Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

Guest post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Google includes tweets in search, Spotify releases new features, and more

Google search results twitter

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Google includes tweets in search, Spotify releases new features, and more.

This week we cover the addition of tweets to Google search results, Spotify’s new features, and President Obama’s new Twitter account.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article then connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Image courtesy of Google.

3 ways how raising a kid is like running a startup

ribl and maya

Vicky and I welcomed our beautiful daughter to the world on May 14, 2015. At that time I recognized that I’m now the co-founder of two startups – ribl and baby Maya!

The more often I perform my fatherly duties, the more I realize that raising a child is very similar to running a startup. Here are the three major ways they’re alike.

There’s no playbook for this stuff

There is no shortage of books and internet articles about other founders’ experiences with startups and what they’ve learned. Entrepreneurs publish posts on their own blogs or write articles on sites like Medium and Quora that communicate what they’ve learned running their companies and things that worked and didn’t.

Similarly, there are plenty of websites like Parenting.com and BabyCenter.com where experts provide insight on how to raise your children and parents ask questions and tell their stories about their experiences rearing their kids.

In both worlds, there are some standard guidelines that you can follow but in the end, every situation is different. You need to experiment and try different things to determine the best decision for your particular circumstance. The issues that you’ll face running your startup are going to be different than the next entrepreneur’s, just like your child is going to be different than that of the family down the street. You can read all of the advice but just make sure you’re applying the correct information to your particular situation to make the best decision possible.

Both are absolute roller coasters

I’ve been an entrepreneur for about three years and it’s been a roller coaster of emotion, with a bunch of highs and just as many lows. I’ve only been a dad for a week and I’m already finding out about the peaks and valleys of parenthood.

I wrote on the ribl blog that startups are a slog, and running a company is full of little things that you have to do every day to keep moving forward. There are going to be days when you’re 100% sure that you’re doing the right thing and will absolutely succeed. And then there will be days where it seems like you’re climbing a never-ending mountain. The good days are great, but the bad days can be absolutely miserable.

Raising a child is also full of little things to do each day, and many can give you joy or ruin your mood. It’s a great feeling putting Maya to sleep; Vicky and I claim victory every time she’s napping in her crib. But her wailing during the wee hours of the morning is not the way we prefer to wake up, and we’re absolutely exhausted because of it. I’m sure as the days, weeks, and years go on, there will be plenty of good and bad to come.

The only way to deal with the roller coasters of emotion is to celebrate the highs, as small as some of them may be, and not get too down when the lows come around.

The right co-founders are really, really important

Running a company and raising a kid are both extremely difficult to do alone. And doing these with the wrong partner may be just as bad.

Paul Graham, the founder of top-tier startup accelerator Y Combinator, lists being a single co-founder as the #1 mistake that kills startups. He also says that you have to be really careful in selecting and working with the right co-founder. Startup co-founders need to be equally committed to the company and must work well together; the wrong partners can lead to your company’s demise. I’ve experienced this personally.

The same can be said for raising a kid. Rearing a child can be a really intense experience. It’s essentially another full time job and adds a completely foreign dimension to your life. You and your spouse or partner need to be on the same page and work really well together in order to raise a healthy and well-rounded child and not lose your minds doing it.

I’m lucky to have amazing co-founders in both of my startups.

Conclusion

I’m quickly learning how similar being an entrepreneur and a father are. Both entail processing a lot of advice and applying it to my specific situation, dealing with ups and downs everyday, and working together with my partners to achieve the best outcome.

Both of my startups are going to be long journeys on winding roads, but I’m going to enjoy the rides.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post? If so, please share it and connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Guest post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Verizon buys AOL, Facebook launches Instant Articles, and more

Verizon AOL

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Verizon buys AOL, Facebook launches Instant Articles, and more.

This week we discuss the purchase of AOL by Verizon, Facebook’s launch of Instant Articles, and Tango’s new mobile shopping feature.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Image courtesy of PC Mag.

Guest Post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Mobile search surpasses desktop, Cisco CEO to step down, and more

google mobile search

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Mobile search surpasses desktop, Cisco CEO to step down, and more.

This week we cover mobile search volume surpassing desktop, Cisco’s CEO stepping down, Uber’s and others’ bid for Nokia’s Here, and the impending launch of Oculus Rift. Check it out here.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Guest Post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Uber launching merchant delivery program, Twitter’s poor earnings get leaked early, and more

uber delivery doc

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Uber launching merchant delivery program, Twitter’s poor earnings get leaked early, and more.

This week we cover Uber’s merchant delivery program, Twitter’s disappointing quarterly results getting leaked early, Secret’s shutdown, and Apple Watch’s delay being blamed on a Chinese manufacturer.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Photo courtesy of TechCrunch.

Guest Post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Google updates algorithm and launches Project Fi, Comcast drops TWC bid, and more

google mobile friendly

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Google updates algorithm and launches Project Fi, Comcast drops TWC bid, and more.”

This week we highlight Google’s algorithm update and launch of Project Fi, Comcast’s dropped bid for Time Warner Cable, and Verizon’s rocky launch of Custom TV.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Guest Post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: LinkedIn buys Lynda, Apple Watch on sale, and more

lyndalinkedin

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: LinkedIn buys Lynda, Apple Watch on sale, and more.

This week we cover LinkedIn’s purchase of Lynda.com, Apple Watch going on sale, Android Wear working with iPhones, and the launch of HBO Now.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Guest Post for Thorn Tech – The Week in Tech: Amazon launches Home Services and Dash Button, Jay-Z announces Tidal, and more

Amazon Dash Button

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Amazon launches Home Services and Dash Button, Jay-Z announces Tidal, and more.

This week we talk about the launch of two new Amazon services, announcement of Jay-Z’s streaming music product, IBM’s commitment to the Internet of Things, and the hack of GitHub being attributed to the Chinese government.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

How to avoid burning out when running your startup (and promoting it at SXSW)

burnout

This time last week I was in Austin, TX for SXSW Interactive to promote my startup, ribl. And this time last week, I was as mentally and physically drained and depressed as I have ever been in my life.

Those who know me know that I’m a pretty high-energy and positive person, and “depressed” is hardly ever in my vocabulary. But SXSW, and the startup game, took its toll on me for a little while. Here’s what I learned from the situation, how it applies to startups overall, and how you can avoid the temporary burnout that I experienced.

Multi-day conferences, and startups, are marathons, not sprints

If you read my recap of SXSW on the ribl website, you might see that I had a pretty stressful start to the conference.

The week prior to the event, I was really busy preparing for my demos and garnering press for our launch. On Friday, it took longer than we expected to publish the app on Google Play, which was really nerve-wracking. On Saturday, my demo at Austin TechBreakfast did not go well, and I spent all day and night in a frog suit doing demos and promoting ribl, which was very tiring.

mike in frog costume

This frog was not that happy at the end of SXSW.

By Sunday, on only the third of five days of SXSW, I was already feeling the effects of burnout. I was tired, hungover, and mentally fried, and didn’t attend any SXSW events during the day. I did not want to get into that frog suit again. But I did, and attended a few parties that evening.

On Monday, I took a full day off from the conference and did nothing. On Tuesday, I attended a few panels and took a couple of meetings sans frog suit. On Wednesday, I was really happy to leave Austin and head home.

The lesson here is that for these long conferences, you need to pace yourself to get the most out of them. Maybe I wouldn’t be saying this if I were 10 years younger, but who knows. I was really busy and went out really hard in the beginning and was totally worn down by day three.

The same can be said about startups and entrepreneurship overall. I think one of the reasons I was depressed was that our product wasn’t ready for prime time and while we received great feedback, we didn’t achieve the number of downloads and engagement level that we wanted to see from the event. And because of this lack of success, I felt even more guilty when I wasn’t wearing the frog suit and promoting ribl. It was a pretty vicious cycle.

But I realized that this is just the beginning. While SXSW didn’t go perfectly, we actually launched the app, which is a win in itself, and laid the foundation to grow in the future. I met a bunch of people who really loved the app and want to help promote it. And I learned that SXSW is not the be-all, end-all for tech startups; it’s only a step in the process.

I’m not usually this short-sighted, and I think the fatigue and time away from home just wore me down. The ribl team and I are in this for the long haul and SXSW is only the beginning of a long, fruitful journey. Running a startup is a marathon, not a sprint.

Don’t go it alone

If you’re attending a conference to promote your startup or company, do not do it alone. Don’t do it!

First of all, SXSW and many other conferences are so big that you can’t possibly get the most out of them if you’re working by yourself. You can only put up so many stickers and talk to so many people, and it won’t be enough.

Second, because promoting your company is such a grind, you’ll want to have someone to lean on and speak with when you’re tired and worn out.

Third, it sucks attending events and showing up at parties alone. It’s much better when you have that other person you know will be by your side.

This is the same for startups in general.

There’s just too much to do, and you likely don’t have all the skills you need to build a successful business on your own.

Building a startup is a grind, and you need that shoulder to lean on when times are tough.

And knowing that your co-founder(s) will be by your side will make the journey all that more enjoyable.

Businesses with multiple founders are more likely to succeed for the reasons above, so don’t try to do it alone.

Care a little less sometimes

One of the reasons why I got so down at SXSW was that I care A LOT about ribl. The development of the app wasn’t where we thought it would be and we didn’t garner as many downloads as we wanted, and the combination of this lack of success with the passion I have for the company really dampened my spirit.

I realized that sometimes you just need to disconnect and care a little less about your work. When I took time away from SXSW on Sunday and Monday, I spent time with the friends at whose home I was staying. We ate some great BBQ, hung out at Zilker Park, and just relaxed. I also went for a run to clear my mind. And even though ribl was still in the back of my mind, I was able to disconnect a little bit and enjoy Austin outside of SXSW.

The same can be applied to the everyday grind of building a startup. Running a business can be an all-encompassing endeavor and if you don’t disconnect sometimes, burnout will be inevitable. Make sure you set time aside to exercise, take a vacation, and relax. Go out to eat, have your friends over, and turn off your cell phone. Care a little less sometimes.

Conclusion

SXSW was a great event at which to promote ribl but it certainly had its side effects on me. I learned a lot about how not to burn out at multi-day conferences, and these lessons can be applied to the everyday grind of building a business. If you remind yourself that startups are marathons, having a co-founder is a great thing, and caring a little less can really help, you’ll avoid burning out.

What do you think about my experience? Do you have any stories or additional tips to avoid burnout? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Photo courtesy of Healthylifestyleart.com.

Guest Post for Thorn Tech – The Week in Tech: Facebook Messenger payments, TAG Heuer’s smartwatch plans, and more

FB payments

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Facebook Messenger payments, TAG Heuer’s smartwatch plans, and more.

This week we cover the announcement of Facebook Messenger payments, TAG Heuer’s smartwatch plans, and Tesla’s self-driving car.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.