Month: July 2011

I tried it: Tech industry’s shit tastes like chocolate cake

The tech industry has a problem. We think our shit doesn’t stink.

Seriously, why do we have so many delusional, arrogant thoughts? For example:

  • We have nothing to learn unless it’s on TechCrunch or delivered by RSS to Google Reader.
  • We’re better than everyone in the ‘traditional’ world. Why on earth would anyone want to work for corporate america, a blue collar job, or live anywhere except SF or NYC?
  • What could we possibly learn from the suits? Insurance agents are the devil!
  • Rule of thumb: If they’re not on Twitter, they’re probably out of the loop & not worth your time.
  • We’re changing the world. Every day we invent stuff regular people won’t understand for years. This proves we’re better than most other people.
  • Because nobody understands us, we pat each other on the back and drink a lot of our own kool-aid.
  • Tech conferences are the shit. I met Tim Ferris, Kevin Rose and Scoble!
  • Exponential growth is more important than making money. Hire, hire, hire.
  • I don’t need to understand financial statements. Cost-cutting isn’t important. Someday I’ll hire an MBA to worry about that ‘business’ stuff. For now, it’s all about top-line revenue growth.
  • My parents are entrepreneurs too, but I can’t learn anything from them.
  • Creating an internet business is different. It’s not like other businesses.

At one point in time, I was guilty of most of these thoughts. I drank the kool-aid too.

But no longer. There’s so much to learn from the ‘traditional’ world. Smart people are everywhere. The more I try to learn from people outside the tech-bubble, the more I realize: Internet-based businesses are no different.

Or are they? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments!

The TechStars gold t-shirt club


If you’re familiar with seed-stage incubators like TechStars, you know the business model relies on their portfolio companies getting acquired.

So how does David Cohen, the founder of TechStars, motivate his young entrepreneurs to be acquired? Simply and cheaply: Their “gold t-shirt club” is a great little way to create a sense of exclusivity (and jealousy) between the TechStars companies.

A few days ago, Sensobi announced that they had been acquired by GroupMe. Ajay and Andy have earned themselves a rare gold-colored TechStars T-Shirt, with the number “08” on the back of it (they are the eighth TechStars company to be acquired). Congratulations to Ajay and Andy and to GroupMe (who adds to an already fantastic team).

David Cohen, on the TechStars blog

Genius idea: Twitter’s logout page

Look how Twitter uses the logout confirmation page to promote their mobile applications. It’s relevant, educational, and logical that a just-logged-out web user might want to go mobile. Brilliant use of a boring-but-necessary part of every web app.

Thank you, fast-casual style

If the founder of a successful fast-casual chain puts his personal e-mail address on every drink cup, what’s your excuse for hiding behind noreply@your-unfriendly-company.com? No wonder Tokyo Joe’s is kicking ass. Larry actually gives a shit! Mainstream fast-casual chains like Chipotle and Noodles would never do this! Their CEOs probably think they’d get way too much e-mail. But only the most passionate customers actually take the time to send an email. Larry gets this. Do you?

Why bathrooms are a money-maker

Savvy brick-and-mortar marketers know bathrooms are a profit center. The Internet is no different. Required-yet-boring functionality like order confirmations, logout screens, and password reminders are like bathrooms in real life. My local coffee shop knows when customers are pissing they’re a captive audience. Hence the happy-hour-upsell above the urinal.

It doesn’t matter where.
Whenever you have your customer’s attention, you should be talking to them.

Have you seen those gas station TVs at the pump?

For the longest time I thought the TVs were nothing more than gas stations trying to be cutting-edge and cool. But today I figured it out. Maybe the short “E hollywood gossip” segment is there to distract you. When you’re engrossed in the 15 second recap of the new Harry Potter movie, you’re not paying attention to the THIS SALE $ display below.

A brilliant example of how to increase average revenue per transaction.

The competition is at home, working their asses off

“Every kid underestimates his competition, and overestimates his chances. Every kid is a sucker for the idea that there’s a way to make it without having to do the actual hard work.

The bars of West Hollywood, London, and New York are awash with people throwing their lives away in the desperate hope of finding a shortcut, any shortcut. Meanwhile the competition is at home, working their asses off.”

Hugh MacLeod‘s book Ignore Everybody via Derek Sivers