So it began. Like the legendary captain who burned all his vessels upon reaching the enemy's shores, Mecenato has finally started pushing forward on its mission of developing a new experience for commissioners of creative and knowledge work. It has been seven days of intense learning, random explorations and radical habit change. I'll try to share weekly updates as constantly as possible, in an effort to be as inclusive and transparent as the web allows, and hoping that any mistakes and pitfalls can be avoided by others. Before I begin, I'd like to be clear that I'm neither a native English speaker nor interested in devoting too much time to perfect flow and style for the copy of these updates. I hope they come out without too many embarrassing mistakes.
A few of the week's challenges:
On not having a set schedule
Waking up Sunday morning to a blank calendar was frightening. Almost intimidating. What should I do first? What's the most important task I need to take care of today? This basic exercise of prioritization is often ignored or outsourced to others when you are working at an established company. I decided to focus on finding a good place to work from and mapping out all the elements Mecenato would need to go to market with its offer. In Make Business Hub, a small café/co-working space in JBR, I found the perfect place to work during the first few days when my laptop was still getting fixed. They have a handful of Macbook Airs lying around that you can use (pretty much for as long as you'd like) for the price of… ordering a cappuccino really. Good value for my limited cash, I'd say.
On setting up operations in the cloud
A clear advantage for companies beginning in 2013. The volume and quality of business services hosted in the cloud is solid now, and is growing every day. I chose a few that I was already acquainted with: the new Basecamp for project management, Highrise for CRM, sales and leads, Google Drive for file hosting and basic word editing/spreadsheets. I've heard of Podio.com and have actually tried them out, but found them to offer too many options too early on. They flood you with customizations, which is great for control, but not when you are just starting and need to focus all your energy on preparing your company's offer. I have started using Pulseapp.com for cash flow and am currently looking for a time tracking option. Something that works well on a smartphone would be ideal.
On creating a brand story from scratch
Mecenato is a Portuguese word. I've chosen it partly because I'm proud of the country I'm from, partly also because Brazil is the upcoming South American giant that the media seems completely infatuated with. But mostly because what the word means (patronage) is the best description of what I would like Mecenato to deliver: a return to the times of patrons and artisans dealing with each other directly. No sellers, no unnecessary party crashers. Only people that add value. That can create something out of nothing.
On kickstarting the online presence
Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn company, website. So much content to produce and schedule in, so little time. The LinkedIn page was the first, and after a few problems uploading image files, we managed to list our services, share a bit of content and understand what are the paid options available for job listing and ads. I am currently running some ads to a highly targeted UAE audience, to which I am paying USD0.21 per click. However, 700 impressions later, nothing. Zero. Wondering if it's the offering or the platform itself. When was the last time you've clicked on an ad on LinkedIn? Facebook presence is on. We are still figuring out how to get ahold of either the @mcnto or @mecenato handles on Twitter. Both are registered but feature no single post.
On generating leads
Being from a creative background, I must confess the lead generation part of the enterprise is probably the scariest bit for me. Value creation: fine. Marketing: fine. Selling: ouch. It is at the same time of the highest priority and also a skill that I have managed to avoid for almost ten years of my career. The projects just landed directly over my desk before! More on this arena soon. I must say, though: I've landed my first client on day four.
On beefing up the network
The idea: start with a strong inner core of members and work the way up from there. So that's what I have done. I've approached 7 really talented folks who also happen to be my friends to help Mecenato in critical areas like design, new media, content, business. However, they are all either fully employed or pretty busy creating their own initiatives so I need now to find ways to automate the search for talented creatives. oDesk and Elance will play a role when it comes to very specific functions and project requirements, but for broader open-ended thinking I will still trust referrals. If I can automate that, I will.
Would love to hear your comments, if there's any.