Archive for June, 2012

The Myth of the Serial Entrepreneur

Before Hacker News, and the wealth of Paul Graham essays that came with it, there was, for me, ignorance.

Of course, I’d heard about the “dotcom boom”, and, being a geek, I stayed relatively on the bleeding edge of tools and web-based startups. Hell, I even knew about Ruby on Rails and Basecamp. But the landscape of “learning about startups” was largely made up of the typical books you find in your average library, about “how to deal with your company finances”, “10 steps to marketing success” and other dispiriting works, along with more inspiring but largely useless biographies of successful businessmen.

So, when I stumbled upon this treasure trove of startup lore, it shaped my view of entrepreneurship for years to come. Thank you, Paul, for putting so much valuable insight online.

That said, today I want to, ungratefully, attack one theme that was common in those early essays, back in 2007 and earlier. Before I do this, it’s fair to point out that Paul’s view of this may well have changed since this was written (5 or more years ago!). There are many things I believed 5 years ago that I wouldn’t stand behind today.

Read the full article here.

Project Glass – Live Demo (Sergey Brin)

Courtesy: Kauffman Foundation FastTrac

Courtesy: Quora
1.Andy Johns, a bit of consumer tech product experi…
Never force yourself to be involved in every decision, even when you know the wrong decision might end up being made sometimes. It’s actually to the long-term benefit of the people you work with that they are allowed the freedom to make mistakes or poor decisions. There’s a Buddhist saying that I can’t remember exactly but is appropriate here. It’s something to the effect of “If you want to tame an animal, give it open fields.” You don’t enclose the animal in hopes of taming it. The opposite is true.

So broadly speaking I think the same is true from a leadership perspective and PMs need to be leaders. If you want to be a great PM, learn how to give those around you open fields. Each time they make a mistake or are given the space to figure out solutions on their own, they get better. Your team consequently gets better. The goal is to end up with individual contributors that have the sort of discretion and decision-making ability that you would hope a great PM has. You’re team is in really good shape if you get to that point.

Never force yourself upon all parts of decision-making. Never make the mistake of disallowing others to learn by making the decisions on their own.

2.Peter Sellis, MIT MBA, Fmr. Product Lead @ Ustream

I’ve made an insane number of mistakes myself, seen a lot of them, and learned from them. But there are three things I hate to see happen more than once:

Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic
Today’s product managers live in a world where data-based decision making isn’t just smart, but it’s hip. Everyone in the company has access to Google Analytics. It’s very easy for anyone in the company to be negative about any decision a product manager makes — either by finding fault in it early on or questioning the data upon which it’s based — and A/B testing and optimization are king.

However, there are some times when doing the safe thing is wrong. It’s easy to A/B/N test your pages to infinity, but you are destined to find the local maximum. Losing site of the long-term, big picture goals and just optimizing what you have means you’ll never try anything radical. Someone else without the sunk costs of your existing platform will, and you’ll be out of luck.

The deck will look great but the ship will have sunk.

Controlled Flight into Terrain
Possibly one of the more fascinating occurrences in air travel, controlled flight into terrain is essentially when a perfectly good pilot takes a perfectly good airplane and flies it into the ground because he or she is unaware of his or her surroundings (…). If you’re a product manager, don’t do this with the development team.

Roadmaps are extremely powerful communication tools. A clear and well-communicated and supported roadmap can lead to massive output improvements. But, in a similar vein to what I talked about above, it can also be a crutch to rely on the status quo when more aggressive decision making is required. Don’t be afraid to change organizational structures and focus, even if it means you’ll need to create a brand new pretty roadmap and backlog from scratch.

Blaming Others
When things go wrong, it’s tempting to point figures in either direction out from the product team: the marketing team, biz dev team, content team, QA team, or the engineering team. In reality, there will always be an infinite number of external and internal factors out of your control. Take responsibility for all of them.

3.Dave Saunders

Ask questions that only serve to validate your own theories. There are many examples of this leading to total failures. New Coke is a great example. There was a significant amount of market research done which served to support the theory that there needed to be a new Coke. However, it was done in such a blind context that the decision makers failed to see if people wanted a new Coke. It’s very easy to fool yourself into a poor decision as a product manager.

Read more details here.

Courtesy: The Next Web

Long gone are the days when billboards, print advertisements and direct mail alone were the only ways to reach an audience of our choice. Today, entrepreneurs can take advantage of the many avenues of the Internet — most of which are free or relatively inexpensive. Setting up a presence on social media platforms and testing out segmented email marketing campaigns are today’s most promising marketing initiatives for startups. Results are accurately tracked and leads are constantly captured — all without signing a big check or licking a single stamp.

Many have attempted to enter the world of business blogging — with little to no fees, plus the potential for an article to go viral, it’s easy to see why the opportunity is so tempting for startups in any industry. However, the initiative isn’t fit for every marketing strategy, and has the potential to ruin the effectiveness and the reputation of your business for good.

I asked a panel of successful young entrepreneurs the following question:

Constant startup business blogging: good, bad or dead and why?

Consider these perspectives before you hit the “Publish” button on your next blog entry:

1. Great for Discovery

Ben Lang Should your startup enter the world of business blogging?“It’s great! Take KISSmetrics for example — I never would have found about them if not for their incredible blog. They publish high-quality articles on a regular basis, and have made it a top-notch destination for entrepreneurs.”
-Ben Lang, EpicLaunch

2. It’s Dependent on the Startup

Caitlin McCabe Should your startup enter the world of business blogging?“Blogging can be a great tool if the startup has a lot of education associated with it or has an audience that reads a lot of content of a longer form. However, blogging for a startup can be really bad if the team is way too busy, and is only opening a blog because they think they should. If no one really wants to write it, it will end up neglected.”
-Caitlin McCabe, Real Bullets Branding

3. Awesome If Done Right

Danny Wong Should your startup enter the world of business blogging?“Constant business blogging is critical to any business looking to establish themselves as a thought leader in their respective industry. There are certainly many cases where a startup does not need a constant blogging schedule, but still manages to find a large community excited to read what they have to say. The real key is creating incredible content people cannot wait to read.”

-Danny Wong, Blank Label Group, Inc.

Continue Reading here.

Courtesy: The Atlantic

We’re about to enter a world where there are more tablets and smart phones than PCs. If you’re in the mobile advertising business, your rocket ship takes off in five, four, three …



This is the dawn of the smartphone age. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at mobile advertising spend. Last week in this space, Derek Thompson showed that consumers are spending 10% of their media attention on their mobile devices while the medium only commands a mere 1% of total ad-spend. Comparatively, the quickly “dying” print medium attracts only about 7% of media-time, but still captures an astonishing 25% of the total U.S. ad-spend, with print receiving 25-times more ad money than mobile.

The disparity between the two mediums gives a strong indication as to how much room mobile still has to grow.

Screen Shot 2012-05-30 at 6.26.25 PM.png

While industry analysts have become increasingly bullish on the growth of the mobile medium and industry behemoths like Facebook are building out their mobile capabilities with the recent acquisitions of Instagram, Glancee, and Karma, it is perfectly clear that advertisers have avoided chasing consumers’ eyeballs into this medium. While the ad-spend numbers don’t quite match the perceived growth, a closer look shows us that we are actually beginning to enter the golden age of mobile and that the advertising spending will follow. To fully understand this trend, let’s examine the features that characterize the rise of mobile today: its diversity, quality, innovation, experimentation, and cultural influence on society.

Click here.

A funny video, but an interesting initiative none the less. Get your kid to start coding after school.

See details here.


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