‘Shark Tank’ with More Oreos

As a father of three, I’ve had the opportunity to hear kids say some extremely funny, creative, and brilliant things. Recently, my son and I started playing a game that frequently combines all three elements. We don’t have a name for it, but some might think of it as ‘Shark Tank’ with more Oreos. To be fair, a lot of people would simply call it ‘brainstorming.’

Basically, he pitches me business ideas, sometimes very raw, sometimes very well detailed and thought out. As you can imagine, the spectrum of ideas is all over the place, from Minecraft mods and social networking tools for kids to buying and selling bikes.

Once the ideas have been pitched, we talk through them. This can get a bit squirrely at times and the ideas can seem pretty off the wall, but we always talk through them. We go through the why’s, the how’s, and the whatnot’s, which often leads to new ideas and a fresh string of questions.

Some ideas we’ll research on the spot and other times, I put the ball in his court. And it’s great to see him get excited about an idea, dig in, and learn something completely new. Regardless of the outcome, we’ve started putting all the ideas in his ‘Startup’ idea book.

Each time we play the game, it evolves and his understanding of the business world grows. It’s also great to see his younger brother and sister wanting to get involved and starting to pitch ideas of their own, like “What about puppies that don’t poop, dad?”

Moving forward, we’ll be testing some of his ideas, giving him an opportunity to learn more about entrepreneur-ing, and hopefully earning him enough to buy that X-wing Fighter he’s always wanted.

Upcoming Workshops | Portland Startup Weekend & Tiny Startup Camp

In November, there are a couple of awesome startup workshops you should check out if you have ideas and want to execute on them. These aren’t two days of lectures, these are two days of solid, hands-on sessions where you are taking real ideas and moving them forward.

Tiny Startup Camp | Register | Twitter
“Come together for a two-day event and not only learn how to create a Tiny Startup, but make real progress on starting your own. This isn’t a ‘get inspired and never do anything about it’ type of event, this is a ‘come learn how to do something, then do it–while you’re still at the event’ type of event. We have great speakers, and it’s gonna be really fun and it’s going to make you smarter and better than you’ve ever been before.”

Portland Startup Weekend | Register | Twitter
Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 400 past events in 100 countries around the world in 2011.

The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Washington but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world. From Mongolia to South Africa to London to Brazil, people around the globe are coming together for weekend long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.

Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups. If you want to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, register now for the best weekend of your life!”

The circle of startup life

Information Maven: Greg Meyer

It’s a sad day in a way – today marks the end of Gist, a company I had the pleasure of working for through its evolution from a scrappy startup pioneering new ways to manage social contacts through its acquisition by Research in Motion – the BlackBerry folks. And it’s a happy (albeit bittersweet) day as well. The end of Gist is a great time to reflect on the nature and purpose of startups – how fickle they are, how fragile, and how magical.

I love startups because they strip away the unnecessary parts of corporate america and focus on putting together a team to address a market and (hopefully) to solve a problem that people (and customers) want solved. Asking customers to hire your startup for the job they want solved – and hearing feedback from them that you solved that job well – is a great rush.

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Me, Myself & Micropayments | Chirpify

Not too long ago, I stumbled upon Chirpify, a “Twitter Commerce & Payment Platform.” My first thought was, “What the hell does that mean?” Second, only relatively familiar with the Portland tech scene, was, “Wow, I didn’t realize their were startups in Portland tied so closely to the Twitter ecosystem.”

After digging into a little further and getting a slightly better understanding of what they did, I thought it was a cool concept. With Chirpify, you can literally buy, sell, and donate with a tweet. Having recently joining a startup that develops SaaS applications for mobile banking as an Advisor and learning more about the advances in the mobile financial space as well as being a Twitterer, I was intrigued.

Fast forward a few weeks. I find myself at the Portland Digital eXperience (PDX) Startup Crawl (think tech startups + pub crawl). One of the companies on the crawl was Chirpify, so I had to stop by. This was an exciting day for them. Earlier in the day at the PDX conference, Chris Teso (Founder/CEO guy) announced that Green Day, who would be on MTV’s Video Music Awards that night, would be selling via Chirpify. As soon as Green Day tweeted it, Chirpify was on fire. When I got there, there was a healthy crowd of folks reveling as they blew up.

It was extremely exciting to watch first hand. And, after that, my mind kept thinking of all the ways it could be used. Having being involved in the Twitter comedy scene for a number of years, I could easily see comedians like Louis CK and Rob Delaney, with strong Twitter followings and already selling their comedy wares on their websites, rapidly increasing their sales with Chirpify. And it was great to see that Chirpify was already pursuing those type of opportunities.

Finally, I had to sign-up and found that it’s extremely easy and straightforward. You simply connect your PayPal account to your Chirpify account and you’re golden. From there, you can tweet payments like “Pay @twobillionideas $10 for whatever.” Or if someone is selling something on Twitter via Chirpify like Green Day, you can reply and buy.

I’m sure there are a billion ways Chirpify can make this work. And it’s going to be exciting to watch them grow from a delicate flower in the Silicon Forest into a major force in the micropayment world.


Articles from across the Web on entrepreneurship, leadership, and other stuff.

How Bad Leadership Spurs Entrepreneurship, Harvard Business Review
“What do 70% of successful entrepreneurs have in common? They all incubated their business ideas while employed by someone else. Indeed, most people start their own companies — or go freelance — in order to stop working for others. Why? Because most managers are simply unbearable. Year after year, Gallup reports that most employees are unhappy at work, and that the number one reason for dissatisfaction is their boss.”

5 Powerful Things Happen When A Leader Is Transparent, Forbes
“Trust and transparency have become popular workplace demands as employees seek to be aware of what is real and true.   People have grown tired of surprises and want to exist in a work environment that allows one to have greater clarity of thought – by eliminating the unknowns that continue to creep into our minds with each decision we make or relationship we foster.”

Don’t Freakout About Facebook’s Mobile-Ad Revenue, ReadWriteWeb
“News outlets breathlessly reported last week that Twitter was projected to overtake Facebook in mobile-ad revenue for 2012. But they missed the bigger picture.”

10 Leadership Lessons from Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, Forbes
“Jeff’s open and compassionate leadership style keeps the company focused on growing at the rate of two new members every second (that translates into 175 million registered users in more than 200 countries) while reducing the business mantra to just two words: “Next Play.”

Bounce Back From Startup Hiring Mistakes, Upstart Business Journal
“Hiring for a startup is a challenge. The team dynamics are vitally important, especially since the group is often so small that one staffing mistake can turn a happy workplace into a war zone. With that in mind, we asked members of our Young Entrepreneur Council what was the most common hiring faux pas they’ve experienced—and how they rectified the situation.”

5 Things Brands Should Consider When Running Mobile Video Ads, iMedia Connection
“In “Messaging, In-App and Mobile Internet Strategies 2012-2017,” Juniper analyst Charlotte Miller stated, “Mobile advertising gives marketers the chance to reach consumers on a more personal level than any other types of advertising. Creating immersive and entertaining experiences to attract the attention of the consumer is essential for marketers wanting to take advantage of the massive increase in app usage.”

The Best Entrepreneurs Are Undaunted By Failure, Examiner
“If you haven’t had a failure, you aren’t pushing the limits. If you are really an entrepreneur, you are a risk taker and less cautious by nature, so failures should be expected. Wear you startup failure as a badge of courage. Don’t go after failure, but embrace it when it does happen and grow from it.”

Why Eyeballs No Longer Matter For Startups, ReadWriteWeb
“Need funding for your startup? Don’t load up your PowerPoint with nifty charts showing all the users your online service has grabbed. Venture capitalists are no longer impressed. These days, investors want to hear about the revenue you’re generating, not the traffic.”

Do You Need To Be A Jerk To Be A Successful Entrepreneur?, TechCrunch
“I recently read Ben Austen’s WIRED article about Steve Jobs, which prompted me to put together my thoughts about the tradeoffs of being a successful entrepreneur. Austen’s article draws a caricature of Jobs and puts forth a series of false choices. After reading it, you might be convinced that you can either be a jerk and successful or decent and mediocre.”

What Recruiters Wish Job Seekers Knew, Forbes
“A lot of job seekers wonder what happens behind-the-scenes in the hiring process. I asked a diverse group of recruiters from private sector to non-profit, from start-up through Fortune 500, from business to creative: What do you wish more job seekers knew?

Project Management Tips For Launching A Startup, Web Design Ledger
“Any Internet-based startup will require a lot of attention during the early phases of development. To launch a successful product you’ll need a targeted market share and a solid idea of what you’re looking to accomplish. For startups this often leads to monetization, building a community, or offering a unique service to the public.”

If You Want To Be The Donald Trump Of Startups, Learn To Code, Fast Company
“The Donald built an empire because he knew what every piece and process cost him. If you can’t say the same for your software, you won’t.”