The Positive ROI of an Occasional Flop: ‘Dragons’ Den’ Failure Tom Hunt on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

The Positive ROI of an Occasional Flop: 'Dragons' Den' Failure Tom Hunt on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]. How do they find the mettle to pursue their next big idea if their first venture fails? Tom founded (and recently sold) Virtual Valley, a business that helps entrepreneurs source virtual assistants. The panel didn't think much of his men's leggings, but Tom parlayed his "Dragons' Den" failure into marketing success by wearing his defeat as a badge of honor, posting the YouTube video on the sTitch Leggings website. I invited Tom to Marketing Smarts to discuss how he embraced his early failure (he even gave a TEDx talk on it), how he grew his startup, Virtual Valley, into a four-million-dollar business, and how he incorporated podcasting into his marketing mix with his 0-$4 Million podcast, snagging the top spot in the business category of iTunes' "New and Noteworthy" section. And it was a curated database, so it was a little bit less time finding a virtual assistant. "I was launching this marketplace. I always look to be remarkable in any piece of marketing I do (like the "Dragons' Den" thing) so you get free traffic and exposure. "In the leggings, it's really all about the guy standing out and being different, not being conventional, so I was writing to that. And then, with Virtual Valley, it's all about how you can build that business so you can be free.

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What drives entrepreneurs to pursue their vision (even when others don’t share it)? Even when initial reaction to their idea is negative? How do they find the mettle to pursue their next big idea if their first venture fails?
By accepting—and even embracing—failure, Tom Hunt achieved startup success.
Tom founded (and recently sold) Virtual Valley, a business that helps entrepreneurs source virtual assistants. His latest venture, AskTina.io, offers clients a virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence.
But success hasn’t always come easily for Tom. Exhibit A: his disastrous turn on BBC’s “Dragons’ Den” (a UK reality show where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas, similar to “Shark Tank” in the US).
The panel didn’t think much of his men’s leggings, but Tom parlayed his “Dragons’ Den” failure into marketing success by wearing his defeat as a badge of honor, posting the YouTube video on the sTitch Leggings website. Smart move: embedding the humiliating video actually increased sales of the macho legwear!
I invited Tom to Marketing Smarts to discuss how he embraced his early failure (he even gave a TEDx talk on it), how he grew his startup, Virtual Valley, into a four-million-dollar business, and how he incorporated podcasting into his marketing mix with his 0-$4 Million podcast, snagging the top spot in the business category of iTunes’ “New and Noteworthy” section.
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:
Sometimes, rejection (by the right people) can boost your brand (04:01): “The story behind the brand is all about liberating men from conventional fashion and going against the mainstream. So if six of us go up wearing leggings—three founders and three models who were just our friends—and get rejected by the mainstream, by these millionaires that have loads of money but know nothing about fashion, then if you go to sTitch Leggings.com, you’ll see that video on the homepage because it really adds to the brand and the mission.”


Podcasting pays dividends (even for those on a tight budget) (06:25): "I spent almost six months building this [virtual assistant] marketplace, similar to Freelance or UpWork, but specific to one type of resource, which is a virtual assistant in...

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