It took us a while to hone our story in the market. When I joined, the company was well-regarded among the social media mafia elite as a fantastic on-site search technology. A trusted search technology that any publisher (bloggers mostly) could implement on his site that would index and return results for the site, the site publisher’s content sources (Twitter stream, Facebook updates, Flickr photos, YouTube videos, etc.) and it would even include results from the site publisher’s trusted network of other “trusted” sites (e.g., Blogroll).

We grew the network and spent more and more time with the folks that used our services. Over time we began to see the market more holistically. That constant dialog with publishers and authors helped us to build a broad a strong foundation.

At its core the foundation for Lijit is at the same time simple and powerful. It doesn’t carry any extra baggage or bullshit. Its broad enough to build a huge business, but focused enough to make execution manageable. It’s all the things that a high-growth company has to have as critical ingredients to success.

We are a business partner to online publishers.

We help them:
• Engage their readers more
• Understand their readers better
• Profit from their audience of readers

As key part of our developed understanding of the market, we took a hard look at the economic model not only for our business, but for the publishers’ businesses. In many ways we started and focused on understanding what drove the economics of online publishers, particularly in the mid- and long-tail. Our learnings here shaped how we designed Lijit’s economic model.

• Everything we do is free for the publisher
• Base everything on performance
• Unburden publishers with no restrictive or exclusive contracts
• Pay them faster than anyone else

In other words: orient our model to be a partner to helping them build their business.

Too many companies start with the product, even a great product, but they miss the fundamental step of understanding their market well enough to build a business foundation. It took us a few turns and course-corrections to get it right, but we listened incessantly to our core market. A solid foundation of any business is hard. Once you get it right, you can build something really big on top of it.