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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Insights on Evolving Your Startup

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Andy Sack – the CEO of Judy’s Book – has started writing about his experience of evolving Judy’s Book.  One of the really “exciting” (substitute your favorite word here for this euphemism, including “challenging”, “stressful”, “painful”, “complicated”, etc.) things about being an entrepreneur (or an early stage investor) is the continuous reassessment of what you are building.  Andy’s writing as he’s living it, which is very cool.

About six months ago, we had a board conversation where two things were clear: (1) Judy’s Book understood how to continue to grow using the “local only” strategy they were using and (2) the cost of doing this didn’t translate into a compelling business (e.g. we could buy content and traffic (measurement: a “unit”), but the marginal value of each incremental unit purchased was not positive in the long run.)  Overall, while Judy’s Book was making steady progress, it was unclear that the long term economics of what we’ve been calling “local only” worked.

So – Andy and team started a deliberate process to figure out where to evolve Judy’s Book.  Fortunately, they have spent very little of the capital they raised so they have plenty of time and flexibility.  You can get a sense of where it’s going at the Judy’s Book Deals site, although what you see is only about 20% of what will be rolled out by the end of the year.  For example, Expert Advice rolled out this week and the monetization underpinning should be shortly.  Of course, if you like toolbars, you can always grab the new Judy’s Book Dealbar (Firefox or IE).

Look for more from Andy as he walks through his team’s thinking, what they did, why they did it, and where it’s going as they build on “local only” and move beyond it to something we think is much more exciting in the long run.

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