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The in-the-moment thoughts of an entrepreneur. I code and hustle by day and explore speakeasies by night. I'm the creator of Toutapp (http://toutapp.com).

August 15, 2013 at 3:19am

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Bill Gates from a 2005 article…

'Virtual Earth' Standing at his desk with ink-stained hands, Mr. Gates flipped through a 62-page paper titled “Virtual Earth,” covered with his notes. It described future mapping services that deliver travel directions with live images of destinations and details on traffic conditions and other information. Some of the ideas he later dismissed as “overly Jetsons,” but he prefaced the comments he would send to its authors with a ringing endorsement: “I love the vision here.”

June 24, 2013 at 12:51am

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Feeds are the new cigarettes.

About 3 weeks ago I set out to purge as many feeds and alerts from my life as possible. I deleted the Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter apps. I installed Tumblr and Instagram but made sure to limit my follow count to a small handfull and optimized fr creation rather than consumption.

The net result? I’ve shared more photos on Instagram, I feel more positive about my own life than ever before, I’ve written one solid blog post every other day or so on this Tumblr, my inbox has never been in such consistently great shape, and I find myself complaining less and less about my iphones terrible battery life.

Feeds are the new cigarette. And I’m glad I kicked the habit.

June 14, 2013 at 2:24am

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Ooof Marketo. Your stocks not looking too good.

Ooof Marketo. Your stocks not looking too good.

June 11, 2013 at 12:35am

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Friction

Over the last few years at ToutApp, I’ve found friction to be one of the most powerful levers at my disposal. Friction is generally free. Increase friction at the right points in your product and you’ll be able to learn a tremendous amount at choke points. Decrease friction, and you can optimize for outcomes you desire.

One of the points where we always purposefully add friction is the ability to export data. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not holding anything hostage. But every time someone comes to us asking how to export data, we walk away with unique new insights into ways we can provide value to our customer.

Similarly, one place we always reduce friction is in the workflows and systems our employees follow. We’re always looking for ways to reduce the steps necessary for our sales team to call a customer at the perfect time, or to help book a screen share between a customer and a Happiness Officer, or even to upgrade or downgrade a plan.

Use your levers to control friction to get to your desired outcome.

June 7, 2013 at 5:06pm

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Product > Salespeople. Product * Salespeople > Product

When I switched over from being on the consumer side of things to a B2B business like ToutApp, there was one key principle that I refused to let go of: build great product.

For the crowded consumer space, product is king. People are loyal to products — not contracts; in fact there are no contracts. 

Interestingly enough, the same was not always true on the Enterprise. You could build out a giant salesforce, go in, sell them on Powerpoint slides, lock up a deal and cash in. 

Not anymore. Decisions on products are made in consensus now in the Enterprise, often with actual users/customers as part of the evaluation process. Your product better deliver. 

Otherwise, your Powerpoint may close that deal for this year, but the actual users will use your competitor’s product and guess who’ll win come renewal time. 

June 6, 2013 at 12:20pm

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Hive Mind

One of the things we absolutely love here at ToutApp is our Happiness Feed. Feeds are an excellent thing in business because they are incredibly efficient at collecting information from many different sources and distributing it on near real-time so that its fed to the “Hive Mind”

At Tout, our feeds tell us when major accounts sign up, when customers upgrade or downgrade, when developers check in that one feature everyone has been waiting anxiously for and when we get positive or negative feedback from a customer.

Its incredibly important to establish a “Hive Mind” at your startup. Do you have your feeds set up?

June 5, 2013 at 12:45am

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How many hops from customer problem to feature?

When it comes to servers, you always want to minimize the number of hops between the customer’s ISP and your server. The fewer the hops the better. 

I think the same applies when it comes to product. How many hops does it take for your organization to go from a customer problem to a shipped feature?

Take for instance a small seed funded startup. It probably takes at most 0-2 hops going from the customer-facing person (usually the Founder) to the engineer (sometimes also the Founder).

On the other hand, take a company that has raised a Series A or B round and has wisely decided to “grow” and hire a VP of Product, a VP of Sales, a VP of Engineering, and the Founder has decided to focus on “other important things.”

For that startup, it’ll probably take an average of 6 - 8 hops to go from a customer problem to a feature. The salesperson will discover it, somehow communicate it to the VP of Sales on a pipeline meeting who will then communicate it to the VP of Product during some executive meeting who will then “prioritize it” in their “roadmap” which will then get picked up by the VP of Engineering who will eventually have to communicate it back to an actual engineer. 

And they wonder why the leanest of startups with smart technical founders always win. Keep “growing” suckers.

June 4, 2013 at 1:20am

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As my days get busier, I’ve found myself losing some of the core habits I worked hard to instill. So, i decided to create a little template to remind myself what an ideal day looks like to me. Have you thought about creating a daily checklist?

As my days get busier, I’ve found myself losing some of the core habits I worked hard to instill. So, i decided to create a little template to remind myself what an ideal day looks like to me. Have you thought about creating a daily checklist?

December 8, 2012 at 5:37pm

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When it comes to marketing in the 21st century, I can’t emphasize how big storytelling is/and will continue to be.

So far this year, I’ve been to Napa about 10 times. Aside from posting pretty pictures I never felt compelled to do much else.

That is until I met the folks at Hendry winery.

Today I hung out with George Hendry at his winery. I say hung out because that’s what it felt like. It was a two hour wine tasting where not only did we taste wine but he told the story of how he turned from being an engineer to making wine and how he goes about the winemaking and for that matter the wine tasting process.

It wasn’t particularly fancy. He doesn’t run the biggest winery. But he does run a successful niche winery. He yields a solid 5 star review on Yelp (which is how we found him) and he just focuses on his passion and spreads his story.

This is successful marketing at its truest form folks. And this is the type of thing that compels someone to sit down at the end of a wine tasting and blast out a blog entry on a tiny iPhone.

Some people say I have a knack for marketing. I always cringe when I hear that because I hate typical marketing. I just love storytelling and so does George and so do the most successful brands like Apple and Zappos.

May 31, 2012 at 3:14pm

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Check out our new Happiness Feed. Real-Time status on how we’re delivering happiness to @toutapp customers.

Check out our new Happiness Feed. Real-Time status on how we’re delivering happiness to @toutapp customers.