Awhile ago, I discovered one of my most frequently used Twitter tools in Timely, which automagically posts your tweets for you based on their optimal times. (Quora thread on how Timely works.) Timely was a product built by the folks at Flowtown, a social media marketing company founded by Ethan Bloch and Dan Martell. I thought it would be cool to email Ethan some questions for an interview, and luckily he responded. In our discussion, I asked him about the origins of Timely, Flowtown’s recent evolution, and some of the things he’s learned as a startup founder.
How did you come up with the idea for Timely?
Our entire team was in a conference room. Our original version of Flowtown was being shutdown due to changes in Faceboook’s TOS and I told my team that “everything we had done for the past 12 months stops today…let’s talk about what we’re doing in the future.” We wrote out a few ideas on a whiteboard and Timely was something everyone on the team wanted to use themselves. We could see the benefit to any business owner. So we built it.
What inspired you to create Flowtown? What exactly is gift marketing and why should we care?
The new Flowtown was inspired by asking ourselves how a business owner turn their best customers into their best marketers? We tried a bunch of different approaches and gifting made the most sense i.e. give gifts to your customers which they can also share with their friends. It’s a win-win-win.
Read Dan Martell’s blog post on Gift Marketing
How would you describe your team at Flowtown? What motivates everyone the most?
Smart, scrappy and gets shit done. We’re motivated by building great products that people love.
What’s the story behind the name Flowtown?
I originally bought the domain in 2006. I was in college then and had this itch to start a web based Freestyle Hiphop competition site. I thought of the name one day in the shower. Hopped out, discovered it wasn’t taken, and bought it.
When Dan and I started what became ‘Flowtown’ in 2009. We spent a long time trying out names. Then one day I said “hey” I have this domain Flowtown from 2006. Dan responded “That’s it”.
Describe a typical day in your life, Twitter-style.
I’ve actually answered this before, so let me borrow. By the way MITs are Most Important Tasks.
Wake up, breakfast, email session, start tackling MITs, lunch with the team, fellow entrepreneur or mentor, MITs, dinner, MITs, write out tomorrow’s MITs before bed, read: instapaper, twitter, maybe a little netflix, bed (-81).
Additionally throughout the the day I will touch base with the team to see if anyone’s blocked and how I can help.
What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started your company?
How hard it is to recruit great people.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you have come across?
In business there are no absolutes. There’s no one way to build a great company. It’s easy to argue extremes but the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. Do what works for you.
Do you have any favorite blogs/websites that you visit daily?
Twitter and Instapaper.
What’s your current setup look like (computer, apps, gadgets)?
MacBook Pro (w/ Lion), Apple keyboard, Magic Trackpad, 22″ Monitor. I have one a Moleskin Plain Cahier and Fisher Space Pen wherever I go. I have an obsession with Apps, you can see a pretty recent list here.
Thanks again for the interview, Ethan!
Photo by SFGate