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Do Like Indie Shuffle And Content Curate

Indie Shuffle’s success comes down to curating — not creating — great content, keeping costs low and fans happy.

Monique Verduyn

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Indie-Shuffle-Founder

Vital stats

  • Player: Jason Grishkoff
  • Company: Indie Shuffle
  • Past position: Cut his teeth at Google in Palo Alto
  • Established: 2009
  • Visit: indieshuffle.com

Remember this

Technology gives everyone a voice. But having a voice doesn’t guarantee an audience. In fact, with so much noise, finding an audience is harder than ever. Success often lies in becoming a trusted content curator — a reliable source of high-quality information.

Algorithms are not the key to world domination. Jason Grishkoff knows that. The founder of music blog Indie Shuffle differentiated the platform in a crowded sector by focusing on content curation done by real people who love music.

He’s proved that even in a market dominated by big players, niche providers can thrive by being exceptional and responding to the needs and tastes of their users.

‘We believe humans are better than robots,’ goes its tagline. Since its launch in 2009, Indie Shuffle has streamed more than 500 million minutes of music, the app is approaching one million downloads on iPhone and Android, and the platform has users in all but five countries worldwide. More than six million songs are streamed every month.

Related: How Fashion Start-Up ToVch Built A Brand Presence With Only A Little Budget

Careful curation

The secret to the success of Indie Shuffle is to be found in the team of 50 international contributors — or tastemakers — who alert users to new music and playlists across a range of genres, including indie rock, hip hop, electronic, and everything in between. “We have differentiated ourselves by how well we help listeners sift through a seemingly endless choice,” says Grishkoff.

Born and raised in Cape Town, Grishkoff, whose first love is coding, started the blog as a hobby and a way to keep in touch with friends when he studied and then worked in the US. When, between 2011 and 2013, there was a sudden proliferation of music blogs, Indie Shuffle’s focus on a niche market — music lovers whose tastes lie beyond the Top 40 — gave it the edge.

The idea is to offer curated playlists to get people to listen to new music and artists, with lots of information about each. Becoming known as the go-to source for indie music has positioned Indie Shuffle as a thought leader, which is one of the key benefits of good curation.

Lesson: In his book Tribes, Seth Godin describes a tribe in the following way: “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: A shared interest and a way to communicate.”

The Internet has reignited the age-old concept of the tribe, and has made it possible for tribe members to be spread out all across the globe. And going hand in hand with the proliferation of these online tribes is the concept of content curation.

With so much noise out there, tribes are always on the lookout for carefully curated content. Regardless of your market, you should aim to position yourself as the custodian of content.

Related: Magna Carta’s Digital Strategy Is One To Watch

Indie-Shuffle-CEO

Remaining competitive

In the US, on-demand streaming by listeners was up 92% through the first half of 2015, with more than 135 billion streams, according to Nielsen Music. In a hugely crowded marketplace, and with the likes of Apple Music and Spotify dominating, to say nothing of YouTube’s music video boom, the combination of careful curation and good technology continues to set Indie Shuffle apart. It also helps that the platform’s target market is hardly mainstream.

“Our competitors in the music sector, most of them with vast music libraries, started shrinking when the new players entered the market, but our superior music collection and sophisticated technology enabled us to grow,” says Grishkoff.

“We developed the ability to allow users to hit play and listen to hours of music before many other music blogs did it, and that was a major differentiator.”

Lesson: Smaller operations can remain competitive even when behemoths invade their market. Despite the presence of Apple Music, Indie Shuffle has remained relevant by offering niche content that’s carefully curated, and by staying at the forefront of technology. It might depend on tastemakers rather than algorithms for curation, but it fully realises the importance of technological innovation.

Ready, set, scale

It helps that Grishkoff is so proficient in the technology behind the platform. He has the ability to quickly make changes and upgrades, so whether he is rolling out new features or improving existing functionality, rapid development allows Indie Shuffle to move quickly, to the benefit of its users.

“The beauty of something like this is that once the platform is running it does not require much attention,” he adds. “Most of my time is focused on simplifying and removing any complexity.”

Behind all these impressive figures are just four full-time staff members, each situated in different parts of the world. Grishkoff, who runs the business side of things, is in Cape Town; two editors in San Francisco and Sydney; and a developer in Calgary.

Lesson: In order for a start-up to become a successful business, its idea needs to be scalable. An influx of business should not result in unmanageable complexity. Indie Shuffle is an excellent example of a service that operates unchanged, almost regardless of user numbers.

Related: Solo Artist And Entrepreneur K.O On Embracing Limitations

Social media rule of thirds graph

Content curation is an excellent way to keep your marketing team small, while still having a strong impact on your customers and target audiences via various social media and digital channels.

The power of content curation

Sharing outsider content by other businesses and thought leaders shows your audience that you know your industry well, that you’re part of a larger community, and that you’re aware of your competition. More importantly, it shows that you’re collaborative and confident enough in your own brand to share another’s content.

Using content curation

Effective content is meaningful, attractive, social media friendly, and on-message with your brand. Keep these elements top of mind when selecting the content you want to share. Once selected, interpret what each piece of content is saying, analyse it according to your brand message, and then present it in an impactful way.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

Lessons Learnt

(Podcast) ‘Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern: ‘I’m Addicted To The Hustle’

How this week’s ‘How Success Happens’ guest overcame personal struggles and built an empire.

Dan Bova

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andrew-zimmern

I didn’t know what to expect when we scheduled an interview over breakfast with today’s guest Andrew Zimmern. As you may know, the chef, writer, restaurateur and TV personality made a name for himself traveling the world and eating some, well, bizarre foods on his hit travel/food show, Bizarre Foods.

Turns out our breakfast was pretty normal – we didn’t dig into a fresh plate of scrambled brains or anything – but the conversation was anything but typical.

Over the past couple of years, Zimmern has built a true empire around his name with books, TV shows, restaurants (including his new Twin Cities joint Lucky Cricket), and a production company, but as he very candidly told me, the road to success has not been easy. He has gone through a lot of personal pain on his journey, and he says it is a daily endeavour to keep himself moving on the right track.

As Zimmern explained, over the course of his life, he’s had problems with substance abuse, depression – even homelessness – and he was very open about sharing the lessons he’s learned along the way about coping and finding redemption. We also spoke about his dear friend, Anthony Bourdain, and about the struggles of feeling overwhelmed that most of us face.

Related: Gareth Cliff Shares His Tips For Starting Your Very Own Podcast

But don’t get me wrong, he’s really funny, too! There’s nothing “normal” about Andrew Zimmern. Hope you’ll enjoy our conversation, thanks for listening.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Lessons Learnt

How BrightRock Is Disrupting The Insurance Industry With These 2 Pivotal Strategies

Developments in technology, and clear communication are positioning BrightRock to disrupt their industry and transform the consumer experience.

Monique Verduyn

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brightrock

Vital Stats

  • Players: Sean Hanlon, Leopold Malan, Schalk Malan, Suzanne Stevens
  • Company: BrightRock
  • Est: 2011
  • Visit: www.brightrock.co.za

BrightRock was started around a dining room table in 2011 by four people with years of industry experience and — importantly — a diverse set of complementary skills.  They wanted to make changes to an industry with an age-old methodology by allowing customers to co-create a solution that precisely meets their individual needs, and adjusts as those needs change. Today, BrightRock is the fastest-growing insurer in the intermediated individual life risk market. It also provides underwriting management services to funeral parlour businesses and, more recently, has entered the group risk insurance market, offering its needs-matched approach to employees.

The founders of BrightRock, established in 2011, knew the life insurance industry all too well, and they found its methodology wanting. “Traditional life insurance lumps all the individual’s needs into one policy,” says CEO Schalk Malan.

“It’s a methodology that has been around for centuries. We started afresh and looked at how we could design life insurance based on individual requirements. Our cover is designed to exactly match each specific financial need. Because there is no waste, it’s more cost efficient and sustainable. And if circumstances change and our customer needs more cover, it’s easy to get it because needs-matched design enables the policy to change in line with changing needs.”

1. Embracing digital technology to provide needs-matched insurance

Suzanne Stevens, marketing executive director at BrightRock, points out that this type of innovation achieves efficiency (cost savings) and effectiveness (higher returns). “By harnessing digital technology, we have made our operations more efficient, and aggressively lowered costs by up to 30% for our customers. Every rand they spend with us works harder for them. That’s the benefit of a solution designed around the customer.”

BrightRock’s founders took a similar approach. ‘We ditched legacy thinking in favour of creating a product that is intuitive and easy to navigate. An enormous amount of time and effort went into writing and designing that system, and creating the optimal customer journey.”

Related: How BrightRock Is Rocking The (Industry) Boat In Only 5 Years Since Launch

Unlike clunky legacy systems, BrightRock’s platform is modularised, and was built according to the agile principle of rapid delivery cycles. The result is a technology stack with longevity, that is also flexible enough to be tweaked when needed.

“The advantage of the technology available today is that you can plug things in and pull them out as required,” says Suzanne. “That’s one of the enablers of a truly disruptive mindset. To step away from accepted norms and find new solutions requires curiosity and creativity, as well as a lot of courage to go up against large incumbents in the market. There is always resistance to new technology, although we are fortunate in this country to have one of the most innovative insurance sectors in the world.”

2. Effective communication is critical

These disruptors have set themselves above the rest through one surprisingly simple tactic —  effective communication. They agree that it simply doesn’t matter how world-changing your product or service is if you don’t communicate it to the right audience at the right time. New companies that fail to communicate their remarkable new development will quickly be pushed aside by other disruptors. Without a clear communication strategy that reaches the audience in the industry you’re trying to disrupt, you’ll set yourself up for failure. A key question to ask when you are developing your communication strategy is simply whether people understand what you do.

“Because the premise for our product was fundamentally different from anything on the market, communication and clear messaging were critical to convincing our clients to put their trust in us,” says Schalk.

“It was especially important to educate insurance advisors so they would understand what we were doing, why we were doing it, and how it was better than the other options available. That was key to disrupting the individual life market.”

Currently, BrightRock employs 380 staff, has experienced 40% year-on-year growth, and has an annualised premium income of more than R1,3 billion. The company has recently entered the group risk environment with a similar offering that addresses many of the same shortcomings of traditional group risk products. “The inefficiencies of the structuring of group products has meant that, to remain competitive, insurers have cut the benefits offered to employees, undermining their sense of financial security. Change is needed, and we believe our needs-matched philosophy positions us to change the group risk market too.”

‘We ditched legacy thinking in favour of creating a product that is intuitive and easy to navigate. An enormous amount of time and effort went into writing and designing that system, and creating the optimal customer journey.”

Unlike clunky legacy systems, the BrightRock’s platform is modularised, and was built according to the agile principle of rapid delivery cycles. The result is a technology stack with longevity, that is also flexible enough to be tweaked when needed.

Related: BrightRock’s 5 Entrepreneurial Tips For Start-ups

This iterative, modular approach typically begins with defining the strategy and programme plan upfront, delivering a core capability fast so it can provide benefits immediately, and then continuously improving with regular, incremental capability improvements to achieve the objectives of the strategy. It’s an approach that fosters closer collaboration between stakeholders, improved transparency, earlier delivery, greater allowance for change and more focus on the business outcomes.

“The advantage of the technology available today is that you can plug things in and pull them out as required,” says Suzanne. “That’s one of the enablers of a truly disruptive mindset. To step away from accepted norms and find new solutions requires curiosity and creativity, as well as a lot of courage to go up against large incumbents in the market. There is always resistance to new technology, although we are fortunate in this country to have one of the most innovative insurance sectors in the world.”

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Lessons Learnt

The 9 Obsessions You Need To Have To Become A Self-Made Millionaire

Here’s how to stay focused on your millionaire goals.

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elon-musk

The ones who succeed weren’t handed a golden ticket; it wasn’t chance that helped them cultivate their fortune. To reach millionaire status, you must be driven to reach your dreams. You must be obsessed in order to be successful.

These are the nine obsessions that give every self-made millionaire an edge in creating success and wealth.

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