A bootstrapped story

If you read technology/startup blog TechCrunch like I do, everyday there’s another story of some company that has/hasn’t launched their startup yet and they’ve raised millions of dollars and that’s very exciting.

Today, TechCrunch reported that programming code repository GitHub raised $100M dollars from top VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.  Great, right? Absolutely.

What makes this story amazing is that this $100M investment is their FIRST infusion of VC money ever.  They’ve been able to get the company to where it is now with no external capital before now.  That’s amazing.

Congrats to GitHub!


Pro tip: Get the best reception with the least noisy medium…

NY Times tech writer Nick Bilton wrote a great post about how we all get far too much email.   The overwhelming volume of email that people receive make email sometimes the worst way of getting ahold of someone.

So here’s my tip: I’ve found that by identifying the channel/medium that someone communicates on that has the least amount of noise and using that to message them can often bring the best results.    For example, with a lot of my friends, I can get ahold of them almost immediately through a DM on Twitter or a message on Facebook, where it could take days to hear back via email.

What tips have worked well for you to get ahold of someone?

The psychology of someone browsing at a craft show

So for the last two days, I’ve been helping Lauren with her Umba Box booth at the Urban Craft Uprising craft show in Seattle.   It’s been great.  Have gotten to tell the Umba Box story to a lot of people and helped garner that much more excitement for what Lauren is doing, which is AWESOME!

I’m completely fascinated by people.  It’s been a lot of fun to watch people walk by the booth, try to figure out what’s going on their head, so I can figure out how to get them over to talk to me about Umba Box. Craft shows are different from just general expos or trade shows too.  The goal at a craft show is you actually wanna move product.

I developed a theory about folks that come to craft shows and how they browse.  There are people who walk at 1 feet, 3 feet, and 6-10 feet from the booth.

The 6-10 feet people aren’t really interested.  They come to the show to feel all handmade but they’re not interested in buying a product.  There are always exceptions to this.  Interestingly lots of men/husbands/boy friends hover at the 6-10 feet mark.  Umba Box is an especially great gift for the lady in your life so I’ve been successful with pulling the guys who are hovering at 6 to 10 feet and getting them to make a purchase or at least take a card.

With the 3 feet people, they’re interested in what your selling and want to buy but they need to be invited over.  It’s funny because most handmade vendors just sit behind their booths and don’t actually talk to their customers.   I would step out from behind the table, invite them over and talk to them.  Was able to reel them in from 3 feet to 1 foot so they would start to play with the products and listen to my schtick about Umba Box.

The people at 1 feet are the best.  They’re the ones that go booth to booth and are really interested in what everyone’s doing.  These are the people you can have a conversation with.  These are also the people who have 3 or 4 bags in their hands because they’ve been buying and buying and buying.

A/B testing the words you say…

Working on the web is glorious.  With your audience, you can test and optimize for whatever goal that you want to achieve.  It’s relatively easy to setup an A/B test and you see what version of a homepage is going to better drive someone to make a purchase.

But what about the offline?  There are ways to optimize how your communicating.  Trade shows or cocktail parties are amazing because you get the opportunity to talk about what you do over and over and over and over again.   Take the opportunity A/B test how you talk about yourself and see how people react.  Look at peoples faces.  Do they look like they get it or do they clueless?  If they look clueless, try explaining it differently on the next guy.

Today, I’m at the Urban Craft Uprising craft show in Seattle with Lauren, where Umba Box is sponsoring.   We’ll be able talk to thousands of people who eat, live, and breathe handmade goods.  So, it’s the perfect audience for Umba Box and thus the perfect opportunity to optimize the pitch for this audience.

Selling a great user experience…

So yeah…  I’m a bit of a craft beer fan.  Whenever I travel, I try to find a local beer that I can’t get back home. This weekend we’re in Seattle, Washington.  Lauren & Umba Box are sponsoring the Urban Craft Uprising craft show and I’m helping to man the Umba Box booth.

After we finished setting up our booth, I went off to find pizza & beer to bring back to the team.  I went to the grocery store and had forgotten that you could get Churchkey Can Co’s Pilsner in Seattle. I of course grabbed a six-pack.

In case you’re not familiar,  Churchkey Can Co has gotten a lot of press & excitement because they’re going back to the flat tops for the beer cans where you actually have to use a churchkey to make a divot in the top of the can to get the beer out.   I remember back when I was 5 or 6.  We’d get Juicy Juice cans like this.  Apparently, up until recently, all canned beer was opened with a churchkey.

Was drinking the beer, which is delicious by the way.  What struck me was that the company is positioning their entire brand around the beer experience versus the actual beer itself.   It’s not Delicious Beer Can Co.  It’s Churchkey Can Co.    They’re selling the experience.  But… is it that revolutionary… is it that different that it’s going to make that much of splash?  Apparently, their pitch was good enough that it got some top tech investors interested.

Selling a great user experience as a differentiator is something that we’re seeing a lot of in the online world.   Instagram wasn’t anything that crazy but it created an amazing user experience by bringing together photos, filters, mobile, and social.   Flipboard just displays content via Twitter curation.  It’s nothing crazy but they’ve created an awesome experience that’s made it a top-selling app.

So… can Churchkey Can Co see a similar fate?  Well, we’ll see.   What are other industries that could use a shakeup by giving people a brand new user experience?

While you’re thinking about it, watch the Churchkey Can Co intro video…

Happy Birthday TechCocktail!

Congrats to my friends Frank Gruber & Jen Consalvo on the 6th birthday of TechCocktail.

If you’re not familiar, TechCocktail is an online/offline media company that highlights and connects entrepreneurs all around the United States.   They hold amazing parties, where startups can demo their products, and then they write about the companies on their site.

I adore Frank & Jen.  It’s an honor to call them both close friends.  They are two of the nicest and caring people I know.  They’d give the shirts off their backs to help entrepreneurs, if they were asked to.   They deserve every success in the world.

Say goodbye to your mobile phone…

I remember when I got the original iPhone.  When I held the device in my hand for the first time, I knew that everything was about to change.  Computing was going to go mobile.

Well, get ready to say goodbye to your mobile phone.  The next wave is wearable computing.   Your cell phone is something you’ll wear (maybe in eye glasses) instead of hold.   It’s not a new idea but for the first time wearable computing could really go mainstream.

The NY Times is reporting that Olympus and Apple are both working on wearable computing, in addition to the already announced Google Glass.

I’m excited!