I Am a Musician

Ryan Kulp is a musician

You have beautiful hands,” she said.

It was my first day of 6th Grade. We were shuttled around to the art, band, orchestra, and drama extracurriculars. We were to choose one discipline that would define our middle school career.

One teacher, Dr. Scruggs, grabbed my hands and said I should play violin in her orchestra. I obliged.

It’s been 15 years since that afternoon. Here’s what I have to show for it:

  • Can play several instruments
  • 2,000,000+ views on YouTube
  • Performed 100s of times
  • Recorded 4 studio albums
  • Failed to turn a profit

I could make excuses about why this happened.

Like, my parents’ discouragement. How they lectured me to put music in a little box called “hobby,” and to get a college degree + “real job” instead. 

But while those excuses would be accurate, they don’t change anything.

Next March I’m hitting the studio one last time, to record yet-another-album and attempt to make something of my God-given talent, music.

I’ve had a lot of success in building technology companies, but I will always be a better musician than a marketer or developer. So my heart, and my savings account, says I should give it another go.

As we approach Spring 2017 and the launch of my next album, you’ll notice some changes on this blog and my profiles around the web. I will be getting back to basics, as a musician first, employee second.

Introducing Fomo

When I moved to San Francisco last Fall, I committed to not hanging out.

Through a mutual friend I met Justin Mares, and we started hacking on dumb projects.

Fast forward a few months, we discovered an ecommerce plugin called Notify. It helped increase online sales by showing recent purchases, in real-time, to website visitors. We loved it.

This March we bought Notify and drafted a plan to grow it. Today, that plan goes live.

I’m proud to introduce my latest project, Fomo.

In one line of code, Fomo turns customer interactions into instant marketing material. Syncing with everything from email signups to ticket sales, it’s the online equivalent of a busy store.

With over 2,500 paying customers already, we think we’re up to something special.

To keep in the loop on all things Fomo, check out our new blog. We’ll be writing about startups, the future of marketing technology, and of course, the power of social proof.



Female pop star

Women who “can’t break into tech because they’re women” are right.

But why?

Are the male, pale and Yale types keeping them down?

Robert Kiyosaki teaches us that poor people say “I can’t afford that” while the rich ask “How can I afford that?”

This sentiment transcends money, of course, and represents the difference between a growth mindset and the victim mindset.

When you believe success is dictated by innate circumstance, it is. But when you write your own song… well, you don’t need permission to sing along.

Empower your Victim

The classic startup marketplace exists to do one thing — Eliminate The Middlemen.

Travel agents, real estate brokers… really all the brokers. They’re going down, c/o startups.

But as brokers become increasingly aware of our plans, how do we proceed?

Here’s how setting up a marketplace used to work:

  1. Free and open communication between buyers and sellers
  2. Start charging the top sellers
  3. Charge everyone

Here’s how setting up a marketplace will work in the future:

  1. Build tools for brokers
  2. Controlled communication between buyers and brokers
  3. Onboard sellers
  4. Charge everyone

Brokerages go away between 2 and 3. Nowadays, we just have to empower them first.

1. You give the realtor, for example, an easy way to list his properties online.
2. XYZ website shares the realtors’ listings with their audience.
3. When an XYZ customer connects with the broker about a specific property, XYZ website lets the property management company know they were responsible for the deal, not the realtor.

Are you empowering your victims?

Clear vs Clever

“The same 26 letters can tell any story in the world.”

As creators, it’s tempting to use fancy lexicons. Why are we paid so well, if not to create?

These days, however, fancy is the new normal. Even failing companies work at offices with unlimited beer.

So how do we become remarkable?

First, delineate the stakeholders reading your copy:

  1. Customers
  2. Non customers

Customers love you, at least a bit, because they’re paying you. Fancy jargon is OK, because like the fancy restaurant, “you’re paying for the atmosphere.

Non customers, on the other hand, are unimpressed. They don’t understand where you get off with your pricing, your logo, your tweets. They don’t enjoy the full-screen video that pops up on your home page without warning, activating their speakers in a previously quiet cubicle.

Non customers are just looking for the truth. This is why I tell every startup I work with to be clever with your customers and clear with your prospects.

When the cow’s in the barn, you can brand it. Approach it with a hot iron in the field? It runs.