Category: Insight

Iron Man? Spider-man? Batman? Most super heroes are side projects. Just like yours.

Most of your favorite super heroes are actually side projects. Most super heroes don’t do that whole super hero thing as their full-time gig. In fact, most of them have got a day job.

I know you’re busting your ass, Mr. and/or Mrs. Startup type. I know you’re working hard on a side project or idea while continuing to slave away at the day job. All in the hopes that someday—someday—you might get to turn that side project into a full-time gig. But it can be taxing. I know it.

So every once in awhile, I like to try to give you a little motivation. A little help. A little something that makes staying up that extra four hours a little easier. And that little something today is this: Most of your favorite super heroes are actually side projects. Read More

In Portland, people are primarily positive about the Apple iPad

I asked some folks from the Portland startup community—who also happen to be proud new iPad owners—to give me their first impressions on this magical new way of computing.

One of the biggest tech stories in Portland—or anywhere for that matter—this week has been the launch of the Apple iPad, a new “magical” device that—when announced—was purported to change the way we compute, work, and play.

But now that the iPad is actually in owners’ hands, how are people feeling about it? I asked some folks from the Portland startup community—who also happen to be proud new iPad owners—to give me their first impressions on this magical new way of computing. Read More

What entrepreneurs and startups can learn from the whole Conan O’Brien debacle

Conan O’Brien was recently told that his show was going to follow Jay Leno at 12:05. His response? “No, it’s not.” And in those actions are valuable lessons for startups and entrepreneurs everywhere.

[HTML1]Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days… What’s that? Oh. No, nothing against that. I mean, it’s a nice rock. I like that one part over there. I wasn’t being serious. It’s just a turn of phrase, you know?

Ahem. Anyway.

Conan O’Brien, the host of The Tonight Show—a dynasty of late night television—was recently told that his show was going to be bumped back to follow Jay Leno at 12:05. His response? “No, it’s not.” Read More

Mike Berkley on ‘Preparing for the Next Web Boom’

[HTML2][Editor: The following is a guest post by Mike Berkley, who served as the CEO of Portland-based SplashCast until its recent demise. Mike and I have had any number of conversations about the startup scene here in town. And I asked him if we wouldn’t mind putting his thoughts into a post. The first post—of hopefully many—follows.]

Preparing for the Next Web Boom

Since putting SplashCast to rest a few months ago, I’ve finally had time to reconnect with the entrepreneur community here in Portland, as well as in the Bay Area and NYC.  I’ve packed my days full of coffee, apricot scones, phone calls, and meetings… lots of meetings.  I’ve talked to dozens of entrepreneurs and investors.

Two themes have surfaced in this process. Read More

Oregon Small Business Boost results: Eugene’s Palo Alto Software gives away more than $3 million of software

That’s what made Eugene-based Palo Alto Software’s Oregon Small Business Boost was such a cool idea. So cool in fact that it was amazingly successful. Like $3 million successful.

[HTML4]It’s always great to see Silicon Forest companies giving back to the community. Especially given our current economic conditions. And with Oregon running neck and neck with Michigan for the #1 ranking in unemployment, every little bit helps.

That’s what made Eugene-based Palo Alto Software’s Oregon Small Business Boost was such a cool idea. So cool in fact that it was amazingly successful. Like $3 million successful. Read More

Oregon startups and venture capital: It’s complicated

For every Oregon company that has had success attracting capital for their pursuits—Jive and AboutUs come to mind—there are hundreds who struggle with where to begin and how to engage the Angel or VC community.

It’s a difficult issue. And no one seems to put his or her finger exactly on the problems or how to solve them. Some say buck up and play the game. Others say the game needs to change. People talk about staying in Portland and figuring out how to bootstrap. People talk about leaving Portland in order to get funding.

Start talking to entrepreneurs and side project startups in Portland—or throughout the Silicon Forest in Oregon—and the conversation will inevitably turn to one topic: venture capital or the lack thereof.

For every Oregon company that has had success attracting capital for their pursuits—Jive and AboutUs come to mind—there are hundreds who struggle with where to begin and how to engage the Angel or VC community.

It’s a difficult issue. And no one seems to put his or her finger exactly on the problems or how to solve them. Some say “buck up and play the game.” Others say “the game needs to change.” People talk about staying in Portland and figuring out how to bootstrap. People talk about leaving Portland in order to get funding.

What’s the answer? Read More

Platial on how social mapping will change the world

And today, I was completely blown away when I caught up on a series of posts by Portland-based Platial’s Di-Ann Eisnor, documenting her thoughts on “How neogeography will change the way we live.” After reading the series, you’ll never look at mapping the same way again.

I always wish companies took time to blog a little bit more. Share a little insight. Blow off some steam. Or even just tell us what they’re thinking.

Sometimes I think the folks running startups forget that they’ve got a great deal to share. That their experience or their failures or even just their focusing on a singular topic in excruciating detail gives them a unique vantage for which many of us mere mortals yearn.

That’s why I love people like David Abramowski who take the time to chronicle their journey.

And today, I was completely blown away when I caught up on a series of posts by Portland-based Platial‘s Di-Ann Eisnor, documenting her thoughts on “How neogeography will change the way we live.” After reading the series, you’ll never look at mapping the same way again. Read More

How would you describe the Portland open source, Web, and mobile startup scene? [Updated]

A number of us have recently had the opportunity to sit down with Amanda Hess. Amanda is working on a chapter for a larger piece on the Portland entrepreneurial scene, ranging from bikes to beer to restaurants to tech.

During the interviews, she’s been asking folks to describe the Portland tech scene in their own words. When she posed the question to me, I started to stutter through a fumbling response, when I suddenly realized I could do something better.

“Why don’t we ask the community?” I said. Read More

WSJ: Portland continues to attract talent, despite stumbling economy

As if we needed another sign of the opportunity and potential we have within our grasp here in the Silicon Forest, the Wall Street Journal has just published a piece on Portland and its ability to attract young educated people—even though they might not have jobs waiting for them.

What will come as little shock to any of us—but seems to be confounding the WSJ—is that any number of people are attracted to Portland for way of life, first and foremost. Even though joining the ranks of those in Portland may also mean joining the ranks of the under-employed or completely unemployed. Read More

What’s it like to submit an application to the iPhone App Store?

FastFiguresEver wondered what it’s like to submit an iPhone application to the Apple App Store? Now, Beaverton-based FastFigures provides some much needed insight into the whole process with the lessons they learned after one month in the iPhone App Store.

The post provides a fascinating look into the planning of the launch, including struggling with issues like pricing:

The price sensitivity data showed a starting price of $9.99 maximized revenue but I was concerned that these customers were too familiar with our products and wouldn’t represent the broader world of iPhone users. After agonizing over this for over a week, I decided to adjust the pricing based on some additional factors and settled on $5.99. This decision is proving to be both a good one and a bad one, and I struggle with selling our applications so inexpensively to this day.

Mistakes made:

And this is where not understanding the process hurt us. First, I didn’t realize that there was some additional paperwork that needed to be completed. That was completed on the 23rd. Then, once everything is signed off, it takes 24 hours to show up in the AppStore. Finally on the 24th, I’m looking for the application in What’s New and can’t find it!

And valuable lessons learned:
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Two things happened around March 19th that changed our fortunes. For one, we hit that magical 20 review level I’ve talked about before. Second, one of the products in the Finance category most similar to ours went free. There has been a lot of discussion on the web about free applications versus paid applications and that the two customers aren’t the same. And this competitive application proved that.

Plus, some insightful suggestions:

Can you make money in the AppStore? Yes. But the competition is fierce and it’s very hard to differentiate your product from others. My suggestion: Spend plenty of time up-front figuring out how to get above the noise with factors you can control.

Long story short, if you’ve even remotely entertained the idea of building an iPhone app, this post is a must read.

Thanks to the folks at FastFigures for opening up and providing this valuable insight into the process.

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