Over the past few months, I have been working on a developing my new idea for a startup. I have started floating my idea to friends and family to see if it’s viable, talking to other technology entrepreneurs I know as well as doing market research, competitor research and thinking about how to go about building an MVP (minimum viable product).
I’m at a point in the progression of this business that I need some help. As the lone non-technical founder of a startup, I am looking to add a technical cofounder to the team to start creating an MVP along with planning and even getting the right investors involved at the right point. I have also been looking into Y Cobinator and TechStars as a potential way to kick start the business and get some great hands on help at the beginning.
I am looking for a connection or to be introduced to someone who is smart and knows how to program or can learn a particular language quickly. My initial thoughts are along the lines of an iPhone and/or Android application, but that is not set in stone and might change as the idea evolves. Mostly though, I’m looking for someone who is driven, smart, and that I get along with because that is ultimately what makes up a good co-founder. When starting a business, the co-founders spend a lot of time together and they have to be able to get along, share, and respectfully criticize each other’s work.
If you yourself are, or know of someone who is technical and would be interested in working on a startup with me, I would appreciate an introduction to start discussing possibilities with him/her. If you have any questions or thoughts on this, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am looking forward to the possibilities of this startup and meeting someone just as excited about the idea.
One of my friends who has started a few companies sent me this article that I think is good at explaining cofounders and what to look for: What A Nerd Looks for in a Non-Technical Cofounder. Take a peak and let me know what you think.
I keep my ears open for ideas and areas that can help increase business and productivity. Last year, I found one such idea from a friend in Madison. The idea is simple too – interns. The idea of interns is simple and you can read how to implement a program of your own here: www.NathanLustig.com.
I set out to implement our own program to help our productivity this summer since the months of April through September are our busiest months. I figured the help around the office while giving the interns learning opportunities in business would be a great combination. I was right, but didn’t realize how effective the program would be on multiple levels.
The interns are doing great and their presence in the office is helping with Blue Apple’s growth. But what I didn’t realize was the interns would directly effect my efficiency as well. Becuase I am now not only managing myself, but 4 other people, I have to plan my days more carefully and be more efficient with my time. The planning of an internship program is extremely important and www.internships.com can help with a lot of it. But there will always be unexpected things that come up and this is where productivity actually increases if you know how to manage your time effectively. Even if you manage time well when you are only managing yourself, there is always time wasted in certain areas of the day. But the addition of others to your management structure helps with this lost time.
If you spend 30 minutes of that wasted time managing 4 interns, they can then take the rest of the day/time and be 4 times as productive as you individually could have been with your most effective time. The math just works.
Plan early and effectively for your intern program for next year – but you will see great success if you put in the right steps and time for your business.
I admire Google.
I know that lots of people don’t like them because they are too big, they are taking over the world, or because they have wiggled their way out of many legal mandates for maintaining personal information. However, if you look at the company without any bias, you too would agree that it is a truly amazing company. Just to start, look at all that they have built! From Google search engine to Google Maps, Google street, Google Analytics, GMail, GoogleDocs, Google Trends and much, much more that it would take forever to list them all here. Google is probably one of the best known search engines worldwide performing an estimated 1.2 billion queries per day – WOW! Google is huge. They have so many different types of people working for them and are a massive company. Their corporate structure must be unbelievably complicated to keep track of.
However, why I admire Google so much is because of their culture. Even though they are such a large company, they are able to maintain a corporate culture that is fun and enjoyable for their employees which is why people want to work there. I have heard rumors, and I would believe them due to the nature of the company, that they offer massages, a fantastic cafeteria, slides to get from one floor to a lower floor, and much more for those that work there. What a great place!
The thing that I probably love most about Google and what I believe shows that Google will never get too big for their own britches, is April Fool’s Day. I’m not sure when they started it, but for the past two years now, Google has put together a fantastic April Fool’s Joke to play on everyone. Check out this years www.gmail.com/motion. The time it takes for them to put this together is not insignificant, but probably didn’t take a too terrible long for a few people to throw together. Even though Google is billions of searches a day and used by millions, and is a multi-billion dollar company, they still have fun and take part in April Fool’s Day.
A lesson we can all take back with us – Don’t take yourselves or your business too seriously, even if you’re perceived to be the biggest and greatest.
When I was in college, I had access to the university software center that had Norton Anti-Virus. I downloaded it and used it throughout my four years at school. It worked fine and my computer was only infected badly once which I was in fact able to fix with the help of my college roomate. So the software worked effectively in protecting my computer over that time period.
When I left college, I lost access to the software center and therefore did not have access to the anti-virus software. I started roaming around trying to figure out which software to buy to help protect my precious computer. I hate spending money on software, especially now that almost all software is in some way or another offered free. From Google Docs, to Gmail, to iTunes, why pay for any software anymore? This finally dawned on me and I started searching for an anti-virus software program that was free. I found finally found AVG Anti-Virus software and loved the whole “free” aspect of it. But then I got to thinking, “If it’s free, is that going to leave my computer at risk since i’m not paying for the better software?” Answer: No.
AVG software, and most other free programs these days are just as good as the paid versions, if not, in some cases it’s actually better. CNet.com actually rates AVG Anti-Virus Free higher than Norton and it carries the same rating as McAfee. However users rate AVG higher than both. AVG Free has the same characteristics as Norton and McAfee and protects my computer just as well as the paid versions do. I’m not doing anything fancy on my computer so I don’t need anything more than the basic protection.
If you ever find yourself looking for software and are considering buying it, take a step back and think about if you actually need the paid version. Mostly likely you do not. Look for a free version of software that accomplishes what you want and same a few hundred dollars.
Equivalent to Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Visio) – Google Docs (Free)
Equivalent to Microsoft Outlook – Gmail (Free)
Equivalent to Norton/McAfee Anti-Virus – AVG Anti-Virus (Free)
Business Card Printing – VistaPrint (Free)
You can’t rely on anyone else to do your job for you. Nor would it be right to in most cases. This is why you have to take ownership of things that must get done. I’m not saying necessarily do them yourself, but you need to make sure they are getting done. If you have a meeting with a co-worker, client, or associate that has deliverables by a certain date and you are the one that needs the deliverables, then you are the one that must follow up with the people in that meeting to make sure the deliverables get done. You cannot expect that with everything else happening in peoples’ professional lives and their schedules that they will follow up with you and let you know when it’s done or if there are problems along the way. You are going to have to take the ownership of that call or ”pop-by.”
The trick with follow up though is When do you do it. How long is too long and how soon is just annoying and not effectively badgering (which is a good thing in my mind). It definitely depends on the task, but don’t think that one follow up call is sufficient if the project you are waiting for will take longer than 2 weeks. With that amount of time in between when the task is assigned and when it’s due, people have many other tasks thrown at them and your project might just get pushed to the back of their minds or the bottom of their pile. My rule of thumb is any task that will take less than a week, follow up with them on the due date. Any more than that and it is overbaring and annoying. Plus then all of your time is taken up managing and following up if you manage multiple people. For a task that will take more than a week but less than a month, follow up once or twice (if it’s toward the longer part of the month) about halfway through to make sure the individual does not have any outstanding questions that they might not have been able to ask you yet. This also ensure that the project is still at the front of their mind. If the project will take more than a month, break it up into smaller tasks that will each individually take less than a month Then follow up on each smaller task and use the guides above to help with your follow-up calls and meetings.