Archive for the 'Startups' Category

Save the bears!

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

You know Michael Arrington loves startups. How else could you explain this outburst of poetry?

Just like a bear in the woods (I imagine) has to slow its activity in the Winter as food supplies dwindle, startups need to go into cash conservation mode to increase their chances of survival when the market slows. They need to be prepared for a hit in revenue, and they know they can’t necessarily go to the capital markets to get money to stay in business.

But to argue that a company should always cut costs to the bare minimum is the same thing as asking that bear to act like it’s Winter in the Spring, just because someday Winter is definitely going to happen. All you end up with is a dead bear.

Well, good luck to all. Especially the bears.

Zappos: Above and beyond customer service

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Earlier in February, I attended the Customer Service is the New Marketing (CSITNM) conference in San Francisco. I first had a chance to hear Tony Hsieh (Zappos’ CEO) speak at SXSW Interactive last year, where he basically shared the same insights, but it’s so good it’s worth posting again here:

If I ever start a company, it shall be the above and beyond kind for sure.

Bankrupt Your Startup in Five Easy Steps

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

This was a fun opening session for SxSW Interactive, thanks to Joshua Strebel (President, obu web technologies inc), Andrew Hyde (Startup Weekend), Sean Tierney (COO, JumpBox Inc), and the amazing unicorn.

Session description:

The odds are your startup will fail. Why fight it. Learn to implode your company with style. This session will review some of the many challenges facing new startups and look at the reasons why the vast majority of big ideas never make it out of the garage. The panelists will address the five things that sink most startups and show you how to do it bigger and better than your competition, which is also going to implode.

Since, as a founder, you probably don’t have time to dig through the video transcripts (after all, you’re busy failing), here’s their list of neatly compressed key insights.

H.O.S.E.D.

  • Hand over the reins
  • Over-engineer everything
  • Seek growth before profitability
  • Establish culture of subservience
  • Disregard cashflow

S.H.A.F.T.

  • Show nothing to anyone
  • Have an exit plan
  • NDA
  • Funding = exit plan
  • Theme weeks for the office

F.U.C.K.D.

  • Forget your purpose
  • launch Under funded
  • miCro manage your team
  • be the King
  • believe the Dreamkillers

So there you have it. You should feel much better prepared now and ready to run your startup into the ground.

Meet me at SXSW Interactive, March 7-11, 2008 in Austin, Texas

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Just signed up for SXSW Interactive 2008.

Last year was a lot of fun, so looking very much forward to going again this year. SXSW 2007 was when Twitter really took off. See a list of Twitterers attending this year’s conference here: http://sxswtwitter.pbwiki.com. Given their recent performance issues during Steve Job’s keynote at Mac World, it’ll be interesting to watch whether the service will be as reliable and fun as it was last year. And fun it was, with half of Twitter’s then-userbase congregated in the same city (in a way, it almost felt like a location-based service). So here’s to hoping they can figure things out.

Also, if you’re coming to SXSW from Europe, I’m organizing Kraut by Southwest, a little get-together for the German and European community on Monday, March 11 (see Upcoming or Facebook for details).

SXSW will be my third event on this trip, following eDemocracyCamp (provided it actually happens, sign up on the wiki, Upcoming or on Facebook if you’re interested) and Politics Online Conference 2008, both of which will be held in Washington DC.

If all goes well, I will be able to share more details on a little project I’ve been working on over this past year, and which seems to finally be gaining some traction.

Trupoli: First look at participation/engagement metrics

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Note: Article originally blogged on Flickr on Dec 27, 2007.

Earlier this month, Munich, Germany-based Trupoli ended their closed beta phase and officially launched the site to the public. Trupoli lets you capture, share and evaluate statements by German politicians (federal, state, local) along criteria of credibility, agreement, and importance.

Trupoli: Top politicians (sort by popularity)

Time to take a first look at some basic participation/engagement metrics (as of 2007/12/27):

General

Total # of registered users: unknown (was approx. 1,000 at the time of launch according to the press release)

Total # of politicians (profiles): 3,910
Total # of statements: 2,484

# of politicians with at least one statement: 344 (8.8%)

# of statements per politician: 0.6
# of statements per politician with at least one statement: 7.2

Top 50 politicians (sorted by popularity):

# of politicians: 50 (1.3% of total)
# of statements: 1,674 (67.4% of total)
# of evaluations: 16,891
# of evaluations per statement: 10.1

Conclusion

Still too early for these numbers to be meaningful, though the patterns of a long tail seem to be showing (less than two percent of politicians have more than two thirds of all statements associated with them, while over 90 percent of all politicians do not have any statements associated).

It certainly is an interesting project, and it may take some time for its value to become apparent. My guess is that we’ll have a much better idea where things are headed by the end of Q1/2008.

Seesmic

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

First Seesmic post.

Facebook's impressive growth in Germany

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

According to this piece by Jeff Pulver, Facebook in Germany grew 30+ percent in just the past two (2) weeks: Facebook: Experiencing Viral, Rapid Growth outside of North America

That’s a lot of new members year-over-year.

At this rate, it’s not unlikely they’ll out-grow everybody else, namely StudiVZ and Xing. And keep in mind they haven’t even localized yet.

Startup costs

Friday, October 5th, 2007

Great article over at Guy Kawasaki’s blog: Financial Models for Underachievers: Two Years of the Real Numbers of a Startup

Numbers like these don’t get shared with the public very often. Another recent example is German startup Townster’s recollection of their startup costs: Was kostet eine Gründung? (in German)

Startups without name nor face

Monday, September 17th, 2007

I always find it surprising:

You sign up for a beta invite. Time passes. One day, you get an email after all stating the app, project whatever is now live. You sign up, you log in, and then, when you try to see who’s behind all this — nothing. No names. No pictures. No (real) address. No background info whatsoever about the founders or the team or the management or the backers or the first customers or their mother or their cat. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Sorry, but what do you think this is? Hide and seek?

I’d have to go back and look through all my beta invites to confirm this, but off the top of my hat I’d argue that the sites that get it (i.e. are social, community-oriented, and web 2.0 in the best meaning of the word etc.) don’t usually have this problem. Only the crappy, convoluted, un-pretty, also-ran, wannabe sites tend to lean towards keeping the most basic information forever secret.

Anyway, if you’re a startup, and your main concern is to hide from your early adopters who they are dealing with — you’re probably on the wrong track.

Playing with Listphile: “A good citizen is…”

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Listphile just came out and seems very nicely done at first glance:

Listphile is a free website that enables anyone to create collaborative lists, atlases, databases and more. Lists can be broad and ambitious (like a List of All Baseball Players Who Played in the Majors) or niche (Punk Bands from the Lower East Side, 1975-1980), or quirky or ridiculous. You can collaborate with other people to share, create, and make something that will benefit humanity.

I set up a little civics-related crowdsourcing experiment: A good citizen is…

Will be interesting to watch what kind of statements people suggest.

Via Techcrunch: Listphile: Lists On Speed