Archive | January, 2013
16 Jan

One of the best tech startup advice ever

Steve Blank

If you’re an experienced coder and user interface designer you think nothing is easier than diving into Ruby on Rails, Node.js and Balsamiq and throwing together a web site. (Heck, in Silicon Valley even the waiters can do it.)

But for the rest of us mortals whose eyes glaze over at the buzzwords, the questions are, “How do I get my great idea on the web? What are the steps in building a web site?”  And the most important question is, “How do I use the business model canvas and Customer Development to test whether this is a real business?”

My first attempt at helping students answer these questions was by putting together the Startup Tools Page – a compilation of available web development tools. While it was a handy reference, it still didn’t help the novice.

So today, I offer my next attempt.

How To Build a Web…

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Regarding Schwinn CycleNav

8 Jan

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Hello all,

We benefit from having a very engaged community of supporters, and we thank you for bringing to our attention the recent announcement of Schwinn’s CycleNav bike navigation device at CES in Las Vegas. We even saw multiple comments on different articles about the CycleNav in which people strongly articulated their support for Hammerhead.

We think that the announcement of the CycleNav is a great thing. We believe that the problem of creating safer, easier bike navigation is one really worth solving. The fact that there is going to be another device out there on the road that positively affects the cycling community is wonderful. We are excited to see that Wal-Mart might be carrying a product that could help a number of people – as this is the avenue through which many make their purchasing choices. Schwinn’s entry into this space further emphasizes that we are not alone in recognizing that bike navigation is an issue that needs to be solved.

Our vision however goes well beyond simply telling you where to go. We are building a system in which you will also be able to discover why you might want to go to a particular place. We are putting actionable human insight into what is a far too austere, disconnected experience at present. We are excited to be driving innovation within our favorite sport and we feel honored to see elements of our design in the Schwinn product.

Again, a big thank you to all of our fans who sent this our way.

Time to get back to work!

Piet & the Hammerhead Team

Zoosk.com @ Lehigh Silicon Valley

7 Jan

Zoosk co-CEO Shayan Zadeh was the first startup in the Silicon Valley leg of Lehigh Silicon Valley 2013. He was one of the participants last year too.

Shayan Zadeh was very impressive in his delivery of Q&A after the catered dinner at Hotel Cabana/Crown Plaza at Palo Alto. I was particularly interested in the story of Zoosk. Shayan and his partner Alex had come from Iran to US for graduate study. Legal issues prevented them to get going as a business, so they got their Green Card‘s in Microsoft and NASA, soon they started a Marketing Research company.

Their initial venture focussing on Marketing Research didnt get sufficient lift, so they tried everything still focussing on market research like engaging users in a game and doing market research. One of their  side and fun project/game was to rate a their friends on hotness. Where have we heard about something like this: remember the Facebook story, the first time they made news on their university campus. Well they found that people wanted to meet hot individuals in any location and the users were willing to pay up to $10 for that introduction. This new change took off, the growth was off the charts and also brought in much needed cash. From there it has morphed into Zoosk’s current form.

I draw inspiration from this as the initial parts of the story match my own story in a way. International Graduate Student from India, looking to begin a startup, no solid ideas yet. I am on my 2’nd startup idea and idea still no end in sight. Perhaps there is something in the air around Silicon Valley that just might cause a change in my current startup idea, that makes it take off… So there is light at the end of the tunnel

African Beginnings

2 Jan

I, Piet, grew up in Johannesburg, a city where renegade minivans are the main form of public transportation.  Biking represented a way for me to explore Joburg at a young age in ways that would not have otherwise been possible.  

An early biking companion and friend of mine in high school wasChris Froome, who later was to win the 2013 Tour De France. Chris and I were both prefects at St Johns College. On one particular ride, Chris and I were mugged and Chris’ saddlebag was stolen.  Incensed, and with youthful enthusiasm if not so much wisdom, we hotly pursued the assailant as we tried to coordinate the police to intercept him. When the police were finally able to intercept the mugger, they viciously beat him in front of us. As children of Johannesburg, this violence was not entirely unusual.

Laurence was then a talented mountain biker who I met through the high school cycling club. Being a few years behind us, he was affectionately known as “The Kid”.  Laurence and I frequently headed off to races in Pretoria together in the back of his mom’s Land Cruiser. After high school, Laurence and I compiled a highly complimentary set of skills. We joined forces on hammerhead a year ago when he came to the USA to do a masters program at Brown University. 

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