Category Archives: Economy

The tyranny of too many beer choices

Last Saturday, Lauren and I were having beer & pizza tonight.  Had ordered a pizza and wanted to pick up some beer on the way to picking up the pizza.  Stopped at speciality beverage store BevMo.

If you haven’t been to BevMo, it’s the size of a small grocery store filled with wine, beer, and liquor of all shapes and sizes. If you’re a craft beer fan like myself, this is a great place to find breweries that you’re not going to find at your typical grocery store.

But here in lies the problem.  There are too many beers.  It’s hard to decide what you want.  I can easily sit for 15 minutes going through the aisles being totally frozen in indecision as I try to decide on region of the world, lager vs ale,  light vs dark, cheap vs reasonable vs expensive, and hoppy vs not.

You see similar overwhelmed faces when you patronize my favorite beer bars like DC’s ChurchKey & Bier Baron.  You see the 50+ taps with delight.  It all changes when the waitress hands you the binder of a beer menu.   You just page through all the options and wonder where you should start first.

I almost want these beer mecca’s to have their own iPhone app, where they knew what I liked and made recommendations.   If it’s at a restaurant, the beer app could take into consideration what I’ve already drank that evening or what aspect of the meal that I’m in.   A very bitter beer could nuke my palette and spoil my ability to taste a meet.  So I should probably steer clear till the dessert course.

We see this phenomenon not just in beer but in a lot of things.  For example in online, we’ve given everyone the ability to publish whatever they want online.  To look at my wife’s company Umba Box, sites like Etsy have given everyone the ability to publish their store to sell their handmade goods.   It’s awesome BUT… this means there’s a lot of crap being sold online and there are just TOO many choices.   We need someone like Lauren & Umba Box who can come in and make recommendations for the best handmade products to buy.

If you’re angel investor, keeping track of all the new startups that pop up on a daily basis is darn need impossible.  There are just too many out there.   Sites like Angel List help curate and let you track the best of what’s out there.

Foursquare’s another one that helps you tackled a crowded world.  They use the check-in data from their users to help figure out where are the hidden gems of restaurants, cafes, pubs, and bistros for you to patronize.  When you’re traveling its an amazing way to figure out the cool places to eat & drink.

Pinterest is the ultimate in helping you discover what’s out there.  The entire premise of the application is around users making lists/pin boards of the things that people love.   And… it’s taken off.

We live in a crowded world.   There’s lots of room for innovation around helping us navigate it.

Game Changing Technology

I pay attention to a lot of technology trends.  Square is one of the first things that I’ve seen in a while where I’m like “wow, that’s game changing.”  When we all have credit card readers in our phones, think how many doors that opens.

Put in my order.  Can’t wait to get one.

If you’re not familiar with Square, check out these videos…

“Entrepreneurs are the fertile soil for job growth and recovery.”

The CEO and Founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman had a pretty interesting Op-Ed in yesterday’s Washington Post, entitled “Let Our Start-Ups Bail Us Out”, with a follow-up today in TechCrunch.

He promotes the idea that if we want to pull out of the current economic times that we’re in we need to incentivize small business, make it easy for them to innovate, and inevitably create brand new powerhouses which employ a lot of people.

Here’s a pretty cool chunk from the WaPo op-ed:

To translate the stimulus into sustainable growth, we need incentives for business innovators.

Entrepreneurs are the fertile soil for job growth and recovery. Small companies represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms, Commerce Department data show. They pay nearly 45 percent of U.S. private payroll and have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the past decade.

Consider a few start-ups from the past century: Microsoft, MTV, CNN, FedEx, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Burger King. Each opened during a period of economic downturn. Today, these brands employ hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. We need to prepare for the next Burger King. By empowering individuals and small businesses, an innovation stimulus can help germinate stable industry players for the long term.


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Approaching Everyday On The Job As If It’s Your First

My friend and head of recruiting company Fluid Hire Ian Jones just wrote a great post about how we should approach everyday on the job as if it’s your first.  Everyday we need to try and bring that same level of excitement, passion, and optimism, as we did on the first day of our jobs.  As Ian notes, I’m confident this is something Obama is feeling right now as he enters day 2.

Just think, if we all took that energy and excitement to the job, how much more ass could we kick?

I figure that while I can’t directly impact energy plans, foreign policy, or the war in Iraq – I can impact the economy by working a little harder, a little smarter, and with a little more passion. If millions of Americans did their jobs just 1% better than yesterday, think of the value added to our economy. A slight change in our collective productivity and efficiency could impact operating costs and profitability and spur investment and job growth nationwide. We have the power to help turn our own economy around.

Lesson from Jason Calacanis’s JetBlue Experience: Don’t Make Crap

Today, in Twitter and his blog, Jason Calacanis regaled us with his positive experiences as he walked through Jet Blue’s brand new Terminal 5 in JFK airport.

This is what he said:

If every terminal was like terminal five, and every airline was like Virgin and JetBlue, and we had wifi on those flights, air travel would EXPLODE and the economy would rebound.

If you’ve been in an airport or ridden on an airplane, you know how the typical customer experience is on par with getting herded like cattle.

Jason has found one of the few companies, JetBlue, that gets that if you create an enjoyable user experience for your customers… if you create a good product, then they’ll keep coming back for more and they’ll tell their friends.

If we keep looking at the airline industry, there are folks Virgin Airlines.  They value keeping the customer happy.  And… guess what?  I give them repeat business.  I also tell my friends about them.

This isn’t just for the airline industry.  It applies to anything and everything that you create.   Slow down, think about your users, and create a product/experience that they want.

Yes, if everyone made products that people wanted to buy and use, we wouldn’t be as much of a horrible recession that we are in today.  People don’t wanna buy crap.

Moral of the story: Don’t make crap.

“Time to Reboot America”

It’s not often that Thomas Friedman and I see eye to eye on things but I think his latest column is pretty good, “Time to Reboot America.”

With the current economic recession that we’re in, this IS NOT a time to throw in the towel and look to the government to save us with loans and bailouts.  This is a time to hunker down and think harder about solving the problems that have been troubling us.

Here’s a passage from Friedman’s column:

America still has the right stuff to thrive. We still have the most creative, diverse, innovative culture and open society — in a world where the ability to imagine and generate new ideas with speed and to implement them through global collaboration is the most important competitive advantage. China may have great airports, but last week it went back to censoring The New York Times and other Western news sites. Censorship restricts your people’s imaginations. That’s really, really dumb. And that’s why for all our missteps, the 21st century is still up for grabs.

John Kennedy led us on a journey to discover the moon. Obama needs to lead us on a journey to rediscover, rebuild and reinvent our own backyard.

While I agree 100% with Friedman’s sentiment about America’s abilities and strengths, I’m not sure I agree that we’re just surviving or getting by right now.  There still are people who’re innovating and solving big problems, with little resources.  We need to lift those people up and let them be examples for the rest of the world.