have been here before and don’t really consider failure to be an option.
11. If “Hublished” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
I’d prefer to provide a brief answer so as not to compromise our potential strategies.
I can say that we do plan to integrate with CRM software providers to enhance the analytical suite provided to Publishers on our site, in order to help them better track leads from beginning to end.
We are all about metrics at Hublished.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Hublished” based on?
There wasn’t really any single decision.
I can’t speak for other entrepreneurs, but we didn’t decide to create a start-up and then articulate an idea afterward.
I had a web development company for three years, and Hublished was the realization of a solution to a recurring problem we were facing with regard to content marketing strategies.
After speaking to several experts about Hublished, including one of the lead investors for Pinterest (who told us our start-up could be the “Pinterest for webinars”), we knew we had to pursue it.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
Literally any obstacle can be overcome.
We’ve realized that the answer to most problems is hard work and keeping an open mind.
Also, we make sure to evaluate every proposed component of the site with a value-proposition chart, and only give real consideration to components that deliver significant value.
We have no interest in superfluous functionality.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Optimistically, it would be managing growth on our site, building security layers, and making sure our servers never crash.
We are planning a phased launch to ensure security and sustainability.
Realistically, our time will likely be spent trying to raise another round of funding and recruiting more engineers.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
The benefit for Publishers is that they have a central platform to promote their content and track its success.
For Peers, the benefit is that they will have a curation system so they can deem the quality of content before having to actually watch it.
We also help them keep their content organized so it remains useful for reference.
Not to mention we provide an full discovery model, but more to come about that upon launch.
16. How did customers/users find out about you?
For now, most connections have been made through word of mouth because we don’t spend money to advertise or promote our site.
We have also generated a significant number of sign ups through previous media mentions.
We have two members of our team who spend their time managing and helping our community through email newsletters and internally-generated content.
17. Who are your current customers/users? Who are your target customers/users?
Again, because we haven’t launched we don’t have any customers.
Our initial invitees will include experts in fields ranging from neuroscience to financial management, and multi-national corporations from magazines to business consulting services.
Our target for Publishers is anyone who is an expert in their field and have something to teach potential customers.
Our target for Peers are early adopters and innovators who like to be the first to know about breakthroughs in their industries of interest.
18. Where do new customers/users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
We rely significantly on word of mouth due to promotions we have for referring customers and Peers to the site.
There are many advantages to using Hublished.
Foremost, we aim to be a full-service content marketing strategy.
All of our users will have access to exclusive content strategies that will help them better create and promote content.
Essentially, we will host webinars on how to host webinars.
19. What do your customers/users say about your product and/or service?
I’ll simply copy over a few quotes:
“XXXX just discussed your concept with me and I love it! I just signed up and will be eager to see how I can use Hublished to help my business.”
- small business owner in the science consulting and research industry
“It was great to talk to you about Hublished, I love the concept and direction! I am looking forward to using the site in the future!”
- representative from a fortune 500 company.
20. How are you going to scale?
We are going to put a heavy emphasis on rewarding referral programs and our own content marketing initiatives.
We think that if we ourselves become the hub for information about content marketing, we will be able to attract brands and experts in droves.
We are also going to leverage media outlets and conventions.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
Everyone wants a perfect webinar software solution and perfect analytical tools.
Unfortunately, for the time being we don’t provide either of those solutions.
For what we are intending to do however, we have not really heard any negative feedback, but we will have to await early survey results from our alpha launch to know more.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We haven’t thought that far ahead in detail yet, but we definitely think Hublished would provide great benefit to experts abroad.
When the time comes, we will consult experts on internationalization, and formulate and expansion strategy.
There is no particular reason Hublished could not be taken worldwide.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We would like to think that Hublished could redefine how brands and experts approach marketing.
If we can shift the paradigm from one of spending competitions on advertising, to one of exuding and displaying expertise, then I don’t really know what the limits are for Hublished.
Our job is to show companies and consumers that there is a better way to connect and select products and services.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
Currently we are working with the excellent and capable team we have.
We have no specific plans to hire, although we likely we begin looking in the next 2-4 months for security and front-end engineers.
We will again try to recruit students and alumni from Rutgers University and New York University who show promise in entrepreneurship and engineering.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
Other than working to attract potential early users on the site, we are not currently seeking any specific partnerships or funding.
We are open to all options and proposals and will begin officially seeking financing in the Fall from limited sources.
We can be contacted via shoutout [at] hublished.com
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
1. Never force an idea or solve a problem you created. This leads to point #2:
2. Work in the industry you are interested in first. There are improvements to be made in every industry, and if you ticker around and remain curious for long enough, you will uncover pains. Work first and let the idea originate naturally.