josh payne stackcommerce

- a good excuse to tell people why what I was working on failed) whether it was school, a corporate gig, or another job that provided my source of income or security.

But…regardless, you need to line up some “heavy-hitters” to back you up on the day of your launch.

Design is how it works.”. This consists of not just editorials and embeddable widgets with a slick checkout experience, but a complete immersion of the consumer journey from product discovery to purchase, fulfillment, and beyond to the next product. It’s probably not a smart one in the long run, but if you want to live with high bouts of anxiety, tension, and stress in pursuit of your ultimate satisfaction — that’s your right. The company helps publishers monetize their sites by selling products that are relevant to those sites’ readers.

The pic above is a photo used in one the articles covering the launch of my current startup. Say hello to the “new” kid on the block.

Josh Payne :: Founder & CEO StackCommerce. Grew the team to 60+ people while remaining profitable (on just $800k of capital raised in 2012), Grew our publisher network to over 750 publishers and our user community to over 3.5 million registered members. Sounds pretty straightforward, but the real challenge is that your entire existence as a founder is unbalanced. This time five years ago, I founded StackSocial, what is now StackCommerce. I don’t care if you are Elon Musk or Marissa Mayer or Mark Zuckerberg … you feel pain… you have low days, low weeks, and, yes, even low months. X.

(Now, I can finally say that has officially changed.). Raising a Seed round gave us access to new potential partners, press, hires, and social capital that we needed to grow the business and it was well worth the dilution. This is a cool site with great home design tips from DIY tips to personal home tours. The deals aren't ostentatious and actually seem to be made up of stuff one would actually buy. I’ve had some major setbacks in my life and as painful as they were — they have been a great asset to me.

My whole theory of becoming a “true” entrepreneur is just to “get myself into the game”. StackCommerce powers commerce for over 750 publishers across the web, reaching more than 1 billion people each month through its network.

If you’re wondering how to spruce up your digs, look no further. That is IT.

Instead of letting that fear motivate me into going full-time into my entrepreneurial endeavors, it paralyzed me to stay in a corporate gig I hated.

Now you’re on the path to launching…and you want to come out guns blazing. UTILIZE THEM! I had actually built and coded a fairly successful ecommerce startup during my senior year of college and ran it for a couple years afterwards, but it couldn’t generate enough revenues because I refused to go full-time, I didn’t have a technical co-founder to add the functionality necessary to differentiate it from competition, and I refused to quit my job because of the above reason. Josh earned his MBA from Duke and his bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Indiana University. Putting that standard on yourself is your right. It will bring you to your knees. Rue Magazine ( - Design Inspiration.

If fear and security are your issues, systematically attack them. We built an e-commerce startup, so we reached out to niche bloggers (not TC et al) and offered them a handful of promo products to give to their customers as a giveaway.

Think of that….

Make goals and promise yourself that you will take certain actions after certain milestones are hit.

We work with brands to help them tell their story through online publishers including Engadget, Business Insider, Gizmodo,, The Chive, Lifehacker, Macworld, IGN, HuffPo, CNET, and 750+ others.

Paul Graham has laid this argument out much better than I ever could, but basically it comes down to the fact that it allows you give up so much easier than if you don’t have a backstop. Again, its all about building relationships.

All four of these reasons tie into one another in some way…but this one is probably the biggest issue for me.

Period. Josh Payne :: Founder & CEO StackCommerce, began my entrepreneurial career delivering the, lived in 8 cities in 10 years in my twenties. I have no doubt in my mind about that.

You’d be surprised how many will say yes…people have big hearts in the startup world and they know what goes around comes around. It helped so much that the therapist knew nothing about tech, because at the end of the day, my problems weren’t about tech, they were about emotions and feelings. Still in beta, but this is one to keep an eye on.

You may have some investors. Don’t lose that spirit as you grow.

In those early days, I saw a therapist and it was the best thing I could have ever done.

So, I made a list and surprisingly, I could only come up with a couple reasons.

Maybe that’s heresy in the startup world, but I’m a bit cynical after seeing too many startups grow quickly and fade even faster.

Each year for the past four years, I’ve shared a few lessons (Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, Year 4) for other founders who are on the same arduous path.

Fear of letting go of secure job and income. Every startup has a different track. Obviously, you will have your blog up. Although, Rue is only on its fourth issue, the founders of this design inspiration machine have built quite the following even before starting the magazine. We’re not a completely “bootstrapped” startup, yet we also haven’t raised large rounds of institutional capital. It can really alienate people in a way that you may not foresee.

Being a founder means making sacrifices that you a) don’t want to make (i.e. It’s unfortunate that so many people assume, as Isaacson did, that design is fluff (or veneer as Jobs puts it). My suggestion…start creating your PR list about 10 days in advance and start emailing folks about 5-7 days before your launch. The highs are higher than you can imagine and the lows are pretty low. (WTF…I know, right?!) There is like this invisible Chinese wall between communities of business guys and engineers. And when I have a business question….they are who I turn to. What I’ve learned here is that if you truly want to become an entrepreneur…you need to a) geek out w/ some engineers, devs, etc b) contribute to the community and not just troll and c) do it consistently. Growing up in a lower-middle class family, we always had enough, but I knew I wanted more.

I’ve probably learned more about what my team thinks about the leadership of our company in those few moments then all my 1:1’s combined. We’ve found that this can surface incredibly insightful feedback that helps the individual to understand how their actions are helping or hurting, not only those that they report to, but everyone in the org.

Last year, I co-founded a start-up aptly named To wrap things up, here are a few #humblebrags on my team and some accomplishments over the past year: But, beyond all of that, the biggest highlight over the past five years is that we’ve not only created a successful company, but also a culture, a family, and movement.

I always had some backstop (i.e. Exactly one year ago today, StackSocial was born unto the interwebs. User Interface design and User Experience design should be so intertwined that you never consider one without the other. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Expectations grow, pressure grows, but no matter what win, lose, or draw- don’t stop having fun.

It’s been humbling, it’s been exhilarating, and I’ve grown in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. A cold email is not all that cold if the blogger has had quick convos with you on twitter or in the comments sections of their articles.
Now I know most of you are probably saying to yourselves: “no shit sherlock”…but hey, when you’re busy these things can creep up on ya! But, often times, the issues I have as a founder can’t be resolved in an excel spreadsheet. And by “heavy-hitters”…I don’t mean Darryl Isaacs…I mean, anyone in the tech industry that has connections to VC’s, startup CEO’s, bloggers, etc…and has some serious klout.

Not becoming part of/participating in an entrepreneurial community.

Here are a few of my favorite design-oriented destinations…not so much Internet design, but more fashion/home design: Pinterest ( - UGC Design.
Design Is How It Works. Lack of personal network of technical people, 2. That’s 80% of the battle right there. Like many entrepreneurs, growing up in my 20’s I revered Steve Jobs. If all else fails and you missed steps #1-4 above, then do what I did…give something away.

This year I’m back with 4 more takeaways from the past 12 months … perhaps the most important ones thus far.

Where to GO on the web?

There’s something magical that happens when you get everyone out of the office. 360 Degree Reviews — Everyone in our org gets anonymous 360 degree reviews from peers, their direct reports, and the layer above them.

Build your own Momentum. Management OKR Process — Quarterly Objectives and Key Results help align the entire organization behind the top metrics and KPIs. Hooks that I didn’t believe were a worthwhile trade-off. Finding an acceptable balance in the pursuit of greatness and empathy with yourself and your team will help you endure because, frankly, you are nowhere near as good as Steve Jobs, so stop trying to mimic something you are not.

Take the biggest risk acceptable to you. People relax…they let their hair down a bit and they get honest. They are matters of the soul. Those two facts make for a very unique creature in the startup world, but it’s a path that I would personally recommend.

Get some heavy hitters in your corner.

View Josh Payne's profile on AngelList, the startup and tech network - Entrepreneur - Santa Monica - Founder & CEO of StackCommerce.

That’s really the only currency you have to offer as an unknown startup…that is unless you already have a serious track-record.

But, with people, that’s not always the case. For some unknown reason, I totally underestimated how busy bloggers and press folks actually are…do not make this mistake. Now, for the most part, this entire article series is aimed at very early entrepreneurs that are just getting started…so I’m assuming you’re not well-connected in Silicon Valley yet. Los Angeles County, CA. Men’s Lifestyle, 3.

I sat there in that chair actually feeling sorry for Jason - thinking it’s sad that he believes that he can only do two of the five. That investment has paid for itself and then some. Not becoming part of/participating in an entrepreneurial community. Which brings me to today’s topic.

And, although I had many characteristics of one, I never rose to what I consider to be the true definition of one. If you are a Silicon Valley insider with social media connections to your buds like Adam Ostrow @ mashable or MG @ TechCrunch…well, then this post probably isn’t for you. Because as many solo founders will tell you – it sucks.

“Design” is so core to what Apple is and why it’s so successful that I’m glad Gruber corrects this distinction. With a style all its own, look to Rue for all things chic. Its all about “the scoop” with bloggers and the press.


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