Reflections on the Startup Journey


This Friday, we're hosting a big party at our new office in the American Underground at Main St.  Entitled "The Start-up Journey", the event features

Windsor Circle takes the trophy at Google Demo Day

| by Polly Flinch, Windsor Circle |

 Yesterday was an exciting day for Windsor Circle. As one of ten companies in North America selected to pitch at the first ever Google Demo Day, we were thrilled to be selected as the winner, particularly when pitted against Docalytics, GoSpotCheck, Kidizen, Automated Insights (our neighbors in Durham!), WeDeliver Mojio, MarkITx, iRule.

Matt Williamson, our CEO, pitched to over 100 investors and a panel of 3 judges, Steve Case (CEO of Revolution and founder of AOL), Steph Palmeri (SoftTech VC) and MG Siegler (Google Ventures) and brought home the gold for the Windsor Circle team. As a result of this win we have gotten some great news coverage from North Carolina based papers, such as the News&Observer and The Herald Sun, as well as more national coverage in the Washington Post.

Whether it was the green pants, the pitch, or a little bit of both we may never know, but I wanted to take a moment to look at some of the trends I noticed on social media:

Durham/Raleigh/Triangle Pride:

 The phrase "rolling up the worlds retention data" seemed to hit a spark...

Others took it as an opportunity to paraphrase trends they had seen from all the pitches:

Some agreed Matt Williamson, our CEO, has a great voice:

We even got some great advice on how to use the trophy:

But the most talked about thing? The green pants:

The Startup Journey: Windsor Circle's Party, Open House, and Talent Meet Up

| by Polly Flinch, Windsor Circle |

Here at Windsor Circle we’re passionate about dreaming big. We’re throwing a party on April 11th from 4:30 – 8 pm to celebrate our (and every!) start-up journey. This event is open to Windsor Circle family, friends, investors, supporters, and the public-at-large. Click here to RSVP.

The Startup Journey includes:

  • Community –Start your journey with tours of neighboring start-up offices at AU Main and see the community we work in every day!
  • Timing, energy, and purpose: The first 30 guests will get a free “Keep Calm and Keep your Customers” flask to hold your beverage of choice (timing), we will also provide scrumptious eats, kegs of local brew, and other treats to fuel your passion (energy). We’ll have DJed music throughout the evening, so get ready to tap into your groove and move with purpose.
  • Vision- if you don’t know where you’re headed, how can you lead people there? Each of our key functions will have stations where you can learn about our teams’ vision and key lessons learned along the journey.
  • Funding: Our team will have just returned from pitching over 100 investors as part of Google Demo Day. We’ll share our pitch, put you in the VC seat to ask questions, and share some secrets of an effective fundraising pitch & process.
  • Talent: Having a talented team to help bring your dreams to fruition is key to unlocking the power needed to make your company a rockstar in the startup world. We’ll have a pop-up speed-interview career fair where job-seekers and start0ups can do quick 60 second meetings in our back room. 5 lucky candidates will get to pitch themselves to your CEO.

Come by on April 11th and check out our new space, enjoy some food and drinks, and learn about the startup community in Durham, NC. We hope to see you there!  

A Word From The Ministry of Shenanigans

Hey all, Huey here to give you an update on this whole MOSS thing. In addition to being a beloved Client Success Manager, I also share the title of Minister of Social and Shenanigans with Springer. Is it the best part of my job? Maybe…

So what is it that we do? Well the social part is easy. Every 2nd and 4th Friday we plan what we call a “Friday Sales Meeting” after work. We grab drinks, we play games, we eat ice cream...the possibilities are endless. But the purpose is always the same; to know and grow this awesome community that is Windsor Circle. We love what we do, and we also love who we do it with. On that sappy note, I will turn it over to Springer for some shenanigans!

Well said, Huey. In addition to building the community internally at Windsor Circle, we also like to share our Shenanigans with other companies here at the underground.  Whether filling their offices full of balloons or covering their windows with pictures of our CEO, we like to keep things interesting. We also like to surprise companies with lunch or breakfast and spend time getting to know those around us.  All in all Shenanigans has taken on many different external forms from mischief to random acts of kindness… it’s a good time.

Spr~uey out.

3 eCommerce Innovations at SXSW 2014

| by Andrew Pearson, Windsor Circle |

Bonobos Guidepost StoreSouth by Southwest (SXSW) is one of my favorite digital events of the year.  Bringing together thousands, if not tens of thousands, of creatives and technology professionals from over 75 countries, SXSW fills Austin TX with the electric buzz of innovation.  This year at SXSW, I explored as many retail and eCommerce focused events as possible, and saw energy around 3 innovation themes I wanted to share.  Read more about the pop-up store, the endless shelf, and the data collection engine.

REAL Durham

| by Taylor Knapp, Windsor Circle |

Downtown Durham REAL DurhamGood corporate citizenship has always been a goal for Windsor Circle, but recently we started asking ourselves how deeply we could engage those in need of help residing in the city around us. Durham has been undergoing a sort of revival over the last few years and is now a center of tech innovation (one of 7 google tech hub partners across North America), foodies (voted The South’s Tastiest Town by Southern Living), athletics (go bulls), and the arts.

But has this revival extended to the city’s poor and hurting? How can for-profit organizations engage with poverty on an individual level to justly fulfill the idea that ‘a rising tide lifts all ships’ which President Kennedy espoused 50 years ago? Does commitment to service make the organization itself stronger?

We decided to tackle these questions by joining a new initiative starting now called REAL Durham. REAL is an acronym standing for Relationships Equipping Allies andLeaders, and is based on the National Circles Campaign. Centric to the initiative is a reality that people operate with an intangible asset called ‘social capital’. This is the people capital we rely on as our support system, should we experience tragedy or hardship and need someone to lean on, or the network we use to find new jobs, skill sets, and communities to plug into.

For those that grew up in middle and upper class families, typically this doesn’t even register as unique because we’ve always had social capital. But for those who live in and have only known poverty, social capital has immediate and measurable benefits that they’ve never had before. The Circles campaign has tracked the results of their program over 18 month periods and found huge upswings in the increase of income (27%) and assets (88%), as well as decreases in debt and reliance on public benefits.

Leaders (families in poverty seeking to escape) are paired with allies (2-4 people with mid to high socioeconomic status) and committed to each other during the 18 month extent of the program where they meet weekly as a larger group, and then work individually to address family specific needs and assistance. At the end, the goal are improvements in financial position and stability, as well as perhaps more importantly, 2-4 people these families now have as social capital.

At Windsor Circle, we have a core team that will be acting as direct allies within the program for one family, but we have an extended team ready and willing to provide help where they can (it’s like super-charged capital). From what we’ve heard, it’s possible we could be the first for-profit organization to engage a specific family in need in this way.

Above all though, we do this not to just feel good, or list corporate citizenship on our about page. We do this because as the Aboriginal leader Lila Watson says, "If you've come here to help me, you're wasting your time.  But if your liberation is bound up with mine, let us work together."

We love Durham, and our success is tied to the success of those around us.

We’re excited to be sharing our journey with you!

What's with the Name Windsor Circle?

| by Matt Williamson, CEO |

Co-founders Matt Williamson and Brad McGinity met when Brad bought Matt's house at 139 Windsor Circle in Chapel Hill, NC.  Brad later came to work for Matt at Bronto Software, where a working relationship bloomed into a friendship, and ultimately into the wild and wooly startup experience known as Windsor Circle.

As Brad and Matt were thinking of names for the company, Brad's wife, a marketing diva in her own right, suggested that the house is what brought us together initially, and that every time we drew our startup idea on the whiteboard, we started with a circle, and thus the name Windsor Circle was adopted.  

As an interesting entrepreneurial side note, startups require deep financial sacrifice, and Brad and his family sold the house on Windsor Circle to be able to afford to go a year with no salary to get the company Windsor Circle off the ground.

And it's been our best ride ever.

Huzzah, Windsor Circle!

The Ministry of Shenanigans

| by Matt Williamson, CEO |

There's a lot of zaniness about Windsor Circle.  

The name.  

The green pants.  

The Not-Very-Sacred Orders.  



And like anything in a startup, if you can't measure it, you can't improve it.  So, we've formally launched The Ministry of Shenanigans, with co-ministers Brad Springer and Michael Huey.  They do silly things.  Honestly, they are silly people.  Which we love.

Not only do they come up with really creative team functions that include things like thumb-wrestling contests and beef-bouillon-cube-munching (ugh...  don't ask... but Polly won), but they are also responsible for actual shenanigans.  Think of it as mischief with a KPI.  The first two Shenanigans have been captured on video.

Oh, the humanity...







Hidden Features of MailChimp - A/B Content Testing

| by Michael Huey, Windsor Circle |

Since the dawn of time (or at least the advent of Windsor Circle), we have heard people exclaim, "I wish MailChimp had A/B testing for email content!" Unbeknownst to 90% of the MailChimp using world, it does! The secret to possessing this widely sought after knowledge? One little blog post.

How does it work? Simple. Using MailChimp's advanced merge tags (don't worry they aren't scary) and the current A/B campaign set up.

If you have never set up an A/B test in MailChimp, when you create one, you will see the screen below. You can choose to test based on any of the three options. Here I selected "Subject" and I can either test two different subject lines or use the same one. Sending the same subject line would allow me to isolate differing content as my only variable.

MailChimp A/B Testing Windsor Circle Blog

Two things that should catch your attention in this image: the adjustable test proportion slider, and the winner option circled. The proportion is up to you; you could even test the full segment. However, for the winner option, you should choose "Manual" for content testing.

For the actual content test, check out this blog post for some advice on those nifty advanced merge tags, and enter a whole new world of testing different content, offers, or even images. For all you Windsor Circle users, this isn't even the best part, since the rest of the campaign set up is the same, we can test within our segments for better control in your mailing experiment!

The only downside to this feature, is that unless you spend countless hours, everyday, in MailChimp (at least I get paid for it?), then is it unlikely you would ever discover this gem on your own. So now you know - the whole world of testing is open to your heart's desires. Best regards and happy testing, MailChimp-ers!