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The Game of Thrones season finale was tonight, and I thought this picture was a pretty apt analogy of the insurgent role software is starting to play in a business' ability to dominate not just their industry, but multiple industries:
Amazon is now closing on its acquisition of Whole Foods, and this WSJ article headline sums up the impending carnage that acquisition will cause in the retail sector:
About a year ago, I wrote a blog called "Show Me the Money: Six Strategies to Put Your Cash to Work," where I talked about two new(ish) investment strategies my wife and I were using. I wrote a followup blog about the first strategy, Electronically Traded Funds (ETFs), where I compared Betterment vs. Wealthfront. Now here is a followup on the second newish strategy that you're probably not yet trying out, but absolutely should be: Peer to Peer lending... or put another way: Lending money to complete strangers as an investment strategy.
I'm going to write this blog as a step-by-step how-to guide on trying P2P lending. Don't think you have enough money to become an investor? Wrong. Just set aside $25 to invest in each of the 2 biggest platforms. Seriously, who can't part with $50 to try something that will change your perspective on lending?
First, more on what P2P lending is:
We've been using the "lock & unlock your door with an app on your phone" solution from Lockitron for two years now. In fact, here's a blog I wrote in 2010 with a video showing how it works. As early adopters, Paul, one of the Lockitron founders, was great about coming by our office to fix the early version of Lockitron whenever it had trouble. We were happy users of Lockitron version 1.0.
And that's all I heard about Lockitron for two years. But it turns out Paul, Cameron & team have been super busy. Today they launched a new version of Lockitron in a really smart way. It's so impressive that I'm going to spend a few minutes dissecting it, because we can all learn from what they've done. I'd also like to invite anyone from Lockitron to give more detail on my observations in the comments section below.
The first and most obvious thing they did was use a Kickstarter-type approach to their launch. When you visit www.Lockitron.com you see what I've taken a screenshot of above. (I'd be curious to know if they're using a while-labeled Kickstarter-type service, or more likely, just taking the best from Kickstarter's approach and doing it in-house).
As I've outlined in the screenshot, they set a goal which (purposefully or not) is now massively oversubscribed. It makes you feel like you have to get in on the action.
I'm a power user of multiple 37 Signals products, including the Basecamp project management system (much less so since Socialize moved to agile scrum methodologies company-wide) and its Customer Relationship Management system, Highrise.
Highrise is kind of like democracy: Not great, but definitely the best thing out there, especially if you want a lightweight CRM. (Salesforce is what you'd probably turn to for a more deeply integrated, enterprise-level CRM).
The biggest problem I have with Highrise, though, is its poor Deals section. The entire reason a CRM system exists is to manage customer relationships, and part of that is an uncanny ability to manage sales opportunities. I've hacked Highrise to make it better, but I wasn't satisfied. I put a request out on Twitter and that's how I met Alexey Panteleev.
Alexey of Yoxel.com (great service, by the way -- check it out) created a Chrome extension that's absolutely killer with Highrise. In this post I'll talk about how I've hacked Highrise to work well for me, and how Alexey's extension makes it even better. If you want to try Alexey's extension too, just leave a comment below and I'll connect you to him. If he gets enough interest in it, he may productize it and offer it to anyone using Highrise.
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If you have friends that want the materials, ask them to put a comment on my blog and ask for the materials in the comment, and I'll evaluate everyone individually.
I'd like to use this blog post to argue for incoming mayor Gray and the DC Council to make DC the most entrepreneur-friendly place in the US. That means tax breaks, access to government contracts, support for innovation zones, aggressive access to angel funding, but mostly it just means convincing high profile entrepreneurs from other areas to make the DC area their home. It shouldn't be that hard -- many SF-based entrepreneurs are from the DC area originally and have family here. You just have to give them good reasons to come back to DC.
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I'm looking forward to coming back to DC for a few weeks. I'll be working out of PointAbout's DC offices. My brother Sam is already back in DC for a bit, working out of Facebook's DC office (he joked with me yesterday that PointAbout's presence in DC is bigger than Facebook's! I told him we'll hold on to that title for as long as we can ;)
I'd like to use this blog post to argue for incoming mayor Gray and the DC Council to make DC the most entrepreneur-friendly place in the US. That means tax breaks, access to government contracts, support for innovation zones, aggressive access to angel funding, but mostly it just means convincing high profile entrepreneurs from other areas to make the DC area their home. It shouldn't be that hard -- many SF-based entrepreneurs are from the DC area originally and have family here. You just have to give them good reasons to come back to DC. * * * * * * * * * * I'm looking forward to coming back to DC for a few weeks. I'll be working out of PointAbout's DC offices. My brother Sam is already back in DC for a bit, working out of Facebook's DC office (he joked with me yesterday that PointAbout's presence in DC is bigger than Facebook's! I told him we'll hold on to that title for as long as we can ;) The response from people I've told I'll be coming back to DC is amazing. Several people have told me I'm missed here in DC. Thanks guys for the show of support, and I had no idea anyone would even notice I was gone! Several awesome things have happened in DC since I left over the summer. One is the continued growth and prominence of Elias' blog, AwesomeDC. Elias' blog is, well, awesome. If you're an entrepreneur in DC, it's a great blog to subscribe to. And the other great entrepreneurial resource is Proudly Made in DC, by Michael Mayernick and crew, which already has bios of 75+ DC-based companies, and Michael says he has dozens more that have submitted for inclusion. I'm super jazzed about this highlighting of entrepreneurial activity in DC. I've long fought for entrepreneurship in DC, from as far back as the Netpreneur days. I recently moved to San Francisco to open an SF office for AppMakr, which is a app-creation platform made by PointAbout, a DC-based company, and I'm not shy about comparing DC to SF. In fact, there's just no comparison - being an entrepreneur in SF is easy, while being one in DC is hard. Especially if you want to get funding. And here in DC, we have to be honest with ourselves. The entrepreneurial community is nascent compared to SF. In SF you can go to an event like this one and be literally hanging out with Ev Williams, the CEO of Twitter, or this one, with the GM of mobile for Groupon, or this one, with Nicholas Negroponte, or this one with Matt Cohler, or this one, with Adeo Ressi, Drew Houston and Dave McClure, or this one with Jason Calacanis... you get the idea. And those were just a drop in the bucket; a few events I was able to attend and capture; there are literally dozens of events like this every night in SF. So that's why I say it's hard to be an entrepreneur in DC. You can't just get an office in a space that's also housing Mashable, Rapportive, VentureHacks, CoTweet, and dozens of other hot startups. Don't get me wrong, it's not like nothing entrepreneurial happens in DC, just that it's like pushing a piece of rope uphill, and honestly if you're 100% focused on the success of your business, and making it be as big as it possibly can be, then you have to admit to yourself that you're handicapping yourself by not moving to SF. Having said that, and since I'm from DC, I'd really like to see the DC entrepreneurial and startup culture grow in DC. And so it's great seeing AwesomeDC and ProudlyMadeInDC succeed, and props to Peter Corbett and iStrategy Labs as well as well-known DC-based companies like Living Social, Clearspring, Webs.com and others, for keeping the startup dream alive and kicking in DC. I hope the folks over at NVTC and other stodgy DC-based business institutions see this innovation and can get past themselves enough to encourage it. I mean truly encourage it. With funding to bring high profile speakers to DC. With people whose jobs are solely to make DC more entrepreneur-friendly. Let's face reality for what it is -- being an entrepreneur in DC is challenging -- and let's work to make DC an attractive place for entrepreneurs that plays on DC's strengths. I challenge Mayor Fenty and Mayor-elect Gray to make DC the most entreprenuer and startup-friendly zone in the US. Make DC attractive for angel investors to take chances on DC-based companies. Has anyone in the "DC office for fostering innovation" (which doesn't even exist, to my knowledge) ever reached out to the top entrepreneurs and funders in Silicon Valley to ask them what they'd need to see for DC to be relevant for them? The mayor needs to spend less time traveling on international trade missions and try a 'trade mission' out to Silicon Valley for a change. I can provide a list of 100 people that should be visited on that trip. People that, if DC can get them to care, will be able to influence and shape the entrepreneurial experience we all have in DC. People that will bring more startup funding to DC. And that would be good for everyone in DC, not just the entrepreneurs. Just let me know when you're ready for the list, Mr. Mayor.
It’s been 13 weeks since I wrote the in-depth post on my fasting experiment (read that first if you haven't already), which I originally only expected to try for 8 weeks. But the results have been so life changing that I’ve decided to continue doing it through at least the end of the year, and possibly indefinitely. Here’s what I’ve learned and experienced over the past couple of months, along with the pro-tips I recommend for others interested in trying it themselves, and answers to the questions I get most often.
The main thing I’ve learned in the past couple of months is that fasting is deeply misunderstood by people, including the reasons for doing it, the science and nutrition behind it, the actual experience of fasting, how it makes you feel, and how best to be supportive of someone in your life who’s giving it a try. Fasting just isn’t mainstream enough to make sense to people, and they often immediately respond with “I could never do that” (which is how I used to also feel before really diving into it).
From my fasting experience I’ve also become convinced that the obesity epidemic in America can be solved by integrating fasting elements into our culture. I don’t know if fasting will ever reach that level of cultural prominance, but I do now know with certainty that there’s a solution out there that works, and although fasting is a very individual thing, I’m convinced that it could be codified into an approach that could work for anyone. This also means that if you are unhappy with your current level of health, fasting is something you can do to fix it. It may not be the only thing you can do, but from experience I can tell you that it is absolutely an approach that will work. If you’re serious about trying to become healthy, fasting will work.
Unless you've been living in a cave, you've probably heard that WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook for $16 billion in cash plus $3 billion in RSUs.
But what you may not know is that originally, WhatsApp was not solving a problem that people had. In fact, originally, WhatsApp was completely ignored.
It's a great lesson for startups: WhatsApp kept at it and iterated from zero traction, to the fastest growing messaging platform of all time (in fact, some might say the fastest growing platform as calculated by monthly active users of all time). Here's what that growth looks like:
But the original concept for WhatsApp was more of a status update app. This Forbes article articulates it well:
My incredible wife gave birth to a beautiful daughter earlier this week. 6lbs, 6oz. Mom and baby are doing great. No name yet (we have to get to know her first!). A few pictures are below.
• Visitors: We can't wait to introduce Baby DROdio to our friends and family; mom & baby are recovering at home. We'll let you know as soon as we get a handle on everything.
• No gifts, please! We are taking an "agile" approach to parenting. For those of you who aren't techies, that means we are taking it step by step, and we will purchase baby items as we learn the needs of our baby. We don't want to start out with a room full of boxes of baby things that we don't know whether we'll need or not. However, we'll happily take any of your tried & true hand-me-down clothing that you no longer need (reduce, reuse, recycle!).
If you really really want to get us something (and you're really stubborn even though we don't need anything!), we would ask that you get us a Munchery Gift Card. This is a food ordering service that will allow us to have freshly prepared food delivered daily for the first few weeks, and that would help both of us cope. (Since Sue is the one who usually feeds us, I especially would appreciate this, since I'll be responsible for feeding her!) To make sure it arrives at the right place, use email address "us -at- danielodio -dot- com" for the gift card.
That's it for now, more updates to come!
A few weeks ago, Heidi Roizen, a well known venture capitalist with DFJ and longtime entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, called me a cockroach.
Usually, it would be offensive to be branded as a cockroach. But in this case, it was awesome. Heidi's exact quote was this:
So there you have it. Great entrepreneurs are like cockroaches, doing whatever they have to do to survive.