Jazz Tigan, the creator of Hugalopes (a "fuzzy Mr. Potato Head" plush toy) and I sat down to discuss entrepreneurism, knowledge sharing, hyper efficiency on a computer, the Socialize acquisition and many other topics in this wide ranging chat.
But the most incredible moment of our talk happened in the last 10 minutes.
In fact, it's so significant that I created a separate sub-video below to capture this moment.
Here's the back-story:
Two years ago, Jazz had the idea of Hugalopes. Last year, he launched a successful kickstarter campaign and signed a deal with a toy manufacturer to produce the toys. The Hugalope I had on my head in this interview was one of the first in production from the Kickstarter campaign.
However, as is often (always?) the case in entrepreneurism, things haven't been 100% smooth sailing for Jazz. Things are really hard for his startup right now. We talk about what the process is like of actually creating value, of creating something from nothing, and how incredibly difficult that is. In the last 10 minutes of the video, I make a bet with Jazz for $20 to encourage him to take the optimal next step in his journey. It's a poignant moment -- and I really appreciate Jazz being willing to let me capture it on camera. If you've ever thought "hey, I have an idea" and wanted to turn it into reality, I encourage you to watch the clip below.
I pushed Jazz really hard in the video to prioritize the most important thing in his business right now. At minute 2:45 in the video below, I challenge Jazz by asking him if he's doing that most important thing now. And we end up having a really, really honest and productive conversation around it. This is raw entrepreneurism at its most vulnerable.
I know Jazz can do this -- he's so passionate about his product, and even though it's hard right now, it's often hardest right before a big breakthrough. Keep believing in the Hugalopes, Jazz. They're awesome.
Here are the last 10 minutes of our talk:
Here's our full, wide ranging discussion on being an entrepreneur:
Here are a few Hugalopes pictures -- click here for a full gallery:
By the way, there's another AWESOME moment in the convo I had with Jazz, where he mentions how active the community on this blog is, and how great the comments are. I've spliced that bit out, and it's huge props to Tynan & Todd, the creators of SETT, to hear Jazz talk about it. Check the video out here:
Thanks for the shoutout! One of my favorite things to see, too, is people embed videos and pictures in comments. It seems really natural, but no other blogging platform allows that. One more little way to keep the conversation going and encourage high quality...
Speaking of high quality, I was really psyched to see the bet you guys made. If I had heard of Hugalopes without seeing them, I'm not sure that I would have seen the genius in it, but I remember seeing the first video on Kickstarter and falling in love instantly. The idea is great, but the execution is really what sets them apart.
I have no doubt whatsoever that there are several paths that lead to Hugalopes being a huge success. The idea is there, the execution is there... like Daniel says, I think it's just a matter of singular focus on getting them out there.
I'm just going to take a moment and point out something that I think is a notable best practice by Daniel that probably goes unnoticed. This post went up mere hours after the conversation took place and probably would have gone up sooner if there hadn't been a scheduled dinner in between. Daniel, you move as fast as anyone I know in executing on the things you mean to do. I've noticed this in how you manage your email and communications as well. And I can contrast this to my version of doing this - recorded on a really nice DSLR (which led to other issues like grabbing it in 12 minute chunks, some of which I missed) and now I have to dump it to FCP and edit it together which will let me add in the nice sound captured from a second source and that's great but it will all happen...eventually. In the meantime, you're quick grab is out there making an impact...NOW.
I know you've set up a lot of things in your life to be optimized for efficiency and speed, but I'm going to point out that there is also a discipline there to be admired. And I'm further impressed that you don't sacrifice thoughtfulness for speed - as evidenced by identifying and refocusing this conversation that was ostensibly about your acquisition.
What would Daniel do in situation X? Well, it whatever it is, it would have already been done.
Oh, and you can see some pretty, shiny mudballs here: http://dorodango.com/
Hey Jazz, thanks for pointing that out.
You're right -- that's a core principle of mine.
And that's exactly why I don't edit the videos I take. Because i've found that when I let myself edit things, I get sucked into wanting to make them perfect. And wanting to make them perfect means they never get done.
It's also why I sent you the audio file moments after we met. And it's why I had my video upload to Vimeo while I was away at dinner. And it's why I posted the blog early this morning as the very first thing I did. Because I knew that if I let any of those things slip, other things would get in the way. And while it was absolutely worth prioritizing for 30 minutes this morning (and making it my "most important thing" for a very short period of time), it wouldn't have been worth becoming a blocking item above the other things I had to get done today.
Having said all of that, I am looking forward to seeing your version of the video -- I'm sure it'll be beautifully produced.
But then again, I would encourage you to spend your time walking into toy stores, and calling on Walmart buyers, to sell Hugalopes instead of ever getting the "nice" version of the video done.
So if you never get the "good" version of the video done, but you do sell millions of Hugalopes, I'd be a pretty happy camper about that :)
Funny enough, this all goes back to one of the first blog posts I wrote, 6 years ago: The Pick 2 Rule, which is "Good, Fast, Cheap: Pick 2". So I'm making the video fast & cheap (but it won't be good), and you're making the video good & cheap (but it won't be fast).
I tend always try to optimize for "fast", especially if it's a non-core item (core items I'll optimize to be "good" over "fast")
Daniel - Great post!! Way to push on such an important issue. That last 10:00 minute video was really good. This is really good post for entrepreneurs that are just starting out.
Jazz - you have a GREAT product. It looks beautiful and I think lots of people would be excited to walk into their store wearing the hat. Start getting that validation sooner than later, you'll save a lot of time and ultimately end up with a better product.
Hey Jazz ... you out there/in here?
Let's connect ... I can jump on Skype any time after 2:45pm EST today. We'll talk about how to IMMEDIATELY liquidate your on-hand inventory and where to go from there. We'll try to record the Skype call but I might ask you some harder (or possibly confidential) questions. Either way, we'll definitely come back here and summarized how you'll be winning this bet that Daniel proposed.
Shoot me an email - holler [AT] jeremycee [DOT] com
That's a very generous and kind offer. I'm time committed today but have a pretty open schedule tomorrow or any time going forward. This, by the way, is at least as scary as it is intriguing and exciting. But yeah, I'll jump off the cliff into the tornado with you and we can record the whole thing. Just so I can have as much useful info prepared as possible, can you point me in a general direction for this convo?
Oh, and the way the bet is structured, we are all rooting for Daniel to win.
Jazz Tigan, co-creator of the Hugalopes, came by our office for lunch yesterday to update me on his progress. Kevin Coleman also stopped by and recorded Jazz for MixTent's Storybin. The last time I saw Jazz and his co-founder Cris was 10 months ago. They were just on the beginning part of a journey to turn their "fuzzy Mr. Potato head" style toy into a reality. They had hand-sewn some prototypes, and they were contemplating a Kickstarter project.
A lot has happened in 10 months. Jazz and Cris ran a successful Kickstarter project, raising over $21k -- way past their $8k goal. Then this past April, they announced a licensing deal with Jakks Pacific, a top five top toy manufacturer that also licenses brands like Disney, Warner Bros, Star Wars, Nickelodeon and others. From dream to licensing deal, Jazz and Cris credit much of their success to the funding and publicity they got from the Kickstarter project.
I was super curious to get tips from Jazz on how to run a successful Kickstarter project, so he agreed to let me tape the meeting so other entrepreneurs can learn from his experiences as well. Jazz shared tips not only about Kickstarter, but about being an entrepreneur in general.
In the video, Jazz offers tips around the importance of timing the Kickstarter project, how many tiers to offer and at what amounts, how to make sure you go over your goal and get the project funded, how to (and how not to) publicize the project, and much more.
I'm in Austin, ostensibly for SXSW, but in reality I've spent most of my time at my friend's house, or at Casa, plugging away at my YC demo. The deadline is this Sunday and there's a lot to be done before I'll feel confident submitting.
So that's why I haven't posted yet this week. I intended to post a video of the talk Jason and I gave, but my camera ran out of batteries early into the talk, so I have no video.
My brother, who I wrote about last year, has been in Afghanistan. He's a soldier in the army. Besides shooting with his gun, he's also been shooting with a camera he brought with him. He posts photos to Facebook on a regular basis, and some of those photos have been really fascinating to look at. With his permission, I've reposted some of them here for you to see: