Startup Blog

How to Get Sales Teams to Use a Wiki

Posted Mike Volpe on 7/7/10 11:50 AM

We have an internal wiki that we use for almost all communication and collaboration at HubSpot.  I talked about it in my Atlassian Starter Day Presentation (we use their wiki product, called Confluence).  Recently, I got a question from someone who had seen my presentation that I thought was worth sharing here on the blog.

Building a Business in the Cloud - List of Tools

Posted Mike Volpe on 6/13/10 7:20 PM

Next week I am the day 2 keynote speaker at the Internet Technology Summit in Orlando where they have asked me to talk about how we have built HubSpot to 160 employees and 2,800 customers using the latest technology tools.  I am going to talk especially about how the vast majority of our company activity is conducted in the cloud, and the cultural implications of that.  I have blogged way back in January 2007 about the disruptive effects of Google Docs, and do feel that the availability of tools like these affects how you should start and build a company.

Turning Lemons into Lemonade... or Not.

Posted Mike Volpe on 3/16/09 10:53 AM

I was in an airport recently and noticed that they had taken down the pay phones.  I guess that makes sense, pretty much everyone has a cell phone now.  What surprised me was that the old structure that used to hold a bunch of pay phones had become a de facto trash receptacle, since it was not being used for anything else.

phone booth with no phone

Rather than just taking their ball and going home, the phone company (or airport or whoever controls the space) could have done something cool.  There must be power running there, they could have made a cell phone charging station, and sold advertising to cell phone companies (hardware makers or service providers).

Is there any way you can take advantage of changes in your market?  Rather than canceling or stopping something, can you change it to be new and different?

Uncertain Future for Online Display Ads

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/20/09 1:17 PM

The Wall Street Journal predicts an uncertain future for the display ad market (basically banner ads).  Why?

  • More inventory/content - People (both big media companies and people like you) are creating more and more content online, so there are lots more places to put ads
  • Low performance - most banner ads get a click throgh rate of 0.2%, meaning that most people don't look at the ads much, they are there for the content
  • Inbound marketing transformation - It is now cheaper to publish your own content (blog) and promote it (social media) than it is to buy ads (that people ignore) next to someone else's content

Because of these trends, ad prices fell 54% last quarter (according to the WSJ article).

The Power of Audience Access - Craig's List

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/4/09 11:12 AM

Recently we were trying to make more space in our apartment and cleaned out some old things.  We had a papason chair and an artificial Christmas tree that were just taking up too much space.  Both were in good condition and useful, and I thought maybe we could make some other people happy, keep landfills a bit more empty, etc.

The tree went on the "free" section.  I got 2 emails within 30 minutes and a teacher ended up coming to pick it up to use in a school production of Annie (there is a Christmas scene at the end).  The chair went into the furniture section and I got 3 emails in 40 minutes and someone paid our full asking price of $40 with a smile.  Within 5 hours both items were gone and we had a lot more space in our apartment.

Before the Internet this would have been impossible.  We could have put an ad in the newspaper or posted some signs, but that would have been time consuming and expensive.  We probably would have just thrown them out.  Why?  There were still lots of people looking for good cheap stuff.  We just had no way of accessing that audience.

The power of access to an audience today is that it is much easier to access audiences and build your own.  Things not possible or profitable before are now relatively easy and massively profitable.  Craig's List, Ebay, and thousands more.

Have you created an audience? How do you let others access it?  Are you making the most of your audience access?

Marketing Holy Grail - Complete ROI Tracking

Posted Mike Volpe on 1/11/07 3:14 PM

The Internet has long promised to make marketing more of a science and less of an art. Unfortunately this promise has been pretty un-fulfilled. There is still no good way to really measure everything you want using a simple service or tool. I've been doing marketing for a number of years now. When I was at a dot-com startup in 1999, I built models to analyze all of our Internet advertising (banners, text links, and some pay per click with and launched an affiliate program. What I loved about this type of marketing was that you could analyze it and know the ROI on each program. What I did not like was that the majority of our sales were not traceable to a specific marketing event. My dot-com ( also had a print catalog business and retail stores. So, for much of the revenue from those channels, and a good portion of the revenue from the web as well, we had no idea what really caused someone to buy. This problem of tracking marketing ROI gets even more complicated when you understand that people visit your website multiple times and become a lead by filling out a form multiple times and also view your marketing online and offline multiple times. And then what happens if part of the sale is completed offline. My current company, SolidWorks, a 3D CAD software company, does a lot of lead generation through online and offline programs, but all of our sales are completed offline by a great network of hundreds of resellers around the globe. Trying to figure out which particular marketing program (or combination or series of programs) really made someone become a customer is a pretty complicated multivariate analysis, made harder by the fact that it is difficult to get data for many of the variables. At my current company we face many of these challenges and more, and have done the best we can to overcome them, given the tools that exist today. Unfortunately the problem is a big one and we have only scratched the surface. All this brings me back to my first point... There is still no good way to really measure all your marketing activities using a simple service or tool. But the good news is that there are some people working on the problem. Who will build the holy grail of marketing? I'm not sure. But anyone who gets us closer will make marketing more of a science and less of an art, which makes me happy.

The Disruption is Beginning...

Posted Mike Volpe on 1/8/07 3:02 PM

Let me go on record saying that the biggest threat to Microsoft today is Google SpreadSheets and Documents. Not search, not Gmail... but spreadsheets and documents. And, if you read this article from innovation Creators about Google taking $200m from Microsoft & Lotus there is already a financial impact. I could not agree more. Google Documents and Spreadsheets has all the characterisitics of a disruptive technology.
  • Much lower cost - free v.s $100's of dollars
  • Less functionality in the traditional sense... BUT more functionality in ways that are important for a small but growing and important market segment - the collaboration and web-centric features will be the future of how we use documents and communicate
I am currently using Google Spreadsheets and Docs for a bunch of things, including tracking gifts and thank you notes for my wedding with my fiance. While Google spreadsheets does not do everything Excel does (pivot tables, charts), it does "enough" (to be dangerous), and the collaboration functionality is very cool and more importantly... quite USEFUL.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Let's Connect