Aug232010

“It’s easier to start a business than to exit, so be sure you are passionate enough to ride the roller coaster up and down before seeing sustainable success.”

Andy Liu
Andy Liu
BuddyTV.com
Co Founder

Interview by Mike Sullivan of Sully’s Blog

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Andy Liu is an entrepreneur and angel investor.  He currently runs BuddyTV.com and is on the board with several organizations.  Infused with the entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, Andy would sell items around his house to visitors.  By 15, he was working at Godfather’s pizza, exposing him to the trials and tribulations of the restaurant business.  At 16, Andy was working full-time for AT&T in the summer and a series of large companies followed.  Those included Boeing, Keane, Active Voice and other places including a failed startup while earning his bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering.  He launched his first startup at the age of 23.

BuddyTV.com is a website for fans to catch up on their favorite shows.  The site offers updates and information on TV shows and actors, provides opportunities to interact with writers and other fans.   Visitors can watch videos and play online games as well.  Registered users can leave comments, write reviews, and track their favorite shows.  The website has been cited by USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and may others.

MO:
Your current project, BuddyTV.com, is loaded with current and relevant content, news, and information.  Tell me about how this idea surfaced for the site and how you manage to keep it current?
Co Founded by Andy Liu

Andy:
It might have been the elevation or the beer at Machu Picchu in Peru.  I had just left my previous startup and wanted to travel the world to figure out what to do next and my business partner and I just started riffing on new ideas and the idea for BuddyTV was born in Peru.  Our discovery that people love TV and want more content related to TV online really drove our business so we invest in an editorial staff to build the best content for TV.

MO:
BuddyTV.com is quite a popular site.  Some of the estimated visitor statistics I have seen are incredible.  What has been your best month to date?  How were you able to generate that much interest in the site?  What are your primary means of promotion?

Andy:
We generate over 10MM unique visitors to the site and the best month is usually May when all the TV finales are including American Idol, Lost, 24, and others.  Our primary means of promotion is word of mouth, search, and partners who carry our content.

MO:
You seem to have had success partnering with other companies in ways that create phenomenal benefit.  Examples include partnership with Windows Media Center, allowing viewers to turn on BuddyTV commentary on their televisions during shows and working with QuestionPro to help advertisers learn about viewers.  What can you tell us about these past partnerships and are there any ground breaking plans for the future with other partners?

Andy:
We haven’t announced anything in this area yet, but are working very hard for a big release for this upcoming Fall TV season that I think will really revolutionize how people connect with their TV’s.  We’re very excited about it and believe that it will be groundbreaking.  Look out for something from BuddyTV no later than October 2010!

MO:
You also write the blog InspiredStartup.com “for people who dream and execute.”  The blog is focused on how to start a business and how to grow that business.  The postings often generate some meaningful conversation in the comments that are posted.  What inspires you to help other entrepreneurs with there business goals?

Andy Liu's Blog

Andy:
I love entrepreneurs.  I get a ton of energy just meeting with them, sharing ideas, sharing struggles, and sharing wins.  Entrepreneurship is not easy and often lonely.  The more I can help build community and share, the better person and entrepreneur I become.  I also enjoy investing in people whether it’s with cash or with just some advice, it’s fun to follow people’s journeys as they build businesses.  Inspiredstartup is also just a good way for me to distill what I’ve been learning in written format.

MO:
Being a serial entrepreneur with may businesses on your resume and an angel investor, what words of wisdom do you have for other seeking to start a business and looking for investors?  What should the entrepreneur have prepared before looking for investors?  Where can investors be found?

Andy:
I’m a big believer that you have to be all-in to start a business.  It is hard work and you should plan on 2 years minimum to get it up and running.  It’s easier to start a business than to exit, so be sure you are passionate enough to ride the roller coaster up and down before seeing sustainable success.  It’s much easier these days to start businesses without outside funding, if you can – I’d start to build the product and get some traction before looking for investors.  These days investors are a bit more cautious and the more risk you can get out the easier your company will find investors.  Try to be creative, try funding through customers (you don’t get any dilution and you’re building a business)!

MO:
You have a real passion toward applying your entrepreneurial skill toward addressing the issue of poverty.  You travel and volunteer in developing countries, partnered to build a technology center for an impoverished community in Central America, and more.  What ways have you been able to leverage your skills to help with these causes?

Andy:
In many ways, I feel that entrepreneurs in developing countries are the real entrepreneurs.  They have much less resources to marshal and they have to be extremely focused.  I’ve been really blessed being educated, having access to capital, having access to good talent, and reasonably good luck.  If I can assist by leveraging my connections, providing access to resources both educational and capital, and basic fundamental business skills, I think we can make a big impact on the issues of global poverty.  I’m a big believer that global poverty is an issue that can be solved by entrepreneurs – they are creative, they execute, and ultimately they solve big problems!

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