Posts Tagged ‘Brad Feld’

A Steve Jobs Approach to Product Development

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Today I was reading a post from one of my favorite VC bloggers, Brad Feld, in which he included a really inspiring video (embedded below). In this video Steve Jobs is responding a pretty caustic question from the audience. Turns out that the question doesn’t really matter, but Steve Jobs offers a fascinating insight into the idea of developing with the customer in mind first as opposed to seeing how a technology can benefit the customer.

I love ideas like this that provide a new lens for looking at a business. I am quite sure that as I talk about ideas for businesses with people I’m now going to regularly ask them about the customer experience they want to achieve. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure a number of the responses to that question will go something like, “Umm…Yeah…Ummm…That’s a good question. I just really love this simple technology that’s able to do XYZ function.” Helping them understand the customer focused approach will be a challenge.

I hope others hold me accountable for it too.

The Effect of Making Money Blogging

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Blogging is absolutely fantastic. It has opened up so many doors for me to do cool things. Not to mention, it’s liberated me from working for someone else. I can’t tell you how fantastic that’s been for me and for my family. I love my life.

With that said, it’s important for people to realize how blogging changes over time. Most people start blogging just for fun. That’s how I started. I was just playing around with the blogging software. I had no clue what to publish and I definitely didn’t intend to become a full time blogger.

What makes blogging so much fun? There are a ton of reasons. One of the best is that it’s therapeutic and incredibly satisfying to produce some content. Not to mention, it’s pretty cool to think that you could make some money blogging. Whether you actually make much or not doesn’t change the fact that the dream of making money is awesome too.

Blogging is also a great way to show your knowledge and expertise. Plus, you get a great chance to learn from other people. If you get involved with one of the various community of bloggers, it’s amazing how cool it is to be apart of a community. It’s incredibly satisfying.

Once you start getting some readers of the content you created, the blogging satisfaction REALLY kicks in. Seeing a spike in traffic to your blog is an absolutely fantastic sensation. In fact, 5 years into blogging and it’s still satisfying. It’s like an adrenaline rush. Don’t ask me why it is this way. It just is.

At some point if your blog becomes popular, you’re going to have opportunities to make money blogging. In my case, I had people emailing me about advertising on the site. I hadn’t really considered the idea, and so I just pulled some number out of my hat and told them I’d be happy to have them advertise. I must admit that’s pretty cool. Think about it. You’re now getting paid to do something you were already doing for free. That’s not half bad.

The challenge comes when you continue to grow your blogs and start making a bunch of money. I’m talking about when you start relying on that income for all or part of your livelihood. Once this happens, your outlook on blogging changes. I think that Brad Feld described it well in his blog post about his Paid Content Experiment.

His first point really hit home for me, “Strange Pressure to Produce”

It’s hard to describe why this happens, but I tell you it does. My situation is a bit different from his. He had readers pay for content. In my case, it’s my advertisers that expect me to produce a great product. My product is the great content on my blogs. Not to mention that they likely expect consistent great content.

The difference from those first advertisers is that if they advertisers chose not to renew, it didn’t matter because I wasn’t necessarily relying on that income. Even my PPC ads aren’t as big a deal. If I don’t do as much I don’t make as much from my PPC ads (although even that has some pressure if I start relying on it too much). However, with advertisers paying you each month there’s a self imposed expectation that your blogs will continue to deliver what they’re paying you for.

Honestly, I might be making it sound like more than it is. I have confidence in my ability to deliver great content consistently. Plus, it’s pretty satisfying when traffic and what you provide advertisers continues to grow. Not to mention the incredible satisfaction you get when an advertiser on your site continues to renew month after month.

The only problem when this happens is that then you’ll slowly get more and more advertisers. Yes, the more advertisers you get, the more pressure there is to deliver a great product and thus the cycle goes. I guess this is why it’s so important to try and diversify your revenue streams as much as possible. That helps at least partially alleviate the pressure. My other goal is to reach 150% of our “family burn rate.” Having that extra 50% I imagine will really provide that extra leeway in case something happens with your blog revenue. Not to mention then we can start saving more and more for those rainy days as well.

I’m not writing this as a sort of “pity me.” Like I said at the beginning blogging full time is GREAT! I love it and I can’t imagine not blogging. I’m just hoping to share how blogging changes as you start to make and rely on the money your blog makes.

I think that’s also why I blog on this site. I’m not trying to make money on this blog. So, I can enjoy blogging the same way I did when I first started.

Internet Entrepreneurship in Las Vegas

Friday, October 8th, 2010

I first moved to Las Vegas a little over 5 years ago. I’d heard good things about living in Las Vegas and to be honest I moved here to be close to family. Luckily family has moved away and so it’s just my wife and our family again and we like it that way. Although, that’s a topic of another blog post.

I must admit that I didn’t move to Las Vegas because I was an internet entrepreneur and Las Vegas is the perfect place to be an entrepreneur. Obviously, if i wanted to do that I would have just moved to Silicon Valley. Although, I’m not a fan of that area, so I’d probably move to the next best thing: Boston (and yes, I know there are a few other decent places as well). In fact, a couple years back I was really close to picking up my family and moving to Boston with a contest called YouBeTheVC to be a full time internet entrepreneur working the forever long hours in a very expensive place and wondering how exactly I was going to feed my family.

To be honest, it actually sounded really exciting to me. I’ve been to Boston a few times and LOVED it there. I hate the cost of everything, but I would have loved to be in that are and be part of what seems to be a much larger internet startup scene. Well, I didn’t win the contest (Thankfully since it turned out to be kind of a sham) and so I stayed in Las Vegas. Long story short, I kept building my blogs and learning about internet startup companies while I was in Las Vegas (you can see my full blog story at Word Camp Las Vegas in a couple weeks).

Now I’m working full time on the idea I was planning to build in Boston, Giving Sports Fundraising. However, I’m not in Boston, I’m in Las Vegas.

In the 5 years I’ve lived in Las Vegas, I’ve done quite a bit of networking. Let’s just say that I haven’t had many chances to associate with other internet entrepreneurs. I started thinking about this when I read Brad Feld’s blog post about creating a startup community in Boulder. It was cool to hear him talk about what’s happened in Boulder with internet startup companies. I wish that the same thing would happen in Las Vegas.

I’ve actually met quite a few entrepreneurs here in Las Vegas. Just not that many internet entrepreneurs. I wonder what could be done to change that. Especially since I really don’t have any immediate plans to leave Las Vegas. I never thought I’d admit it, but honestly my family and I are quite happy right here.

My Own TechStars or Ycombinator Like Summer

Friday, August 13th, 2010

I was recently watching some of the videos that they created for the end of TechStars Boulder that were posted on Brad Feld’s blog. As I watched the various founders on the videos, I came to an interesting realization. My summer had been very similar to there summer. I basically created my own little TechStars summer and built a company just like them.

I started out on April 1st when I quit my day job to work on Giving Sports and Giving Square full time. It was a big move for me, but very exciting. Similar to TechStars or Ycombinator, my goal was to relatively quickly (months) create a website and launch it. August 3rd I officially launched Giving Sports achieving that part of the goal. Woot!

Now I’m just entering the second stage of the process where I start building up the customer base and iterating the product over and over. It’s very exciting as I’m just finalizing the details with a number of organizations that plan to use the websites and I’m talking with a dozen more organizations.

Of course, my experience in some ways was quite different than those at TechStars. First, I didn’t have all the mentor ship that they received in the program. However, in some respects I feel like I have some of the same mentors. The blogs (Fred Wilson, Brad Feld and Mark Suster are some favorites), websites, videos, etc that are out there on internet startup companies are tremendous. Twitter and my Feed Reader have been pretty amazing mentors for me.

No doubt I didn’t have the same type of exposure that they have had. Nor did I want some of the exposure they get for my product. While I’d love exposure to the tech crowd, those aren’t my customers. So, it would be little more than stroking my ego to get coverage from the various tech outlets that cover internet startups.

I also haven’t paraded in front of investors for my website either. I’ve certainly built a number of relationships with investors this summer, but there’s something beautiful about bootstrapping the startup. As I grow I may change my mind on this, but for now bootstrapping is beautiful.

I guess I’m just struck by the power of the internet. First, to be able to build a product (website) in such a short period of time. Second, how it provides amazing access to resources that were never available before. Third, that some little guy like myself in Las Vegas could create his own summer TechStars/Ycombinator experience is just awesome!

Now it’s time to make sure I get the same type of results out of my company as those companies have achieved.