20VC 10 Lessons on Scaling 20VC to 100M+ Downloads How To Build an Audience and a NextGeneration Media Company



In this episode of 20 VC, Harry Stebbings shares his top lessons from scaling the media business to 100 million downloads. He emphasizes the importance of persistence, starting with action, and selecting the right platform that aligns with one's passion. Harry advises on setting a sustainable content release cadence, being specific with content topics, and leveraging multichannel content repurposing. He highlights the significance of building a community of champions through personalized experiences and strategically baiting distribution into content creation. Furthermore, Harry underscores the necessity of understanding sharing incentives, making guests feel safe, and tailoring distribution strategies to optimize channel engagement. Additionally, he mentions partnerships with Terminal and Legi for scaling startups and Roman Focus for personal productivity. Harry invites feedback on the episode's insights into content creation, media strategy, and venture fund building.

Summary Notes

Tech Brands as Media Brands

  • Every tech brand will evolve into a media brand to convey their message.
  • Harry Stebbings discusses the transformation of 20 VC into a media entity.
  • Acquisition of Good Future Media to enhance TikTok and YouTube presence.
  • Emphasis on the importance of having a voice in the tech industry.

Every tech brand in the future becomes a media brand because we have something to say.

This quote highlights the inevitability of tech brands needing to become media brands to share their unique perspectives and insights, signifying a shift in how companies communicate with their audience.

Building a Media Business to 100 Million Downloads

  • Harry Stebbings shares lessons from scaling 20 VC to 100 million downloads.
  • The episode is designed to help those building content, brands, or media strategies.
  • Stebbings offers detailed and specific insights from eight years of media company experience.

There are so many lessons on building a media business to 100 million downloads.

Harry Stebbings reflects on the significant milestone of 20 VC reaching 100 million downloads and is set to share the lessons he learned throughout the journey of building a successful media business.

The Role of Terminal in Scaling Startups

  • Terminal assists startups in scaling by connecting them to global engineering talent.
  • They provide an end-to-end platform for hiring, including HR and legal support.
  • Terminal has successfully placed over a thousand engineers for various high-growth companies.

Terminal helps fast-growing tech companies rapidly scale engineering teams by providing access to global talent.

This quote explains Terminal's mission to aid tech companies in expanding their engineering teams by tapping into a worldwide pool of skilled developers, highlighting the importance of global recruitment strategies for startup growth.

Legi's Equity Management for Startups

  • Legi offers next-generation equity management for scaling teams.
  • Understanding equity is crucial for employee motivation and investor relations.
  • Legi provides clear dashboards and scenario modeling for better equity comprehension.

Never before has it been more important for your team to know the value of their equity.

The quote underscores the contemporary need for teams to comprehend the worth of their equity, emphasizing Legi's role in making equity management more accessible and understandable for startups.

Roman Focus for Personal Investment

  • Roman Focus is a nootropic supplement designed to enhance focus and cognitive function.
  • The supplement is formulated by doctors and contains ingredients like caffeine and l-theanine.
  • Harry Stebbings endorses the product for its efficiency and ease of use.

Unlock your potential with roman focus, a nootropic dietary supplement that supports calm energy, mental acuity and concentration.

Harry Stebbings promotes Roman Focus as a tool for personal development, suggesting that investing in one's cognitive capabilities can lead to significant improvements in focus and productivity.

Ground Rules for the Show

  • Harry Stebbings sets expectations for the show's authenticity.
  • The episode will include natural, unedited content, including swearing.
  • The format will be a list of ten lessons, with potential additional bonus insights.

Okay, so to start off with some ground rules, there are going to be some swearing, there's going to be some unedited elements.

This quote by Harry Stebbings establishes the candid and unfiltered nature of the episode, preparing listeners for a genuine and raw discussion of the lessons learned while scaling 20 VC.

Persistence as a Key to Success

  • Persistence is emphasized as a critical factor in the longevity of a business.
  • Harry Stebbings recalls advice from Jason Calicanis on the importance of survival in the industry.
  • The lesson implies that resilience is necessary for the success of a venture.

Harry, my advice to you, this is a game of who can survive the longest.

Harry Stebbings shares a pivotal piece of advice from Jason Calicanis, which stresses the importance of persistence in the competitive landscape of media and tech, highlighting it as a fundamental component of enduring success.

Lesson One: Persistence in Content Creation

  • Content creation is a long-term commitment, requiring patience before seeing significant results.
  • Many content creators give up prematurely due to unrealistic expectations of quick success.
  • Harry Stebbings shares his personal experience with his podcast, 20 VC, highlighting the slow initial growth and lack of immediate financial return.
  • The key to success is endurance and passion for the content being created.

"The most common reason that people stop is because they expect wins too early. Fun fact, we went 300 episodes with 20 VC before we got to 5000 plays per show. 18 months, 300 episodes. I also did not make a single dollar in that time, but I did not stop because I loved it."

This quote emphasizes the importance of perseverance in content creation and the common pitfall of expecting rapid success. Harry's personal anecdote serves as a testament to the commitment required to eventually succeed.

Lesson Two: Just Start

  • Taking the first step is crucial in content creation; many fail because they never begin.
  • The initial version of content will not be perfect, and it should naturally evolve and improve over time.
  • Engaging with the audience by seeking feedback and acknowledging the growth process can be beneficial.
  • Fear of imperfection should not prevent starting the content creation journey.

"Just start. The biggest reason people fail with content is because they do not take the first step."

This quote captures the essence of the lesson, which is the significance of overcoming hesitation and initiating the content creation process.

Lesson Three: Platform Selection

  • Choosing the right platform is a strategic decision based on personal affinity and the platform's longevity.
  • Content creators should select platforms they are passionate about and are likely to endure over time.
  • Avoiding platforms that may decline is essential to maintain audience engagement.
  • Harry discusses his choices and experiences with various platforms, advising on the selection of stable and potentially growing platforms.

"Choose what is natural to you and what you love doing in the tough times. If you do not love it, you will stop."

This quote highlights the importance of selecting a content platform that aligns with the creator's interests and strengths, ensuring they remain motivated even during challenging periods.

Lesson Four: Content Cadence

  • Setting a sustainable release schedule is key to maintaining content production.
  • Starting with a manageable cadence allows for the possibility of increasing frequency over time.
  • Consistency helps form consumer habits, making it important to communicate when new content will be available.
  • Harry shares his experience with scaling the episode release schedule for 20 VC.

"Set an achievable cadence that you know and believe you will be able to stick to."

This quote advises content creators to establish a realistic and maintainable content release schedule to ensure long-term consistency.

Lesson Five: Targeted Content Topics

  • Narrowing the focus of content topics is critical for attracting a dedicated audience.
  • Specificity helps in standing out in a crowded content landscape.
  • Harry provides examples of how 20 VC started with a narrow focus and gradually expanded its content offerings.
  • Finding a unique angle or niche can lead to a more engaged and loyal audience.

"You have to be specific. I tweeted recently I would love to see a podcast series on how the best companies acquired their 1st 100 users."

This quote illustrates the concept of specificity in content topics, suggesting that a focused approach is more effective than covering broad subjects.

Lesson Six: Multichannel Content Strategy

  • Content should be designed to be repurposed across multiple channels.
  • Diversifying content across platforms can increase audience acquisition and provide security against channel decline.
  • Harry advocates for a multichannel approach, using a single piece of content in various forms to maximize reach and impact.

"Always repurpose your content for different platforms."

This quote stresses the importance of a multichannel content strategy, encouraging content creators to adapt and distribute their work across various mediums for broader engagement.

Channel Diversification and Personal Touch

  • Harry Stebbings emphasizes the importance of channel diversification in content distribution.
  • He personally messaged new Twitter followers to follow different channels, demonstrating a non-scalable but effective growth strategy.
  • Personalized experiences build loyal fans and encourage them to share content, aiding in fan acquisition and product improvement.

"I believed in the importance of channel diversification so much with 20 vc until I had 50,000 followers on Twitter. I used to dm each new follower and ask them to follow a different channel." "You have to give them a personalized experience. You have to reach out to them proactively."

The quotes underline the strategy of using direct, personal communication to diversify content channels and engage with the audience, which is a key aspect of building a dedicated fanbase.

Integrating Distribution into Content Creation

  • Baking distribution into content creation is crucial for engagement and growth.
  • Harry Stebbings discusses including people in the content creation process to create a sense of ownership and encourage sharing.
  • He suggests referencing individuals in content to naturally create champions who will promote the content.

"You have to bait distribution into the creation of your content." "For every 20 vc show, we do ten references."

These quotes highlight the tactic of integrating distribution strategies into the content creation process to enhance content reach and engagement by involving others and making them feel like part of the creation.

Understanding Incentive Mechanisms for Sharing

  • Recognizing the incentive mechanisms for sharing content is vital.
  • Harry Stebbings advises sending content to individuals who are incentivized to share, such as investors, board members, the C-suite, and customers.
  • Understanding who benefits from sharing the content can expand the network of champions beyond the featured individual.

"You have to understand incentive mechanisms for sharing." "You should also send it to every investor on their cap table."

The quotes explain the importance of identifying and leveraging the incentives of various stakeholders in the content sharing process, as they are likely to help in content distribution due to their vested interests.

Tailoring Sharing Requests to Preferred Channels

  • It's important to analyze and understand the strongest channels for each content-sharing request.
  • Tailoring requests to the preferred channels of the content's guest or champions increases the likelihood of sharing.
  • Specificity in sharing requests removes friction and demonstrates a strategic approach to content distribution.

"Really analyze which channels are their strongest." "Be very specific. Analyze which channel this distribution partner or champion is preferred to share on and then request that one."

The quotes emphasize the need to customize sharing requests based on the strongest social media channels of the collaborators to maximize content reach and effectiveness.

Creation to Distribution Time Ratio

  • Harry Stebbings discusses the balance between content creation and distribution efforts.
  • He suggests that for every hour spent creating content, the same amount of time should be spent on distribution.
  • Content creators often neglect distribution, which is a critical mistake in content strategy.

"For every hour you spend creating, you should spend the same amount of time distributing."

This quote highlights the recommended ratio of time investment between content creation and distribution, suggesting that equal effort should be put into both areas to ensure content success.

Making Collaborators Feel Safe

  • The emotional experience of collaborators during content creation is paramount.
  • Harry Stebbings quotes Maya Angelou to underscore the importance of making people feel safe and valued.
  • The feeling of safety can impact the quality and authenticity of content produced.

"To Maya Angelou, it is not what you say, it is not what you do. It is how you make someone feel."

The quote encapsulates the essence of creating a comfortable environment for collaborators, which is crucial for producing genuine and engaging content.

Creating a Safe, Nonjudgmental Space for Podcast Guests

  • Harry Stebbings emphasizes the importance of making podcast guests feel safe and nonjudgmental.
  • Revealing a personal vulnerability early in the conversation is a strategy used to foster a sense of safety.
  • Guests are informed that they will have the opportunity to edit the episode before release, which increases their openness during the recording.

In the first 3 minutes of any call with a guest for 20 vc, I reveal a vulnerability of myself.

This quote explains Harry's approach to establishing a safe environment by sharing something personal, which encourages guests to be more open.

We also tell them that we will send them the episode before it's released. They'll be able to make edits.

This quote highlights the reassurance given to guests about having control over the final content, which contributes to a safer space for open conversation.

Tailoring Distribution for Optimal Engagement

  • Distribution strategies must be customized for each social media channel based on when engagement is highest.
  • Harry Stebbings shares that Twitter and Instagram have specific peak times for user engagement.

Actually, Sodit, there's one more you have to tailor your distribution on a per channel basis to the timings that are optimized for that channel.

Harry stresses the importance of adjusting content release times to align with when different social media platforms have the highest engagement levels.

Hiring and Retaining Skilled Developers

  • The challenge of hiring and retaining developers in a competitive market is discussed.
  • Terminal is introduced as a solution to help tech companies scale their engineering teams by accessing global talent.
  • Terminal handles the entire hiring process, including HR and legal aspects of international employment.

With four open positions for every one developer in the US, it's no wonder why this challenge persists.

This quote outlines the high demand for developers in the US, indicating the difficulty startups face in hiring skilled personnel.

Terminal helps fast-growing tech companies rapidly scale engineering teams by providing access to global talent.

The quote introduces Terminal as a service that connects companies with pre-vetted engineers worldwide, simplifying the scaling process for tech startups.

Equity Management for Scaling Teams

  • Legi is presented as an equity management product designed for growing teams.
  • Understanding equity and cap tables is crucial for motivating teams and having transparent conversations with investors.
  • Legi offers dashboards and scenario modeling tools for employees and investors.

Never before has it been more important for your team to know the value of their equity.

This quote emphasizes the significance of team members understanding their equity's value to feel motivated and engaged.

Legi is the next generation equity management product built for scaling teams.

The quote introduces Legi as a tool that aids startups in managing equity, which is a critical aspect of growth and team engagement.

Investing in Personal Focus and Cognitive Function

  • Harry Stebbings discusses the importance of investing in personal focus and cognitive function.
  • Roman Focus is introduced as a nootropic supplement that supports concentration and mental acuity.
  • The product is designed to provide calm energy and is efficient in its effects and logistics.

Unlock your potential with roman focus, a nootropic dietary supplement that supports calm energy, mental acuity and concentration.

Harry introduces Roman Focus as a supplement that can help enhance focus and cognitive performance, suggesting it as a means of personal investment.

Caffeine and ltheanine in roman focus work within just 30 to 60 minutes with calm energy effects you can feel from the first dose.

This quote details how Roman Focus works, including its active ingredients and the quick onset of its effects, advocating for its use for better concentration and focus.

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