Philanthropist Spotlight: Brendan Iribe

Scanning through Techcrunch this morning I came across a story that not only inspired me, but gave me back some faith in the people that make out like bandits in technology acquisitions. The story was about how the Oculus (Hint: the company that was acquired by Facebook for $2 Billion) CEO, Brendan Iribe, is giving back to his alma mater, the University of Maryland, by donating $31 million to build a new technological hub on campus.

Image via Techcrunch

Image via Techcrunch

WHAT!?! Yes you heard that right. He’ll be donating funds to have a new CS department built for future generations of technology dreamers. For more details on what all this hub will consist of you can read the article that spurred this blog post.

Another amazing part of this story is that part of the donation will go to giving scholarships in the name of Andrew Scott Reisse, the Oculus Co-Founder who was killed last May.

I needed to read this article today and I hope you will too. With all the negative news out there about tech leaders behaving badly, ISIS, domestic abuse, California drought, and so on this reminded me of the good that people can do. It made me think of all the people out there who I know personally who are using their resources, whether a little or a lot, to give back and make a difference.

Regarding personal wealth it often seems that our culture is so focused on who’s wearing what, who bought what, or how much someone is making, but I’m more interested in what they’re doing with that wealth to makes a difference. I hope that others read this article and think “What can I do.” It’s not about how much you have or how many numbers you could put on a donation check, but about doing something in the first place.

Excited to read more about Brendan Iribe and hopefully others who are inspired by him.

 

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A smarter way to network: swivelCard

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 10.13.41 AM

As a serial networker and someone that has collected WAY too many business cards this new swivelCard definitely caught my attention. It’s one of the new breed of smart (fill in the blank) items that seem to be popping up all around us.

These cards differentiate themselves from ALL the others because it actually holds data, and no I’m not just talking about your printed info on paper. There’s a foldout USB stick that allows you to:

  • Host your website, presentations, pictures, and videos for your recipients. This allows you to lessen the steps between them and your content.
  • Gives you analytics to track how your cards are being used, where they are in the world, and more.
  • Ability to change content after the card has been given out.
  • Still share your info with people even if they don’t have access to a USB drive since there’s a QR code on the back.

How amazing/helpful is that!

They’re currently raising funds via Kickstarter, so if you want to change up your networking game you better put down some money so they can make these things. Here’s a snapshot of what you get for pledging:

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 10.05.57 AM

 

Would you use this?

My CNN debut is tomorrow!

It’s been a long time waiting, but it looks like my segment with Morgan Spurlock for CNN’s Inside Man is airing tomorrow at 10PM ET/PT. It’s been difficult to keep this quiet, I’m but glad to have stumbled upon this before it aired.

Now I’m not sure when my section in the show will be, but I’ll be nervously watching the whole thing. I’m interested to see how the Google Glass portion has been edited and cut, but regardless it was truly a pleasure to work with Morgan and the Inside Man team.

Hoping to have more opportunities like this in the future!

Near Seattle this weekend? Come see Google Glass!

If you’ve read through some of my previous blog posts you should be aware that I work for Google Glass. If you’re interested in trying on this much talked about technology we’re heading to Seattle for our Demo Days this weekend.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 9.49.14 PMDemo Days is when we open up the doors to the public (well you’re actually suppose to RSVP in case it gets crazy busy) to come and try out Google Glass. Here are the details

Location: Sodo Park – Seattle, WA

Date: Saturday, April 5 – Sunday, April 6

Time: 10:00am – 6:00pm

RSVP Link: http://seattlethroughglass.splashthat.com/

 

See you there!

3 reasons to stop the Comparison Trap

Everyone’s experienced it. The feeling when you see someone doing something amazing and think “Why not me”, “How come they have it better”, and/or “Others get all the luck.”

No I’m not talking about the pictures of weddings, babies, or fabulous vacations your college friends are posting on Facebook. What I’m referring to is when you’re working on a startup and those sinking feelings of failure you start to feel when you start to look at all the other successful startups around you. You see it everyday on TechCrunch, Mashable, and VentureBeat. This company gets acquired for [insert grotesquely huge number here] billion dollars, that company just poached [someone you’ve never heard of but makes a ton of money] from this massive company, and so on.

With the rise of startups it feels like it’s become easier and easier to run into folks easily and almost overnight turning their ideas into big money-makers. Now while competition is healthy, comparing is downright dangerous. Soooo…

STOP WITH THE COMPARISONS! Why you ask? Here are my reasons:

1. This distracts you from the most important thing….your startup.

Worrying about or constantly comparing yourself to what others are doing is a drain on you and your personal resources. This is when you need to be selfish and focus all that energy on building what’s going to impact you…your startup. So many of us expend WAY to much energy on what others are doing and that doesn’t help you develop your product, it doesn’t help you close funding deals, and it doesn’t make you or your team any happier.

2. You don’t know what startup battle scars they’re hiding to get to where they are now.

You don’t know what it’s like just to get that ONE TechCrunch write-up that everyone else is congratulating them for on FB. Also, I’m not saying that every startup goes through a Facebook like drama, or any drama at all, but every entrepreneur has to face their roller coaster of emotion at some point and you don’t know if you’ve had it better then others or worse. Also, many companies can be good at the whole Mr. Hyde/Dr. Jekyll so don’t think that since it appears amazing on the outside the people in the inside doing the work are happy.

3. Not all paths to success are the same, so don’t think by replicating them that you’ll get the same results.

Life would be boring if there were specific blueprints on how to get acquired for an insane amount of money, build the next tech empire, and be the next God’s-gift-to-the-industry CEO. The thing is this is where the fun, heartache, failure, and fulfillment are experienced. By not following someone else’s plan to the letter this can help you figure out what you need or need not do based on your own unique opportunities and barriers.

Now there are some startups that just try to do the whole copycat startup in hopes of landing that similar acquisition. I’ve worked for a startup where it felt that they kept continually pivoting in the hopes of creating something that’s already been acquired, so that they might be as well. It never seemed to work and just wasn’t a good path to success. Now I could be wrong and they blow up, but I wasn’t ready to keep going on that path to find out.

Okay, that’s my quick overview on the whole comparison trap. I do believe that you should be aware of what’s happening in the market. You should know how your competitors are improving, what they’re building, and how that will affect your product. The trick is to not get stuck on the feeling of failure and that you’re behind.

Anyone else experience this?

Crave or Save: Smartwatches

COS-Smartwatch

Now there’s not much of a price difference between these two watches, but while on a budget I have to make every dollar count.

In terms of looks the award goes to the the Pebble steel. It has the sleek appearance of a normal watch that an everyday person would wear, or at least what I would wear. I feel that I would either need to be in an active or extra techie mode to bust out the Sony watch with an outfit. I also feel that the Sony Smartwatch 2 has more of a masculine appeal, while the Pebble is more unisex.

Pebble has it’s own Appstore with over 1,000 apps for download. This is quite extensive for this platform and works with both the iOS and Android systems. While the Sony Smartwatch gets it’s apps from the Google Playstore, so luckily this watch would still work for me since I have an Android. Sorry iPhone users, but this ones out for you.

Does anyone own one of these? How do you like it? Does it make you feel like the image below:

Power ranger

Another blogging platform? Thanks LinkedIn!

Thanks to TechCrunch I just learned about the new publishing platform that LinkedIn will have on it’s site in the near future. Users will now be able to publish content that’s been currently reserved for Influencers, such as Richard Branson and Reid Hoffman.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 9.58.03 AM

via TechCrunch

This new feature will allow all LinkedIn users to create their own content via the site and then immediately share with others. Now while I’m excited to see what content my peers create, I’m also a little scared that my feed will start to resemble a flooded Facebook feed stuffed full of self-promoting posts. While I’m not against some self-promotion, I just hope there’s a way to ensure that I can organize what I see from my connections versus the already established Influencers.

I do think that this will be a beneficial tool for individuals wanting to build a name for themselves, especially if they are knowledgeable about a particular area. Sharing information to improve others is what I love about the whole social scene. So overall, I’m looking forward to seeing what the next-generation of Influencers will be publishing.

Luckily, my feed won’t be flooded with too many post anytime soon since LinkedIn will only be opening up its publishing tool to a select amount of users before rolling out to the millions. Not sure how they will select the users, but fingers crossed that I’m one of them.

Have you read other articles about this new tool? Do you think you’ll use the LinkedIn publishing platform?

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Tech Tuesday: Themer App Review

TTR-Themer

I came across the Themer app from this Mashable article and decided to give it a try. Turns out I like it! Well at least so far…it’s only been a few days.

Now while the choice of home screens can seem overwhelming the great thing is the ease in which you can change your selection. For my first, and hopefully last, choice here is the theme that I decided to go with:

Screenshot_2014-02-17-12-24-38

I decided to go with this image, since it brings back fond memories of my youth in Santa Cruz, California. Every time that I look down at this screen I can image that I’m back in California sitting in front of a beach instead of barricaded in my apartment in the middle of snow.

One thing that I thought was interesting was that when initially setting up the homescreen you do have to go through a selection process to indicate where the app will be pulling your email and such from. For some reason I thought that the integration would be seamless and that the app would already know where to get everything. Once I finished setting up things though the app ran well.

Now while this app appears perfect it has had it’s share of bumps in the road. One such issue was when they were confronted by Goliath (a.k.a Apple) as documented in this article from TechCrunch. So iPhone users you may have to wait to get your hands on this awesome app, since it’s only available for us Android folks.

Do you want to try it out? Click here to get the Themer app via the Play Store and start customizing your mobile experience.

Essential guide to fundraising from Paul Graham

After stumbling upon this article I quickly realized how fundraising for a start-up and non-profit are extremely similar. The guidelines that YCombinator Co-Founder Paul Graham states in his article are pretty much applicable for both groups. While there are a few suggestions that may not work for the non-profit side many important lessons can still be learned.

Here are some of the suggestions I like the most:

“Don’t raise money unless you want it and it wants you.”

If you don’t know what to do with the money then don’t waste the energy chasing it. For both groups this is vital, because you and your team’s energy is invaluable and not infinite.

“Be in fundraising mode or not.”

Again fundraising is quite time-consuming whether you’re trying to build a tech company or raise funds to further your non-profit’s cause. It is important to be committed to either making money to progress your company or using your energy to build up some other vital portion of the organization.

“Get introductions to investors.”

Like the image above we all wish that money grew on trees, but unfortunately it doesn’t. Due to my exposure in both fields I would say that I think it’s harder to get money and introductions when you’re a non-profit since it says it right there in your title…not for profit. For non-profits the rewards may not be as easy to gauge with metrics at first, but that just means that you have to dig a little deeper to get to the right people who want to help further your cause. This is why networking as much as you can will come in handy for both groups.

“Know where you stand.”

Giving up your values for money is never okay for either groups. While you should welcome different insights and ideas make sure your companies mission doesn’t suffer to get a dollar.

“Get the first commitment.”

Just like high school days peer pressure still reigns strong, especially when it comes to raising money. Everyone wants a piece of something that is going to be big or something that others are going after. That’s why it’s easier to get money once people see that others are committed and in. Spend time closing that first investor/sponsor and then you can show that others support your idea/cause and let them know why they should invest too.

“Close committed money.”

Money is useless to you and your goal/cause unless you actually have it to spend, so while promises are great if you don’t have anything in the bank then it makes no difference if they like you or not.

“Have multiple plans.”

Non-profits like startups shouldn’t rely on one plan. No one should actually. Being flexible and having different roads to get to your goal is essential for both types of organizations and for your success.

“Have one person handle fundraising.”

Others can help generate leads, but that doesn’t mean everyone should be closing the deals. For startups and small non-profits having one person to point all the money to makes it more streamlined and organized to see what you actually have closed and what still needs to come in.

“Be nice.”

Who wants to give their money to jerk. This is a pretty simple idea, but you’d be amazed how many people forget about this.

“The bar will be higher next time.”

You’re setting yourself up for how you’ll go at fundraising for the next round, so while it may be hard now you’ll need to prove yourself even more the next time you ask for money. Make sure that both your startup or your non-profit can show how the money was spent, why it mattered, and how it affects the investors/sponsors.

For Paul’s complete article find it here. Have anything to add or that you disagree with?