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Tara Hunt: You can’t control luck, but you can certainly work on the rest

Tara Hunt took a hard look at her latest venture, Buyosphere, today durinng her talk at Thinc Iowa. 

Author, mom, and startup founder Tara Hunt took the stage at The Temple for Performing Arts with a little hesitation. Even with experience working with over 30 startups, she began her talk at Thinc Iowa 2012 by admitting she felt less than enthused about the story she was going to tell. That story chronicled the route her company, Buyosphere, has taken leading up to today’s public launch, and the story shed light on the not-so-glamorous side of building and launching a new product.

Turn lemons into lemonade

Before Buyosphere became the product that is live today, it went through some brand bullying. The initial product, named Shwowp, was deemed “the worst brand name of 2010” by Eat My Words. Rather than calling it quits after the public bashing, Hunt and her two co-founders, Jerome Paradis and Cassandra Girard, let the public help with their renaming. With the new name came new momentum. They launched the newly designed brand in March 2011, and Hunt felt “things were great.”

You don’t always succeed

That feeling of greatness quickly diminished when the momentum from the launch began to flatline just six weeks later. The company refocused during a “pilgrimage” to San Francisco and by November 2011 had secured a $325,000 seed round. In December, Buyosphere relaunched the site again. As before, enthusiasm spiked but then began to significantly decline over the course of a few months. 

Go out with a bang

With their self-esteem knocked down again, the partners knew they had a choice to make regarding the future of the business. Without seeing any opportunity for more funding, they had enough left from their seed round to make it three more months. Rather than riding out those three months, Hunt, author of the marketing book The Whuffie Factor, decided to “do what every smart marketer should do.”

She hit the ground running and began conducting market research with Buyosphere’s 12,000 registered users, conducted usability tests and hired 30 fashion bloggers to intensively use the product and give feedback. With their findings, they chose to “go out with a bang” and used their remaining budget to hire a design company to completely re-do the site one more time.

Be ready for when the perfect storm hits

With no funding left and the product turned private for the redesign push, the co-founders had almost no choice but to search for paying jobs, making Buyosphere a side project. Hunt took the position of director of digital and content at Tuxedo Boutique Marketing.

This time of uncertainty has led Hunt, someone who still believes in the core idea behind Buyosphere, through stages of grief. After passing from denial to anger to bargaining and depression, she has chosen to move forward but said she has not yet having reached the acceptance phase. 

Sometimes you just need luck

With nothing but her conviction left, Hunt shared that, sometimes, luck can be the winning factor. “You can do everything right and end up losing,” she said. “And you can do everything wrong and end up winning.”

With the public launch of the newest redesign of Buyosphere today, Hunt said her only choice was to keep trying. She closed out her presentation with advice she continues to give herself: “You can’t control the luck part, but you can certainly work on the rest.” 


Credits: Photos by Anna Jones and Phillip Harder.

Thinc Iowa is a premiere event produced by Silicon Prairie News. For live video of Thinc Iowa 2012, tune in at spne.ws/live from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Oct. 10 and 11. For more on Thinc Iowa, check out the conference on Twitter and Facebook

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