I recently started a company with my friends Andrew and Willem. I’ve long been fascinated by the transition of the printed book to digital, which is where this new endeavor will take me. We have a clear mission, and look forward to producing the best work of our lives. I couldn’t be more excited to be working on this product, at this time, with this group of people. I’ve had some amazing...
Speculation on Top of Speculation
One of the defining characteristics of the technology world is the pace at which innovations one day become standards the next. Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook trained the world to understand what a feed of content was. We take this for granted now, but it wasn’t long ago that an activity feed was a foreign concept. In the same way, Pinterest offered a different take on the feed structure,...
Increasing User Engagement in Emails
For any consumer application, email is an important tool to drive engagement. Last year, Fred Wilson went as far as calling it “Social Media’s Secret Weapon.” After optimizing the Hunch weekly recommendation emails for a few months last summer, I thought it might be useful to share some of the key lessons we learned to increase user engagement in emails and acquire new...
How to Make an Impact During the First Month of...
A lot has been written on the process of joining a startup, and I’ve written a bit on the topic. Less is written about what to do once you join. Truth is, that’s when the fun starts, and it’s important to optimize your experience from day one. There are a few things I wish someone had told me before I started, so hopefully the tips below will help you get up the learning curve...
How to Raise Your First Round
Last week Chris taught a Skillshare class at the Union Square Ventures office called “Planting the Seed: How to Raise Your First Round.” The room was full of energy, with lots of first-time entrepreneurs. It was a fun event, so I thought I’d post some of the key concepts for those who couldn’t make it to the class. Enjoy! 1. The process gets much easier after getting one...
Keeping Users Logged In
It’s no secret that a logged in user is more valuable to a company than a logged out user. A user must be logged in to receive a truly personalized experience, be a content producer, or make a purchase. The beauty of mobile is that once a user connects to an application, they are always logged in. We are beginning to see a movement toward this experience on the web as well. Twitter and...
How to Choose the Right Startup to Join
The idea of joining a startup is exciting. But the overwhelming desire to leave something old to join something new can become a double-edged sword. Just because you are eager to get your foot in the door does not mean you shouldn’t be picky. You are a valuable asset, and it’s important to remember this during the search process. Not all startups are created equal. In my last post I...
5 Reasons to Join a Startup After Graduating
After I wrote my last post, a surprising number of people emailed me asking why I decided to join a startup after graduating from Duke. Many of those I heard from face similar decisions today: either they are college seniors choosing between a big company and a startup, or they are recent graduates who work at a big company and are thinking about making the switch. What’s interesting is that...
How to get a job at a startup if you aren't a...
Recently, I’ve received an increasing number of emails from “business people” looking for advice on how to get a job at a startup. Most have the same story, “I could go work at a big company, but want to join a startup. One problem: I don’t know where to start the process.” Everyone knows how to get their foot in the door at an investment bank - just apply online. At least...
What is your product's burst mode?
The board game Carcassonne has become a bit of an obsession at Hunch HQ these days. Though we do play the physical board game, many of us also play the iPhone version. In a discussion of why Carcassonne is such an enjoyable iPhone game, Chris offered one explanation: “it’s bursty.” You can make a quick move, go away for a while, come back, quickly make sense of the board, and repeat. It lends...
New Facebook Friends Sidebar Subtly Guides Users...
Facebook recently released their redesign of the profile page. The details of the new design can be found here. To me, the most interesting piece of the redesign is the tweaked display of your friends, which amounts to little more than a bait to get users to indicate the strength of their relationships through lists (which Facebook has been trying to get users to do for some time, to no avail)....
Zuckerberg's "Social is Not a Layer" Comments...
In an interview with TechCrunch, Mark Zuckerberg commented that most companies don’t truly understand social. He said: “Even the companies that are starting to come around to thinking, ‘oh maybe we should do some social stuff’’, I still think a lot of them are only thinking about it on a surface layer,” Zuckerberg says. “It’s like ‘OK, I have my product, maybe I’ll add two or three...
The iPad Will Transform Online Conversations (and...
I love my iPad. I’ve had it for less than 72 hours, but already it’s become disruptive to my everyday routine. Traditionally, the first thing I did when I woke up was look at email on my blackberry, then head over to my laptop to check the WSJ, Twitter, Google Reader, Hacker News, Facebook and ESPN, usually in that order. Where I used to do all of this on my laptop, I now do it all on my iPad. ...
The Accidental Billionaires
I just finished reading The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, who also authored the book-turned-movie Bringing Down the House. I bought the book at the suggestion of a friend who is in Pheonix S-K, the Harvard finals club that the book describes in detail (Facebook co-founder Eduardo Severin was a member). My friend alerted me a few years ago that...
Foursquare's Growth Dilemma
Crossing the chasm from early adopters to the mainstream market poses significant problems for foursquare. It’s a classic Catch-22. How does foursquare engage a mainstream audience - we’ll call them “normals” - without alienating the core group of early-adopters who catapulted them to 1 million users? To recap, the debate so far has been around which of the following...
Joel on Twitter
I still have mixed feelings about Twitter, but I generally agree with the points that Joel makes. In particular I think that if you can do more listening than you do talking you can maximize its usefulness as a tool. He writes: Although I appreciate that many people find Twitter to be valuable, I find it a truly awful way to exchange thoughts and ideas. It creates a mentally stunted world in...
The Geo Stack
If you haven’t already taken a look, Chris Dixon wrote a great post discussing the “geo stack.” In particular, I found interesting his thoughts on the monetization layer. He writes: Finally, monetization could be a very valuable layer. There are (at least) two parts to monetizing location. Getting local businesses to embrace the internet has been very slow going. Companies that...
Becoming an “expert”
Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert, and in the spectrum of knowing, taking a view, and acting, I’m somewhere between knowing and taking a view. Below is just what I’ve observed, I’m not speaking as someone who has mastered these stages. When I worked in Sales and Trading this summer, I was given one piece of advice more than any other: take a view. All the full-time employees expected each...
The Importance of Blogging
This website represents my first venture into the world of blogging. I have long considered posting my thoughts on the web, but have always been limited by a few factors, least among them being time. I figure that many people like the idea of having a blog and sharing there thoughts, but are constrained for one reason or another. So, I’ve decided to give a quick list the hesitations I had about...
Fred Wilson recently made a post about rewards and monetization of the foursquare platform. He writes: “the most interesting way to reward a checkin is to provide some real value at the moment of checkin. For example, when I show up a my local cafe in the morning and checkin, I’d love to occasionally get a message on my checkin screen that says ‘you’ve checked in for the tenth time and earned a...
Let’s quit the gimmick of writing open letters
Recently I’ve seen a lot of “open letters” circulating on the Internet. The ones that I’ve come across usually have been addressed to tech CEO’s like Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt or Steve Ballmer, or to their companies: for example “an open letter to Google.” The word “open” (as opposed to private, direct letters) connotes the idea that “if I am open in my letter to you, then you should be open in...
Cartoon Yourself in Photoshop
I just finished creating a cartoon image of myself to use as an avatar in my Twitter profile. I think using a cartoon image is a pretty neat alternative to a plain image. I searched the web for sites that would convert an image into cartoon for free, and didn’t find anything that really matched what I wanted. So, I decided to try to do it myself in Photoshop. I’m fairly new to Photoshop, so this...
Who am I and what is this blog?
Either by choice or by chance, you’ve reached my blog. Not just my blog, but the first post of my blog. Perhaps taking a look at my inaugural post will be cool if sometime in the future I can accumulate thousands of interesting and insightful posts, all of which rank atop Google’s search results and bring me enormous fame and glory. Though this is obviously (not) the ultimate goal, there is much...