Judy’s Book and Insider Pages are two companies that launched at roughly the same time, raise roughly the same amount of venture capital, and had very similar products. They also face fairly intense competition from a number of similar services (Yelp, Zipingo, others). Insider Pages just had significant layoffs and entered the TechCrunch DeadPool. Judy’s Book, in contrast, made some fairly dramatic strategic changes last fall, in the hope of avoiding the same fate. They de-focused on local reviews, and went more towards the shopping angle and local deals.
From a bystander’s point of view, the best part of the Judy’s Book evolution is the play-by-play we’re getting from CEO Andy Sack’s blog. Most of the action took place in October, when Sack first started talking about the decision making process. The executive team decided to stop swimming upstream, and focus on doing things that were easier. They identified what had been hard to do, and what had been easy, and went from there. This is something I hear from a lot of successful entrepreneurs who changed their business plans on the fly. When things stopped working, they poked in a few different directions and then dove headfirst into the path of least resistance.
Next came angry customers, who liked the old Judy’s Book just fine. Sack wrote about that too, even responding directly to a particular customer rant. More recently, Sack has given his thoughts on Insider Pages and how things are going with Judy’s Book.
Whatever happens with Judy’s Book, it’s clear Sack is getting some serious front line experience and his transparency is admirable. I’m glad he’s sharing the ups and downs of his business evolution with us. Munjal Shah, the founder of Riya, has been doing the same thing (and Riya has gone through similar strategic changes). Good stuff for other entrepreneurs.