Bootstrap Companies Make Better Products

12 April 2012 | talking about Internet, Products

I am always looking for product inspiration. I have a little rule that whenever I discover a new web product, regardless of the product, I create an account and take a look around. On average this turns out to be about 1 new product a day. I tend to take a binary approach to products when I review them. They are either good or bad. You can always find issues but often it is very clear if the team behind the product is the real deal or not. If a product is good I often make a note of it and come back and spend more time with the product to see what I can learn from it in terms of new product development ideas.

I on a hunch I reviewed my list of products and compared my binary rating of good or bad vs if they raised early stage funding or not. Also, I reviewed only products that charge a fee to use them. No advertising based products. It turns out with this screen 5 of every 6 companies I reviewed as good were bootstrapped or took money after already having tons of revenue. If it is not yet clear, what I am saying is that there seems to be a relationship between great product design and being bootstrapped.

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Why Amazon Is Amazing To Me

11 February 2012 | talking about Internet, Leadership, Stock Market

I love I buy almost everything I can from them. Retail, hosting, media, and more. I even own stock in Amazon. I am a very happy consumer and investor. However, what I find so interesting about Amazon is not my consumer joy or my nice gains as a shareholder; it is their business model. In so many ways they have re-engineered traditional business models. The single most fascinating aspect of Amazon to me is their way of monetizing business bi-products.

As an Internet retailer Amazon has to make major investments in data centers. Trust me: Amazon runs on more than just a Linux computer under Jeff Bezos’ bed. They have built data centers all over the world. Normally, this would be a cost of doing business. In order to sell products online they have to build data centers. Using the bi-product of having to build data centers Amazon built a billion dollar hosting business, Amazon Web Services. Amazon leverages their infrastructure and rents the use of this space to web sites all over the world. This is like Best Buy starting a construction company because they are building big box retail locations. Amazon turned what traditionally would be a fixed expense into a most likely very profitable business unit.

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The New Age Business Man / Woman

9 June 2010 | talking about Internet, Small Business

Something that has been on my mind for a while now is; What does the new age business person looks like? As more and more consumer dollars are being spend online and less and less spent in person on the streets, how does this affect the first time entrepreneur? Really great companies have been built by people with simple resumes. I see in many ways it is becoming harder and harder for a first time entrepreneur to break ground on their dream because they have to do business on the web.

It use to just take someone that was willing to work long hard hours and maybe some start up capital to build a truly profitable business. Whatever business the entrepreneur was going to go into they did not have to have 20 years of experience working in the industry, however in many cases that helped. I have a close friend who went to college and graduated with a business degree. Other than odd college jobs this friend did not have much of a resume. He knew one thing; he did not want to work for "the man", and he was willing to work his butt of to make it happen. After much research he raised a small amount of capital and went into the fast food business. Today he has grown the business rather successfully. All this friend had was a passion and a good head on his shoulders.

The New Skill Set Needed

The above example is getting harder and harder with the move to the web. To launch even a basic business you often have to surround yourself with domain experts in all sorts of different niches. If you want to compete on the web. You need to hire a designer, web programmer, mobile programmer, sysadmin, web marketer, experts on understanding your market, and more. You can not just sit on a busy street count the people going by to understand your market. You can not just lease a space and open your doors. You have to surround yourself with domain experts that often are not cheap. So a good head on your shoulders and some start up capital turns into a bunch of people with good heads on their shoulders and tons of capital.

How Do We Solve The Problem?

The problem I want to solve; Is how do we move the world to the web but keep the "all you need is a dollar and a dream" way of business alive? I know there is not a simple answer and as the Facebook generation morphs into business people they will already be hitting the streets with a leg up on my generation and older generations, but I would like to find better ways to bridge the gap.
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Elevation Fitness In Private Beta

6 March 2010 | talking about Internet

I can not express how excited I am about Elevation Fitness. A product designed for personal trainers to keep track of their clients. I have been working on this project with an amazing team of people for over 2 years, and I am happy to say we went into private beta this week.

Elevation attempts to do away with paper and pencil for personal trainers and move their client management to the Cloud, where all software should be. If you are interested please signup for the private beta and let me know what you think.

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Stealing Is Ok! Might Even Make You Rich

2 March 2010 | talking about Internet, Leadership

Paul Wagner, (CEO of Forkfly), sent me this YouTube video today of Steve Jobs talking about how they build products. He outright says he looks around at what others are doing and shamelessly steals them. Apple then takes the stolen ideas and puts their own twist on the product often makes it much much better.

Through my past client work, and now through my work with startups I am constantly running into people that want to reinvent the wheel. They want to start from the ground up as if there are no great ideas out there to steal. In the web world I am very very confident that if you are trying to build something there is an idea you can steal and make better. I think every project should start with finding an example to build from. I don't believe in just trying to build something without a stolen idea as the foundation.
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Apple, Why Are You Becoming Microsoft?

3 February 2010 | talking about Internet, Stock Market

Bad Apple
Apple, I want to love you, I really do.  I've even put up with your high prices because your designs are sleek, your user interfaces are nice on the eyes, and you've been on the front-lines of technology advancement on the behalf of users.  At least, you were.

I'm not so sure anymore.  There's no doubt that the iPhone is one of the most innovative devices of the last decade, but the same cannot be said for the antiquated App Store.

The approval process to get your newly designed app is ridiculous.  Apps are not only filtered for content, but in many cases, it takes weeks to get approval for your app to be download by eager customers.  And why?

In today's market of fast-paced and ever-growing e-commerce, being forced to tailor your business model on the requirements of a single channel makes no sense.
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Douche Bag Or Brillant, I Say Brillant

19 November 2009 | talking about Internet, Leadership

So I continue to not be sure if I am in Gary Vaynerchuk's camp or not yet. He is too new. Will he be a voice and a business leader in 2020? I don't know. I sure hope so. The problem and at the same time the driving force of Gary is the first thing everyone says is wow that guy is a "Dush-Bag", but yet they keep listening. We are so instilled not to like someone like that, but yet this new world is changing our social norms. Yeah he comes on strong. Yeah he has a bit of a know-it-all fashion to him. I feel the same way about Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, and Donald Trump. Would you call anyone of those guys Dush-Bags now? All those guys have built empires. Gary has a long ways to go before he will be next to those guys, but the thing is he is very much like those guys. He gets it!!! He sees how the marketing world is changing. He see the power of content. He see the power of self branding. He also understands hard work. If you believe in him or not right now it does not matter, but if you do not realize this guy has a amazing view of business and one route you can travel with it, your a fool. Until I get to meet Gary, or until I can publicly trade his stock (that is when the truth comes out), I will continue to keep my Dush-Bag flag radar on, but will truly admire him as a business person.

I just watched the video below. This guy is dead on when it come to social media. Everyone that is interested in how the world is changing should watch this video.

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I Think I Am Going To Buy Crush It By Gary Vaynerchuck

22 October 2009 | talking about Internet, Small Business

I just watched a great interview of Gary Vaynerchuk by Rick Turoczy (@turoczy) at his blog Silicon Florist. I watch Gary a bunch on the internet but unlike many things I see seek out I have never drank the Gary Vaynerchuk Kool Aid. Often when I find a blog or some great site I get all hyped up on it and visit the site everyday. I have always been a random passer by'er of so I never really understood why everyone was getting all jazzed on his new book CurshIt.
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