Multitasking is VR’s Achilles Heel

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Hey folks. This week it seems like all I keep hearing about is how virtual reality is so awesome and how it’s starting to really take off. One podcast that I regularly listen to (Download This Show) was gushing about “the burgeoning world of Virtual Reality filmmaking.”

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Building a Better Budget

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Woo-hoo! I’m working on a new idea!

You might not know this about me, but I’ve been a wannapreneur for YEARS. I originally started this blog as a way to sort of goad myself down the road towards entrepreneurship. I figured that if I made myself write about it, I would eventually just do it. That didn’t work out so well. Like an unused gym membership, the blog languished.

But I’ve had some major changes in my life lately that are clearing the way for me to really work on a project. I won’t bore you with the details, but I have recently reached an interesting combination of being unencumbered by fulltime employment and hyperaware of the passage of time. Life is truly too short to continually put off doing what you want to do.

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Faves from Hustle Con 2016

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Last week, I attended the 3rd iteration of Hustle Con, a sweet salsa of scrappiness held this year at the Paramount Theater in downtown Oakland. Since this was my first year in attendance, I can’t give any comparisons personally, but I heard from other people that it was a lot bigger and seemed a lot more sponsor-y. My own view on that is: Good job Sam Parr (founder of Hustle Con).  Sponsorships make the world go round, and haters are being unrealistic about how things really get paid for in this world.

For anyone who didn’t make it, here’s a link to the schedule: http://hustlecon.com/#schedule

My faves from the conference were:

David Renteln from Soylent

Geez, this guy can definitely sell ice to eskimos. Here we all were, just mere miles from the ground zero of the slow/local food movement (i.e. Chez Panisse in Berkley), and he had me convinced that drinking fermented algae shakes is not only not weird, but likely to become the norm for the human diet. Love the ballsy attitude on marketing their products.

Ramit Sethi, I Will Teach You To Be Rich

If I’m lucky, this blog could someday be as successful as Ramit’s.

But seriously, he shared the best point of the day: the market will try to pull you down to the lowest common denominator. Don’t settle for being average.

Danielle Morrill, Mattermark

This wasn’t the centerpiece of Danielle’s talk, but she provided a great example of bouncing back after failure. Before Mattermark, she cofounded Referly, a social shopping site that I had toyed around with myself. I didn’t get very far with it myself, which probably was the same experience many of her other users had. It was interesting to hear what ended up happening with that – it folded – and how she was willing to pick up and try something completely different after that.

Hambrick’s Giant Burgers

If prizes were given out that day, the grand  prize should have been awarded to the owners of Hambrick’s Giant Burgers, at the corner of 22nd St. and Telegraph Avenue. It looked like they blocked off their parking lot until 10 minutes before the con started, and then opened it up so that they could charge premium parking fees to all the latecomers who were unable to get into the packed parking garages next to the theater. Then, at the end of the day, I’m sure they sold a ton of burgers to the conventioneers as they were leaving and heading home.

My fix for the 911 location problem

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John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on the 911 service points out that because about 70% of calls to 911 are made from wireless devices, most dispatch centers have trouble pinpointing the location of the caller. Yet, apps like Uber and the Domino’s Pizza app can find you with tremendous accuracy.

This is because of a lack of standards about how much data the wireless carriers will send to the 911 data centers, and for the technology used in the data centers.

It occurs to me that one difference between calling 911 and hailing an Uber is that on the one hand you are using the phone system, while the other is a native app. So – why can’t there be an app for calling 911 that is embedded in the phone dialer program on the cell phone? When someone dials that specific series of digits, it would actually be sending the call more like a VOIP call instead of how cell phone calls usually work. But all other calls would work like normal. Then the dispatch centers would have a cloud-based dashboard that joins up the GPS data with the caller.

Now, I’m not a coder, so it’s likely there’s more to it than this. But surely Apple and Google would have some manpower available to build this into the next iteration of their mobile operating systems.

Schnapps-Idees

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You have to use the German pronunciation to be completely correct: “Shnopps-ee-DAY-uhs”.

One feature of Schnapps-idees is that you can barely remember them the next morning.

Some barely stick around an hour. I was just thinking of something about five minutes ago, and I distinctly remember going through the cycle: inspiration, infatuation, deflation, then thinking, hey, at least I can list that in my blog. In the 2 minutes it took me to log in and pull up this draft, I completely forgot what it was.

But sometimes the darnedest things can come out of ridiculous fantasy. How else can you account for the inception of Snapchat?

Ode to Ideas

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It all starts with an idea.

You see something wrong, something that everyone suffers with regularly, and all of a sudden inspiration strikes like a thunderbolt out of the sky and you can see how it could be done so much better.

You work like crazy nights and weekends to refine your solution.

Then you launch it and the public is so grateful that they line up around the block to get their hands on it and tell all their friends to go buy it.

Techcrunch salutes you and declares you a genius.

Google, Apple and General Electric go into a bidding war to acquire your company.

You retire rich at age 25 and become a VC just to fill your free time.

Customer Seduction

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I’m starting a new service for entrepreneurs teaching them to apply the lessons of successful madams like Heidi Fleiss and Anna Gristina to attracting customers for your startup.

Call it Customer Seduction™

Key ingredients include:

  • Fine-tune your elevator pitch until it leaves them gasping for more
  • Give prospects an “extra” to tantalize them into signing up
  • Collect a massive amount of personal details on your clients
  • Devise creative ways to satisfy even the most deviant niche client segments
  • Make sure to promise a “happy finish” once they engage with your services

And finally:

  • Threaten to expose the most unflattering side of their data if they don’t upgrade to premium service levels

Have additional elements for Customer Seduction™? Share in the comments below!

R.I.P. My Startup

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Just hit a low point in my career as an entrepreneur. I really wanted to work on this idea I had for an ecommerce site that sells Sneeds for working mothers. But then I found another site doing exactly that already. And then another one. And then I realized that all the Sneeds I would be selling are already available on Amazon.
Clearly there is no opportunity for another Sneed eCommerce website. So my wonderful little startup has failed before it ever got a chance to fly.
In fact, the more I think about it, there is no sense in trying to start any new eCommerce businesses. All the good ideas are taken. Big companies like Target and Walmart are scooping up more and more online shoppers. Those companies, as big as they are, are probably all going to get swallowed up by Amazon themselves. How could a poor little Sneedstore ever hope to make it?

Where to get advice

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Hah-hah. Advice.
The only way you’re going to learn to be a successful entrepreneur is by doing it yourself and learning your lessons the hard way.
Anyone trying to give you advice is not going to know the special circumstances you’re trying to work under, so their advice is irrelevant. It’s more likely that the companies they worked for a) had more investment dollars to work with, b) were a b2b while you’re a b2C, c) were a b2c while you’re a b2b, d) started in a different phase of the economic cycle so everything was easier for them e) weren’t competing with ConHugeCo so everything was easier for them f) had customers who were not as smart as yours so they were easier to market to g) you are inventing a whole new category of service that will change everything.
Face it, ultimately, anyone giving advice probably just has some sort of ulterior motive. So you have to beware and keep your distance.