Jim Harrer

STARTUPS, TURNAROUNDS, APPDEV, AGILE & LIFE...

Put Up the Hoop Sooner - 10 lessons of parenting from one wise guy who's done the dad thing.

This was emailed to me by another dad to help us reflect on Father's day and to give some insight to younger dads.  I share many of  these 10 lessons in common and thought it was fitting to pass it on.  Thanks to Hugh O'Neill for this well written article.

...Jim


Put Up the Hoop Sooner

10 lessons of parenting from one wise guy who's done doing the dad thing
By: Hugh O'Neill

 

...
Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
3650 Hits
0 Comments

Inventor lighting up Kickstarter with a new approach to illuminate bike wheels for safer night time riding.

Introducing the Nori Lights - Bicycle Illumination System

San Diego Kickstarter and Inventor, Chris Flynn, came up with a smart way to Illuminate your bike wheels, letting drivers recognize you instantly at night. Well all know that tiny front and rear lights are not enough. Check out this video:

I know Chris Flynn, he's family, as Nori is my Uncle Nori.  I'll be the first to tell you that Uncle Nori would be very proud of Chris.  You can trust Chris to deliver on his promises and deliver on your pledge.  I would appreciate if you would support this project, by:

  • Telling your friends about it.  Add the link to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn profiles.
  • Buy a Nori Light System if you own a bike, purchase a tee shirt if you don't.
  • Forward this link to one bike shop in your area. Look them up on the web and send them an email via their contact us page.

Let's start another small business in America.  Please support this project today.

Thank you!

...
Rate this blog entry:
Recent comment in this post
Guest — Chris Flynn
Thank you so much Jim. Your support, kind words, and encouragement had a direct influence in this projects success. I am so excit... Read More
Sunday, 04 November 2012 12:12 AM
Continue reading
4118 Hits
1 Comment

Corporate Attorneys can learn 3 lessons from Jack Daniel's

jack-daniels-vs-broken-pianoA letter dated July 12, 2012 from Christy Susman, a senior attorney for Jack Daniel's has gone viral throughout the Internet.  Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUp - it's being read by hundreds of thousands of people.  Why?  Because it breaks ranks with the typical harsh, "I'm going to bring you a lot of pain", tone that attorney's learn in law school.  Ms. Susman writes with professionalism, humility and a tone of class which is being dubbed:

The Nicest Ceast-And-Desist Letter Ever Written.

I think you'll agree with me, most corporations would probably cring to see one of their cease-and-desist letters out on the world wide web. Several months ago I had this exact same discussion with an attorney on the other side who justified his asshole tone by saying:

"No hostility intended, but, sometimes I have to wear the hat as the company's counsel."

"No, you're just a prick and have no class Jason," is what I thought and moved on. For some of us, life is simply too short to engage in 7th grade behavior. I think most attorneys, especially outside counsel, immediately go hostile because they want to fight. They're incentivize to fight. Unlike a real fight, they have nothing to lose because they get to run up their client's bill.

...
Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
5212 Hits
0 Comments

Three lessons learned from the Facebook – Instagram $1 Billion Acquisition.

Ten years ago, I couldn’t finish a dinner with my friends without someone asking me a computer related question. Even though,  I was a software guy, I was their go-to guy all things PC. The last two years it has turned to smart phone applications.  Now that I’m involved in startups and an accelerator, the dinner chatter often turns to startups.

1-Billion-DollarsLast night, all they wanted to talk about was Facebook’s acquisition of mobile photo sharing application, Instagram for a cool $1 billion dollars.  Was Instagram, which is still pre-revenue, worth $1 billion? Yes.  A company’s worth is measured by another company’s willingness to pay.  At this moment in time, Instagram and its team of 13, are worth $1 billion dollars. That shouldn’t be the main question.

To me, the true lesson here is about the founders. I wish I could say I know them, I do not. I’ve never had the privilege to meet Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. Based off what I’ve studied about their product, I can tell you that they are intensely driven by the user experience (UX). Instagram user interface is efficient and elegant.  For them, their Minimal Viable Product (MVP) had to have a WOW experience, which is why 25,000 people downloaded the application on their iPhone the very first day it was released in October 2010. Ninty days later, over 1 million people had it on their iPhone.  Today, it’s close to 30 million subscribers and with last week’s release for the Android market, that hockey stick is likely to continue.

So, what are the lessons we can learn from Instagram’s early success?

  1. instagram 1 billionUX (User Experience) matters.  The lean startup and MVP principles don’t always mean your interface can (or should) suck. Also, you have to give credit to both founders for making sure the back-office was well designed and could scale. They clearly learned from Twitter and MySpace’s early failures. In order to have an awesome UX, the total user experience needs to be awesome. The fact they were able to pull this off, with their explosive growth, is impressive indeed.
  2. Focus on what matters. Instagram is available only as a mobile application. Unlike Pinterest, you can’t view it on a website. This was another great decision because it allowed them to stay insanely focused on the user experience.  It also plays well for the type of photos they’re looking for. They want photos of people living life. Pinterest’s market is decidedly different. Just compare the photos on Instagram and Pinterest and you’ll see what I mean.
  3. Keep it lean. According to CrunchBase, Instagram funding was $57.5 million from Benchmark Capital. A total staff of 13, they kept the group agile. Most companies with $50 million in funding would immediately grow to 100 to 200 people. This is impressive to me and something we can all learn from.

So even though I don’t know the Instagram team, I want to tip my hat to them.  Anything is possible, dream big!

…Jim

...
Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
3907 Hits
0 Comments

Selling what you believe, the power of Why before How and What.

The work with our startups intensifies this week as we continue to work on Customer Development and The Lean User Experience. As our Founders move closer to defining their Minimal Viable Products (MVP), they have gone out in the market and interviewed potential customers of their products. As a result, some of our startups have made pivots in their business plan.

I like to celebrate these pivots with our startups. We're six weeks into the process, we've saved monthes of development time by not building software no one will purchase. We're learning more and more about their market segment each and every day. One interesting observation is, with each pivot, the founders are becoming even more passionate about their business. I contribute this to the fact the nine founders are going through this together\, and they're gaining positive energy from the team. This is another benefit of an accelerator; you push through the challenges at a much faster pace.

why how whatThe importance of WHY, before HOW and WHAT.

Simon Sinek, an adjunct staff member of the RAND Corporation, one of the most highly regarded think tanks in the world. He wrote a best seller, "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action". Yes, his principles focus on leaders and the importance of communicating "why". I could write about this topic for pages, but I want to stay on point for this post, so...

Sinek believes you should communicate to your customers: WHY your product/solution matters, than HOW it does it and finish with WHAT it does. We believe most companies do this in reverse. Starting with what features the product has, how it does it so well and finishing with why you should but it.

"Sell to people who believe what you believe." Says Sinek. "People don't buy what you do, they purchase why you do it."

...
Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
3602 Hits
0 Comments

This Week In Startups - A weekly dose of startup insight.

This Week In Startups - A Damn Good Show!

If you have missed the first couple hundred shows, like I have, don't sweat it. They're all online. I actually subscribe to their iTunes podcast, and have been catching up on them while I hike with my dog Morgan. The last couple weeks have been remarkable, however, if you truly want to have fun, listen to some of the old tapes from 2009 and it will confirm just how fast our tech industry changes.

This Week in... is a web television network covering a wide variety of topics from tech to entertainment. Produced out of our Culver City studios, the shows feature guest experts, founders, movie stars, comedians, technologists and CEO’s — all keeping you up to speed on what’s happening this week with a fast and funny style. Informative and entertaining, ThisWeekIn is the place for whatever your interests may be.

The company was founded by Jason Calacanis (co-founder of Weblogs, SVP AOL, CEO of Mahalo), actor Kevin Pollak and Mark Jeffrey and is based in Culver City, CA.

I've been listening and occasionally watching some of the Podcast and have found them informative, educational, insightful and entertaining. Jason Calacanis is an excellent host with an amazing memory. If you're an entrepreneur or angel investor, especially if you don't hang out at all the startup events, you'll want to catch this show each week.

 

...
Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
3435 Hits
0 Comments

Kickstarter–Where some really great ideas are born.

 

Kickstarter_Logo

One of the things I love watching our 9 founders go through our VentureBox Venture Launch program, is the energy they get from each other. As the class finishes week 4 today, it’s really fun to watch the team development among the founders. Each are struggling with many of the same challenges, however since they’re going through the class as a group, they’re managing those challenges better than going it alone.

Don't underestimate the power of the team dynamic in a business accelerator. Even though each founder is working on a completely different product or service, they're all doing it together. No question is dumb, and the answers often apply to each of the startups anyway. So it's all good.

That brings me to Kickstarter. If you haven’t heard or visited this site I encourage you to do so.

...
Rate this blog entry:
Recent comment in this post
Guest — Severn Anderson
A great addition to this thought strain is a post on Steve Blank's RSS feed where he discusses the differences between "Search and... Read More
Thursday, 08 March 2012 5:05 PM
Continue reading
3689 Hits
1 Comment