20225

Ben Parr

Author of Captivology & Partner at DominateFund. Previous Editor-at-Large of Mashable aged 24.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 23, 2015

Discussion

20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
Hi friends! I'm Ben Parr. I started out in the tech industry as a designer and content manager, but my big break was when I became Co-Editor and Editor-at-Large of Mashable at 24. I wrote 2,400+ articles on technology before launching DominateFund, my venture capital fund which has backed great companies like uBeam and Shots. This year, HarperCollins released my first book, "Captivology: The Science of Capturing People's Attention". I'm also a columnist for Inc., a growth advisor to some of the world's largest brands, and a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30.
18808
Sarah Buhr@sarahbuhr · Reporter, TechCrunch
When are we going to make that much talked about but never implemented alcohol brand "BuhrBen" hmmm?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@sarahbuhr Come over to my place this afternoon and we can start brewing. Bring Nick, we will need someone to test our concoctions.
225925
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@benparr thanks so much for joining us today. I would love to hear how was the process of starting DominateFund? How did you establish yourself, a new fund, as the 'smart money'? What is your branding strategy to attract high quality deal flow? Would love to have you on @twentyminutevc big fan after hearing you on @jason TWIST!
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@harrystebbings First of all, would love to come on your show! To answer your question, it took some trial and error, but we found that it was our team's expertise in branding, marketing, press, and customer/user acquisition that made founders want to work with us, so we really started leveraging that. We specifically focus on our value add for founders and don't try to advertise services that others can do better. In the end, it's a matter of making smart bets and adding value. And if you as a VC do that, you'll gain deal flow and meet more great entrepreneurs.
96285
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
Hi @benparr - what was your biggest surprise when writing captivology?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@jeffumbro 1) How incredibly biased we are subconsciously. Red is a trigger that makes us more romantic. The heat of a hot coffee makes us more generous to other people. And the later in the day it is, the more harsh your decisions tend to become. Oh, and 2) HOW HARD IT IS TO WRITE A BOOK! :)
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@benparr Hey Ben! What was the writing process like? How did you go from idea to published and what were the biggest obstacles you faced?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@bentossell The process for a book is totally different than a blog post or a news article. You have to write out the proposal with your concept. For me, it was months of research first before I even wrote the first word. Then it was a matter of finding the signal through the noise. I took two sabbaticals to write the book, I like to concentrate fully on big projects like that.
234457
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@benparr thanks for being here today 🙌 During your career to date, what has been your a) most challenging moment and how did you overcome it? b) proudest moment and why? c) most surprising moment?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@ems_hodge a) Admitting defeat with my first startup. I hadn't really experienced failure until that moment, and it was hard for me to grasp and overcome. It's about the mindset, though. You're going to fail as entrepreneurs -- it's about how you pick yourself back up and do something even better. b) Recently? Launching Captivology. Writing a book was a life-long dream and I'm glad I was finally able to do it. It was 2 years of hard work. c) The fact that I'm even here. I've gotten lucky, I've had great mentors, and I've done things lots of other people never get to do. I've had a crazy career.
157053
Yoshi@dnxx28 · Freerance Engineer
@benparr thank you for committing today! And I'm Japanese Yoshi! 1) However r u gonna release Captivology in Japan? 2) Do you think way of investment change?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@dnxx28 1) Yes! Captivology IS coming to Japan! I don't know when, but you will see it in Japanese soon! 2) Can you clarify for me so I can answer your question better? :)
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Ben! You win for best Product Hunt LIVE background image. Your career is very diverse, from Mashable editor to investor to author to lederhosen model. What do you want to pursue next?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@rrhoover Lederhosen! Ryan: Build things that matter and help others build things that matter. That's why I got into startups and investing in the first place.
134356
Sabrina Bruning@internetsabrina · Community Manager, Mimoco
@benparr Out of everyone you spoke to in the book, who would you be most willing to consider switching lives with for a day?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@internetsabrina David Copperfield. No doubt. He was one of my favorite interviews and he is one of the fascinating people I know. I want to see the magic behind the curtain.
134356
Sabrina Bruning@internetsabrina · Community Manager, Mimoco
16055
Daryna Kulya@darynakulya · Co-Founder @ OpenPhone | Product Hunt TO
@benparr Hi Ben! What are some of the habits you have developed throughout your career that have helped you become happier and more productive?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@darynakulya Always keeping to do lists based on Day, Week, Month, and Long-term. Always reviewing those to dos. Always realizing that very little HAS to be done at that moment. Working with great people who keep me on task. Having a personal wiki for my thoughts and my life. It's quite complex. :)
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@darynakulya Oh, and standing desks. Always standing desks.
239747
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
That's a hell of a resume. With that do you most credit your success? Is there one particular event or tip you received that has guided you to where you are?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@andrewmettinger Honestly? Boy Scouts changed me from a lazy smart kid to a hardworking smart kid. I learned determination, grit and goal setting to become an Eagle Scout. To answer your other question, CNN asked me something similar recently. The words that stick in my head are my grandfather's five pieces of advice: 1. Do what you say. 2. Finish what you start. 3. Be on time. 4. Say please and thank you. 5. Opportunities can seldom be hoarded. http://money.cnn.com/interactive...
18529
Jay Zalowitz@jayzalowitz · co founder at Generatorlab (Needlehunt)
Who would you rather fight, 100 angles or 1 unicorn?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@jayzalowitz 1 unicorn. If I tame it, I get to ride it! If you had said 100 duck-sized angels, I might have picked that instead.
18529
Jay Zalowitz@jayzalowitz · co founder at Generatorlab (Needlehunt)
@benparr In that example wouldn't it be 100 duck sized unicorn or one horse sized angel?
307651
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi! What are the most captivating stories made of? What are the common elements that you see in all viral stories?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@theo_dimarhos Emotional appeal. Virality is really about validating an audience (Acknowledgement Trigger from my book). Buzzfeed has done this masterfully for years with lists like "50 things only 90s kids could understand". The most viral things have sides or identities -- like Trump (you love or hate him) or The Dress (it's blue or it's gold).
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@theo_dimarhos Emotional appeal. Virality is really about validating an audience (Acknowledgement Trigger from my book). Buzzfeed has done this masterfully for years with lists like "50 things only 90s kids could understand". The most viral things have sides or identities -- like Trump (you love or hate him) or The Dress (it's blue or it's gold).
234457
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What are your favorite books? What does your recommended reading list look like?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@ems_hodge I love sci-fi books, from Ender's Game to The Martian. In terms of non-fiction, everyone should check out Thinking, Fast and Slow; The Men Who Would Be King; and The End of Power. I'm currently reading Rain: A Natural and Cultural History (thanks JP Morgan for the book!)
307651
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Thanks for doing this AMA! From all the successful people you talked with in your book, what were some common threads you saw?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@theo_dimarhos Biggest common thread I found was that the masters of attention don't seek attention for themselves, but their causes. When Clooney is on a late night show, it's to promote a movie or a charity. When Zuck or Sandberg are on stage at a conference, it's to promote Facebook or its ideals. I found this common thread among all the masters of attention and "successful people". Another common thread I found: they were super responsive. Super busy people, but still had time to email almost instantly, even if it was just a sentence. They're on top of things. They control their attention.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What is the craziest thing you have seen in a pitch?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@bentossell I've seen everything. Unsolicited packages. Someone once sent me a bag of white powder. Someone targeted all the Facebook ads to Mashable peeps to get to me. A zoo once had a Rhino smash a Mashable-painted watermelon to get us to write about them (I totally did).
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What is a company you passed on investing in but wish you had?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@bentossell There's a deal or two where my fund wasn't ready but wish it had been to make an investment. Styleseat comes to mind, but there are more.
307651
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
What have you found to be the best ways to approach busy people and convince them to collaborate?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@theo_dimarhos Short, pithy emails. Get to the point. Say exactly what you want to do and who you are in 2-3 sentences or less. Busy people don't have time to read long letters.
93707
Danny K Antwi@dannyantwi
Hi Ben? Forgive me if you've touched on it but why become a VC 2. what is the magic formula for the founding team that seals a dominateFund deal and 3. What's your favorite startup?
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
@dannyantwi 1. I became a VC to help great founders build things that will change the world. My mission to change the world for the better, and VC fits into my mission. Plus it's great fun investing in early-stage startups and watch the founders grow into incredible leaders. It's been an awesome ride. 2. There is no magic formula -- it depends on the industry, expertises, etc. BUT I will say that we like founders who have known each other for longer tend to perform better (no shotgun founder marriages, please!) and teams that can incorporate criticism and feedback instead of becoming defensive. 3. I love all startups! But I don't actually have a specific favorite. I have a group of them.
20225
Ben Parr@benparr · Co-founder and CMO, Octane AI
Hey all, I have to go now, but if there are questions in here later, I'll check them out and answer them tonight. But thank you all for an awesome PH AMA! Please check out www.captivology.com if you have a chance, and always feel free to reach out to me -- www.benparr.com/contact ! Cheers, ~ Ben
234457
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@benparr Thanks so much for being here today and answering all of our varied questions! We've loved having you here today and giving up your time to Chat to us LIVE today :) Thank you!