Archive for the 'Entrepreneurship' 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.


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


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


  • 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: 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.

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)

Dev House Cologne

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Check it out! The Dev House Cologne wiki just launched.

Inspired by DevHouse and Barcamp, this event aims to be a party for developers and designers to share and advance ideas, projects and visions.

No date has been set yet, but I’m pretty sure it will be super happy.

I’ve seen a need for more transatlantic bridging for quite some time now. Glad it is catching on.

CommunityNext: The Patent-Pending skinnyCorp Method for Creating Online Awesomeness and Other Cool Stuff

Monday, February 26th, 2007

This is another session from CommunityNext that I think really stood out.

The Threadless project started as a hobby. The goal was never to turn it into money — the founders were simply interested in art.

Again, it’s people doing what they are passionate about and doing it very, very well, and Jeffrey Kalmikoff and Jake Nickell of skinnyCorp give a prime example of that. Their motto is: “If we’re not having fun, we’re done!” (their measuring metric: a fun scale).

Their four commandments are:

  1. Allow your content to be created by its community (and by content they mean pretty much anything).
  2. Put your project in the hands of its community.
  3. Let your community grow itself.
  4. Reward the community that makes your project possible.

I mean, think of how much fun it must be to be able to come up with stuff like this (at work, that is).

Watch the video here.

Tony Conrad on startups

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

A hybrid perspective: Tony Conrad, VC investor in Oddpost turned founder of Sphere

What lessons did you learn from Oddpost and other companies you have been involved that can be applied to any startup?


The lesson is: Always start with an interesting problem to solve. When you start, you don’t know if its a big market. The startup process allows you to better understand how big the problem is that you want to solve and to determine how big the market opportunity is if you solve the problem.


You have seen it as a VC and and entrepreneur, what are the top three factors that determine success of a startup?

I have worked with several startups as a VC and thinking back, I think some advice I got from Bill Draper early on, really works “Always bet on people, A-quality people won’t chase B-quality opportunities”.

StartupStories has more first-hand startup stories.

Via Thomas Gigold: StartupStories