Monday, July 25, 2011

Mashable Op-Ed (OPINION): Location-based Games as the Next Killer App

In his Op-Ed piece for Mashable, Greg Steen writes:

Capture the flag. Hide and seek. Marco Polo. These location-based games brought hours of fun to many of us as children. Then video games came along and suddenly the only location you played in was the living room. Now this shift is coming full circle as innovative mobile games are using geo-location, image recognition and augmented reality technologies to combine the real and virtual worlds.

Location-Based Games Are Already Starting to Emerge


Read more:

Saturday, April 30, 2011

iPad Apps I Use All the Time

At some point, I may get around to explaining why each of these apps is important to me. In the meantime, I want to provide at least a basic list of the apps I use on a regular basis. I have installed and used more than 300 apps over the past year, and the majority of them have been a good experience. A few have been great, and I've listed them below:

  1. Instapaper (lets you store reading content from numerous sources - incuding Flipboard and SkyGrid) 
  2. Boxcar (push notifications from email and apps - almost turns your iPad into a Blackberry)  
  3. Evernote (syncs notes, web clippings, etc. with phone, Mac computer, etc.)
  4. Flipboard (like having a fully stocked magazine rack for the iPad that includes content from your Facebook friends, Twitter follows, Google Reader, TechCrunch, Hacker News, Harvard Business Review, you name it - go into settings and add the Instapaper / Read Later integration - a huge plus!)
  5. Kindle (the Kindle app for the iPad)
  6. SkyGrid (news from many sources - based on your search terms; automatically integrated with Instapaper)
  7. Wikipanion
  8. Netflix
  9. Rdio (music player - not free, but worth every penny of the monthly subscription; the music discovery resources here are amazing - including new releases, top charts, recommendations, and recent activity)
  10. Dropbox (syncs all kinds of files among iPad, phone, computer and lets you share them with others)
  11. Goodreader (best app for reading / storing and annotating PDFs; at this point nearly every user manual I ever expect to need is stored here; works for presentations as well)
  12. MyNetDiary HD (tracks food, exercise, blood pressure, etc.)
  13. Eywitness ("best of" collection of photos from the Guardian) 
  14. Google Maps

Let me know what you think!


"Your Idea Is Worthless." (And other bullshit.)

Don't you love memes? You know, those ideas or bits that seem to spring from nowhere and suddengly appear every-frigging-where. 

They're great, because they often convey some surprising notion. Maybe they characterize something in a fresh way, and wake you up to possibilities. Or problems. Or they just make you smile. 

Sometimes these ideas or bits that the crowd seems to get so excited about have the ring of Truth. Someone says something that seems downright profound, and it's so interesting and so surprising that it grabs you by your sensitive parts and captures your attention. And you become a believer. 

"Your idea is worthless." 

This is one of those things people started to say that has the ring of Truth. Some of my best friends say it. And they are smart people. But this statement is stupid. Of course it's usually followed by some equally mornonic statement (again, uttered by otherwise smart people) that goes something like this:

"Execution is everything."

Sure it is. If you're executing on an idea, a model a plan that's worth the investment of your time and other resources. Because the real truth here is this: if your idea is worthless, your execution on that idea is also worthless. The truth is, there are terrible ideas, good ideas and great ideas. And whether your idea is terrible, good or great . . .  well, that matters quite a lot. 

So why do smart people make these mornonic statements. Mostly I think they do it to get your attention. And to get you to realize that by holding your ideas or concept too closely - too secretivley  - you stop gathering the input you really need to do anything meaningful with the idea. You think your idea is so precious that you're afraid someone will "steal" it. So you do everything you can to protect it. And the result? It dies. it dies because it doesn't have the air it needs to breath. It doesn't get any water, and it starts to dry up. So instead of using your idea to grow your business, you deprive it of the very things it needs to flourish.

So your idea (or concept or model) isn't (necessarily) worthless. But it's also not a company yet. It's (just) an idea. If you want it to become more than just an idea, you're going to have to gather input. Talk about it. Test it. Work it. And bring it to life. When you do that, your good idea and your great execution deliver value. 

But the next time you hear someone say "your idea is worthless," take that statement with a grain or two of salt.  


Nobody thinks.

"Nobody thinks. People just use the arguments and ideas they hear or read from others."


I heard this from another entrepreneur friend just the other day. 

So what's the difference between saying smart things and being smart? I have an answer for that question, but you'll have to wait for it just a little bit longer. 

Entrepreneurs work to deliver value by building or creating something new and useful. It's new in the sense that it hasn't been done before, or it hasn't been done this way before. And it's useful in the sense that it provides value to someone and that value will allow the entrepreneur and her investors to generate revenue and, ultimately, become profitable. 

As a general rule it is harder to create something new and useful if you don't know what's out there. If you planned to build a new search engine, you'd spend significant time developing an understanding about what had been created previously. Conversely, if an entrepreneur approached you to make an investment in his new search engine, but professed to know nothing about Google, you'd have nothing to do with him. 

All good entrepreneurs start by doing their homework. An entrepreneur's homework or "work" in the early stages of any company is very much about developing a deep understanding of the technology, the market, the opportunity, the risks, the competition and anything else that will be meaningful in bringing the product and the company to life. 

The difference between saying smart things and being smart . . . is "work." It takes work to learn about things. It takes even more work to understand them. 


Friday, April 29, 2011

No One Knows Anything (Part 2)

"No one knows anything."

A friend of mine, an entrepreneur, shared the statement above as a pivotal insight he'd gleaned after talking to a number of people in his industry. It captured my attention becuase it is so very much on the money and is very much consistent with my own experience. But here's why it seemed to be true in his case: he and his team had spent an enormous amount of time thinking about and working on their particular product. They had managed to focus on something and pour over the details of something so thoroughly that they came to understand it in an entirely different way. 

Now I should point out here that my friend and his team actually failed in their initial attempts at creating a company. But they came back from this failure to create something particularly powerful. And by the time they had begun to deliver their offering to the market, they'd heard the same customer questions hundreds of times. Not only that. They also gathered information from far more sources than most. So the reason no one knew anything is pretty straightforward: my friend and his team had become the experts. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

BoulderBeta 2.0 - April 14 from 6-9 pm (MT)

From Tim Falls himself . . . 

A quick update & reminder:

We're just 6 days away from BoulderBeta 2.0

Date: Thursday, April 14, 2011 from 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM (MT)
Absinthe House
1109 Walnut St
Boulder 80302

The important stuff:

  • You do not need to print and bring your paper ticket - just tell us your name at the door!
  • First 300 people through the door will get a free drink ticket
  • First 50 people through the door will get a coupon for a free greeting card from CardGnome (Mother's Day is coming up!)
  • Softlayer and Google will have lots of swag to give away
  • Technical Integrity is giving away suite tickets to the Denver Roller Dolls
  • Absinthe House is offering a BoulderBeta special: buy one appetizer, get a second for free: just ask for the BoulderBeta app discount
  • And a few other delicious treats are in the works! 

Bottom line: this is gonna rock! So, be sure to tell your friends to sign up:

Looking forward to seeing everyone next Thursday!

Thursday, March 10, 2011