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Mar 15, 2021

Meet Cydni Tetro

Cydni Tetro is a highly successful entrepreneur and digital monetizer. The art of storytelling and how to apply it for business growth and market leadership is woven through her career. She led technology commercialization at Disney and helped build a Facebook App with more than 100 million users. She founded a 3D printing personalization platform named 3DplusMe, founded a simulation platform named ForgeDX, and started a nonprofit, all while contributing to her community and raising children.  

Cyndi has been recognized as Woman of the Year, Contributor of the Year, and one of the Top 10 Coolest Entrepreneurs. She received Stevie Awards for Entrepreneur of the Year and Innovator of the Year and has been recognized as a Most Successful Businesswoman to Watch.

Building Skyscrapers

Cydni said in our interview: “If you can’t control your destiny, then it’s hard for you. You have momentary success, but you’re not in control of the outcome.”

In this interview, Cydni discussed four foundations she has implemented in her work to build skyscrapers. 


1. Being Consumer Driven: Creating Experiences and Connection


While working for Disney, Cydni became grounded in building relationships with the guests there. “It’s built into their DNA—that customer connection. Their organization is completely built around everything you do with guest satisfaction,” Cydni said. Everything was about the customer. Any time a project showed signs of guest dissatisfaction, it was out. 

When Cydni left Disney and started a new venture, 3DplusMe, her customer focus followed. This new company became successful by asking the question: “How can we, for a moment, help someone see themself and immerse themself in their favorite storylines, and then create this experience that truly transforms them?” Sure enough, her organization found a way to do just that. 

Cydni and her team created a 3D personalization platform which took 3D images and transformed individuals into their favorite character. What would it be like to be Tony Stark? With this platform, individuals could immerse themself into his character and truly discover what it’s like to be Iron Man! 

This product became so successful that it was taken to the Super Bowl, the World Series, Toys “R” Us, Walmart, Target, and more. This accomplishment came from focusing on creating an emotional connection with the customer.

Cydni then built a B2B enterprise called ForgeDX which focused on technology storytelling. This company built visualizations that showed the power of technology tied to business outcomes. “We were working with the Miami Dolphins and their CEO at the time used this term of: ‘You’re trying to create ubiquitous exclusivity in your experiences.’ What you want is to have an exclusive experience, but you want that for everyone,” Cydni said. 

It became all about creating “Aha!” moments so that consumers would stay engaged in every part of the journey or keep coming back. These experiences helped to drive customer behavior because the focus was again on the customer and building connections. 


2. Growing Ecosystems of Influence: References without Words


“When you build trusted relationships and deliver value, then it becomes a reference that you don’t even have to talk about”—Cydni Tetro

Launching their 3DplusMe program at Comic-Con was a tremendous success, all due to this “Ecosystem of Influence.” A partner of theirs, 3D Systems, let Cydni’s company set up space in the corner, which happened to only be 10’ x 10’. It was their first introduction for this particular product; however, Cydni’s company ended up with an enormous line of individuals waiting to have an immersive experience as a character! 

This is how they built and leveraged an ecosystem to have this success:

  1. Their company was partnered up with 3D Systems who helped them get a space at Comic-Con.
  2. Marvel, with who they also had a partnership, participated in the immersive experience.
  3. Marvel then shared the 3D results on their YouTube channel.

“Marvel was endorsing us, I got a deal with Hasbro from it to create a custom toy line, and a deal with Walmart from it. This company was built on relationships and the influence of a bigger pie. This ecosystem of influence allowed us time and time again to monetize,” Cydni said. 

When Walmart caught the attention of this program, they reached out to Cydni to do a product launch for Superhero September. Cydni cold-called into Hasbro for help in launching it, and they were able to pull it off in only 60 days after the initial launch at Comic-Con! Marvel approved, Hasbro created the toy line, and then they launched into 20 Walmarts around the country.  

Their ecosystem of influence saw the value in what was being created, which became a domino effect with other retailers. Cydni said, When you can build trusted relationships and someone does a transaction with you, then you get the credibility in building that relationship. So other companies say, ‘well, if you’re working with them, then it’s ok for us to work with you.’”

For example, another company of Cydni’s called ForgeDX built a strong relationship with Adobe. Because Microsoft saw Adobe using this demo platform, Microsoft signed up as well.


3. Conversions without Friction


“Anytime something is complicated or more of a hurdle than the value you’re going to give them, people say: ‘I’m out!’”—Cydni Tetro

Cydni discovered while building demos that consumers like to learn information, but they don’t like friction. Essentially, they don’t want to be tasked with solving a problem or thinking during the conversion process. 

In a funnel, customers are going to be looking for the information that they need to move to the next step. It’s important to keep in mind: What information does a customer need to make the next decision or complete the sale?

During the enterprise funnel, let’s say the customer becomes interested. Give them the information to take the next step, but then they need to see something in action that drives their engagement. It needs to be so simple that they could figure it out on their own. No friction. In doing so, they are more likely to make a conversion. 

Cydni was working on a demo for a particular company, which they wanted to be high-converting. She and her team helped this company create a product demo focused on the information that a customer needed to understand the unique value provided. They did just that by targeting four things that were unique about the program and the reasons why someone would purchase it. 

The demo became so successful that it performed 300% better than anything else the company had previously done. Form fills were even 28% better than anything else on their website. Another huge focus was the design strategy of the demo to make it interactive but not difficult. No friction. 

“The moment you have friction with no value, people just leave you or they bounce off of your site. Be really attuned that people understand the value in that next step because every time it gets harder, you lose people. That’s when you lose your conversion funnels.”—Cydni


4. The Success Based Pricing Model: Recurring Revenue


Cydni shared that there are many ways to generate recurring revenue. Here are three examples:

Through a Channel

Companies like Hasbro may have an action figure at Walmart but only sell a few per day. However, 60,000 other retailers are selling that exact action figure on the same day. This is a platform of mass distribution where a product can be accessed from all over or through many channels. 

Product Frequency / Subscriptions

When Cydni was a small retailer selling only one character, how could she get customers to return to her? She saw a similar company to hers called Lucrate become successful by creating subscriptions. For a certain price per month, customers would gain access to a comic collection.

Subscriptions create product frequency, but it has to have frequency for value. Cydni and her team could not accomplish this with their business model.

Per Simulation, Not Per User: A Success-Based Model

When building the next company, Cydni said, “While we’re building these product demos, we’re not going to think about them as one-time product demo builds. We’re going to build a platform underneath them that customers can subscribe to which will give everyone access to the demo. Every time we build another demo, it will be on the platform.” Everything was going to be about the platform: how customers access the platform or demo from it, how the demo is embedded from the platform, and how to give access to users internally or externally. 

They cracked the code and built a subscription model. This was a little bit different than other companies’ models because they wanted everyone to use the demos. So, they priced per simulation and not per user. Thousands of their employees used the demos so it became a mission-critical application! This is how they became successful. This had become a viral loop. When the employee uses the technology and goes to their next company, or works closely with another company, they share that technology with the next company.

Cydni’s company was able to get about 16 demos to play on the platform with thousands of users every month. This helped them forecast success for the following year. The subscription was built to be modified by creating a baseline price for year one. Then in the second year, the platform fee was based on how successful a given company had been the previous year. This allowed their recurring revenue to have a low-cost entry fee while also capturing value over time as usage and customer value increased.

Having a success-based pricing model instead of a per-user pricing model was a brilliant move. Not doing so would have discouraged the viral loop and the level of Cydni’s company’s success. 

“It becomes a natural limiter. In our case, we want everyone to use it. Don’t limit. Don’t make someone think about how they have to pay for a user. Let every person use it. Because if they use it and you did your job, they’ll keep using it.”—Cydni  

The success-based pricing model is a great example of thinking of the long-term, lifetime value of the customer, and not just the short-term per-user fee.

With the success-based pricing model, Cydni’s company cracked the code of their monetization success. 

Connect with Cydni

If you enjoyed this interview and want to learn more about Cydni or connect with her, you can find her on LinkedIn:

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Cydni for sharing your stories and strategies about building your skyscrapers with us today. Here are some key takeaways from today’s episode:

  1. Always be focused on the consumer. How can we give them the best experience possible and create a stronger connection? Work to give “ubiquitous exclusivity” in customer experiences. 
  2. When we build trusted relationships and deliver value, it becomes a point of credibility because we can share the fact that another credible organization is using it. That in turn allows us to attain the credibility we need with the next partner.
  3. Ecosystems of influence make it a lot easier for a company to monetize time and time again. 
  4. Anytime something is complicated or more of a hurdle than the value you’re going to give to the customer, people say: “I’m out!” We need to make sure to keep things as simple as possible for the user. Eliminate all the friction we can.
  5. Don’t give the customer all of the information at once. Instead, focus on what information a customer needs to make the next decision or take the next step.
  6. Explore a success-based subscription model to start a viral loop and improve the long-term, lifetime value of the customer. 

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