Do you know about the most read men’s magazine which has been popular for more than four decades? The sales for a single issue of this magazine hit seven million by the early 1970s. Sounds familiar, right? Every other man was holding a copy this magazine back then. Any guesses? We are speaking about the most sold magazine of all times Playboy. Hugh Hefner and his remarkable magazine Playboy solely changed the story of the adult entertainment industry and became a multimillion dollar business endeavour that expanded to incorporate television, web ventures, clubs and more. The magazine was a game changer in the era of ‘70s where people were more conscious of what is being displayed and what’s not.
Playboy’s founding story
Hugh Hefner, the founder of the epic magazine had first shown his interest in publication at an early age. In high school he founded his school’s newspaper taking it as an opportunity, young Hefner illustrated his own comic book, School Daze. Although he had a high IQ of 152, Hefner was never really spirited about school, in general. However, after completing his schooling, Hefner joined the United States Army. Later, he went on to attend classes at the Chicago Art Institute. After two years at the Art Institute, Hefner attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in the year 1950. It was in the year 1952, Hefner started working as a cartoonist for the famous Esquire magazine. While working there, he was turned down for a $ 5 raise, he took it to heart and decided to quit his job at the publication. He went on to venture out on his own and the rest we know is history! In 1953, Hefner founded Playboy magazine using his $ 600 bucks and several thousand more he borrowed including $ 1,000 from his mom.
The rise and fall and rise of Playboy
The first issue of Playboy published in December 1953. The magazine featured nude photos of Marilyn Monroe and sold over 50,000 copies. As we all know, controversial stuff sells fast! Playboy had its strategies right and by the year 1958, the magazine’s annual profit was $ 4 million and Hugh Incredible Hefner had skyrocketed to fame. Over the years, apart from controversial stuff, Playboy’s publication of writers including Ray Bradbury, Ian Fleming, Joseph Heller, Jack Kerouac and Margaret Atwood became famous overnight. Also, Miles Davis was the magazine’s first interview. Other interviews included Fidel Castro, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando and the then presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, who confided that he had committed adultery in his heart. John Lennon before dying had spoken to Playboy in 1980 as well. Playboy became known for its sexually explicit content. By 1970, Hugh Hefner had gone from beginning an entrepreneurial endeavour in his own home to being the founder of a major corporation. The distribution of the magazine was extensively done and copies were selling at rates of seven million copies per month. The year 1972 earned Hefner a twelve million dollar profit.
The magazine’s monthly distribution was reaching new heights. Yes! An enormous 7 million issues were sold in 1971. By that time, nearly one quarter of American young lads were buying or subscribing every month, according to a source. However, post that, Playboy saw a downfall in the late ‘80s and the franchise was struggling hard to reach out to the people. In the year 1994, Hefner established the Playboy Jazz Film Festival, funded by Playboy. The festival was the first showcase on the West Coast for rare jazz films and was free to the public. The franchise was slowly and steadily gaining its pace. Nevertheless, Hefner’s brainchild was back with a bang in the early 2000s with the release of his reality television show on E!. The program The Girls Next Door portrayed the lives of his three blonde girlfriends at the Playboy Mansion. The series was a super hit and doubled the popularity of Hefner between the years 2005 to 2010.
In the year 2017, Hefner died in Los Angeles at the age of 91. At the time of his death, Hefner’s global brand had an estimated net worth of at least $ 110 million. As of now, Playboy earns most of its money by licensing the bunny brand for a variety of products including liquor, clothing, fragrances, jewellery and bath products.
Cooper Hefner, Hefner’s son and the Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises, said in a statement …my father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom. He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history.
Watch the success story of Playboy here,
Top Five Free Communication Tools For Startups
In one of our previous articles published recently, we broached the importance of communications both internal and external, for startups. Good communication needs to be nurtured and can become a powerful tool. While communication can be done across various mediums like social media, e-mails, blog posts, newsletters, press releases and advertisements there are certain tools which a majority of startups prefer to use. This is because, some of these tools offer a lot of features, a good user interface and experience combined with value for money.
We have explored and compiled a list of top five free communication tools which will be useful for startups. Some of these tools are easily recognisable as we use them to some degree or the other in our day to day lives.
Slack is a communications platform designed specifically for businesses. Slack is a simple interface which comes in the form of chat rooms. Each of these rooms are organised by topics and can be private or public. Slack also offers private messaging and is a good bet for startups which are just scaling up as they offer a free plan as well. The free plan however allows only the 10,000 most recent messages to be viewed and searched.
Trello is another communications tool which is highly preferred because it has a Kanban style approach towards communication. Kanban is a lean method to manage and improve work by balancing demands with available capacity, and by improving the handling of bottlenecks. A Kanban Board is used to implement Kanban management. Users can create task boards which have columns including task statuses such as ‘To Do,’ ‘In Progress,’ ‘Done.’ For startups Trello offers a free fourteen day trial which includes unlimited boards, automation and strong privacy.
3) Microsoft Teams
This communications tool is an offering from Microsoft and offers workspace chat and video conferencing, file storage, and application integration. Users can chat in groups or privately and even send files across the platform. It also includes video and voice calling over the internet. For the free version, Microsoft Teams offers users to host unlimited rooms for 60 minutes and hosting upto hundred participants. Moreover, users get ten gigabytes of free cloud storage and unlimited chat options.
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Zoom, a video conferencing tool which shot into the limelight in 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. This tool allowed businesses to move their work online and ensured workflow was not disturbed. Zoom stepped up to the challenge effortlessly taking on all the bandwidth and usage it is currently experiencing. Zoom has also removed time limits for the conference calls and made the entire suite free of cost for schools and businesses in the affected regions across the globe, thereby further increasing its popularity. The free trial allows users to host rooms with upto 100 participants and unlimited one on one meetings, as well as group minute meetings for upto 40 minutes.
Skype is another offering from Microsoft and is one of the oldest known online communications platforms. It supports text, audio, and video chat and integrates with Microsoft Office components like powerpoint. Skype is a free to use communications platform and can be used across a variety of platforms like mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
This concludes the list of top five free communications platforms available in the market for startups and medium sized businesses. Let us know if you are already using any of these or plan on using them in the future in the comments below.
Importance Of Communications For A Startup
A startup usually prioritises its focus on the front end functions like marketing and sales, as well as the backend functions like finances and product development. While there is no denying these functions are very critical for the success of a startup, there is one more important aspect to it which often tends to be neglected because it may not seem important. Communications and information management is an often overlooked function a lot of companies ignore. The fallout from ignoring the criticality of good communication does not immediately make itself known but rather keeps on piling up until the problem becomes too big to ignore.
During the initial or idea stages of a startup when there are only a few members on the team, communication might not be a problem because all of the team would be together for most of the time. However, as the idea develops into a product and the startup begins rapid scaling up, the need for hiring more hands arises. This is when communication becomes a priority.
Communication for startups includes both internal and external. Good communication needs to be nurtured and can become a powerful tool. Some easy but highly effective ways to improve communication, both internal and external, are discussed as we progress through the article.
Internal communication is a powerful tool for enabling better decision making and for increasing business productivity. Open, clear, crisp communication from the top management level to all branches of the organization will serve to bring everyone together on to a common goal. This will also further keep executives informed, engaged and make them feel valued thereby leading to more productivity. Regular team meetings will ensure each team member is on the same page and will also boost employee morale. Google Hangouts, Slack, Microsoft Teams and Trello are some of the tools which can be used for internal communications.
Some of the ways to drive a healthy internal communication within startups are
- Promoting openness, honesty and transparency.
- Candid one on one sessions with leaders.
- Valuing every opinion.
- Sharing challenges, suggestions, progress and expectations.
- Welcoming team feedback.
- Create an environment of creative expression and non judgemental spaces.
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External communication also plays an important role in the growth of a startup. While internal communication is used to keep the teams on the same page, external communication plays a huge role in the brand awareness and value. External communications play an important role and a startup cannot ignore how it is perceived by job seekers, financial institutions and the public. Therefore a startup needs to put out its ideas, culture, vision and products in the purview of the public and this can be done through blogs, social media, newsletters, press briefings, advertisements and emails. A startup needs to realise the importance of managing external communications and the power of releasing information at the right time.
Some of the ways to drive a healthy external communication and which often tend to be overlooked are given below.
- Leverage the correct medium for communication. For example social media for branding, ads for lead generation, landing pages for call to action.
- Create a unique tonality suitable for the brand image of your startup.
- Ensure to stay in touch with your external public through all contextual means like emails, newsletters, publications and so on.
- Create high-quality content like opinion pieces, sales materials, research reports, annual reports, whitepapers, buyer’s guides, and product datasheets.
- Incase of any issues with the product on the technical side or manufacturing defects, startups need to immediately issue advisories. Good communication is also essential for firefighting and damage control
Startups should keep in mind that internal and external communications are mostly about being spontaneous, relevance and honesty. A healthy communication goes a long way to improve employee performance, team productivity, positive mindset, and above all business revenue.
What Are Series A, B And C Fundings?
Startups usually go through a tumultuous series of journeys during their lifecycle. As a startup is continuing to grow, the need for funds becomes more and more important. Funding offers startups the necessary influx of money at various stages to focus on different aspects like product building, scaling up, expansion, innovation, research and development. While only a handful of startups usually make it big without the need of much funding, the rest of the other startups engage in multiple efforts to raise enough capital through rounds of external funding.
In the previous article, we have explored seed funding and the various sources of seed funding. Once a startup completes a seed funding round, the next following rounds are called as series funding and are classified into Series A, B and C respectively.
These Series fundings usually have a timeline and Series A is the first of the three rounds of funding. Many startups often spend years in search of a Series A funding while some other startups easily get their foot in the door. The Series fundings are a stepping stone for a startup to eventually become a Unicorn or for filing for an Initial Public Offering (IPO.)
As is the case with seed funding, the Series A,B and C rounds of funding also see investors putting their money into a startup in exchange for equity. The success of a startup directly correlates to the amount of returns an investor gains.
Before any round of funding, a startup needs to be valued and a valuation is done based on multiple factors like management, track record, market size, risk and liabilities. Let us have a look at what Series A,B and C funding means below.
Series A funding
Once a startup gains a proven customer base and consistent revenue figure, the startup may opt for a Series A round of funding. This funding can be used by a startup in question to improve their customer base as well as taking opportunities to scale their product across different markets. A startup also usually prepares a long term business plan after receiving a Series A funding. Series A fundings range between $ 2 million and $ 15 million. Investors are not looking for a great idea but rather a plan to take the great idea and make it into a money making business.
Series B funding
Series B funding rounds are all about startups expanding and taking their business to the next level. Investors help startups get there by expanding market reach. Companies that have gone through seed and Series A funding rounds have already developed substantial user bases and have proven to investors that they are prepared for success on a larger scale. Series B fundings are usually used to scale a startup to meet the increasing demand levels. Series B fundings range between $ 30 million and $ 60 million with the average funding at $ 33 million.
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Series C funding
By the time startups arrive at Series C round of funding, they are usually quite successful. The idea behind the Series C round of funding is for startups to raise capital to develop new products and expand into newer markets or probably even acquire other businesses. Normally investors expect a 200% return on their investment during the Series C round of funding. Companies vying for a Series C funding are usually looking to go for an IPO or to expand on a global scale. Startups are usually valued at around $ 118 million when applying for a Series C funding.
This concludes the list of Series funding. Series fundings are an important milestone in any startup’s roadmap to success and this article hopes to break down the Series funds into simple terms.
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