Archive for category Business

Is Silicon Valley Getting Desperate?

TechCrunch.com in the last week has posted about two non-tech, completely boring, run-of-the-mill, service companies. You know, the kind that have been around forever. For instance, you can get your food delivered by Y-Combinator backed DoorDash or you can, wait for it… Get your laundry done by a service called Prim – goofy shirted people and all:

Prim Y-Combinator backed Laundry service

This leads us to the question: How desperate is Y-Combinator?

Part of the point of Venture Capital firms is to invest in high-risk, high-reward businesses – the idea being that a business that exists primarily on the web is able to grow (scalable) at a rate that can’t be equaled by a business that requires human capital.

This is why the startup community is so alluring to so many people, if you can sell a product or service online, your customer base isn’t geographically limited, nearly the entire world is available to you to sell to.

So, this leads us to consider the possible reasons Y-Combinator, a well established, highly respected Venture Capital firm, is investing in very low-growth, geographically limited startups. I can think of just a few possible reasons:

  1. The talent is so ridiculously smart, driven, and well-connected that Y-Combinator is willing to do anything to keep them from becoming a competitor.
  2. Y-Combinator has some senior partner who has run amok and is doing whatever the hell they want (probably not…).
  3. Y-Combinator has decided to diversify their portfolio and add some lower-risk businesses to their holdings.
  4. Y-Combinator is working to parlay this experience as delivery services into some software to support other delivery businesses and that will be a more typical investment for them.

What’s next for Venture Capital firms? Investing in gas stations?

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Great Story About the Beginning of a Business from ArtofManliness.com

Among my friends it’s no secret that I love to read stories about the beginnings of great businesses and business men (and women!).  What I love about them is the creation of something from nothing.

At the start it’s nothing but a series of electrical pulses through someones brain.  It grows into a verbal conversation, or an email exchange perhaps.  Then, pretty quickly, it throws an individual (or a few of them) hurtling down a path they had only recently know absolutely nothing about.

From that spark of electrical pulses many people create businesses or business empires that turn millions, or sometimes billions of dollars in income. It’s completely FASCINATING!

Along those lines I recently stumbled across a great article from the guys over at TheArtOfManliness.com that chronicles the beginning of their fledgling business that creates a cologne called “Moonshine.”

Check it out, it’s definitely worth the read! http://artofmanliness.com/2011/11/16/from-idea-to-reality-a-one-year-case-study-on-launching-a-successful-business/

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My Hiring Philosophy – Attitude is Most Important

In the last (nearly) 2 years at my company Spotted Koi I’ve had the opportunity to to hire several dozen people.  Obviously not all of those people worked out but that is largely because of my inexperience in hiring.  We’ve learned a lot int the last couple of years and I’d like to share what I can with you so that you hopefully won’t make the same mistakes:

  1. All Employees (and Contractors) have their ups and downs – If you have an employee who is having a bad week then it’s best to just sit down and talk to them, this can provide some good insight into what’s going on and, sometimes, just talking to them can take care of the problem.  Either way, figure out if the person is having a bad day or if they are just not working out.
  2. Hire for Personality before skillset – of course skills are great and we ALWAYS end up looking for skills first but a personality that doesn’t mesh (or isn’t motivated) is a GIANT waste of time and resources.  I’ve found that finding employees who have the right mindset and the right attitude but aren’t as good skill-wise are far greater employees.  I’d much rather have a happy go-getter who needs a little guidance than an extremely skilled but lazy and pessimistic employee.  Work should be fun to go to every day.  If you’re the boss you actually have some control over that!
  3. Hiring is a crapshoot – until you’ve worked with someone no amount of interviewing will really tell you how they work.  To combat this problem we test out applicants on test-projects before they get hired on.
  4. Fire Fast – You’ve probably heard this a lot but it doesn’t pay to be a wuss about it, if you have someone who can’t make the grade then you need to fire them ASAP, give them honest feedback about why they didn’t work out and move on.  Easier said than done so think of it like you’re going skydiving.  It’s best to jump out of the plane before you think about how scary it is!

Caveat: Like most things in life, as I learn a little more I also realize just how much I do NOT know.  I’m sure there are plenty of things that I will learn even more about in the future so don’t expect this to be the end-all of advice on hiring.

SO, if you have some advice you’d like to share, please do that in the comments below so we can all benefit and fall madly in love with you.

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How to Become a Project Finisher

Are you a Project Starter?  Do you want to be a Project Finisher?

The folks over at Harvard Business Review have written a great little article on the type of people who are great at beginning projects but terrible at finishing them.  I happen to be a shining example of this type of person so they really struck home with me.

Heide Grant Halverson (the author) did a good job of showcasing just how a simple mindset change from focusing on what’s been done (to-date thinking) to focusing on what is left to be done (to-go thinking) can really help us move projects forward to completion.

I really like the psychological trickery here but I’d like to go one step further to say that I’ve been nice & lucky with next-step thinking in order to keep myself from seeing a mountain of work left to do and getting overwhelmed I find that focusing on the next 1-3 tasks really keeps me going.

Do you have any great ideas, tips or tricks to keep yourself motivated to see a project through to completion?  Drop them here in the comments!

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Tony doing some Modeling???

OK, so I’m not really a model, but the benefit of being a business owner’s brother and a photographer’s son is that I get the chance to do some really cool things!

Here are some pictures of a recent photo shoot we did with my nieces Katie and Mary for Erin Kate Creation’s awesome baby slings!

We all had a lot of fun and carrying Mary in the sling freed up my hands to do other things.  I was able to move things around in the garage without putting her down, even the motorcycle!  I couldn’t believe how convenient it was.

A big thanks to Erin Kate Creations for the use of the sling (and the babies).

And a big thanks to Penna B Photography for the shots!

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