entrepreneurs – Socialmedia.biz http://socialmedia.biz Social media business strategies blog Fri, 29 Dec 2017 08:16:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Startup Grind: ‘Find your golden purpose’ http://socialmedia.biz/2015/02/12/startup-grind-find-your-golden-purpose/ http://socialmedia.biz/2015/02/12/startup-grind-find-your-golden-purpose/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 21:16:03 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=27912 Continue reading ]]> Jeff-Hoffman
Jeff Hoffman, who was part of the founding team at Priceline and now runs ColorJar.

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, startup teams, businesses, anyone who cares about innovation.

JD LasicaI‘m back from Startup Grind 2015 in Silicon Valley’s Redwood City, an annual two-day affair that attracts thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world.

Here’s my Flickr photo set of 47 shots from the conference, which featured Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger, Bill Maris of Google Ventures, Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison and Houzz co-founder Adi Tatarko, among many others.

But the talk I was most taken with was by Jeff Hoffman, a veteran entrepreneur and public speaker who was on Priceline’s founding team and now runs ColorJar. Jeff encouraged the assembled startup founders to “find your golden purpose.”

I’ll be writing about my new startup, Cruiseable, in the coming weeks, and during my entrepreneurial journey I’ve come across many of the two-dimensional characters that Hoffman inveighed against: founders who are in it for the money, entrepreneurs who can’t decide which of a half dozen great ideas to focus on, investors who probe for an exit strategy before the startup has a solid entrance strategy.

Mike Krieger, co-founder of Instagram, at Startup Grind and part of my Flickr set

Steps to achieve your golden purpose

Some of Hoffman’s admonitions may sound familiar to those who’ve been in the startup trenches for a while. But it’s worth holding up as an example of stellar advice to anyone who’s looking to make a difference in the world, whether you’re working at a startup, a nonprofit or elsewhere. New entrepreneurs in particular should find his advice salient.

First, solve a real problem. When you encounter it, see if others have that problem too and want it solved.

Second, don’t focus on the money. “Focus on excellence, because money follows excellence when you build something amazing. Until then, it’s just a PowerPoint.”

Third, if you have six excellent ideas, set five of them free and focus on one. “You achieve excellence by finding something in the world that you can be the best at.” Amazon, he reminded us, “won a gold medal in books” instead of starting out as a marketplace for everything.

Fourth, you can’t do it all yourself, so assemble a great team. “Hire people smarter than you. From day one you should be planning to hand off everything you’re not great at.”

Fifth, find and understand your customers. “You can’t talk to them in sales mode or service mode. Go and hang out with them, have pizza and beer. Find out about their lives and desires.”

And finally, Hoffman advised, find your golden purpose. “You’ll find your golden purpose at the intersection of three things: Are you doing the thing you’re the best at? Are you doing the thing you love? And are you doing something the world values? If you are, then amazing things happen.”


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Lean Startup: Highlights, photos & takeaways http://socialmedia.biz/2013/12/11/lean-startup-highlights-photos-takeaways/ Wed, 11 Dec 2013 13:01:14 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=26602 Continue reading ]]> Steve-Blank
Steve Blank at yesterday’s Lean Startup conference. Blank developed the Customer Development methodology, which launched the Lean Startup movement. (Photo by JD Lasica)

Insights from founders, execs & Lean practitioners

Target audience: Startup teams, founders, innovators, product managers, business executives, social business strategists, educators, Web publishers.

JD LasicaOver the years I’ve attended or spoken at scores of conferences, across the country and on four continents. Lately I’ve been drawn to startup conferences like Launch (the next one is coming up Feb. 24-26) and TechCrunch Disrupt.

Monday and Tuesday I attended my first Lean Startup Conference, at San Francisco’s Masonic Center and Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. Here’s my festive Flickr set.

The Lean Startup movement, inspired by author and Stanford professor Steve Blank and popularized by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup, is, in Wikipedia’s words, “a method for developing businesses and products [to help startups] shorten their product development cycles by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and what he [Ries] calls ‘validated learning.’ “

Can these lessons be applied to your business?

Here are some highlights I caught on stage and in the breakout sessions in between interesting conversations in the hallways.

• “The bottleneck is always at the top of the bottle” — Intuit president Brad Smith channeled the great Peter Drucker quote.

• Smith on the philosophy at Intuit: “We are the world’ s greatest thief of great ideas. If you stole it from us, you stole it twice because we got it from someone else.” Bravo. You can’t copyright or trademark an idea.

• Christie George talked about Lean Impact social good principles and noted that social change sometimes takes a long time. Only 4 percent of the public supported interracial marriage in 1958; 50 years later, that figure grew to 86 percent.

• Patrick Vlaskovits: Penicillin, which saved more than 100 million lives in the 20th century, didn’t “go viral” when it was discovered. It had to be rediscovered some years later before it began to be widely deployed and embraced. Just because something is great — even monumental — doesn’t guarantee quick uptake.

Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn turned venture capitalist, shared some smart and pithy observations to startup teams in his short time on stage. At Eric’s request, Reid claimed ownership of what has become a startup maxim: “If you wait until you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve waited too long.”

• Hoffman to startup founders: “Figure out the money, or you’re dead. If don’t get distribution, you’re dead. If you’re not thinking about your product, you’re dead.” But, he noted, each startup has a different playbook or growth strategy on how to achieve all of that. “There’s no single playbook,” he said.

• More Hoffman: “I have yet to see anything that’s truly viral that isn’t free or at least has a free component.”

Wyatt Jenkins, VP of product at Shutterstock, urged startup teams to go big and not focus only on those 1 percent improvements. “If you only test small changes, you’ll never take a big swing.”

• More Jenkins: “Growth is a series of experiments.”

• Daina Burnes Linton: “Create opportunities to learn from your customers on day one.”

• Dan Milstein, co-founder of Hut8Labs: “You should stop working if you’re not working on the most valuable thing for your startup.”

Testing, testing

Testing — a key ingredient of Lean Startup principles — was a mainstay of the two-day conference (which wraps up today with a series of workshops.)

“Ditch the meaningless wins and go after the big visions with systematic validation.”
— Andres Glusman, Meetup

Andres Glusman, VP of Strategy and Community at Meetup, gave perhaps the best-attended breakout session in a talk about “How Validation and Vision Co-exist.” (Andres was on a panel I moderated at Blogworld Expo in 2010.)

Glusman recounted how Meetup went about executing “a design-driven vision” through a series of “iterative tests to validate or invalidate the vision.” For instance, two years ago anyone who wanted to launch a new Meetup had to go through a five-step process that “had all the charm of a tax form.” A developer came up with a prototype that looked nothing like Meetup’s website or design, but after a series of tests and iterations, it led to a much simpler experience.

“Beware the small win,” Glusman also warned. “Whenever someone says, ‘This will only take a day or two,’ you should be wary,” because it may take resources to support over the long run and drain from time from more important tasks.

In other words, he said, “Ditch the meaningless wins and go after the big visions with systematic validation.”

Check out glusman.com to get Meetup’s “playbook,” particularly this presentation on Lean Usability.

Download the speakers’ presentations on the conference website.

Photos of Launch conference for mobile startups http://socialmedia.biz/2013/10/02/photos-of-launch-conference-for-mobile-startups/ Wed, 02 Oct 2013 12:01:56 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=26116 Continue reading ]]> pablo-sandoval
Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants, former World Series MVP, demonstrated Zepp at Launch Mobile.

JD LasicaIspent the past two days at Launch Mobile & Wearables, a gathering of several hundred entrepreneurs, technologists and startup staffers in San Francisco organized by entrepreneur/VC Jason Calacanis and his team.

As usual, I did more tweeting than blogging, but I also captured more than 60 photos of the event, seen in the Flickr set above. (I still love you, Flickr!)

The grand prize winners were three startups:

SoundHound, a brilliant bit of software that helps users identify songs, summon up song lyrics on the spot, conduct voice search (including identifying radio segments) and much more.

Zepp Labs, which trotted out Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants and former Giants star JT Snow to show off a multi-sport training system, tiny sensors — and big crack of the bat.

MyTime, which lets you book appointments online with top-rated merchants, such as massage therapists, dentists, hair stylists, acupuncturists, chiropractors and other services.

I agree with the judges — terrific selections, all worth a look.

Photos of TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 http://socialmedia.biz/2013/09/12/photos-of-techcrunch-disrupt-2013/ Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:29:15 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25957 Continue reading ]]> mark-zuckerberg

JD LasicaIthink this is the seventh year of TechCrunch Disrupt in all its incarnations, and I’ve been to them all. Yesterday I wrote about some new social travel startups making their debut, and today I’m sharing my photos of the event.

Here’s my Flickr set of TechCrunch Disrupt (remember Flickr? I still prefer it to Facebook for sharing photos), and I’ll be adding more later today.

While some of the mainstays of the tech scene — Marissa Mayer, John Doerr, Jeff Weiner — remain the same from year to year, the new founders and startup teams — from startups like Udacity, Lyft and Snapchat — are what give TechCrunch conferences their sizzle. See if you recognize anyone! 

Top social travel sites at TechCrunch Disrupt http://socialmedia.biz/2013/09/11/top-social-travel-sites-at-techcrunch-disrupt/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/09/11/top-social-travel-sites-at-techcrunch-disrupt/#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:01:44 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25935 Continue reading ]]> TripTease
A taste of the Triptease site for crowdsourced reviews.

Triptease, OutTrippin, Diveboard ply the new waters of community-powered trips

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, travel companies, social startup managers, digital marketers, advertising agencies, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

JD LasicaOne of the most interesting trends in social media in the past few years has been the rise of social travel sites and apps. The newest of this new breed is on display at TechCrunch Disrupt, ending today in San Francisco.

I’ve attended every TechCrunch conference from the beginning, and rather than write about the entire event, I tend to focus on a handful of startups that catch my eye.

Today, it’s social travel sites taking part in the Startup Battlefield. Tomorrow, it’s photos of tech titans, startup entrepreneurs, industry thought leaders, angel investors and attendees.

Triptease: Visually rich, people-powered travel reviews

Triptease: Community-powered reviews that cover the best of travel.

Triptease: Community-powered reviews that cover the best of travel.

I first met Triptease founder Charlie Osmond at last spring’s Launch Festival and immediately felt lured in the aesthetics of his startup and new site, which has a high-gloss magazine feel to it. You can almost smell the perfume.

“Travel reviews are broken,” with little innovation happening in online review sites over the past 12 years, says Charlie, a former UK Young Entrepreneur of the Year. “Our reviewers cover the best of travel — not just the five-star hotels but quirky trips and fun things to do along with the higher-end travel destinations.”

At the very beginning, the focus was on short reviews of amazing hotel stays, and that still seems the clearest path to profitability. In recent months the scope has felt a bit broader, with a look at the Surajkund Crafts Mela near Delhi, India, the Mount Panorama Bathurst Motor Racing Circuit in Australia and other adventurous, sometimes exotic locales. The reviews are short and to the point — sometimes only a paragraph of text accompanying the eye candy roll of images, provided by the reviewer, the hotel or another source.

Community is at the heart of Triptease. About 100,000 users visit the site (or visit via the tablet app) each month, and people have contributed 10,000 reviews, all for free and all through word of mouth. The point, as in much of social media, is to showcase one’s expertise and good taste (if you want to sock it to a fleabag hotel you stayed at, look elsewhere). And besides, Charlie points out, “if you pay someone to write, you’ll get biased entries.”

Triptease will make money chiefly through partnerships and affiliate fees from hotels, and hotels have begun promoting Triptease to their guests. The community is growing at a robust clip. And now I need to decide which of the venues I visit deserve a writeup in Triptease.

OutTrippin: Pick a travel expert, not a guidebook


I like the premise behind community-powered OutTrippin: Enter where, when and what sort of trip you have in mind. Let OutTrippin go to work, with top-tier bloggers and travel writers pitching you suggestions based on the info you entered and based on their own experiences and knowledge. Then choose your favorite trip and receive a detailed itinerary with hotel and tour recommendations, insider tips, “local hacks” & ideas that only a fellow traveler would know.

There are probably a dozen startups focused on tapping into locals’ knowledge, but OutTrippin is focused on experienced travelers’ knowledge, and it seems to do it well, at least on a small scale.

The expert gets a piece of the action, and the startup gets a piece. Still, at this point, it amounts to just a micro-payment. (I didn’t want to test it out because I don’t have any upcoming trips and don’t want contributors spinning their wheels. But I will in a few months.)

CEO/Founder Kunal Kalro and his team have big ambitions for the brand, with a nascent series of brands — OutTrippin HoneymoonsOutTrippin World Cup 2014OutTrippin Family Travel and OutTrippin Experiences — already live.

The challenge, of course, is to get to scale by creating a thriving marketplace. Are there really enough bloggers and underemployed travel writers out there to power a service like OutTrippin? Maybe, if great brands like Lonely Planet continue to shed employees and slide toward marginalization.

Locish: Travel like you live there


Perhaps the holy grail of location-based travel apps is the ability to get personal, real-time, location-based recommendations from local experts. A raft of startups — including America’s Gogobot, TouristEye and AFAR, Australia’s BagsUp, Estonia’s Like a Local Guide and others I wrote about recently — is taking dead aim at the market opportunity.

Count Athens-based Locish as a contender, too.

Here’s how it works. Download the app. Register and answer a few quick questions about your taste and preferences. Ask for a recommendation about what to do in a particular city or location. Your question gets sent out to a network of participating online locals “who have a similar lifestyle and taste.” Check out the recommendations, select the one that looks best and get a set of recommendations, including venue, location, contact information and photos.

Tripsidea: Pack in more enjoyment during your next trip


Co-founder Sunil Ayyappan

Co-founder Sunil Ayyappan

Tripsidea offers a simple proposition: How can you be more productive with your fun during your vacations?

They don’t quite phrase it like that, but co-founder Sunil Ayyappan showed me how the site maximizes your free time. Screen one showed a series of random activities that a traveler or family might spend a typical week in the city. But answering a few questions about preferred attractions, things to do, places to eat and things to see, press a button, and behold! Tripsidea will reorder your itinerary so that it makes much more sense, with activities grouped in continguous areas. It then lets you review your itinerary and print out an itinerary of all your destinations, making for a more memorable trip.

As the site suggests, “Focus on enjoying your vacation and let us do the planning for you.”

Sounds good to me. Why not squeeze more fun out of your next trip?

Diveboard: The social network for scuba divers


I love passionate communities that bond over common interests. And while I’m not a scuba diver (I snorkel, though), I’m impressed with the social community that Diveboard has pulled together.

Open since April 2011, Diveboard lets scuba divers track and share their scuba diving experiences by providing them with a multimedia online logbook — chiefly a pretty series of photo albums. You can fetch dive profiles through a plug-in. Through partnerships with non-governmental organizations and universities, Diveboard helps scuba divers get involved in monitoring the undersea world and provide valuable data to scientists.

But the real value to scuba diving enthusiasts comes from its extensive database of diving spots, helping divers spot alluring species and enabling them to plan for their next dive. The service is free and will be supported through affiliation fees, mostly from dive shop operators.

Flights With Friends: Collaborating with friends on trip choices

flights with friends

Oakland, Calif.-based Flight with Friends helps you find and book flights — with a little help from your friends. If you’re traveling with a group of co-workers, family members or friends, agreeing on optimal choices becomes an ordeal when you’re not in the same room, says founder Kyle Killion.

It works like this: Select the friends or colleagues you’ll be traveling with, then select where you are going and when. The site — no smartphone app yet — searches more than 150 sites for airfare and hotel information, pointing to the lowest prices. Once your group comes to a consensus through the site, booking is just a click away. Selecting seats together looks like a fun task because you can see where everyone wants to sit and you can book together.

Spotsetter: An online social search portal


San Francisco-based Spotsetter lets you get personalized recommendations on the best places to go, ranging from weekend brunches to spots for your evening jog to special restaurants. A social search engine for Apple’s iOS devices, Spotsetter mines the big data of your social networks to obtain relevant recommendations based on the content that your friends have created on popular social networks. Definitely worth a look.

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Worst business advice given to women founders http://socialmedia.biz/2013/08/28/worst-business-advice-given-to-women-founders/ Wed, 28 Aug 2013 12:00:58 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25705 Continue reading ]]> Women 2.0 - Business Advice to Ignore

The entrepreneurs of Women 2.0 received & ignored the following advice

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, startups, small business owners, developers, venture capitalists (VCs).

David SparkIn April, I wrote an article 20 Pieces of Business Advice You Should Ignore. It was filled with often hackneyed advice that’s offered with little attention paid to the recipient’s business.

I followed up on this article at last month’s Women 2.0 Founder Friday event at Google’s offices in San Francisco, where I asked attendees about the worst business advice they’ve ever received. Here are their answers.

15 painful lessons you’ll learn working at a startup http://socialmedia.biz/2013/07/29/mistakes-youll-make-working-at-a-startup/ Mon, 29 Jul 2013 12:02:12 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25649 Continue reading ]]> 15 Painful Lessons You'll Learn Working at a Startup

Advice from entrepreneurs to smooth your journey

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, startups, developers, venture capitalists (VCs).

David SparkWorking at a startup is a series of one painful lesson after another. Startup entrepreneurs tend to congregate at tech events to commiserate or brag about startup life.

At the SF New Tech event in San Francisco earlier this month, I asked the attendees, all of whom work at a startup, what’s the most painful lesson they’ve learned. They had plenty, but each narrowed it down to just one. Watch.

Pearls of wisdom from startup founders & experts http://socialmedia.biz/2013/06/26/latest-advice-from-startup-founders-advisers/ Wed, 26 Jun 2013 13:29:20 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25355 Continue reading ]]> John-Biggs
John Biggs, East Coast editor of TechCrunch, at Bitspiration in Krakow, Poland. (Photo by JD Lasica)

Highlights & takeaways from the Europe startup conference Bitspiration

This is the second of two parts. Also see:

How to create a Social Startup

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, startup teams, tech professionals, investors, advisers, mobile app developers, accelerators, journalists, businesses.

JD LasicaYesterday I wrote about The Social Startup, my talk at the Bitspiration conference in Krakow, Poland, about the importance of socializing your startup from the ground floor.

Today I’ll share some of my favorite moments — from the founders, advisers and investors on stage, anyway — at Bitspiration 2013. Here’s a large set of Bitspiration photos I shot, and here are a few highlights of the event:

Don Dodge, developer advocate at Google, “Don’t fear failure, learn from it. You’re going to fail many times.”

Don Dodge: "If mobile isn’t a big part of what you’re doing, you’re going to be in trouble."

Don Dodge: “If mobile isn’t a big part of what you’re doing, you’re going to be in trouble.”

• More Don Dodge: “If mobile isn’t a big part of what you’re doing, you’re going to be in trouble.” The evidence is in: There were 500 million smartphones sold in 2012 vs. 350 million PCs, and the trend lines will be even more exaggerated this year. As for mobile operating systems, we’re at the tail end of a titanic global shift: US operating systems (Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Windows Phone) accounted for 5% global market share five years ago. Today, U.S. operating systems account for a 88% global market share of smart mobile devices.

• How many mobile apps are there? About 800,000 Android apps (Google Play store), 775,000 iOS apps (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), 125,000 Windows Phone apps, 70,000 Blackberry apps. Apple apps have been downloaded 50 billion times, and they’ve paid out $10 billion to app developers — half of it last year alone. People have downloaded 48 billion apps from Google Play.

Robin Wauters, Europen editor of The Next Web, had a lot of good advice for startup founders looking for media coverage. “Don’t pitch journalists at a conference or event. Try to pique their interest and reach out to them later.”

• And this: Go deep, not wide. “Find 5-10 journalists who will really understand what you’re doing. Don’t try to get wide coverage, find the best journalists to write about the news you’re trying to convey.”

John Biggs, East Coast editor of TechCrunch, admonished startups to get it right early on because they may not get a second chance with early users. “The only company that can get away with a shitty beta is Apple.”

Vitaly Golomb, a judge, to startup founder: “Foursquare is failing, so why do you want to build a more limited version of Foursquare?”

Tim Röhrich, impresario behind the Pioneers Festival in Vienna, shared the estimate that 5 billion people will be connected to the Internet in 2020 — in just seven years — vs. roughly half that number now.

• Internet darling Snapchat, which has that now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t app for Android and iOS, is now valued at $880 million. But hard for me to see how they make money.

• On the likelihood of predicting future trends in technology, someone quoted Steve Jobs thusly: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward.”

Alex Hunter, a key early employee, told some riveting stories about how Virgin America almost never got airborne. When it did, it made all its employees undergo a full-day brand immersion exercise. “We called it the brand bath.”

• Someone explained search engine marketing (SEM) nicely in just six words: “You buy certain keywords on Google.” Of course, that applies to ads, not search results.

A family tree and the close of my journey to Poland

On a personal note, the longer I spend in Poland, the more I’m vividly reminded of growing up in and around the Polish-American community of Garfield in Bergen County, NJ. Thanks to everyone, especially Bitspiration founder Andrzej Targosz and team members Joanna Kapłon and Edyta Kopytko, for your hospitality. You put on a remarkable gathering.

Meantime, I’m off to a little Polish village called Spie tomorrow to do some first-hand research into my family tree. More photos to come on Flickr — which I still think is superior to Facebook for sharing and displaying photographs.

And a side note: I’m hugely disappointed that there is NO easy way to publicly display a living family tree. If I weren’t head down in a project right now, I’d develop a new solution. My Heritage and Ancestry don’t allow you to display information about living relatives — which is just wrong-headed. (Those privacy settings should be at the individual level, not site-wide.)

Family trees aren’t just for the dead.

Past tech coverage by JD Lasica
Demo Mobile: The revolution is at full throttle http://socialmedia.biz/2013/04/18/demo-mobile-the-revolution-is-at-full-throttle/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/04/18/demo-mobile-the-revolution-is-at-full-throttle/#comments Thu, 18 Apr 2013 10:11:48 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=24770 Continue reading ]]> Vinod-Khosla
Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures at Demo Mobile on Wednesday (Photo by JD Lasica).

Startups show disruptive potential of mobile tech

JD LasicaAs regular readers know, I straddle the social media marketing and tech startup worlds, and increasingly I’ve been drawn to events focused on the disruptive changes wrought by the mobile revolution.

I stopped going to DEMO events a while back, given the richness of the Launch and TechCrunch Disrupt startup conferences, but yesterday I attended DEMO Mobile and came away impressed by the fervor and tumult evident on stage and off.

Here are 27 photos I took yesterday in this Demo Mobile set on Flickr.

As always, let me begin with a disclaimer that I didn’t attend to provide a comprehensive blow-by-blow of all the speakers, all the sessions or all the entrepreneurs in the Demo room. Instead, here are a few takeaways and highlights that struck me as particularly interesting with a focus on startups and entrepreneurs — to be sure, a decidedly small slice of Demo Mobile.

Highlights and takeaways from Demo Mobile

Some great quotes from the stage:

• Famed investor Chris Dixon: “The seed stage is about the team. The VC stage is about the numbers.”

“I like to have exploration plans. Other investors like revenue, I like more data.”
— Vinod Khosla

• The awe-inspiring Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures: “In our last 100 investments, we’ve never calculated a rate of return. I forbid it.” Why? Because it’s guesswork. “It’s more worth your time to go around in circles exploring where the roads may lead.”

• More Khosla: “I depart from many investors who like to have business plans, who like to have revenue plans. I like to have exploration plans. Other investors like revenue, I like more data. … It’s important not to pretend we know where things are headed.”

• Great Khosla saying: “A company becomes the people it hires.”

• Final pearl of Khosla wisdom: “Eighty percent of my focus are investments under $3 million. That’s where radical ideas happen.”

• Stanford professor, serial entrepreneur and author Steve Blank — the intellectual godfather of the Lean Startup movement — summarized these three elements of a lean startup: business model design, customer development and agile engineering.

• Some great quotes from Blank: “The startup is a search for a business model.”

• “No business plan survives first contact with customers.”

• “You have a series of untested hypotheses on day one. Outside of Stanford, we just call them effing guesses.”

• Best T-shirt pun, from Matt Brezina, founder of mobile gifting startup Sincerely: “The Fuchsia Is Now.”

• Garrett Camp, founder of StumbleUpon and now limo service Uber, says Uber is in 35 cities and will enter more markets in the coming months. “It’s a mixture of the local regulatory environment and the number of credit cards we have on file (from customers) and if we can hire people in the location.”

Messaging, canned video chats and mini-satellites

• The most amazing startup here may be NanoSatisfi (motto: “Develop on earth. Deploy to space.”), which says on their website: “We offer affordable satellite access with an open platform for development.” How cool is that? NanoSatisfi wants to put programmable mini-satellites in space that students and citizens can control with a drop-in code. Says founder Peter Platzer: “Imagine a future where teachers say, ‘Kids, don’t turn to page 57. Turn on your satellites.’ ”

• One of the more intriguing startups was Volio, which lets any business or entrepreneur pre-record video snippets in an interactive video chat format so that the video can respond to a customer’s or user’s question. It’s an intriguing technology that uses natural language processing but is perhaps best suited to customer service departments.

• The app I’m most likely to use? Just.me, from Keith Teare, co-founder of TechCrunch, and his team. Very soon you’ll find the app in the iOS App Store in 155 countries and 32 languages. Just.me is a combination private messaging app meets social networking app — think of a Path that lets you share photos, video, audio and text with anyone in your Address Book.


‘Demo God’ awarded to 5 startups pushing boundaries of mobile technology (Venturebeat)

Are you ready for the place graph? (Socialmedia.biz)

Mobile articles and resources (Socialmedia.biz)

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Launch Festival: ‘We live in the future now’ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/03/07/launch-festival-were-living-in-the-future/ Thu, 07 Mar 2013 11:21:03 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=24321 Continue reading ]]> judges
The panel of judges/venture capitalists at the Launch Festival (Photo by JD Lasica).

Conference brims with innovative tech startups

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, startups, businesses, tech sector executives and employees, anyone interested in innovation.

JD LasicaAfter three days of the Launch Festival, where 5,000 attendees jammed into San Francisco’s sprawling Design Concourse, one can be forgiven for believing that, through some cosmic event involving gamma rays and worm holes, participants were given an exclusive glimpse of what’s just around the corner. (So this is what tomorrow looks like!)

There’s no longer any doubt: Launch and TechCrunch Disrupt are now unquestionably the top startup conferences on the planet. They used to be one event, under the banner TechCrunch 40 (which launched Mint) and TechCrunch 50 (which launched Yammer), before the co-founders went their separate ways. This week I overheard more than a few attendees say that Launch — which has a mega-personality in founder Jason Calacanis where TechCrunch Disrupt now lacks one — has become the most essential gathering of its kind.

I attended as press again, and here’s my Flickr set of 71 photos.

Highlights of the Launch Festival

I’ll leave it to the raft of tech publications to offer blow-by-blows of the conference highlights. For me, attending is about getting a sense of cutting-edge innovations in design and business, of technologies and ideas that are still burbling below the surface but ready to bust out.

Here are a few of the many highlights for me:

• Launch founder Jason Calacanis riffing on the technological marvels that have come out of Silicon Valley: “We used to get lost all the time. We don’t get lost anymore. We live in the future now.”

• At the same time, Jason tweaked Apple for some of its shitty software. When you buy a new iPhone, what do you do? “You get rid of the Mail client and use Gmail, you get rid of Maps and use Google Maps, you get rid of the yellow pad and use Evernote, and you never use iCloud, you use Dropbox.”

• Venture capitalist George Zachary: When Twitter looked for Series A funding, its pitch wasn’t exactly earth-shaking — no mention of revolutions or deciding a presidential race. “It was about, where can we go drinking in the Mission District?”

• Zachary: On the day Google Maps for the iPhone was released, Apple’s top execs “were stunned (by its elegance). That tells me Google is now viewed as a serious competitor by Apple.”

Chamath Palihapitiya: "I was born poor, I’ll die poor. The only thing that matters is, What is the legacy of all that cash?"

Chamath: “I was born poor, I’ll die poor. The only thing that matters is, What is the legacy of all that cash?”

Chamath Palihapitiya of Social+Capital Partnership, a rags-to-riches underwriter of the festival, had some of the most memorable lines of the event. “In success, we will always conflate luck and skill. We always think we’re the best” when luck often plays a big role.

• Chamath, an early Facebook employee, said, “I was born poor, I’ll die poor. The only thing that matters is, What is the legacy of all that cash?” He’s looking for meaningful investments — like cancer research and DIY home diagnoses — that will change the world for the better. Not far away: Instant health tests that we do at home for less than $1 per test, using a $100 device to examine a drop of blood — replacing a $600,000 device and a wait of a week or more.

• More Chamath: “Your chance of success as a startup is one in 100, so you might as well swing the bat on something big and crazy and audacious.”

• This was the first time I heard Twitter co-founder Evan Williams talk at length about the need to go beyond the real-time Web. Just because something occurred 5 minutes ago doesn’t mean it’s no longer important (a point I’ve been making in talks for the past 3 years). Evan’s new undertaking, Medium, seeks to bring more context and signal to our discourse.

• A little over three years ago, Ev said, “We realized Twitter is not just a social network, Twitter is an information network.”

• Ev Williams on climate deniers: “It’s amazing, it’s maddening. Early on we were utopians and thought the Onternet would make us smarter. But we didn’t account for the amount of BS and press manipulation that certain industries would (exert). … Something about our information systems is definitely broken, and our political systems too. One feeds the other.”

• Ev on the Tesla’s electric, no-fossil-fuel, earth-friendly Model S: “the greatest car in history.”

• Ev Williams’ advice to entrepreneurs: “Do something that your really want to exist in the world, focus on it entirely, and something good will probably come of it.”

• There were no questions from the audience during the entire three-day event. I would have liked Jason’s team to occasionally pick a couple of questions from the audience in real time using a Twitter hashtag.

• I loved Whiplash, which is opening a drop-ship service center in Michigan. Send inventory of any kind to the warehouse, they’ll process, pack and ship out the merchandise so you don’t have to.

• Do you know about BYOD? “Bring your own device to work.”

Room 77, a Launch alumnus company, is now valued at $100 million. It’ll tell you what rooms are available at participating hotels.

• Dating sites are broken, so I loved the pitch from MyCuteFriend. After showing hilarious screenshots of anonymous creepy stalkers and concluding that “Dating is usually spray and pray,” founder John Furneaux laid out a concept relying on social proof: A woman vouches for three of her top male friends (real catches), and women in the network opt in to receive messages only from guys she pre-screens.

• The lucky guys from DiscoSync snagged $100,000 in investment funding after wowing the judges in the Hackathon.

• Brilliant idea from Jason during the festival: Next year, part of the cost of admission will go toward investing in some of the startups on stage, if the SEC allows it.

• Phil Gordon, the former professional poker player, has put together a 25-person startup called Jawfish that bills itself as offering the first real-time multiplayer virtual card tournaments. Turns take 5 seconds per player instead of 30 seconds or more. It’s social gaming, not real money.