How To Build A Successful Startup – With Edward Aten

Are you interested in getting involved in the startup movement and creating your own company?
Ed started in the advertising world and built an online social network for music.  He is the co-founder of Merchbar, a commerce marketplace dedicated to connecting die hard music fans with merchandise.  Ed has also worked with juggernaut companies like RedBull, been featured on Gigaom, TechCrunch along with countless others.
Ed is one of the hardest working hustlers in the tech scene and knows firsthand how easy it is to get obsessed with work and lose relationships, personal health, and even a job.
In this post, we will breakdown some of the key fundamentals to creating a startup, the power of apps with any business, partnerships, and strategies for building a team.
Ed will be among one of the many startup success stories and resources you can meet in person at our upcoming Bluecloud Summit live event.
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Building A Successful and Fun Business

After college, Ed took a trip with his dad to visit Stanford, San Francisco, and tech giants like Apple and Google that have settled in the Bay area.  He immediately fell in love with the energy and the history of the tech scene in SF and began creating his own business.
Like Ed, many of us have hundreds of ideas and our hands full with too many projects.  How do we know which projects have the most potential and will be the most fun to work on?
Below are the 6 steps to growing a successful and fun business:

  1. Build something simple to show people
  2. Get their feedback
  3. Use the feedback to get a better understanding of what’s going on in the market
  4. Get to a place where you have proof it will work
  5. Create a business structure
  6. Set specific goals

Finally, ask yourself:
“If this grows, will I like it?”
Problems can grow as fast as revenue.  If the problems you face in your business multiply by 10X, would you still be fired up about the work you’re doing?  The problems your business will face have to be worth it for you to grow your business.

The Power of Apps in a Business

“I think about desktop as an afterthought.  We purposely write everything not as click through rate, but as tap through rate.”

Ed put his cards all-in mobile and it paid off.  The Marchbar app was launched on the front page of the App Store and has been featured over 40 times.
The results:

  1. More exposure – By creating an app, Merchbar was able to get exposure through a whole new marketplace.  85% of Merchbar’s visitors come from mobile.
  2. Powerful features – The tools that are provided with apps are also powerful.  As a commerce app, Apple Pay has increased conversions for Mobilebar by 2X.
  3. Better user experience – Mobile apps often provide a more intuitive and higher quality experience than other platforms like desktop.

Partnering with 100 Million Users

Connecting with partners and influencers brings in greater outreach and more revenue.
To get Merchbar in the hands of the most users possible, Ed partnered with Spotify and their 100 million users.
By connecting with Spotify, Merchbar is able to reach more consumers, learn more about the consumer demand and have a clear channel to listen to the consumer behavior.
On the supplier side, more companies are reaching out to be listed on Spotify and Merchbar.  A clear win for both parties.

Building a Team

“Teach yourself to get out of the loop when you’re used to being in the loop on everything.”

As a CEO or founder of a company, it’s hard to remove yourself from certain sectors of a business when you’re used to having your hands in everything.
From the beginning, look for people and build a team that you don’t have to worry about and check-in on.
The 3 core jobs of a CEO:

  • Deploy capital
  • Set direction
  • Communicate vision

As a team of 1, you have to do everything in the company including the above.  As you begin to grow, you need to do less individual tasks and leverage more of the team.
Know what you don’t know.  It’s also imperative to challenge the people on your team about the things they don’t know.  The level of uncertainty people have about the unknown limits their power and ability.  This effects your business and their personal growth.  There are so many tools, practices, meditations, incantations that we don’t utilize enough to better ourselves.
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Click the link above to listen to the Bluecloud Podcast and learn more about Ed’s story and Merchbar.

In this 60 minute session, you’ll hear:

  • What brought Ed to San Francisco
  • Building a successful and fun business
  • The 6 steps to grow a successful and fun business
  • The power of apps in business
  • Building a team
  • The 3 core jobs of a CEO

Resources mentioned:

  • Merchbar – the best place to buy merch and vinyl
  • Apple Pay – a mobile payment and digital wallet service
  • Spotify – music app


Download this podcast episode on iTunes

Please Share this Post!

Please share this post with someone who you think would be inspired by this story! And don’t forget to download the Merchbar app available in the App Store now.
To learn more about Merchbar, visit or contact Ed on Twtter at @aten and Facebook/edwardaten
If you want to get started with apps (or at least learn about the business), download our free app “Cheat Sheet” here.
Catch you guys later,

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