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!

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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?

Crave or Save: Fitness Bands

cos - bands

First off, I know that this isn’t that big of a price difference, but every dollar matters.

With the the holiday season getting on its way and high caloric foods on every dinner table I’m feeling more and more pressure to get in shape. The great thing about these fitness bands is that they’re an easy way to help one stay focused on their fitness goals all while looking pretty. I’ve worn pedometers in the past, but having a device that’s easy to put on your wrist instead of clipping on to some piece of clothing is ideal.

Now I was able to check out the Nike+ Rose Gold  Fuelband and I have to say I think that’s where my heart is. The design is so chic, and it’s something that I can see myself wearing daily. The little piece of rose gold makes it look high-end compared with the Fitbit. I’ve heard that the Fitbit’s are pretty popular, but in my opinion they look a little too techy for everyday use.

I do believe that both of these brands do a great job of blending tech, fitness, and fashion all in one. Do you have one of these devices, and if so how do you like it?

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Epic Motorola Fail

I was extremely excited when I first got the word that I would be able to get an off-contract Moto X on Cyber Monday. I’ve been living with an HTC Incredible since my last phone broke, and it’s beginning to show signs of stress. I wanted to find an Android off-contract phone since Verizon would take away my unlimited data plan if I upgraded.

Unfortunately for me and many others we were greatly disappointed with what happened yesterday. First, it wasn’t till after nearly three hours from when Motorola was suppose to launch the special deal that the sale price appeared in check out carts. Afterwards this was the screen that us fortunate ones who were able to get onto the site after refreshing multiple times came across.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 8.41.49 PM

The excitement from getting on the site quickly vanished as the next click led me to this page. Over and over I refreshed to no avail.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 8.42.07 PM

Despite having been lucky enough to get a full priced item into my cart and being surprised that the new price was reflected I was unable to finish with the purchase since the phone was not available.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 8.42.26 PM

I work in a customer service and tech related field and this was horrible on both fronts. I mean did no one do a stress test? With all the engineers and knowing this is one of the biggest online shopping days of the year why did this happen? The CEO did offer an apology this morning, which is great from a PR standpoint. It’s sad that they had to do it at all though. I’m wondering how much this debacle will result in lost sales.

 

Event Recap: Techstars in NYC Workshop – Killer Startup CEO

IMG_20131120_185740

Last night I attended the Techstars in NYC Workshop: Killer Startup CEO. I attended it in part because of my curiosity to see the incubators space, and because I wanted to see what type of information Matt Blumberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Return Path, had to impart on us.

To be honest a lot of the conversation was the same type of stuff that you hear at any of these fireside chats: Make sure you have a good team, it’s hard to find good technical talent, do reviews, and blah blah blah. There were a few points that he did make though that I thought were interesting and wanted to share with you.

When building your board of investors make sure they are strategically engaged but operationally distant.

You want your board to help you as you navigate the startup landscape, but you don’t want them so involved that it hinders your effectiveness as a CEO. By being strategically engaged they can help guide you with where your business should be going and improving, but by being operationally distant it allows you to focus on building your product without feeling as though you’re being micro-managed.

A good board will consume what you put in front of it. 

When presenting information to your board they’ll take in what you put in front of them. So if you give a ridiculously long in-depth analysis on your day-to-day operations they may want to be more involved with the small details, which isn’t an efficient use of their time. Now, if you present a  few pages of strategic goals that you need help with they can focus on those bigger picture items.

Limit the amount of investors and management on your board.

When creating a board you want to make sure that you get a diversity of views  and ideas represented through your board. If too many of your management and investors are already on your board then you’re just surrounding yourself with the same mindset.  By bringing in outsiders, who are still knowledgeable and creative, you’ll be able to get opinions that your team never would have thought of. They can also provide business insight onto what’s important to outsiders such as your consumers.

Key is to know what you want to get out of your board every time you meet. 

If you’re going to meet you need to make sure that you have an idea of why you’re meeting and what you want to get out of it. To meet just to mark it off in your calendar isn’t beneficial nor efficient for anyone involved.

Values and culture are less changeable than product. 

Everyone likes to talk about the lean startup model and being able to pivot or adapt your business when necessary. That’s great, but it’s also important to understand that there are some things that should not change like the values and culture you want your company to be built on. By creating  these long-lasting ideas from the beginning product, management, and features  can change, but your company could survive though those changes.

Good VC’s and Angel investors will give you their references. 

Whenever you’re looking for investors it’s important not just to find them, but to make sure they’re beneficial. A way to separate the good from the bad is often the good ones will give you their references and want you to speak with other CEO’s that they’ve worked with. This will give you an idea if the investor is truly a good fit or if they just want some of your equity without being helpful.

Those were the takeaways from last night’s event that I thought I should share. Has anyone received other interesting advice from other fireside chats that you can share?