Here’s an idea. Let’s start up a new company that does energy market fundamentals linked to rock & roll songs. Do it with practical, commercial insights. Keep the quality top notch. Then give it away for free! Sound crazy? Maybe so. But that’s how RBN Energy got started 10 years ago, and it’s worked out pretty well. Now, 2,540 blogs later and with 35,000 members receiving our morning email each day, it seems like we ought to celebrate in RBN style by telling a couple of backstories that shed light on our approach to energy markets, delving into the whole rock & roll thing, and of course divulging a few deep RBN secrets never before revealed. Until now, that is. And there’s more! You might end up receiving a free RBN 10th Anniversary Commemorative Mug. Warning: Today’s blog is a trip down memory lane for hard-core RBNers.
The Genesis of RBN Energy
It's sometime strange how things work out. RBN blogs were born of necessity, a means to build a business while not violating a non-compete clause. Here’s the backstory on this one. It was January 2012, and I was preparing to launch RBN. The concept was to combine energy fundamentals analytics together with a network of boots-on-the-ground experts to address some of the most challenging issues facing the industry. In other words, bringing together real-world experience with energy data analytics. It had been a year since our leadership team at Bentek Energy sold the company to Platts, and I had fulfilled my requisite transition responsibilities. But I had a problem. I had a two-year non-compete that said I could not sell reports and data. However, the agreement did allow me to provide consulting services. My problem was that I had to get the word out that the company existed and that we have a deep understanding of energy markets, while at the same time not getting tangled up with the non-compete.
Well, even back in those ancient times 10 years ago, the answer had to be social media. So I hired a social media consultant who taught me all I needed to know about Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, wikis, and of course, blogs. As we were working through all the quirks of social media, he asked about my non-compete, specifically what did it prohibit. Well, it says I can’t sell data and reports. And then he asked the fateful question, “What does it say about things you give away?” For free? And that was the epiphany. “Yes. Post a high-quality blog about energy markets. Do it each day. And write it in such a way that the reader will recognize it is your work, even without seeing that you wrote it.” How the hell am I supposed to do that?! “You’ve got to figure that out, I’m just the social media consultant. Do it right, though, and in six months you’ll have more consulting business than you can handle.”
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