Category Archives: Blog
To make myself useful, while my team at Keen is working on some exciting product updates, I will be speaking at some great startup conferences and two new accelerators in Europe. Join me:
May 26th – June 2nd (Kyiv, Ukraine)
Mentoring and master classes on design and marketing at Happy Farm. I’m giving an open to the public talk on Design Driven Development at Chasopys in Kiev May 29th, 7pm. Free Registration
June 3rd – June 10th (London, UK)
Speaking at UK print industry gathering (exact day and details, TBA).
LeWeb London June 5-6.
June 13th – June 16th (Hvar, Croatia)
Speaking at Startup Island Conference.
June 20th – June 22nd (Trento, Italy)
Mentoring and teaching at TechPeaks Accelerator
June 23rd – June 25 (Krakow, Poland)
Speaking at Bitspiration.
Hope to see some old friends and make new ones. If you are going to be at any of the same places at the same time, please let me know!
George Takei got his big break as Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek. These days he is better known for his LGBT activism and being one of the most popular celebrities in social media (500K Twitter and 3M Facebook followers). He is known for his hilarious posts that spread like wildfire and the occasional advocacy he slips in.
Being part of the 500 Startups family has some serious fringe benefits. Yesterday, along with a small group of founders, I had the privilege of meeting George Takei as he shared his story. Here are some take-aways…
George Takei’s family went through internment in WWII. It seems like his tolerance and advocacy style comes from those days. He uses humor and like-ability to turn people’s opinion on controversial topics. Rather than arguing and being, as he put it, “overly serious”. Definitely something I could learn.
George Takei’s insanely popular Facebook page was originally launched to promote “Allegiance”, the new musical he has been working on for the last two years on the topic of WWII internment. It has broken all box office records and is now officially heading to Broadway. The topic is serious and his team knew that most people are not particularly interested in advocacy. Hence the humor with an occasional serious post. All in bite-sized pieces and easy to share.
George spent a good bit of time talking about LGBT issues, how he became such an outspoken activist on the topic, and his advocacy style. Though he was out for a long time in Hollywood, he began speaking up in 2005 when Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 849, the first gay marriage bill to have been passed by a legislature in the US. He was incensed as apparently Schwarzenegger was seen as a Hollywood insider who understood the LGBT community he has worked with for years in the arts.
There are a number of celebrities who are advocating for gay rights, however George Takei’s humorous style and like-ability is what is disarming and so effective with the opposition.
Another thing I noticed is his incredible acuity as he was taking questions from the group. He remembers names like the best of politicians and is crystal clear in remembering and answering questions. A skill that only comes with many years of practice. Amazing sharpness for a 25 year old, let alone a 75 year old.
A memorable experience. Thanks Mr. Takei and thanks 500 Startups!
To many people, Mitt Romney’s constant capitulation on important political positions is shocking and newsworthy. While watching the third and final presidential debate last night, I had a sudden moment of clarity. At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. For most questions Romney just seemed to be talking without actually saying anything. Just circles of meandering talking points as if he is checking lines off a list of political Mad Libs. Then it struck me, he is solution selling!
“Solution selling” was a methodology developed in the mid-70s by Frank Watts. He then taught it in workshops to Xerox employees. It is a methodology of focusing on the customer’s pain and aligning what you have to sell with it. In other words, “whatever you are buying, I’m selling”.
I write this on the eve of the much awaited and hyped Facebook IPO to time-capsule my thoughts before the big bang. After all, we are talking about a once-in-a-decade phenomenon of a company with 900M+ addicted users around the world.
It is not fair to say that Facebook is single-handedly responsible for the current startup bubble cycle, but it is certainly the 10,000 lb gorilla of social media. The company that won the arms race for the social graph in the process decimated companies like MySpace who not long ago seemed invincible.
No business can survive without customers. As the business grows however, how you interact with them will be the difference between an unmanageable mess and profitability. The tactical approach here can vary wildly based on the business model. Most notably, a service versus product company.
After having various offices in San Francisco’s coveted South Park area for over 5 years, I made a tough decision to make the move out of the city in December. As much as I’ve grown to love San Francisco, there are several things I definitely won’t miss. If you are bringing your startup to the Bay Area, I hope this helps:
San Francisco, despite its relatively small population, is a big city. Big cities tend to have big city problems like: homelessness, busy (and therefore dirty) streets, and higher crime. The popular South Park area is also the host for Giants baseball games and a number of large scale events throughout the year. Not only does this bring thousands of “bridge and tunnel” people that couldn’t care less about the neighborhoods but it exacerbates, to the extreme, most of the other pains listed below.
With much anticipation, Monday brought the now annual ritual of iPhone day. The tech blog coverage was predictably deafening yet little has so far been said about the rabid stomping elephant in the room. I’m talking about the passive aggressive counter-attack Apple launched against Google.
It was not that long ago when a company founder being put in charge of partnerships was seen as a snub. A largely undefined and unmeasurable role which signaled that the person was being put out to pasture and retained only a maskot importance to the organization. Today this is one of the most important roles both for marketing and product development.
In 2010 successful brands are sensitive to the fact that reputation can be one of the most powerful marketing tools. Effective partnerships create associations with an established brand and align outsiders’ interests to contribute. At a time when winners take most; these collaborations often build effective teams to collectively gobble up mind share (and ultimately the available market).