Build Cool Shit with Cool People

Make it your personal mission to build cool shit with cool people.

If you’re thinking about  starting a company don’t make it about it be about money, power, success, or the cool factor? These are the wrong reasons to start a company…and if this is all you got, you better be ready to fail.

Yes, you do need drivers as you do in anything, but don’t let these be the reasons why you start a company.

Starting a company is one of the hardest things you will ever do. It’s tougher than any Iron man, fight, school paper, exam, breakup, or fight you’ve ever been in. Starting a company is like getting in the ring with an MMA fighter just to get your ass beat over and over again – the key, getting right back up because anything worth doing is worth fighting for.

Don’t waste another day doing anything other than this. I’ve started several companies for the right reasons and I’ve started companies for the wrongs reasons. What I’ve learned is this simple statement: build cool shit with cool people.

Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made, get out there, find cool people, and get started building cool shit.

If you do this, it will change your life.

Monday morning motivation: Put in the work and make something out of yourself

No, I didn’t grow up in new York or silicon valley, I don’t have an MBA from Stanford or Harvard, and I didn’t come from any money.

My Mom and Dad had my sister when they were 17, my mom cleaned houses, and my dad poured concrete. We lived a simple life and my parents worked for every dollar they had.

What my parents have taught me over the years and I still carry with me today is that if I want something bad enough, I better get my ass out there and find a way to make it happen.

Oh, and don’t be a pussy (This is from Dad). Be tough, take risks, don’t let people push you around, and speak your mind.

Honestly, what my parents taught me at an early age is the foundation for anyone who wants to be happy and successful.

There is something to be said about hard work and some serious hustle.

Are my parents happy and successful today? Yes, but it didn’t come easy. It was the consistent get up work your ass off and hustle that has allowed my parents to be where they are today.

You are no different. If you want something bad enough, then you get out there, work for it, and find a way to make it happen. I don’t care if you have to live in van down by the river, eat ramen noodles for a year, or do the most random crap, there is a way, you just have to find it.

And, if you think you still need a degree from Harvard or come from money, you are full of shit. The truth is, you are lazy and you’re not willing to do what it takes.

Put in the work and make something out of yourself.

Happy Monday!

 

Ship Now, what are you waiting for?

If you’re sitting around thinking about this sweet plan about how you are going to take over the world with your product and you keep adding this and changing that, I say stop now and ship that shit – what are you waiting for….seriously?

Don’t be scared, no one is going to know about it for a while anyways – you will have plenty of time to collect feedback and make changes….trust me.

If you don’t ship now, there may be no hope for you or your product. By the time you “think” it’s right, someone will have already beaten you too it – you don’t want this, right?

It’s important that you get your product to market as quickly as possible. The longer you wait the more life and stuff happens. Put everything aside, figure what you need to make it viable, and start shipping. Do it now before I do.

The key is taking your product to market as quickly as possible. Then, after you’ve taken it to market you can collect customer feedback and use it to adjust the customer and product path. Simple stuff. Don’t complicate it.

I’ve dealt with both situations before; taking time to go to market and just shipping. You can probably guess what one always turned out better for me.

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Are you that person who sits around waiting to ship? What’s holding you back? 

 

What’s up with all the LA Incubators and Accelerators?

Are they legit? Why so many? How much money are they putting up? What kind of deals are they looking to invest in? Do they do follow on capital? How are they going to scale with talent?

These were some of my questions going into last nights Lean LA event titled “Learn About LA Incubators/accelerators” – really glad they put this event on.

If your curious about what Lean LA is, it’s a non-profit organization that is all about helping entrepreneurs build successful companies. The organization is run by Pete Mauro, Patrick Vlaskovits, and Joe Zulli. I haven’t had the chance to officially meet Patrick or Joe, but my coffee meetup with Pete was very positive.

By the size of the crowd last night (350 people), I wasn’t the only one with questions. The event was packed with people waiting outside the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium hoping someone wouldn’t show and they could score a ticket to come in.

Another good call was the meal ticket that came with the admission price. How awesome is that? You could redeem at any one of the food trucks outside. Well done with this one!

So, let’s get to the meat of this thing. Why in the world would you want to move to Los Angeles for a startup? I wouldn’t, just being honest here. Not that I don’t think that everyone is doing a great job building the infrastructure and figuring it out, I just prefer to be in a place that already has it figured out.

Essentially all the incubators/accelerators said the same thing: they are working their tail off to create the infrastructure that will allow entrepreneurs and innovators to tap into and build great companies. I think this is important and overtime will happen. Do I think it will happen quickly? No. As with any startup infrastructure, you have to work your nuts off, take a ton of risks, put your ass on the line, be willing to lose some serious dough, f some stuff up, and then, after all that, make the decision to keep going. If LA can do this, they will, overtime, have something great!

And, the other thing is talent. I think there is talent as there is talent everywhere, you just have to find it, organize it, and put it to good use. If you can’t get talent involved in the community that is your own fault – this really means you suck at selling.

The panel was fantastic – mainly because it was moderated by Dave McClure who wasn’t afraid to ask tough questions and put people in their place – not in a negative way – I think he was just trying to challenge everyone to really think about what it is going to take to build this kind of community.

After Dave got everyone loosened up – it didn’t work for everybody, the event started with a representative giving a quick intro, history, and what their interest was in supporting the LA startup scene.

Some of the people who were on the panel were:

Start Engine (Howard Marks), Idealab (Allen Morgan), upStart.LA (Dan Dato), K5 Launch (Amir Banifatemi), Originate (Jeff Scheinrock), Amplify (Jeff Solomon), Muckerlab (Jeff Rannala), and Launchpad LA (Sam Teller).
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Here is a list of all the incubators/accelerators and how they are structured as it sits today.

LeanLA.com Los Angeles Area Incubator & Accelerator Cheatsheet.

(Courtesy of Patrick Vlaskovits, more details here.)

Start Engine: 120 Startups @ $20,000 per year
Idealab: 4-6 Startups @ $50k – $500K a year
upStart.LA: 5-10 Startups @ $18,000 each class (1-2 classes per year)
K5 Launch: 10-50 Startups @ 25K-$200k
Originate: 10-15 Startups @ $100K-$1.5 million per investment
Amplify: 20 Startups @ $50,000
MuckerLab: 20 Startups @ $21k a year
Launchpad LA: 20 Startups @ $50k a year
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Here’s the good news – at least from what I could see, people are fired up about entrepreneurship and they’re willing to step up to build the community, shape the culture, and pour cash into companies. And, for me, I don’t care where it is, if this is happening and people are trying, I am excited and fully supportive of it.

Now, go do your part…good things are happening.

 

San Diego startup community is making it happen

Friday, I attended an event put on by Brant Cooper and the startup community in San Diego. Brant Cooper helps startups get started – they need it sometimes. He is also the author of the popular lean startup book “The Entrepreneurs Guide to Customer Development.” Give him a Google, he is writer, speaker, consultant, and all around cool guy.

David Cohen, the founder and CEO of TechStars was in the house talking about their accelerator program and what it takes to grow a localized startup/tech scene. The event was packed and very well received.

It was cool to see all the people sharing their ideas, their companies, and their efforts/hard work to continue building the startup community. I tell you what, this is a community you need to watch – something is taking shape and fast.

Heading into the event I had no expectation other than to hear David speak and to see what the startup scene was like in San Diego. I was blown away after just being there a few minutes. I wasn’t expecting it, honestly.

After the talk by David Cohen, Brant had organized FREE beer at a pub on campus at UCSD. Yes, free beer! That topped it off for me. Great event, great people, and free beer. I’m sold!

Talking with the different entrepreneurs, you got a sense that everyone is not out for themselves and what you can do for them, but what can they do to support the overall effort of building the community. You don’t see this very often, so it was enlightening. That is what it takes – people supporting people to grow and get things done.

Lets just say this, people are fired up and they’re putting in the work to make a killer startup community happen. Let’s support them.

Keep it up San Diego! And, thanks for the warm welcome and free beer! You rock!