Life Lessons: Rochelle Grayson

Establish a market first, not a product

Rochelle Grayson, president and co-founder of artist website ArtSites.ca

Rochelle Grayson, president and co-founder of artist website ArtSites.ca, used to focus on perfecting a product before launching and then marketing it.

Before ArtSites, Grayson was the CEO of BookRiff Media Inc. The organization spent hundreds of thousands of dollars perfecting technology for the publishing industry.

But the market just wasn’t there.

“I think what really happened was we overbuilt it,” said Grayson.

The money dried up, she said, and BookRiff is no longer in business.

Grayson said she wishes she had done much more marketing before the product was perfected. She said she would have asked potential clients if her product made sense and what features they would need to make it worth buying.

“I would have had the graphic designer do a couple of mock-ups, and then I would have gone out and started talking to the publishers and said, ‘Here’s what we’re building. What are the issues? Does this make sense? What would you like to see?’ We had a great system, but we hadn’t built the market.

Grayson has taken a different approach with ArtSites, an online marketing and hosting service for visual artists to sell their works.

“Now whenever I have an idea and I want to introduce something new, I start using social media and a variety of other tools to connect with a variety of other people who might be interested in that product and figure out whether it’s something they want first,” Grayson said.

“Getting that information back is invaluable because it will save you the time and money of either going down the wrong path or building something that really doesn’t meet what people want or need.”

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