Your grandmother should be able to understand your resume.
A few thoughts on @lift
Simple, single screen signup flow
Easy to navigate UI
Love the concept- super simple way to track habits
Areas for improvement
I like the idea that habits are best developed in the open…but there are some habits that benefit a lot less from being public. For example, one habit I want to cultivate is making setting up the coffee pot for the following morning first thing when I walk in the door. Not something people will get excited about, not something they can really share in. I suspect this may be in place for future integrated ads/affiliate fees - if for example Craft Coffee was able to see the coffee habit I was trying to develop they could incent me (a la klout) or advertise to me in the stream (a la twitter). For a mobile first environment both of these seem viable. But I’m not sure I love the 100% default public setting. Relatedly, while platforms like Twitter and Tumblr encourage the creation of new relationships, the stripped down nature of the content in this app will be a challenge in terms of making the “props” and other interactions feel meaningful. A random “good job” from someone I don’t know and have little context for feels strange.
Reminders/prompts- one thing I’d love to see is Lift noticing what time of day I check in to each habit and prompting me as that time approaches / asking what’s up if the usual time passes and I haven’t checked in. Would be awesome to have to write for the days when I didn’t do something the reason why so I can identify and change that behavior.
Encouragement to make the habit more specific - eg drink more water should be something like drink 8 glasses of water per day.
Super excited to see where this product goes.
The “check in” terminology for a habit feels weird to me- track or count feels more intuitive
Just finished teaching my third Skillshare class about how to transition from finance into tech.
The class maxed out at my 15-person cap. It would’ve taken me months to have that many one-on-one coffees, even if my students had found me. I had a great time sharing my experience (and more importantly, what I learned from it) and I actually think the students benefitted from hearing each other’s questions too — was totally different than OHours I’ve hosted on the same topic.
I walked away from the class even more impressed that before with Skillshare. The breadth of classes has expanded enormously, although it still appears to skew towards tech. It does what the internet does best — correct for information asymmetry — while making human interaction the true focus. (Sounds kind of like HowAboutWe!)
The opportunity for Skillshare is huge, and there’s a part of me that thinks it shares as much of its DNA with Meetup.com as with other education-focused startups.
A few of the things I’ll be curious to see it tackle:
Teacher Quality: I’m digging the section of the site that shows a teacher’s “Trust & Reputation” by a couple different metrics. As the site scales, a few other things it’d be great to see.
- LinkedIn integration so that as a student I can see whether or not I’m connected to the teacher via LinkedIn. This would also be a good way to get profiles / skillsets filled in automatically.
- Some sense for what the average metrics are and/or the ability to filter by metrics
- For the first class a teacher teachers, offer a $5 discount on next skillshare class to participants who provide feedback on the teacher.
Possible variations on the current version of a class:
- Creating an avenue for teachers to be able to follow up with students on Skillshare’s platform — e.g. in my class, several students asked me to look at resumes. I don’t really want to charge for it, but I also can’t look at every resume for every student. Would be cool if I could add that on my class page as a related service. This may be too complicated but feels like a potentially good source of revenue for Skillshare.
- Allowing people to request private classes from teachers. e.g. would love to set up a private wine tasting class for me and my girlfriend through Skillshare and am willing to pay more than a standard class for it to be private.
- Recurring classes or classes over a time period. this gets a bit away from teach anything to anyone, but i’d love to take an 8-week Spanish class through Skillshare.
Excited to see where Skillshare goes over the next few months.
“FB PAC will give our employees a way to make their voice heard in the political process by supporting candidates who share our goals of promoting the value of innovation to our economy while giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected,” said a spokesman via email.
Interesting choice by Facebook. What do you think the means to the end is here?
Startups Partnering with Big Companies - Notes from #BDMEETUPNYC
Awesome panel last night on startups partnering with big companies. Panel included Jared Grusd from AOL, Tristan Walker from foursquare, Sanam Lari from Time, Rich Kennedy from blip.tv and Serge Kassardijan from Google. Rachel Sklar moderated.
Here are the highlights, with initials next to each point for who said it.
Who should you try to reach out to?
- Identify the key decision maker. Tristan Walker started with the Chief Privacy Officer for American Express (TW)
- People who are new to a company are often good as well because they’re looking to prove themselves (RK)
- When speaking to multiple people in an organization, talk to all at once or at least make them aware that you’re talking to both. Don’t want to get tripped up by your partner’s internal politics (TW)
How to reach out:
- If you’re trying to work with public companies, they have to disclose a lot of info. Read their public filings in depth because they lay out their goals and challenges. If you can provide your solution to their problems in their language, it’s a huge advantage. Even with private companies, you can get a sense for this by reading extensively about the company and in particular communications from the company (JG)
- Customize the stock email to make sure that your potential partner’s objectives are identified. Also, get the partner’s name right
- Be persistent- you have nothing to lose (SL)
- Respect the timelines the person you reach out to sets. If they say, follow up in a month…wait a month (RK)
Who to Work With/How to Choose Partners
- “Every partnership I’ve launched fixes a problem that I had. Go to the brands you know and love.” (TW)
- Need to diversify partnerships - both different styles of revenue generation and distribution because things always change (SL)
- Take a five year view to see if your incentives are truly aligned. Ask yourself, “if both parties are still in business in 5 years, will partnership be helping both still? Will both companies be thriving in part because of the partnership?” (SK)
- Go with gut about people - only work with people you’re excited to work with. ”If you have to open a contract, there was a failure in the relationship.” (RK)
- Be so in love w the company you want to work with that you get their goals more than they do (TW)
- Be picky - you don’t want to work on partners that aren’t a good fit or are a weak brand because it reflects poorly on you (TW)
- Foursquare thought about having a “charter partner” in each vertical. CPG - Pepsi. Retail - Starbucks. Etc. He says, “When you go through picking one vertical at a time, it forces you to think about the different goals in each vertical, and to really consider whether your solution solves their problems.” (TW)
- Differentiate the partnerships within a category - the big companies don’t want to get cookie cutter solutions (SL)
- People think of the contract as the finish line but it’s really just the starting point - need partners who are committed once it’s signed (can’t remember)
How to Seal the Deal
- Need to build urgency but also convey that you can walk away - helps overcome inertia in big companies (can’t remember)
- The easier you make it for big company to say yes, the better (SL)
- Make sure you have a kickass product - makes it easier to have leverage even though you are much smaller. The sexier your product is, the easier it is to get big companies to say yes. If you’re hearing nos, get to work harder on your product (JG)
Exclusivity - worth it?
- Only do exclusivity if your marginal benefit exceeds the marginal cost (TW)
- Define the time period (SL)
- Transparency is key to exclusivity - be really upfront about what you’re doing and when (SL)
- Find out why your partner wants it (are they worried about one competitor? are they concerned about something else) and tailor the exclusivity to whatever the reason behind the demand is rather than going for blanket exclusivity (SL)
Odds & Ends
- Read a lot, with breadth and depth in the verticals you care about - develop true expertise in the thing you’re truly to position yourself as the emerging brand in (eg loyalty programs for Foursquare) (TW)
- Be super aware of what’s going on in the world and the verticals you are directly connected to (TW)
Be humble. Some of the oldest companies do things incredibly well that are unsung - Coca Cola awnings on bodegas, Amex customer service, etc - what can you learn from these incredible companies that they’ve done well, that makes you fall in love? “Coca Cola has been doing local for 125 years.” (TW)
In a bid to “supercharge” the Android operating system, Googleannounced on Monday morning that it’s acquiring Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in cash. “This acquisition will not change our commitment to run Android as an open platform,” Google CEO Larry Page wrote in a blog post. “Motorola will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. We will run Motorola as a separate business.”In instant reactions, Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal called the move a “game changer,” noting that Google now “competes directly with as well as the various other handset makers who currently use .” Techcrunch’s Robin Wauters noted the passage in Page’s post saying that it will “enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.” ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley also wrote that “Google execs cited patents as a key reason it is seeking to purchase Motorola.”