Introducing the Entrepreneur in Residence

I had never heard about the position of Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR in short) until it was offered to me last week by Boris from The Next Web.

An Entrepreneur in Residence can have different roles depending on the type of company it is working for, usually Venture Capital firms, Law firms or Universities. The NY Times describes it as:

Entrepreneur-in-residence is one of those only-in-Silicon-Valley jobs. Smart people get paid to sit around and think about new ideas, and investors get the chance to join an entrepreneur early in a new project, betting that lightning will strike twice.

But what does that really mean? There are two clear types of EIR in my opinion:

Read the rest of ‘Introducing the Entrepreneur in Residence’ »

Don't forget your logged out users

There is a fairly accepted rule that 1% of a site’s users will create content, 10% will interact with it while 100% consumes the content. That means that 90% of your users will probably be logged out. Consuming users can’t upgrade to Interacting users without having to create a profile. Registering has become far easier with the introduction of OpenID and OAuth connections offered by Twitter and Facebook, but it still is a big step.

At Mobypicture we are experimenting with ways where people leave a comment first and are then guided through the login or registration process, placing the comment afterwards. This way Consuming users can say what they want to say, before getting distracted by login screens.

Fred Wilson, VC and principal of Union Square Ventures, goes a step further and proposes more interaction for logged out users by giving them “phantom profiles“, storing activity against their cookies and building user profiles on logged out users. Read the rest of ‘Don't forget your logged out users’ »

Introducing the lifestyle entrepreneur

Yesterday was the last MobileMonday Amsterdam, an inspiring bi-monthly event with great speakers and inspiring visitors. I had a lengthy talk with Martijn Rijntjes about entrepreneurship and he introduced me to something I had never heard of: The Lifestyle Entrepreneur.

Startups are the things all the cool kids do, Martijn told me, but he never felt it was the right fit for him. Martijn likes to travel and see the world, not work his ass off, give up his social life, all in favor of his internet startup. He almost felt guilty he had not the same dreams and goals a lot of his friends have. Until he read an article by Corbett Barr about Startup vs Lifestyle Business.

A startup business has the primary responsibility to grow as big and successful as possible, whatever the impact on the lives of the entrepreneurs. Founders of a startup are competing for success, fame and glory, although some of them, including me, are also in it because they really like the process. After hitting the jackpot, a lot of them jump back into the startup life to repeat their success. Once your lucky twice your good, Sarah Lacy wrote and I believe in this statement. Running a startup is a lifestyle. Read the rest of ‘Introducing the lifestyle entrepreneur’ »

7 tips businesses can learn from Oprah

It is an extremely cheesy title of course, but Oprah is a fantastic brand we can all learn a lot from. The tips are not very different from the tips we would give to companies for a better business strategy. From diving into different verticals to transparent communication and caring about your customers (fans).

After 25 years her last show aired with 18 million viewers. A long line of celebrities came to say goodbye in her last episodes. Few other personalities have ever received such fanfare for an exit, which got Inc. thinking: how do you build a brand like Oprah?

Read the rest of ‘7 tips businesses can learn from Oprah’ »

In between startups

In the 1.5 years I’m CTO of Mobypicture we have accomplished many things. We grew with 17,500%, released our first MobyNow platform last year and a couple of months ago a complete new release of our MobyNow technology, embracing even more of the realtime and aggregation power that is available. We are very close on releasing MobyNext, our new version of Mobypicture, which will bring more implicit awareness to our users and is able to build adventures around their content. We have implemented Scrum as our main project management method and almost never miss a deadline anymore, while still staying very flexible in our project planning. We are ahead of the crowd with our implementations of HTML5 and CSS3, which ensures the same experience on web, iPad and mobile. All things I am really proud of.

After this process of professionalization and preparing Mobypicture for its next phase, I noticed how much I miss being an entrepreneur.

That’s why I’ve taken a big step and will lay down my position as CTO of Mobypicture to become an entrepreneur once again.  Read the rest of ‘In between startups’ »

Do you really know what you’re doing as an entrepreneur?

I have read two good posts last week, both from young entrepreneurs claiming they do not really know what they are doing as an entrepreneur. An interesting point of view I would like to share.

The first is from Ben Pieratt, founder of Svpply.com:

I enjoy naming products and I think I have a talent for it. I have an understanding of design that extends well past the aesthetic. I am proud of all this because I have worked for it.

But I have zero experience or expertise in building a company. I’ve never worked at a web or product startup, I’ve never worked in a healthy team environment. The design studio I co-owned was flawed to its core, and the companies I’ve worked at have had mediocre management.

/via Varsity Bookmarking My Job Pt.1 — I have no idea what I’m doing.

A brave and honest statement to make. And it kept me thinking. Do I really know what I am doing as an entrepreneur? Or is it just luck? Read the rest of ‘Do you really know what you’re doing as an entrepreneur?’ »

MySpace founder likes to buy MySpace back and why I think that is a bad idea

Business Insider wrote about MySpace cofounder Chris DeWolfe is interested in buying his old company back:

I cant talk about whether we have any interest in buying Myspace now—its a confidential process—but its the biggest property for sale at what, in this market, would be a somewhat reasonable price. You always care if theres an asset that you feel is undervalued when you had a plan to develop it.

/via MySpace Founder Hints He’d Like To Buy It Back

I’ve been there and I think that’s a bad idea. Read the rest of ‘MySpace founder likes to buy MySpace back and why I think that is a bad idea’ »

Forget passion, focus on process

It’s something we’ve seen in our Bootstrapped, Profitable, and Proud series. Braintree processes credit cards. You won’t meet too many people who claim to “love” credit card processing. Even Braintree’s Bryan Johnson admits, “I’m not particularly passionate about payments, but I am passionate about trying to build a good company.” Johnson gets satisfaction from making customers happy, creating a workplace that employees enjoy, and improving “an unscrupulous and broken industry.”

via Forget passion, focus on process – (37signals).

In the end being passionate about your product or being passionate about building a company doesn’t matter in my opinion, as long there is passion. But I do agree with Matt there are some troubles with passion. It clouds your judgement for example when done wrong.

Michiel Sikkes shared an article about The Passion Trap this week, which I think is a nice addition to the post by 37Signals:

The passion trap is a cycle: A pattern of beliefs, choices, and behaviors that are linked to each other. It’s a self-reinforcing pattern. Each of us has probably been a true believer in some great idea, some big idea. If I have an idea that I believe in strongly, that’s a core belief I have, so I make decisions and choices based on those beliefs. I also interpret data from the environment that tends to support my beliefs, and then I take actions, and those actions create some kind of results that can be evaluated.

There are two sneaky things about the passion trap, it tends to operate at a subconscious or unconscious level, so we’re often not aware that these cognitive biases or these filters are at work, and we actually believe that the world or the marketplace is confirming our thesis about the business.

via How to Avoid the Passion Trap.

Maybe it just comes down to ‘Keep it real’. Be passionate, but try to keep thinking outside your comfort zone. In the end I’m a strong believer that the opportunity to follow your passion in your work is a great gift you should grab with both hands.


Steve Jobs On The Difference Between A Vice President And A Janitor

“When you’re the janitor, reasons [why you failed] matter,” Jobs tells newly minted VPs, according to Lashinsky.

“Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering,” says Jobs, adding, that Rubicon is “crossed when you become a VP.”

I never really thought about it, but it is true that at a certain level it doesn’t matter anymore why you failed, but that you failed. No more excuses to anyone other than yourself. The reasons matter to you, so you can keep yourself from letting it happen again, but it does indeed matter less to your superiors or your investors.

In other words, you have no excuse for failure. You are now responsible for any mistakes that happen, and it doesn’t matter what you say.

via Steve Jobs On The Difference Between A Vice President And A Janitor.

How to hire the perfect CTO

Finding your perfect technical counterpart can be quite hard, especially if you are yourself not technical at all. Your perfect CTO does not only has to be very technical, he or she has to have other very important qualities as well. Not every developer can be a CTO, because he or she is lacking important leadership, business or organizational skills. Mashable put 14 tips together from a panel of successful young entrepreneurs. Not only a nice read for people looking for a CTO, I found it quite handy myself to see on which areas I could improve myself.

Today, CTOs are multi-taskers that aren’t just coders locked in some basement — they play a vital role in a tech company’s strategic plan and growth. Not only do they need to have a high level of diversified technical prowess and proficiency, but they also need to possess strong leadership and project management capabilities. With development teams often based around the world, being the center of communication and progress can either lead to a tremendously successful strategy or a bottleneck that can slow down an entire company.

via HOW TO: Hire the Perfect CTO.