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The I Was There Case Study


I Was There was a company launched by a successful serial entrepreneur who remembered the Apollo 11 launch and wished he would have better commemorated it with pictures and proof he was there. As a result, he raised money based on a strategy to use Web and mobile technology along with advanced merchandising approaches to offer corporations and consumer commemoration services. At the last minute, he decided he wanted to do a soft launch at X Games 15 in Aspen to gather feedback on the idea and the technology. He hired Bellandi Group South six weeks prior to the event to help him launch it.

Approach Taken and Lessons Learned:

  1. Because of the short time to ramp up, we quickly recruited seven subs to help for very low prices due to the slow economy.
  2. We put subs in groups of two so the Xmas vacation would not slow anyone down.
  3. Two subs were on PR, two subs on event management, one sub on product marketing for content generation, one sub on SEO/PPC programs, one sub on graphic design and myself to help with all areas as needed.
  4. The teams were highly empowered to move fast and were told they needed to get results. Any obstacles were to be escalated upward. It was a given that there would be some overlaps, so subs were coached to be understanding and team-oriented.
  5. The turning on of seven subs in one week and the fast moves made by the subs initially shocked the system of the I Was There people already in place, but it quickly became an exciting story to follow as results started pouring in.


  1. The product marketing person was instantly teamed with the graphics person and Web development crew already in place and told to quickly finish the Web content based on positioning we worked out in short order.
  2. Visits were made over a two-week period to the mayor’s office of Aspen, the Aspen Chamber of Commerce, ESPN’s X Game’s group, Snowmass Ski Resort, KSPN radio (announcer of X Games), over 100 local merchants, four local major hotels, and a variety of local marketing groups. The reception was positive and many programs initiated based on ideas that came out of them.
  3. We bought a sponsorship from ESPN that included a booth, advertisement and the participation in a kick-off charity event.
  4. We hired an ex-Pro that recruited pro athletes to be at our booth for photos and signings for all four days. ESPN was excited about this and did announcements regarding it during the event to push attendees to our booth.
  5. We put together campaigns that gave away merchandise every hour and a snowboard every day for the best photos and videos submitted to our website via mobile or web-based technology. We partnered with KSPN (official radio station of X Games), set up at their headquarters and had them interview our CEO hourly with announcements about winners each hour.
  6. We ran PPC programs on Facebook and used Twitter and LinkedIn to tie into these give away campaigns. We had to launch this very close to the event and keep it small as this was beta software and we did not want to go too viral if it didn’t perform well. Looking back, this was a good decision.
  7. PR-wise, we were interviewed on local TV stations, put into local newspapers after we got the Mayor to use our product and do a photo opp, and picked up by several other magazines. We, again, were asked to not go too crazy with PR, but prototype some approaches.
  8. With regards to leads, we got long lines of people at the booth every day to meet the athletes. We had people creating IWT accounts for them while in line and teaching them how to upload pictures. We also got people trying the software based on the radio coverage (website at http://iwasthereproof.com) and contests. We gave away 20 snowboard and 100s of beanies, fleeces and scarfs.
  9. We designed posters and cards for merchants to give out that had a QR code on them, which led to specials done by the merchants. The merchants gave out over 20,000 cards and experimented with QR coded promotions.
  10. We had discussions with 10 merchants about branded merchandise they could sell throughout the year and QR coded campaigns they could run. Several hotels were also interested.
  11. We partnered with two bars each night to do giveaways and show photos and events taken from the Hill at the bars at night.
  12. We did on-the-street research with over 100 people to gather feedback on the brand, the use of the mobile and facebook apps and the difference in preferences of age groups regarding commemoration, photo sharing and use of social networking.
  13. We learned a lot. There were a lot of successes and some failures. The connectivity on the mountain via AT&T was not good and created very slow photo uploads. The iPhone mobile app worked, although it needed some improvements, but the Android app release had to be cancelled and the Blackberry app was Web-based and did not work well.
  14. There was a wide discrepancy in age groups for use of social networking and preferences for how they would commemorate their presence at the event. This was great info for the company and is being used to redesign their product strategy and marketing strategy going forward.

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