Anthony Bucci

I’m a founder, CEO, brand builder, investor, tech geek, family man and juggernaut. I’m most known for RevZilla. Expect a bit of storytelling, inspiration and insight as my different roles and perspective continue to evolve. I won’t settle and neither should you.

  • Wednesday night we had our first official SkateZilla at the RevZilla warehouse. Skating the miniramp has been great – skating the miniramp, eating grilled meat and talking eCom / social networking is that much better.

    I invited a bunch of old friends who I know skate and also happened to be talented web dev / designers over to “play”. What on a whim started as a miniramp distraction in our motorcycle warehouse, has now very quickly evolved into a chance for me to bring two things I love together and be reasonably productive.

    It also gives me an outside chance of getting hurt a couple times a month and everyone knows that I can’t resist danger.

    About 8 of us hung out from 6-10, ate drank, dropped in and talked a ton of shop. I will take that over the standard “meet after work for a dink” any day of the week any time I can.

    Our SkateZilla tweets even got retweeted a bit and next time around – in two Wednesdays on 9/2 – we may have a coupe more talented new web people whom I don’t know previously, coming to play – Granted they sign the waiver. 😛

    We are shoting for every other Wednesday. If you are a web geek who rides, shoot us a line.

    Obviously we took some shots for posterity. You can see them on RevZilla’s Flickr. SkateZilla #2 Gallery

    …and here is an obligatory video of me falling down the ramp – in High-Def, no less!

    Before you comment, yes I know it blows out the layout, yes I know I am not that good at skateboarding and yes I know that pads are for wusses. I don’t care.

    Booch

  • I started my company, RevZilla.com, a few years ago. My biz partners and I work a ton and I always tell people the biggest difference between working for anyone else and being your own boss is that when you own a company, every day is the same. Tuesdays, Saturdays, holidays & birthdays; you are still at the office or at least thinking about the business. You never stop trying to figure out where you are and how you’ll get where you need to be.

    I see a lot of people focused on the eventual end-goal and/or exit, which is fine. But I feel that that laser-beam focus can sometimes take a little of the enjoyment away from the journey, if you forget to come up for air.

    I have lost sight of the balance between fun and work at other times in my career. Most notably in my mid-twenties. Now more than ever as a business owner, a husband and a father – I refuse to let myself miss the things I know will make me smile that don’t take place behind my desk.

    I stopped skateboarding when I was about 16 years old. I always enjoyed it, but the lure of 10th grade, getting a girlfriend and high school sports were just too much. The skating lost out. By college, I had a ton of free time, but then I discovered the nightlife. The skating lost out again. By the end of college I was so focused on getting my career fast-tracked, that the skating came up empty once more; this time by way of the almighty dollar. I did, however, for the better part of 13 years, always want to learn to ride a halfpipe. It was always right there in the back of my mind.

    RevZilla has a warehouse now, so 5 weeks ago I went and bought a 4 foot half-pipe from craigslist and had it delivered (yes, delivered)… I bought some pads and a board too. As I write this, I am one month from my 29th birthday and learning (painfully) to ride the ramp. My wife is still confused by it all, but the smile on my face is all she needs to see to be completely supportive.

    This 28 second “run” was the fruit of falling on my head for the last 5 weeks. It doesn’t look like much, but I am damn proud of it and had a blast learning to do it.

    Here is the obligatory bail between runs for posterity….

    Riding “that damn halfpipe” has done a great job of keeping me sane this summer in light of the many pressures facing a new business launched into an economic downturn.

    While there are always times when work just has to be all-consuming to keep the company afloat, when I can come up with 30 minutes after all of my other obligations are fulfilled, I grab my skateboard. I challenge everyone to find their “skateboard” here and there, whatever it may be. You will be glad that you did. Those 30 minutes of falling on your head may just help you find your focus and your smile.

    Anthony

  • Tonight I guest spoke at BlobLive in Philly and told the start-up story of RevZilla. It was a blast, and I was flattered to have been asked to be there as an “inspirational success story” speaking first to kick off the night. It felt good. I always enjoy interacting with an audience, especially when I get to talk about anything I am passionate about. Its like a throwback to 2006, leading a pitch to c-level exec’s. Catnip for an ex Biz-Dev guy.

    At the end of the event I got put on the spot and asked “What are the 3 attributes needed to be a successful entrepreneur?”. Not the easiest question on the fly, but there are many “right” answers.

    I shot from the hip and answered “Optimistic, Relentless & Ambitious”. It’s a right answer, but walking out after the event I couldn’t help wondering if it was the best answer.

    Mulling it further, I wish I had a do-over. I’d answer slightly differently next time.

    I will stick with Optimistic. You have to be a dreamer to roll the big dice. Realists and pessimists have an easier time sticking to the norm – the big dice are scary – maxed credit cards, burnt savings and ramen noodles suck. Optimists are the ones naive enough to think they can will their master plans to fruition.

    I will also stick with Relentless, although to me the word carries a bit of a negative connotation. It feels like ruthless. While sometimes good business does call for bit of ruthlessness, I hope that for every one time that being ruthless is the right move, there are 20 other times where prudence provides me a more altruistic course of action. Unyielding may make me feel a bit better as it encompasses less of an iron fist and more of a sense of diligence toward the endless funnel of tasks.

    Ambitious has to go. Ambition is an afterthought affecting every decision an entrepreneur makes and it rarely a learned trait. You can be more optimistic and relentless in your pursuit and actively work on those traits. You can not be an entrepreneur without being inherently ambitious.

    The replacement for ambitious is a toss up between creative and resourceful which to me are closer than one would probably expect. Both of those words relate to an entrepreneurs approach to problem solving using the tools at hand. Many times unusual circumstances in uncharted waters can be very difficult to solve with a shoe-string budget. At times like those I ask myself “What would MacGuyver do?” – He would be creative and resourceful, and usually pull it off. Be MacGuyver. He always wins. And aside from hopefully finding a solution, you usually end up with a kick-ass story to tell later as an added bonus.

    To sum up, if I got a do-over, the magic three are Optimistic, Relentless & Cre-sourceful MacGuyver-style with no firearms.

    Anthony


  • Its 1:28am on Tuesday. I just got back from the gym and am raiding my child’s uncrustables due to lack of an adequate sandwich in the house and no desire to fire up the grill. It just struck me that, come this June, I will have been in Philly for a full ten years. Its also struck me that during my tenure in this town I have experienced a lot of Philly; some good, some bad, all memorable. Some of my favorite and easily replicable experiences are the hometown eats. Philly is a good food town – its been a decade of lunchtime decadence, if you will.

    I don’t know why, but I have been thinking about sandwiches lately. A ton. Here is my top ten-ish list of of unforgettable sandwiches in good old Philthadelphia.

    1. Boneless Rib Sandwich at The Rib Stand. Reading Terminal Market.
    2. Roast Beef Italian with Broccoli Rabe or Italian Spinach and Sharp Prov at Shank’s and Evelyn’s. 10th & Christian
    3. Diablo (Buffalo chicken, Green Pepper, Jalapeno Jack Cheese, Avocado, Chipotle Mayo on Sourdough) at the Foodery. 2nd and Poplar St
    4. Cheesesteak (Eaten Sober), American Cheese with Fried Onions at Jim’s Steaks. 4th and South.
    5. Roast Pork Italian (Roast Pork, Italian Spinach, Sharp Prov, Homemade Bread) at Tony Lukes. Oregon & Swanson.
    6. Cheese Steak (Eaten Hammered) Wiz, Fried Onions, Hot Sauce, Ketchup. Pat’s Steaks. 10th and Wharton
    7. Old Italian Hoagie (Proscuitto, Capacola, Sopresatta, LTO, O&V, Chopped Pepper Shooters on Sarcone’s Bread) at Primo’s Hoagies. 11th and Sansom.
    8. Buffalo Chicken Sandwich at Race St Cafe. 2nd and Race.
    9. Italian Brisket Sandwich (Brisket, Spicey Spinach Sharp Prov) at Dinic’s. Reading Terminal Market.
    10. Roast Beef w/ Horseradish at Nicks Roast Beef. 21st and Jackson.
    11. Wagyu BBQ Brisket at El Camino Real. Liberties Walk & 2nd.

    Did I miss any? When I have a massive heart attack next year – at 29 – you will know why. 10 years of eating my top 11 for lunch.

    Anthony

    (ps I have no idea, besides being very hungry at the moment, what compelled me to write this at 2am.)

    (pps – I just reread the list 5 minutes after posting. Half the sandwiches are exactly the same except for swapping the meat type. Am I that stereotypically Italian? I may be physically unable to not eat anything that is paired with Italian greens and sharp provolone cheese. Pathetic)


  • Today after watching the origin of KFC on the History Channel (I know I am a dork), I learned that Colonel Harland Sanders never actually held a military rank. Being bestowed the honorary title of “Kentucky Colonel” is the equivalent of being Knighted in England…. only in Kentucky. Look it up.

    There have been hundreds of “Kentucky Colonels” over the last 100 years or so. Notably Dave Thomas, Fred Astair, Clark Gable and the list goes on to include one Colonel Sanders. The kicker for me was that Harland Sanders, founder of KFC, adopted the use of Colonel full-time for no other reason than it “sounded dignified”. You self-important bastard. You’re ridiculous and I love you.

    20 minutes later I added “Become a Kentucky Colonel” to my bucket list and tweeted it. 3 hours later, thanks to friends with Photoshop – my dream has hath come true.

    I may not have the official seal (yet), but I now know what I would look like on the side of a bucket of chicken.

    Thanks Todd Shafer. I am glad you were bored. You made my day.

    For the record my wife thinks this whole thing is “really juvenile and stupid”… which makes me find it even more amusing.

    Anthony

  • I have been blogging for over 5 years and in the last year life got in the way of it. It’s not a bad thing, but it bummed me out a bit to slow down – even though a good chunk of my content (mostly from college) will undoubtedly ensure that I will never hold any public office.;-)

    In the absence of time to write anything longer than a snippet, it’s not that shocking that I have gravitated to Twitter allow me to keep a window open… realistically it’s a porthole.. but I will get to that in a second.

    Lately friends, family and colleagues have noticed my ubiquitous tweets (which now get auto-pushed to facebook) and have asked me about them. My usual quip has been “It’s away messages for adults” and then I send them Tony Hsieh’s blog post Twitter Beginner’s Guide– but I have realized that there is a lot more to Twitter than just the obvious social elements. A lot can be gained by embracing the cult of Twitterati.

    Here are the top 7 reasons why I love Twitter in no particular order (kinda-sorta)

    1) Brevity – A blog post takes time. A good blog post takes a lot of time… and if you are as long winded as I am – blog posts can end up as lengthy time consuming diatribes. Save the good blog posts for your most profound sentiments or for when you are really bored. IMO Everything else should be wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am. Twitter let’s you post bite sized nuggets by limiting your urge to write to 140 characters and forcing you back to whatever else you were doing before you distracted yourself. Its concise writing by design- and laconic posts are not only forgiven, but encouraged. The opposite of what, you the reader, is currently reading.

    2) A New Protocol – Twitter is a quickly emerging protocol that I would still consider to be in its infancy – or at least adolescence. That means its still the wild west and for the time being. Everyone and your mother is not on using it – which is great. While its always a blast to be one of the early adopters, the big benefit to being on Twitter right now is that the commercial signal-to-noise ratio is still relatively low. Currently Twitter is a lot of people, and a subset of companies, interacting in a 80% meaningful way. Twitter has not figured out to monetize itself, so its been that much harder for the spammers to monetize the platform. More and more companies are signing up, but aside from amassing cult followings and offering some special vip deals (i.e @zappos, @woot, @slickdeals, @revzilla ;-p) you don’t have to interface with any marketing or advertising unless you want to. Its nice now, but we will see how long the purity lasts. Most predict (and I agree) it will only get worse once it’s adopted by the mainstream.

    3) Offer more of yourself – One of my favorite things to do is be a smartass. Interpret that very honest statement however you like, but sometimes it can be very conflicting depending what medium I am working in. If I want to leave a comment or an brief message somewhere online, 98% of the time I am laughing writing it while hoping eventually someone will be laughing reading it. Since my blog is the first line of defense and may as well be stapled to my resume, sometimes the posts end up a bit stiffer than I would like for professionalism’s sake. It can be hard to inject my personality and a good laugh into landing page optimization and page title keyword SEO strategy without undermining a good point. For colleagues, potential employers, industry connections and everyone else on one’s periphery, Twitter allows for a nice mix of insight, humor and smartassedness all broken into individual thoughts. A broader on-the-fly showcase of one’s personality, interests and thought processes which, for most people, spills past their professional online persona. I can comment on eCommerce trends, rip a low budget TV commercial (Aamco :-/) and let people know that I think “Voltron is rad” all in a five minute span in very disparate tweets. Everyone should enjoy being less boring more of the time. Sometimes its just as engaging to make an industry contact laugh as it is to impress them with your knowledge multi-channel marketing strategies. (and for the record, I doubled back to my previous blog posts and realized that there is somewhat of a smartass element to all of my blog posts, just not as much as my Tweets ;-p)

    4) Exposure – The exposure factor ties right in with the “offering more of yourself” factor. Twitter is a great soapbox for whatever, whenever. Most people, including myself, start with a network of friends but, depending on what you share, your base network can grow pretty quickly. For a talented blogger, marketer, designer or entrepreneur for instance, Twitter is a great platform to be heard and get more acute or broad exposure to build a reputation, platform and eventually open doors. Don’t underestimate hashtags, Twitter API’s and the internal search with RSS, your Tweets can have a greater reach than you think. Dane Cook and Tila Tequila had MySpace, people with real things to say can (for the time being) have Twitter.

    5) It’s RSS afflicted with ADHD (sans Ritalin) – RSS is great for precisely aggregating all of the channels of refined information that we choose to read daily, weekly or if you are like I am, when I can get some time. Now think about all of those blog posts & news blurbs and anything they touch peripherally. Set their distribution to continually and instantaneously stream, fragment the sources and interweave any other potentially useful sources into the information itself. Its RSS with its amp turned to 11. Aside from your friends, who typically offer a wide array of varied information, many special interests and media outlets are continually Tweeting random news throughout the day. In my experience a good chunk the info is comprised of factoids, maxims, great quotes and anecdotal evidence. Very interesting tid-bits which unfortunately, sometimes don’t have the oomph or the depth to become full articles or blog posts. A lot of times these nuggets are my favorites above all else. See @bimmerpost, @dailyhistory, @venturehacks, @ twittermethis, @monetate & @technorati.

    6) Unrestricted Access – These days, just because you have someone’s email address doesn’t give you the right to email them. Unfortunately, in the age of relentless spam, sometimes nothing is more of a turn off than an uninvited email – regardless of its intent. Enter Twitter. At this point Twitter doesn’t suck yet. Follow your heroes, your idols, your favorite band and the business people you aspire to be like. Shoot them a direct message, or if you want to be slick @reply something witty at them based off of a Tweet they post. Your @reply shows up right on their page and depending on the enormity of their fan-base you may get an @reply and a follow back. Aside from the Philly region tech superstars (who shall be named later) which I follow, there is a great advertising / branding blogger out of Chicago who I’ve been reading for at least 4 years now. He’s got the sharp tongue of a “northeasty” but the insight of a guy who I wished I had more chances / conferences to hear speak in person. I have been following him on Twitter for a while and at some point a few months back I just fired a funny @reply at a comment he made. To my surprise he fired right back and now I have ended up with a light open dialogue that has persisted months later. Its a dialogue that for the time being is just that, a basic surface level rapport – but its access. Access I would never have gotten from an email through his blog. Those walls are built too high to keep the other 98% which are mostly spammer idiots, out. Maybe I catch a beer with the guy next time I’m in Chi-town, or maybe the conversation stays status quo. The point is that he’s the director of a major company with a hell of a lot of experience and a hell of a lot to say – and at this point if I really wanted to pick his brain, I could probably reach out and I’m 80% I would get a reply. I don’t care if you’re writing an email, a handwritten letter or using a carrier pigeon – I think its safe to say that the odds for connectivity in the more established mediums are dramatically less. And no, before you ask, it wasn’t Levar Burton (@levarburton).

    7) Visibility – If I was a kid and wanted to grow up and hit like Reggie Jackson, its pretty safe to say that at some point in my baseball career I, no doubt, would have attempted to mimic that classic Mr. October swing. All “ifs” aside, I know this to be true, because at eight, I did just that. Fast forward 20 years. At this stage of the game, I am now running my own company. So naturally the “hitters” that I want to mimic today are the smart entrepreneurs which I have watched build and enjoy the fruits of their highly successful companies for a decade. I try to mimic their “swings” by researching all of the factors that made their previous companies successful, what mechanisms contributed to those factors and the thought processes which allowed for the creation and positioning of those mechanisms. As long the entrepreneur in question was not a hermit, I can usually go as far back as I want and read the droves of information which has been published about them and their companies after their typical mid-nine-figure exits. That’s great backstory, but what is more exciting to me is what those key people have their sites set on now. Imagine if fairly regularly you could have a casual conversation with any of these superstars and they could tell you what they were excited about. Could be pretty enlightening, right? Twitter enables this visibility and sometimes I am still shocked and amazed by the degree folks will share. I follow entrepreneurs, VC’s and marketers whos opinions and decision making skills I respect. I read everything that they mention even jokingly. How’s that for continuing-ed? There is a wealth of some of the most talented biz people, who you would be lucky to see speak for 20 minutes, that Tweet regularly with useful links to all of the things that are on their radar. What else do I really have to say besides Thanks for the continuing ed’ @joshk, @sbarsh, @chrisfralic, @marobella, @dbrussin, @zappos, @richardbranson, @kevinrose & @the_real_shaq (so what? if my company folds, I am learning to be a journeyman rapper from Shaq ;-P)

    So there you have it, Twitter as it relates to me, the individual. I threw brevity out the window and in three and some odd hours I have weighed in on the extended “why” behind the question I have gotten most often as of late. In reality though I could have just summed this whole post up in a 140 character Tweet on Twitter….

    “Twitter is really new, cool, fun & useful! I like it. Zoinks!”

    For the record Twitter’s usefulness to my business(@revzilla) is a whole other post.

    Anthony Bucci

    @anthonybucci on Twitter

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