March 27th, 2009

FarmsReach takes the covers off

in: Standing out, Startups

We call Rednod a startup accelerator. That means we get our hands dirty helping to design product features, business models, positioning, look and feel, business processes — whatever it takes to get the job done. It’s a lot of fun, particularly when the team is smart and they’re trying to solve an important problem.

logo.jpgOne of Rednod’s clients, FarmsReach, fits that bill especially well. They launched on Tuesday at the Green:Net conference. After ten months of hard work on a web platform that could actually transform the local, sustainable food industry, the company’s finally taking the covers off.

Best of all, the company won the inaugural People’s Choice award at the Launchpad event with CEO Lana Holmes’ great presentation. The buzz has been huge, and while FarmsReach is taking it slow, focusing on San Francisco farms and restaurants, it’s a model that can work across North America in short order.

Congratulations to the FarmsReach team.

Also worth checking out is Saul Griffith’s awesome presentation on the energy we use, which takes a decidedly engineering-centric view at the daunting challenge humans face in trying to slake our thirst for energy. Green:Net was an excellent — and thought-provoking — event.

March 12th, 2009

Job posting: Time to grow

in: Jobposting, Startups

Roughly 10 years ago, Networkshop was two people trying to figure out what business to build. A couple of years later, the company launched as Coradiant, initially an MSP and later a user experience monitoring company. It was a great experience. Early on, we posted some tongue-in-cheek positions that really set the tone and helped us find awesome employees.

Rednod has lots going on — much of which is related to Bitcurrent and the Complete Web Monitoring book — and it’s time to grow the team. To that end, we’re looking for a program manager. If you’re interested, let us know on Twitter or contact us online.

Here’s a detailed overview of the position. Read more…

January 15th, 2009

Bad product managers are like hairstylists

in: Anticipate, Create

The first thing someone asks me when I go to get my hair cut is, “How do you like it?”

This is the wrong question to ask. It presumes that I (not the expert on hair) have a preference that’s relevant.

(Sure, we’re creatures of habit, so we may well have a preference, and hey, we’re paying for it so we get to choose. But bear with me.)

What a stylist should be asking is questions like, “What do you do for a living?” and “how do your co-workers dress?” Perhaps they’d ask, “Do you have time to towel and blowdry it in the morning?” Or maybe they should wonder, “Do you play sports like wrestling in which hair length is a factor? Are you on a team that needs helmets?”

A good stylist would try to discern a pattern of needs (which the customer knows a great deal about) and then applying their domain expertise (cutting hair) to choose what’s best. In many companies, the people in charge of product direction are like stylists. Which causes lousy product decisions.

Read more…

January 14th, 2009

What makes you unfollow someone? Six things stand out.

in: Communicate

winescowl.pngSocial networking for business is a two-edged sword: You have to keep track of many followers, but automating the process thwarts efforts to remain genuine. And yet we don’t spend enough time analyzing unfollow behavior. Here are the results of some informal surveys over the past few weeks.

How many people can we really follow?

How many people can we follow? Take a look at this excellent study by Huberman, Romero, and Wu. It shows that there’s an underlying hidden network of friends, and that the remaining follower/followee relationships are really just social courtesy.

If humans can normally handle around 150 social relationships then, as JP Rangaswami observes, tools like Twitter help push this limit up to perhaps 600 people.

Read more…

December 7th, 2008

Testing and launching a web app: What every startup needs to know

in: Create, Startups

Several of the companies I’ve worked with in the last year have gone through a software launch. While I usually focus on the business side of startups, and this post is more like something from Bitcurrent or Watchingwebsites, it’s pertinent to any web startup that needs to test and launch a successful product.

There are ten distinct stages of defining, testing, and launching a web application. Each stage has some tools you can use, involves different people, and focuses on different kinds of data collection.

Ten stages of release visibility and testing

If you go through these stages in the wrong order, you’ll waste time and money. Do them in the right order—using some of the tools we’ve found here to help you along the way—and you’ll be much more likely to launch the right product at the right time and make it easy for your customers to access you.
Read more…

December 4th, 2008

Myths entrepreneurs tell themselves

in: Startups

My friend Raymond Luk has a great post on the ten tough questions entrepreneurs need to ask themselves before starting a company. He’s right on all counts, and if you’re considering a startup, you need to read them and answer them honestly.As I was reading the list, it reminded me of a recent conversation about some of the delusions that first-time startup owners have, and that need to be dispelled before they can really get to work. Read more…

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