May 2011

Insane Maniac Business Partners

Starting a business is very hard and to be successful I think you need to have a certain set of characteristics, one of which I’ll call the “insane maniac” trait.

I by no means think you need to be certifiably crazy to start and run a business, but I do think you need to be able to handle the stresses of entrepreneurial life and to do so requires a mentality that, in some cases, you can just flat-out call crazy.

Things like:

  • Paying people with money you don’t have
  • Working 24+ hours straight
  • Flying across the world and back for one meeting
  • Buying assets with money you don’t have
  • Living with no income, but lots of expenses
  • Distributing flyers room by room, in hundreds of rooms for hours on end
  • Obsessing over a problem or idea during all hours of the day
  • Walking around for weeks with inventory in your backpack in hopes of making a sale to random people
  • Stocking boxes of inventory in your bedroom to the point you can’t move
  • Writing 50 page business plans at 3am
  • Diagraming an entire network of one’s business contacts
  • Selling something that doesn’t exist
  • Learning chinese to have one phone call
  • Learning how to write code from scratch to in order to build software

These are just a few things I’ve either experienced or witnessed firsthand by other entrepreneurs. So I think if you have partners you can trust, but can also operate at a borderline crazy yet obsessively steady pace, then I think you have a good foundation for building a business. And it will be with people that are crazy enough to make it work, whatever “it” is and whatever “it” takes.

I’m thankful to have been able to start businesses with people that fit this mould (even if only a little): Joe P, Lauren R, Steve W, Jesse S, Reese P, Dan S, Jeremy R, David N, Tom W, Corey C, Andrew F.

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Dogpatch Labs NYC – The Spinback Home

Now that the dust has settled a bit and the acquisition is done, I wanted to talk a little bit about Dogpatch Labs NYC and the role they played in Spinback.

1. Collaboration

For the past few months the Spinback team has been working out of a union square loft in NYC hosted by Polaris Ventures. We have been working alongside 15 – 20 other impressive and humbling startups all of which are building truly unique businesses. Every day, we had the opportunity to walk around to other startups and engage in conversation on a variety of topics that affected our business. We were able to get real time feedback on specific topics from unique perspectives. For example, a custom commerce startup gave us feedback on our EasyShare design and sharing process. A real-time group messaging platform gave us insights to different marketing tactics.

2. Networking

In addition, many companies were often meeting with angel investors, advisors, clients, and other high level folks. Often times, these meetings would spill out on to the Dogpatch floor and we would also end up speaking with these guests. These folks would dive right in and start asking us questions like “what are you working on” or “who are your working with?” Questions that ultimately led to more introductions and more business relationships. Furthermore, many of the folks in Dogpatch Labs have previously worked at other startups and large corporations so it would be a fairly regular occurrence for a fellow dogpatcher to say, “hey, do you want to meet so and so at company x?”

3. Education

Lastly, Dogpatch Labs would host many lectures, seminars, keynotes and workshops for people in the startup and technology community. It was commonplace to have 40 people listening to a speaker at the front of the office while we were writing code and making client phone calls in the back of the room. This aspect of Dogpatch Labs transformed the space from an office to a next generation classroom.

At the end of the day, Dogpatch Labs is perhaps one of the most important entities in the NYC startup community. Their ability to provide opportunities around collaboration, networking and education makes them the ideal home for early stage companies.

Big thanks to Peter FlintMatt Meeker, and the rest of the Dogpatch family for letting Spinback call Dogpatch Labs our home for the past few months. Also, big thanks to the rest of the dogpatchers for keeping us humble and hungry in the pursuit of building a great business.

(partial) Spinback Team @ Dogpatch:

(left to right: Andy, Corey, Dan)

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My Company Spinback Is Being Acquired

As the news says, today my partners and I over at Spinback are pleased to announce that we’ve been acquired by Buddy Media, the Facebook management system of choice for eight out of the ten top global advertisers.

When we started Spinback the goal was to build the most cutting edge technology that would facilitate conversations and sharing of products. More importantly, we wanted this technology to also track how word of mouth marketing affects new sales and new customer acquisition.

Now as a part of Buddy Media, we will have  all the tools and infrastructure necessary to accelerate our collective mission which is ultimately about leveraging this new social web in new and interesting ways for leading companies around the world.

We are really excited to begin the next chapter and I’ll leave the rest of the details to Buddy Media.

On to the next one…

UPDATE – Here are a few press releases:

UPDATE – June 14, 2012 – Buddy Media was acquired by Salesforce

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Celebrities Have No Privacy. We Are All Celebrities.

Ashton Kutcher 2008-09-08
Image via Wikipedia

There is a lot of debate going on in Washington DC and among the Ad Tech community around data and privacy. Technology has enabled every single one of us with the ability to communicate freely and broadly with ease and there are companies that make this possible, most notably through advertising revenue.

The loose claim being made is that our privacy is not safe and that as consumers, we are being exploited. However, I offer the following points to think about in order to add different abstraction to the conversation:

  • As a celebrity, you have the ability to communicate to the masses.
  • As a celebrity, you are subject to continual public criticism and scrutiny.
  • As a celebrity, you are subject to unwanted or unwarranted photography and videography.
  • As a celebrity, your likeness is often times used to make money (e.g. tabloids).

The current communication tools available make us all, to some degree, celebrities. We all have the ability to influence, communicate, and inform anyone and everyone. A right and privilege that has never been available to the masses. A right that has only been available to, and earned by, celebrities.

Now, almost anyone in the world can partake in celebrity-like activities for free. And the reason these tools are free is because companies are subsidizing the development and hosting costs with advertising revenue. They are paying for your right to use these powerful tools. Tools that give you unparalleled communication capabilities. A soapbox to the world (e.g. this very blog).

So when I hear about pending legislation on privacy and how companies are being “creepy,” I just think, celebrities have no privacy. We are all celebrities.

Only we are overnight celebrities thanks to the companies working hard to enable us with these powerful tools. If you don’t like it, you can send me a hand written complaint letter by horse, buggy, and courier.

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Eyewitness Account of Navy Seal Heroes

Cover of "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness A...
Cover via Amazon

Osama Bin Laden is dead and today I recall the feelings I had on that fateful day in 2001. Although I am admittedly filled with thoughts of joy about how this evil is wiped off the face of the earth, I still cannot seem to shake the sadness that continues to live on with those who lost loved ones over the past 10 years. And although the Seal team executed this operation with surgical movie-like precision, there have been other Seal teams that did not have the same fortune during this extended war against terror.

And it is with this in mind that today I recall the story of Marcus Luttrell, a Navy Seal who was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions against the Taliban during Operation Redwing. During Operation Redwing, Marcus lost his closest friends and was quite literally a Lone Survivor in the mountains of Afghanistan.

From the book description – Lone Survivor:

Four US Navy SEALS departed one clear night in early July 2005 for the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border for a reconnaissance mission. Their task was to document the activity of an al Qaeda leader rumored to be very close to Bin Laden with a small army in a Taliban stronghold. Five days later, only one of those Navy SEALS made it out alive.

This book tells the story of Marcus and his team from SEALs training in Coronado to their military assault in Afghanistan. It details their experience, their brotherly bond, and their ultimate sacrifice that has led us to this day. A day when we can celebrate justice and remember those who gave their lives in pursuit of that justice.

Today I think about all of those that lost their lives on September 11th, but I also think about those individual Seals and servicemen that gave their lives so I didn’t have to.

If you are enamored by what life is really like as a Navy Seal and want to pay tribute to those that were not so fortunate in this war, please go buy the book Lone Survivor. Any proceeds made from this post will be donated to the Lone Survivor Foundation.

Below are the names of those lost their lives during the operation (courtesy of Wikipedia).


Name Age Action Hometown
LT Michael P. Murphy 29 Part of 4-Man Seal Team killed in an ambush Patchogue, New York
STG2 Matthew Axelson 29 Part of 4-Man Seal Team killed in an ambush Cupertino, CA[18]
GM2 Danny Dietz 25 Part of 4-Man Seal Team killed in an ambush Littleton, Colorado[18]
FCC Jacques J. Fontan 36 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down New Orleans, Louisiana
ITCS Daniel R. Healy 36 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Exeter, New Hampshire
LCDR Erik S. Kristensen 33 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down San Diego, California
ET1 Jeffery A. Lucas 33 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Corbett, Oregon
LT Michael M. McGreevy, Jr. 30 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Portville, New York
QM2 James E. Suh 28 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Deerfield Beach, Florida
HM1 Jeffrey S. Taylor 30 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Midway, West Virginia
MM2 Shane E. Patton 22 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Boulder City, Nevada
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment[3]
SSgt. Shamus O. Goare 29 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Danville, Ohio
CWO3 Corey J. Goodnature 35 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Clarks Grove, Minnesota.
Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby 21 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Pompano Beach, Florida
SFC Marcus V. Muralles 33 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Shelbyville, Indiana
MSgt. James W. Ponder III 36 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Franklin, Tennessee
Maj. Stephen C. Reich 34 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Washington Depot, Connecticut.
SFC Michael L. Russell 31 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Stafford, Virginia
CWO4 Chris J. Scherkenbach 40 Killed aboard the helicopter when it was shot down Jacksonville, Florida



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