As a fairly well-known startup consultant and software developer in Melbourne, my email gets thrown around a fair bit. For about 5 years, anyone who’s seen my non-Gmail email domain and thought “What’s this WarmHQ thing?” has been – bitterly, I’m sure – disappointed to find a 404.
But it wasn’t always like that.
Back in 2014, when I helped General Assembly launch in Melbourne, I was managing their audience development and partnerships. This meant I had to cold call a lot of local businesses and try to get them to partner with GA for a workshop or an event, all in the name of growing GA’s audience. We’d put on drinks, speakers, do all of the event management, and they’d invite their clients/customers/email list to come.
There were some repeatable steps:
- Google local businesses in a particular space (e.g. “Bitcoin Startups Melbourne”)
- Look at their websites and social accounts; find out how many Instagram and Twitter followers they had and how much engagement their posts get. Use as a barometer for how big their email list might be.
- Look for a phone number or an info@ email address and try to get in touch
- If I ever did get in touch, give a shpiel about who GA is and why we’d make a good partner, and that all they need to do is send a dedicated GA-branded email out to their email list and invite them to an event with a special link
- We would then capture these emails and add them to our marketing machine
I hated cold calling. I found it embarrassing, I found it scary, I felt a lot of shame for picking up the phone and trying to sell someone something. I felt like a telemarketer, because I was a telemarketer.
After 6 months of doing this and hating myself, I had a surprise. I had someone email me, asking if we’d do an engagement event with them.
I realised that we had had about 30,000 people come to our campus, and all of them had jobs, for local companies, and all of them already knew who we were.
So instead of Googling random companies, I started going through our workshop attendance lists and looking for non-Gmail addresses, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d then look up coolcompany.xyz, see who they are and see if there was a partnership opportunity. If there was, I’d email Julia directly and ask her to introduce me to the right person.
This felt far less icky; less cold, and more warm.
When I left GA, I decided to turn this into an automation tool which would show you a dashboard of all of your warm leads – either on a personal or company level. It had a web scraper that would go through your gmail, your LinkedIn, your Mailchimp and your manually-uploaded CSVs and find you information about who knows you.
Even as I write this, I still think it’s a great idea, and I’m tempted to rebuild it once again.
So why doesn’t it exist anymore? Burnout.
I spent 8 long months developing the prototype, with no plan of what to do when it was launched. When I finally released it, no one cared, and I had no gusto or gumption to figure out ways to make them care.
And then I did something really stupid: I decided that because I didn’t want to work on this right now, it meant that I would never want to work on this again. It also meant that it had no value whatsoever. So I deleted the repo, I deleted my backups of the repo, and I removed all traces of it from the internet bar for the humble G-Suite connected email address that I’d clung to for so long.
And that’s why WarmHQ has been a blank 404 page since 2016.