The key is to build models that support your idea and then operationalize all of the key components.
David Hickson is co-founder and CEO of fullcube, a platform integrating and automating subscription-based businesses. He brings more than 25 years of affinity and enthusiast marketing experience to fullcube.
Hickson’s clients have included Major League Baseball, Anheuser-Busch, The National Football League, The PGA of America, the National Hockey League, Motor Trend Magazine, Warner Bros. and Petersen Publishing. He has built and operated affinity programs for NASCAR, The NFL Alumni, The NBA Charlotte Bobcats, The University of Cincinnati (athletics) and The American Outdoorsmen Group.
Prior to co-founding Fullcube, Hickson was president and CEO of Stoneacre developing technologies and methodologies to help fans, brands, and sponsors unlock the value of their passion-based relationships.
In addition, he was also a founding member and executive vice president of Web-based affinity e-mail provider Chek.com, responsible for growing the company to be world’s leading outsourced affinity e-mail platform with more than 10 million users. Chek.com raised more than $26 million in venture capital and eventually acquired San Francisco-based My Personal.com and formed Synacor, Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNC).
Hickson holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University at Buffalo.
Where did the idea for fullcube come from?
While operating the NASCAR premium subscription program for more than a decade, we recognized a void in the technology world to provide programs like ours a “turn-key” subscription management platform that integrated the best of breed SaaS tools, campaign management tools, content management systems, customer service platforms, data warehouses and business intelligence platforms. This meant that as an operator we had to utilize multiple platforms and manage multiple relationships. Additionally, our data was stuck in multiple silos and platforms which inhibited our ability to use data in a real-time environment to control our CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) and maximize our revenue. We realized that there was an opportunity to be a “first mover” in this space by creating an integration-first platform to optimize and automate the operations of your entire subscription ecosystem.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Today, I am primarily focused on growing our business. I actively manage our sales pipeline and work with our Operations and IT teams to ensure that we can support the onboarding of new clients and meet their customization and integration needs. Additionally, I will manage our investor relations and work with our team to ensure that we are performing against our model (forecast and budget).
How do you bring ideas to life?
We breathe life into ideas by first understanding how an idea can manifest into a viable market opportunity. The key is to build models that support your idea and then operationalize all of the key components. We do this by recruiting great teammates, sharing our vision and detailing the pathway to achieving it. Once we all buy into the pathway and the key performance indicators (KPIs) of our model, then we simply manage and measure to these KPIs every day! We build momentum and morale every day as we achieve our KPIs and march down the pathway of our vision… then our vision becomes reality.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Subscription! We are all excited to be part of this massive wave of consumer acceptance of the subscription model and we believe that every enthusiast brand needs to build a subscription ecosystem. In particular, publishers, media, entertainment and sports companies, and membership organizations, who are all beginning to realize that they can’t just dump valuable content into social media (that builds someone else’s business). They need to drive their consumers out of social media and into a direct relationship so they can monetize the great content they create every day.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Optimistically building product and revenue streams every day!
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Fundraising. The system is rigged against entrepreneurs and I’ve learned to focus on your model and team with angel investors to deliver a proof of concept. Keep it simple: build your product, acquire your early customers, deliver revenue in a predictable way against your forecast and operate within your budget. Then, you can control the fundraising process (if you still need it).
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
18 months ago we hit the re-start button and the first “big” decision we made was to operate without an office. “Going virtual”
was new to me and after a brief adjustment period, I now completely believe in this approach. It has some challenges, however, the benefits far outweigh them.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Constantly analyze the benefit that your product provides your customer and the value it has to them. This will help you develop the best possible product and sell it at the appropriate price.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
First of all, starting a business is much easier than growing it. The key to growth is understanding the timing of your revenue and expenses. If you properly model this, then you will understand the working capital requirements to achieve your growth. If at all possible, work to have your clients subsidize your working capital through creative agreements.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Unfortunately and fortunately, there have been many more failures than I would like to admit; however, these failures have provided the greatest lessons. As an athlete, I realized quickly that if you study your losses, you can quickly correct your mistakes and win more frequently. The same holds true for entrepreneurs. In a past venture, I lost control of our board of directors and allowed outsiders to control the strategy of our company. So moving forward, I focus much more on governance today than I have in the past.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
This one’s easy, and it was only $50 – membership into the Dave Matthews Warehouse Club. I love going to DMB concerts and now I’ll sit up front!
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
We use plenty of SaaS tools and my favorite is PipeDrive. It’s a simple, yet, powerful tool for managing your sales pipeline.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I have two favorites: ”Good to Great” by Jim Collins and “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Patrick D, Brady,
Malcolm Gladwell- Author
e-mail: [email protected]
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.