Checkout this editorial about PowerPoint Pitches

An editorial at the Washington Post argues that Microsoft PowerPoint is being relied upon by too many to do too much, and we should start working to get rid of it. “Its slides are oversimplified, and bullet points omit the complexities of nearly any issue. The slides are designed to skip the learning process, which — when it works — involves dialogue, eye-to-eye contact and discussions. Of course PowerPoint has merits — it can help businesses with their sales pitches or let teachers introduce technology into the classroom. But instead of being used as a means for a dynamic engagement, it has become a poor substitute for longer, well-thought-out briefings and technical reports. It has become a crutch.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/05/26/powerpoint-should-be-banned-this-powerpoint-presentation-explains-why/?tid=pm_pop_b

Back to basics: Step one, how to get a bank account

From Bickerton Blog:

Lately, I have found one of the reasons people hesitate to start a company is simply having to tackle the 101 steps to starting a company. One of the great things about working with entrepreneurs is that they have a get-it-done attitude. They may care about theory and strategy every once in a while, but their M.O. is – How? ok do it.

I think of this because I’ve been seeing more and more offerings on ‘How to Start a Business.’ These range from online courses, seminars, books, consultants etc. All helpful…if you’ve already jumped off the diving board into starting your own company. However, what about people like you with just an idea? Yesterday, my good friend who works as a mechanic and has all the skills to restore cars, shared with me that he doesn’t know how to file for a business license, open a business bank account or complete the other basic, basic, startup steps.

Below are simple, practical steps to get you started and a little experiment you can personally run:

Step 1: Pick a name;

Step 2: Register your name with the Colorado Secretary of State;

A) http://www.sos.state.co.us/

B) Under Programs and Services: Businesses, trademarks, trade names;

C) File A business Document;

D) File a form to create a NEW record;

E) You probably want a – Limited Liability Company (LLC) –

F) Follow the rest of the instructions;

Step 3: To get a tax ID number – follow instructions – click here – ;

Step 4: Go either to your local bank or a bank that has a local branch. Walk right in with your paperwork from above and a personal checkbook. Ask to talk to the small business banker;

Step 5: Open an account and write a check to the new company;

Step 6: Either get your debit card or checks for the new company;

Step 7: Buy something online- an ipod, an add for at home oil changes, whatever you are good at….;

Step 8: Sell your product/service;

Step 9: Do it again, or close the company and bank account.

Total time: +/- 2 hrs and your time to complete your transaction (buy/sell product/service). About $50-$80 in fees.

If you ever want to start a company, even if it is just something you just kinda want to do someday, go through this exercise. At least you’ll know how.

Next step is a ton of other product and process issues…a discussion for another day.

But hey, what do I know?

Don’t reinvent the wheel

 

The conclusion of the group was that in the early stages you must at least know how all the jobs are done. No matter if you hate accounting, or website design, or package delivery or whatever other tasks that need to be done, which you JUST DO NOT WANT TO DO, the entrepreneur needs to at least learn how they work, and more importantly how they don’t work, for your company, product, and personal needs.

There is a heavy cost if you delegate too early, or without understanding. Specifically your efficiency will decrease dramatically, you will find that outsourcing the first iteration of any part of your projects is GUARANTEED to cost more money and time, and MOST LIKELY to be inferior and/or not what you are looking for.

The result of this delay, more asset expenditure than necessary, and a reduction in your likelihood of success (see #1 & #2).

But there is hope in the fact that you never need to reinvent the wheel. There are an amazing set of resources out there to teach you how things work.

Here is a brief list of places to get better at whatever it is you want to do:

Lynda.com – a pay for educational website with 1,000s of educational programs for $25/mo.
YouTube – Seriously, here is an example of what you can learn about time management with nearly 2,000,000 views: Randy Pausch Lecture: Time Management
Podcasts: Seth Godin Startup School

Books: The 4-hour work week by Tim Ferris (see also blog about many topics: http://fourhourworkweek.com/blog/)
8150.co Tools – specifically the newsletter & archive for more (archiving is still a work in process as of May, 2015).

What does 8150 – High Altitude Entrepreneurs do and how can I get involved?

About a year ago we started a society for entrepreneurs up here in the high mountains. The response has been incredible. I feel honored (and maybe a little stunned) that so many people have read our newsletter, blog posts, articles, resources suggestions and engaged in one way or another.

The most common questions I get surrounding our group are: “what does 8150 – High Altitude Entrepreneurs do” and “how can I get involved?”

Let’s get started!

First, 8150 – high altitude entrepreneurs is a collaborative group of people who simply feel they have an entrepreneur’s heart. There is no barrier to entry outside of self-identifying as an entrepreneur or someone who simply has ideas for ‘cool stuff’ and is willing to make an effort to do more than chatter.

What do we do? We follow the maxim that when entrepreneurial minds come together THINGS HAPPEN. Same as putting a painter in a room with canvas, brushes, and paint, no one is surprised that a painting comes out of that.

Our weekly Thursday afternoon meetings (usually at 5:30) have consistently been overflowing the VLI-BaseCamp’s conference room. We are also starting to have greater attendance, as well as website subscribership, from Summit County. Hence the name “8150 – High Altitude Entrepreneurs” and not Vail, or Vail Valley, or Eagle County. The whole philosophy is about breaking down barriers by sharing resources and ideas. The age range has engaged people from 17 yrs old to over 70.

In the last year we have seen over 100 subscribers to the weekly newsletters, and over a 60% read rate (a 33% read rate would be considered a success). Dozens of people have attended meetings, some attend every single week others as time and needs suit their lives. We have also had dozens of people pitch through 777×2, as well as dozens of practical, executable, educational units from how to build a website to how angel investment works.

Many people have ideas for companies, products, books or other things, that either need feedback or need an opportunity to practice their pitch. 777×2 is a way to force yourself to sit down and make 7 simple slides on and idea you have. Then you can get constructive feedback and possibly a partner, client, or subscriber. The “x2” is when you come back 3-5 weeks later and re-present based on the group’s feedback.

The idea could be, starting a new product line for your business that has been established for 30 years, or it could be ‘kitten mittens’ which you thought up while skiing one day. Any idea at any stage is welcome. As one person said the reason to do it is “because I need feedback.”

What will happen next with 8150 will be up to the members.

How do I get involved?

Here are some first, baby steps, to engaging with the fun and exciting world of entrepreneurship up here in the high mountains:

Sign up at 8150.CO (not .com);
Come to an 8150 meeting;
Start or lead a a no-agenda meeting or meetup;
Attend a 777×2;
Send a ‘you know what would be cool’ idea to an 8150.co member Help 8150 logistics for 1 hour (e.g. work on the website, pick up stickers…whatever).

So come on out of the woodwork!

8150.co – High Altitude Entrepreneurs’ mission is to bring together the entrepreneurs in the mountain communities. This was written by Brad Bickerton a business consultant and recovering attorney who works in Minturn. This was edited by Fritz and all spelling, grammar or other errors are not Bickerton’s fault or responsibility.

BaseCamp: A Day in the Life

I’m sitting at my usual spot at the BaseCamp co-working space puzzling over how best to package my pricing and services for my new venture. To help get the word out about my first seminar, Andrew suggests I post about it on the Facebook group that he runs. That comment leads us into a discussion of how I’m presenting the services I’ll be offering and how I’m pricing them. Fritz, who was already my first test case client, overhears and comments about the pricing strategy. Brad pops out of his seat and chimes in with a counterpoint to the pricing comments, which sparks further discussion and, ultimately, a new positioning strategy for me…all in the span of 10 minutes.

So in just 10 minutes I have a more sound, vetted, and almost certainly more effective strategy than I had from hours of contemplating it on my own. But I have no time to be amazed, as Justin walks through just at the end of this repartee, so I remember to ask him about anyone he’d recommend on Fiver (which he uses a fair bit) for creating my client report template. “That’s not worth the back and forth time,” he says. “I can make up a Word background in five minutes. Sketch something up and give it to me.”

Amazing, isn’t it, that the Internet allows us to reach across the planet to find talented people to inexpensively do work for any of us? It’s so amazing, apparently, that we forget people like that are already here; all we have to do is create a common space for those with a shared purpose to gather, then sit back and let the creativity fly. When I first started offering at BaseCamp, I thought I was getting away from the distractions of home. Turns out, BaseCamp is far more valuable than just affordable office space.

Seth Godin – Startup School PodCast

I would highly recommend everyone listen to Seth Godin’s Startup School Podcast.

Personally, I’ve always respected, but never really been a fan of Seth Godin until Doug put me on to this 15 part series.

There are a ton of good nuggets for anyone who has never started their own business. If you are not actively educating yourself using podcasts like this your only hope is to learn from the school of hard knocks. I highly recommend this option.

Article: Forget MVPs, startups need to create minimum ‘lovable’ products

This is a good article found by Bryan Wachs:

“Forget MVPs, startups need to create minimum ‘lovable’ products.”

I knew there was an increasing problem with the culture in the design/startup community when individuals started introducing their products by talking about how quickly they’ve built them, rather than how efficiently and the quality of it after doing so.

Don’t mistake speed for precocity: the world doesn’t need wrong answers in record time. –Cennydd Bowles

In this industry, we’re continually surrounded by the words: Shipping and MVP (Minimum Viable Product). But thing is, the coined terms have been tainted. I remember when the MVP acronym really picked up and everyone was tossing it around any chance they could.

Read More

Pick up the PHONE! Better networking & The field of Communication Richness

The field of Communication Richness. The 101 version of communication richness is is the study for how much communication is lost every time you go down the ladder from Face-to-Face –> Video Chat –> Phone –> Personal letter –> Email –> Text.

Communication Richness Graph

Something that has come up recently was how to create a network for both vendors and customers. The first was from an old graduate class mate Ben Buie, who is starting his own web-design/consulting firm. Ben and I rekindled our friendship down at a really cool alumni event back in January. At the time he was debating staying with his current firm, or going out on his own. Two months later he dropped the W2 in favor of a 1099 and called me asking some very specific questions on how to get clients.

I mentioned something that I learned in practice a long time ago, and learned in academics in graduate school. PICK UP THE PHONE, or even better MEET PEOPLE FACE TO FACE. The results are significantly higher than any form of SEO, E-mail, or newsletters.

How much communication is lost every time you go down the ladder from Face-to-Face –> Video Chat –> Phone –> Personal letter –> Email –> Text.  The loss is simply astronomical. Call it at least 50% every time you go down the run. Which means that email is 12.5% as effective as face-to-face. It also means that phone is 2x as effective as email.

Now my numbers are madeup but the reality is that if you are looking to gain a network you have to have 6x as many emails as you do face to face meetings. (Reality is considerably more).

My personal method is to find opportunities for face-to-face meetings, with a followup email about what was discussed, and a ‘no-agenda-meeting’ as the follow up. This puts two face-to-face meetings on the books, and a collection of written memories out of the table. That person will not forget who you are.

The second time the thought of communication richness came up when Rich Staats presented his Zero-to-One Zero to One – Rich Staats on Signature Colorado last week. His #1 point was that relationships are Built years in advance. I highlight built because that is what is happening in the world of entrepreneurship and small business. You can not build a platform with massive one to many campaigns that are interesting and frequent enough to drive traffic to your website.

The third time the benefit of rich communication came up was when a good friend David Walder, who does almost the same thing I do up here in the Valley, called me.

Reconnecting with him and talking about issues like exposure to investable opportunities – his specialty is helping broker those who need growth capital with those who invest growth capital – and thinking about how valuable it would be for him to be connected in some fashion to our co-working space. The value for David is exposure to ideas and the society of people looking for capital.

Going back to rich sources of communication. The natural pushback I receive, especially for those who are uncomfortable with crowds, networking, and selling themselves is to know this is necessary but never do it.

 

The analogy that I use to combat this surrounds a common precept of courtroom attorneys. Over time the best courtroom attorneys are those who start out the slowest. The smart, very introverted, attorneys that have a dedicated mindset to becoming better, in small increments, eventually surpass those with natural talent. The meek become strong.

But hey, what do I know?

1.34 % better

Again following my rule of 3s philosophy. The concept of 1% better has come up unconnected recently. 1) Doug’s Motivation Newsletter #3, 2) Listening to Rich Staats and his progress over ten years becoming an entrepreneur in the Vail Valley, and 3) Inside of this Tim Ferris podcast (#18) – Guest James Altucher talks about it too.

The start of this concept is the quote attributed to Albert Einstein “Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.” Following the Rule of 72. It takes some multiple of 72 periods to double the original amount. 1% interest/month on $200 takes 72 months to become $400. 10% takes 7.2 periods…and so on.

The second step in this process is realizing that you are swimming forward or drowning & treading water is the slow form of drowning. As Doug would say ‘constant forward progress.’ This does not imply major events need to happen, just that you can not rest on your laurels.

At 1.34% it takes 52 periods to double. Also known as a year. So I am committing to getting 1.34%/week better at 7 things this year. Not only to getting 1.34%/week better, but also to ONLY get 1.34% better.

One of the great benefits of this that the process begins with goal setting. What is my definition of success in each of these 7 things, what 1.34% activities do I need to undertake to increase my likelihood to succeed.

So what are the 7 things?  No idea yet. As I’ve been pondering this over the last week I’ve started to take pleasure in the thought. What do I want to be better at? Blogging, cleaning my car/house/office, nutrition, healthy, sleep, Bickerton Executive Consulting, Legal Practice…Time will tell.

I’d be happy for ideas or, if you want to take the challenge, your list.

But hey, what do I know?

What is a 777×2 Pitch?

What is a 777 Pitch??

8150 loves to hear all the new ideas for products and apps, as well as thoughts, musings, and updates from any and all dues paying members (dues = $0).

We follow a simple 777 x 2 format:

7 – slides

7 – minutes of presentation

7 – minutes of feedback (you can request the feedback to be between fluffy bunnies and shark tank)

What is the x2 all about? You have to (should) pitch your idea, even if it is terrible, TWICE. Usually there is 4-6 weeks between the first pitch and the second.

The idea is this, how do we keep ourselves entrepreneurs that are action orientated?  If you stand up for 14 minutes then walk away…what really has happened beyond a fun afternoon activity? If you are willing to put together 7 slides, put yourselves up in front of group to discuss an idea, then you are probably willing to take any feedback that you get and refine the idea. (Refine could also be, I realized this idea was totally lame/bad/unfeasible we want to hear that and your reasons too).


 

Should I worry about people ‘taking’ my ideas?

Many people keep their really awesome, cool, neato ideas to themselves because they have been convinced that by sharing an idea that idea is being exposed to being stolen. There is no guarantee that your idea will not be taken, but the likelihood of someone listening to a 777×2 pitch and liking it so much that they take it, go to their garage/office and make one, create a company and a management team, and seek funding is very low. Even lower when you consider they could just join your team first.

There is much more to say about protecting intellectual property generally. We will make sure to have a better explanation more better laterer.

See what Brad Feld has said about this.

 


 

Some of the 777 pitches heard so far:

  • New Winter Glove Idea;
  • New Child’s Toy;
  • New vacation/vocation idea;
  • New ski and social-media smartphone app;
  • Better way to taxi in the Vail Valley;
  • Augmented reality app for car engines.

 

Rich Staats – Zero to One – Signature Colorado – Slides

Rich Staats, our perennial startup/website guru here at BaseCamp gave a presentation on how he came up with this latest company/product idea. How he thought about the go/no-go decision making. And what has happened to date with Signature Colorado. He followed a Zero to One thesis a reference to the book by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters.

See his slides Zero to One – Rich Staats.

 

 

Separate emotions from reality…

The concept of Sunk Costs came up the other day when we decided the Startup Weekend needed to be postponed.

For those of you who do not know, sunk costs is a way of looking at a project and deciding whether to go forward or not. The classic example is if you spent $1b inventing a new drug and are only $10mm away from launching, should you launch.

Emotionally we believe that yes, if we put $1b and countless hours and years creating this new drug then we owe it to ourselves to put it out on the market. However, the economic term of sunk costs means that you completely forget about how much time or effort put in to date, and you focus solely on what is going to happen in the future.

Is the best decision, today, to go forward with the product launch, or to put your resources elsewhere.

With Startup Weekend we had identified goals we wanted to achieve by March 1st. 25 Participants, $7000 in sponsorship, 10 pitch day tickets, and kick-ass speakers and judges. These goals were to achieve a simple result. To have a world caliber Startup Weekend here in Vail.

As of March 1st, we had 7 participants, $2,000 in sponsorship, 2 pitch day tickets, and we achieved kick-ass speakers.
The question is, after all this work by VVP, Town of Avon, 8150, VLI, and multiple other volunteers, should we move forward with Startup Weekend. My initial thought was yes, hell yes, we are so close and typically Startup Weekends have most of their participants sign up  in the class 5-10 days. I thought that if we did an all hands on deck effort we could reach our goals.

However, Justin and Doug brought up a compelling reason to delay until the summer. Our goals is a world class event, not another regional event (nothing wrong with regional events, Breckenridge’s in August was phenomenal). Could we achieve THAT goal regardless of how much time and effort was put in. The simple answer was no.

How does this related to Sunk Costs. First, Sunk Costs is not a quantifiable economics term, it falls under the roof of behavioral economics. The distinguishing notion between quantitative and behavioral economics, in my humble opinion, is the inclusion of psychology. Psychologically speaking people (read: Brad) want to hold on to what they know, and do not want to give up or give in, even if that result is irrational.

I believe that one of the fundamental characteristics of the entrepreneur is to take the cold hard facts, on the ground as they say, and determine what the best course of forward motion is, even if that means shutting down something you have worked over and over at doing. The faster you fail the less resources you spend, allowing greater freedom to begin a new project.

So while I am not an advocate for giving up or giving in, I am an advocate of having the vision and fortitude to look at yourself, your team, your product and market and determine when it is time to let it go.
But hey, what do I know?

I took a day off and I liked it…

For the first time in at least 2 years on Saturday I took a day off!!!!

No, I do not mean a day where I did not work. I do that all the time, sometimes actively other times because my brain ceases to function. I mean a day off.

The first time I ever heard the phrase “work-life balance” was at a Silicon Flatirons – Entrepreneurs Unplugged event in 2008 where Brad Feld was discussing how he managed to achieve this feat. He has written considerably about his personal journey. I recommend looking up his blog www.feld.com.

I told him about what I called the Brad File. When I worked at The Assist Group, before graduate school, I was in charge of a product line. I had also been the first full time employee so I remained that jack-of-all-trades type. Whenever I tried to take a vacation (I never took more than 2 weekdays off in a row over the 3 years I was there), I would farm out all of my responsibilities to people who could more than handle them. Then I would come back and, low and behold, all of the work I had farmed out had been magically pushed aside and left undone. I called that pile of undone work the ‘Brad File” as in someone asking “what should we do about X? Brad is working on that put it in his file.”

I brought this little story to Brad Feld after his work-life balance talk and he chuckled and said that I needed to learn to enjoy getting through the back log caused by being gone.

So, as I knew the story thus far: There will always be more work to do, and to create life balance you need to learn to detach yourself from the sum total of work that needs to be done and be willing to accept the work that you are going to do.

I am not sure how it happened, hence why it is remarkable enough to write about, but this past Thursday I found myself catching up on a host of outstanding issues. Then on Friday I was able to get a head on some issues. Leaving Saturday simply open. There was no compelling drive to complete something that I had been trying to artfully detach from. There were no future events that required that extra once over. Now I’m sure this was not entirely true but when I woke up on Saturday, for the first time in recent memory, all I had to do was…be.

To finish up on a truly meandering rant without a gratifying conclusion for the reader. We need to find, and if necessary create, true opportunities to unplug.


The first result was a hike with the dog that resulted in a little Facebook post/rant:

My eyes crack open this morning with the predawn light, and I make my first mistake of the day. A mistake I’ve made a 1000 times before, I rolled over just enough that Major-Major knew I was awake. He puts his head next to my hand, making sure his wagging tail hits against the bed. Thump thump thump. I say “Major-Major today is your 8th birthday what do you want to do?” He replies “Why are you still in bed?”
So I get out of bed, and he starts jumping up-and-down because “It’s morning! It’s morning” then I repeat, “what do you want to do today?” “I’d love to go on a hike” he communicates with all seriousness. “What a novel idea” I reply. So I strap my snowshoes to my boots and my skis to my backpack and we hike up Meadow Mountain.

“Major you are 56 years old now you don’t have to run and jump-around on the entire hike.” “But if I don’t run around the corner and see what’s there, how will I ever know? Let me go and find out for you. Oh it turns out there’s more trail, just like last time! And some more crusty snow for me to roll in, and I think – is that? yes it is! There’s a stick that just as big as me. What a great day!”
We arrive home at 8:30. Major promptly goes to his bed to take his midmorning nap. You know the nap where you keep one eye open just in case some action happens. After all, the day has just begun.

Today as we remember all of our companions and all of those we love, just remember that we are loved to. And we are thankful for both.

What is that? Oh Major-Major would like to say “something good is about to happen.”

 

Stay out of the way!!!!

Congratulations to our very own Dakota Adelphia for being accepted into SDSU. When Rob, a perennial force for Thursday meetings, told me about his daughter’s triumph I told him that he must have done something right. “I stayed out of the way J” he said.

As you may know, it does not take much to set me off on some lessons learned from a six-word sentence. I was thinking about what staying out of the way really means in the business world.

Some of you have heard my rant about hurdles and barriers. I find that the entrepreneurial mind sees almost everything as a hurdle. Yes I have to solve XYZ, and 123, and these other things. Where more conservative types tend to see these metaphorical obstacles as barriers, no you cannot do that because of…and then they create a description and a story that makes the obstacle seem like a barrier.

The true problem I have with the barrier mentality is that barriers either bar the activity or lead to trying to go around. The issue is that if you keep creating barriers, and then going around them, you are never actually progressing. To bring it back to Dakota (If I remember correctly). She knew at the outset that: 1) she wanted to go to college, 2) SDSU was the only place she wanted to go, and 3) she wants to learn engineering, and then go to law school (against my wishes).

Knowing this, she only applied to SDSU, and – low and behold – she got in. She found a focus, looked at the hurdles, and created a plan on how to get over them. Anyone else would have hemmed and hawed and told her to apply to 10 places, see what happened, and then make a decision. Not her style. If you want to get to the moon, shoot for the moon – not the stars.

By not forcing this common-mentality advice on her, Dakota’s friends, mentors, and father simply “got out of her way.” Congratulations to her. And Dakota thank you for teaching me a lesson that getting out of exceptional people’s way is the best way to help them be exceptional.

But hey, what do I know?

Evo3 – Summit Daily Article

Summit Daily Article:

There’s a new breed of tech-minded entrepreneur in Summit County and Aaron Landau is building them a home.

As founder of Evo 3 Workspace, an alternative office space in the spirit of Denver hotspots likeGalvanize and Industry, Landau has spent the past five months toiling inside the 4,000-square-foot space on the corner of Seventh and Main Street. The main entryway, where a tiered wooden kiosk will replace a live assistant, is still blanketed in sawdust and surrounded by sheets of plywood. It won’t be ready for another month or so — organizers are still waiting on final items like furniture and town licenses — yet the space is coming together, slowly but surely, and the founder is nearly giddy with excitement.

“Literally, every morning I get out of bed, I’m so excited to go in because I have no idea what that day will bring,” says Landau, a former medical device sales representative who’s now tied to the Colorado tech and startup community. “I know it sounds cliché, but that’s something that really drives entrepreneurs.”

Take the Evo 3 construction: Since purchasing the space in late August, Landau has been a combination business founder, general contractor and project manager. He has no background in any of those fields, but he wanted to oversee the entire project, from drawing a floor plan with office suites and meeting rooms to personally drilling lighting fixtures. It was yet another hands-on learning experience for a self-proclaimed “corporate refugee” — a new breed of business junkies who are disillusioned with the cookie-cutter mentality of most corporations. It starts with the Evo 3 name: “Evo” for evolution, “3” for the third industry to thrive in Frisco after mining and tourism.

Evo 3 is Landau’s baby, and like all entrepreneurs — or at least the successful ones — he’s willing to try anything and everything to make it stand out from the rest, including his co-working neighbors down the block at Elevate CoSpace, the first alternative office space to open in Summit County.

“For someone like me, I absolutely love learning,” Landau says. “I decided I wanted to be my own general contractor, my own project manager, and that’s allowed me to learn the process and adapt. I can make changes and pivot on the fly.”

Landau shares that mentality with the untapped community of alpine entrepreneurs he hopes will flock to Evo 3. He believes there’s a healthy corps of young, hungry, talented programmers and developers who want to work where they live and play, not several hours away in a cramped, inner-city office. And he wants to give them a space to call their own.

“This model is not, ‘If you build it, they will come,’” Landau says. “The philosophy is build the community first, then build the clubhouse. We followed that — it’s an organic, grassroots type of approach, but that’s one of the most rewarding things about it. We built the community and now we’re building the clubhouse, and I have to tell you, it’s incredible.”

A NEW OFFICE CULTURE

In the past three to four years, alternative office spaces — or co-working spaces, as entrepreneurs know them — have become wildly popular. Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins are home to five large-scale spaces, and big players like Galvanize already have plans for three new locationsacross Colorado by 2016.

Yet mountain towns have been a bit slower to catch on, despite evidence that communities like Summit County are teeming with talented tech entrepreneurs. Thanks to new events likeBreckenridge Startup Weekend in August and improved wireless infrastructure across resort towns, those entrepreneurs now have access to the technical perks previously only found in major metros.

“We weren’t really sure who was out there in Summit County,” Landau says. “Soon enough, we started seeing the tech side of things. We know they are out there, but we didn’t know where to find them. We’re now taking an economy that was nearly nonexistent and giving it room to grow.”

Evo 3 will use the same monthly rent arrangement as spaces like Galvanize, albeit more expensive — it’s still the mountains, after all. Single “seats” (essentially access to basic amenities) start at $215 per month, followed by private desks for $418 per month and two- to three-person suites for $605. A basic membership at Elevate begins at $225.

Evo 3 will have all the basics and more — desks, office chairs, wireless Internet, a printer and copier, kitchen space with a range and fridge — but like the majority of workspace founders, Landau sees amenities are just a means to an end. The community and its interests come first, like a potential production studio he’ll build in the basement once the upstairs is finished.

“Normally, folks would have to go to Denver for this kind of space,” Landaus says of the production studio. “All they need is to bring their equipment and we have the rest, like lighting and other production gear. I think there is a huge need for that kind of a space in Summit County.”

This past May, several months before Landau found the Frisco space, he invited a handful of interested entrepreneurs to his home in Keystone for a laid-back barbecue. Just four people came that first month. By June, nearly 30 people dropped by to hear his thoughts on Evo 3 and give input.

Landau was all ears: Before delving into the general contractor world, he reached out to dozens of co-working pioneers, including the founders of Galvanize and Jasper Welch, a Colorado-based entrepreneurial mentor and founder of the alternative office Durango Space.

“He has been a mentor, a friend, a confidante, just somebody who believes in our vision,” Landau says. “He’s given me tons of great feedback and advice, as well as being a great piece of my support system.”

Longtime New Yorker Mark Bellnkoola was at the first barbecue in May. He and Landau immediately started brainstorming ways to improve the Evo 3 concept, and with the opening date just a month away, Bellnkoola is committed to a year-long lease in a private suite. Landau expects suites to be fully booked by the time doors open.

The Executors – BeerTooth – Lessons learned so far

BeerTooth Opens next week, right?!?

I have discussed the importance of “Getting to Day 1” before. People love to talk about the theoretical day 100 and day 1000. The really hard stuff is getting to day 1. Which is what BeerTooth is trying to do.

Dane and I walked the concierge circuit on Saturday and technically achieved our definition of success with BeerTooth. We learned that there is an actual market out there for a tour bus in the area, one that focuses on Beer & Booze. We were even called back the next morning by someone who had a ‘problem’ seeing when the tours were occurring.

With the glow of the entrepreneur that just had their first sale, Dane and I came back to BaseCamp and tried to finalize the details, which is where the getting to day 1 mentality kicked in.

We identified two problems that needed to be solved: 1) we had to finalize the tour and the locations – which seemed like it had been completed but actually had not, 2) we needed to lock down the drivers and the tour script.

Along the rest of this week we certainly will have some more ups and downs, this still could be a massive successes ($ and prove market), could fail completely, or could be delayed. More info in the next 96 hours.

As I was talking through the current issues with Doug he said “Do you know what your mistake was? Not pitching the 777×2 until the week before.” Man o’ Man, was he right. How could I be so stupid, blind, or more than anything hypocritical?  Well I have a reason (not excuse).

Our actual failure was that it took too long to get our PUC license. It took an extra 2-3 weeks for us to file our application, and then it took the PUC an extra week (ahh government) to approve. Both of these could easily have been accounted for ahead of time. No surprises there.

The bottom line? We did not get our PUC approval until 14 days before our ‘opening’ day. The product is good, the logistics are still challenging and we (I) feel we are under the gun.

These logistics are the essence of Day 1.

But hey, what do I know?

 

Looking for “The box”

What’s in the Box? What’s in the Boxxxx???

Something came up the other week that got me thinking about the “think outside the box” phrase. Namely, “how do you know what is in the box?” Then I realized something, the best of us have trouble finding this metaphorical box.

My real world example:

I recently helped a company move from startup world into continued stable operations world (AKA entrepreneurs sold-out as they should).

Of all the little talks I overheard from the entrepreneurs to new owners there was a single question that stuck out as an example of the difference between those who operate companies and those who invent new products. The question was asked by a mid-level manager of the purchaser’s, “How on earth did you think to do XYZ?”

XYZ was simply a way of combining two things that radically different parts of that industry never would think to combine. It was simply understood in the industry that “you are not allowed to do that” type of thing.

The entrepreneurs answered “We didn’t know you weren’t allowed to do that.” In other words, they did not even know where the box was. No need to try out of the box thinking when you do not even know there is a box to begin with!

This comes back to my one of my favorite soapboxes – permission. (See Brad Feld’s “Startup Communities” Chapter 14 ish). In today’s society we have constructed so many versions of permission, when you need it, those who give it, and so forth. (I blame the school system). But these lessons about permission are usually artificial or perhaps no longer relevant.

The established industry in the example above had created (who can say how or why) a set of rules regarding the two topics. One of those rules was you can not put these topics together. In order to even think of putting them together a person, team, or organization would first be required to have some level of permission.

The entrepreneurs had never even heard of the rules, so they were unencumbered by whatever rational set them up, and were able to apply new thinking, new technology, and the new state of the world into a nice little 8-figure buyout.

The lesson?

Some ignorance about where the box is can be a very powerful revolutionary concept.

But hey, what do I know.

 

Sharing or On-Demand Economy?

Is the “new” economy a “sharing” or “on demand” economy and what is the impact on us? I initially thought it was “sharing”, now I’m more convinced its “on demand”. Currently the most notable examples are AirB&B, Uber and Criagslist. These are apps are enabled by the web and mobile technology. They took off in New York City and San Francisco and are now part of life here in the Valley. Take a look at the two Cities to understand where the early adopters are headed. Regulators in these Cities are just catching up and adjusting their approach to have more control, I don’t know if that is good or bad. The apps favorite response to more control is they are just software and have nothing to do with the actual service.

Now it is time to ask “What effect is it having on our Happy Valley”? If you think not much, many folks who know say somewhere between 20% and 30% of Valley vacation rentals are now AirB&B, VRBO, HomeAway, etc. The users have a tendency to schedule at the last minute. A powerful capability is the user review comments, we trust other users more than sales reps. Uber and Lyft are authorized to operate at the Denver Airport, Uber has just turned on their app for Summit, Eagle and Pitkin Counties, but not much activity as yet.

Think of how “on demand” could change these:

  • Guide services and equipment rental (fishing, rafting, biking, hiking, winter sports)
  • Food sourcing, meal prep, delivery, tours and tastings
  • Home services (plumber, painter, electrician and etc.)
  • Clothing (used, samples, craft and excess)

So what are the opportunities and threats:

  • If you don’t adapt, big impact, just look at taxi companies
  • Can’t depend upon regulations to protect you
  • This Valley is different, could lead to faster acceptance
  • Online reviews mean you can not longer hide your flaws
  • No barrier to entry, just knowledge of activity and technology
  • Purchasing moves from being sold to clients buying
  • Better utilization of existing assets
  • Can non-competes and intellectual property agreements be enforced?

Let’s hear you comments or questions?

I appreciate Fritz’s comments,  life not just the economy is now “on demand”.  Mobile Tech is the enabler of this change, but need is the driver.  Most of us living here know that to have a job or two, we don’t get a normal schedule. Holidays are busy times, day time on the Mountain and evenings elsewhere is when there is a need for work.  And many plan to do what they want do during the two months in Spring and Fall.  Gives the old adage “work hard, play hard” a different time perspective, based upon time of year, not time of day.

Starting to notice both Uber and AirB&B are trying to build relationships with local regulatory agencies.  They each have enough momentum that they won’t get shut down, but will be forced to accept some new guidelines to how they approach delivery of their services.    I expect taxi’s and hotels will move towards the Uber/AirB&B technology approach.  I did see an press release for a new hotel in Mexico that only takes reservations through AirB&B.

 

Control Freaks!

Calvin & Hobbes / Brad & Doug: Hobbes/Doug: Are you making any resolutions for the New Year? Calvin/Brad: Yeah, I’m resolving to just wing it and see what happens. Hobbes/Doug: So you’re staying the course? Calvin/Brad: I stick to my strengths.

ch951230

From my blog: Bickerton.tips

34. “80% of life is showing up” Woody Allen

37. God is working his own purposes not ours.

40. “I’d rather be lucky than good.” Lefty Gomez

As we approach a new year I am thinking about how much control we really have in this funny little world of ours. One of the keys to success in the entrepreneurial sphere is to not have a specific goal in mind, rather a direction or vector and to see where the next step leads. We know that we can not control all the steps of an early stage project, and using a crystal ball is about as effective as a 2-day strategy & forecasting session. This realization of our lack of control is our unified strength as executors instead of just talkers (This is directly related to my previous post “The Danger of Ideas”).

That said, what are the appropriate directions for us to take? As I say frequently we must first define success. If success is not defined then the default seems to be ‘more’ & more what? “money”. When you talk to true entrepreneurs money is an important component, but it is almost never the real goal. We want to build something, create and explore, change or revolutionize….whatever.

So we show up, we play to our strengths, we trust in God (as you may know him/her/it) and take enough changes to find some luck. But we do not look to forecast much less try to control the future.

As we approach this next year I will continue to think about how I can apply these concepts to 8150 and create a B-HAG (Big Harry Audacious Goal) that will benefit all of us.

My call to action is for all of you to think about a B-HAG related to your life, business aspirations, and if you choose to a the 8150 society.

But hey, what do I know?