August 10, 2015

Great tech startups begin with a great development team

Ela Goczyńska-Han, COO/Business Development Chief of Coders Mill, at the company’s table at the Launch Festival in San Francisco in March (Photo by JD Lasica).

This is part one of a five-part series on “Rise of a startup: Cruiseable.” Today’s installment looks at the decision to hire an overseas development team, Coders Mill.

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, startup teams, angel investors, venture capitalists, developers, businesses, innovators, educators, students, journalists, travel analysts.

JD LasicaDuring the past 16 months, as longtime readers know (and this blog goes back a long way, to May 2001), I’ve gone full throttle into startup mode, working with my co-founder Giacomo Balli on a travel tech startup called Cruiseable. We’re out to make it much easier and more fun for people to discover, plan and book great cruise vacations.

Over that span, friends, colleagues and strangers have asked me to write about our journey. And while I don’t lay claim to unlocking major new business processes or media insights, I do think some of what we’re doing will be of interest to other entrepreneurs (current and aspiring), as well as journalists, innovators, analysts and anyone interested in how the travel tech and cruise worlds work.

Unlike most startups that come out of Greater Silicon Valley (which includes San Francisco, which now spawns more startups than the original Silicon Valley), we decided not to spin out a few prototypes, test them, iterate and move on to something else if things didn’t immediately click.

That approach doesn’t work if you’re setting your sites higher — and we’re out to bring some rockin’ new social and mobile innovation to the $38 billion cruise industry. So we spent the first few weeks not coding, but researching. Learning. Absorbing all kinds of reports about the connected traveler, millennial travelers and the next generation of collaborative and empowered travelers.
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January 23, 2013

Lean Startup’s Eric Ries on building accountability into your startup

Learn to measure what’s truly valuable to business development

Target audience: Businesses, entrepreneurs, startups.

David SparkWhether it’s the minimum viable product (MVP), pivots or continuous deployment, entrepreneurs love quoting the tenets of The Lean Startup movement.

leanstartupconf_logo“The Lean Startup is more than just the parts that fit on a bumper sticker,” said Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup and co-host of the third annual Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco. Continue reading

January 17, 2013

Techniques for working smarter — not harder

Work smarter because no one is impressed with how few hours you slept

Target audience: Businesses, entrepreneurs, startups, general audience.

David SparkBragging that you’ve worked a 16-hour day doesn’t actually increase your bottom line. Success comes from being smart about how you work, which doesn’t necessarily mean you have to forgo sleep and family to be successful.

Much of the advice Eric Ries’ book “The Lean Startup” speaks to working smarter, not harder. At The Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco, we asked attendees how they plan on working smarter, not harder this year. Check out this 1 minute 16 second video to see what they’re going to do. Will you do the same? Continue reading

January 14, 2013

Best advice on starting a new business

Target audience: Businesses, entrepreneurs, startups.

David SparkIf you’ve ever tried to start a business, you know that you get thrown into a world of unknowns. Most of us are dependent on mentors and others to guide us through a realm where we’re bound to make tons of mistakes.

At The Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco, I asked attendees and presenters, “What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you about starting a business?” We edited down our favorite answers to create a video of the best crowdsourced advice on starting a business. Continue reading

February 11, 2011

Startup 101: Put the product first, revenue will follow

Social activity in Manhattan from The Hotlist, a mobile startup.


Advice from three startups on the digital creation process

Jessica ValenzuelaIn any project you decide to embrace, there are key ingredients that must fall into place to build a solid foundation for success. We caught up with a number of new mobile and Web app startups and a user experience design expert from the agency side to pick their brains on the key ingredients needed to make that perfect risotto. That is, to build a startup from the ground up.

After years of working with brands and startups, it amazes me how great ideas get muddled when it reaches the execution phase. When I was part of a product management team, it was a challenge to convince executive management how design needs to be an integral part of the process. $3 million down the drain later, they’ll circle back and say, “Jessica can you show us those architectural sketches again?”

Here is a summary of the advice from all three startups with perspective from my personal experience in the digital creation process.

Timing is everything

When the visual search startup Search Me launched in 2005, the tech world was excited! $43.6 million later and only 1.8 million users to show for it, they had to shut down. The world was not ready for visual search at that time.

However, timing has worked very well for, a free mobile video calling service with 6 million users available in 135 countries and on 45 different mobile devices. Uri Raz, founder and CEO, adds that “the improvement of smart phones and video was excellent timing for Why limit video calls on the PC when improvement in mobile technology makes it more accessible and convenient.”

In the million and one ideas that you have in your “ideas” folder, look for one that the market is ripe and ready for. Observe the changes in the space that you would like to service, do your research, find the gap and improvements you can implement, then make your bet.

Find your product’s focus

Most startups don’t find the sweet spot of their product the first time they launch. It takes a number of prototypes, many days of testing, collaboration and iteration to get to the phase where it is finally ready for public consumption. Uri adds: “When your product is able to provide something useful to a massive group of consumers, you won’t need to convince them about its usefulness — they will make sure you succeed by supporting your product.”

A powerful example of this experience is when first launched in Korea. “Korea is one of our first adopters,” Uri says. “When we first launched, there was a flaw in our platform. Our system was not working with the structure of Korea’s phone number system. A user discovered a way around this and posted it in his blog. The next day Tango had 120,000 downloads. We’ve fixed that issue, yet this memorable act of love from our users is a testament to how our product is connecting lives.” Continue reading