Should you apply to the LAUNCH Incubator?

It depends. It’s not for everyone.

Only apply to the LAUNCH Incubator if you want to:

  • get Jedi-level presentation training – which will help you…
  • get a “yes” from every angel investor you talk to – which will help you…
  • attract a world-class team – which will help you…
  • build a world-class product – which is made better when you…
  • get expert feedback on your product and presentation from Jason’s amazing weekly special guests.

I hope that helps you with your decision.

NOTE: If you live on the east coast, keep in mind that you will be spending three solid months in San Francisco — away from your family. They may come visit you for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you will miss them like crazy. On the bright side, if your spouse is as supportive of you as Niki is of me, at some point during the Incubator they will decide that it’s time to sell your house and move across the country to a whole new life and all new schools in California.

Good luck!

Make awesome possible

Yesterday, Jonathan George and I launched Recurrency on stage at the LAUNCH Festival. Leading up to our debut, we spent 12 weeks in the LAUNCH Incubator doing pitch rehearsals. That training was invaluable and some of the other incubator entrepreneurs will surely be lifelong friends.

What is Recurrency? For supporters and super fans, it means giving money to creators they love each week on any social network* and becoming part of their inner circle. For creators and causes, it means “recurring currency.”

Check out the Recurrency FAQ to learn more.

* Currently this means Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the ones with great APIs. Soon it will mean dozens more. If you’re not on one of those three services, let me know what you need us to add next.

The second mouse gets the cheese.

I’ll never forget how my friend Carolyn introduced me at a backyard party a few years ago:

“This is Brian Alvey. He invented blogging.”

I immediately corrected her:

“I didn’t invent blogging. I perfected it.”

I’ve told that story on stage many times. While it might sound conceited, there is a lot of truth in the statement. Jason and I weren’t the first people to build a blog network. But we did create a really efficient one that grew quickly and was acquired for a lot of money in less than two years.

I gave Jason some grief when I interviewed him on the 500th episode of This Week In Startups. I asked him if he’d ever had an original product idea. He was noticeably defensive, but if you name anything that Jason has a hand in building, it has always been a reaction to someone else’s product.

Continue reading “The second mouse gets the cheese.”

Secret Project X

Back in 2006 when Jason and I were working with some really talented people on a Digg-like social news version of Netscape, I called it Secret Project X. I even registered secretprojectx.com. I love that name.

Some of the people from that same Netscape team were also busy working to get TMZ up and running on my old Blogsmith blog platform. I aged about 10 years that June.

Recently I wanted to let people on LinkedIn know that I was doing something new but I didn’t want to reveal the name or explain what it is yet, so I called it Secret Project X. When I co-hosted Jason’s LAUNCH Scale conference a few weeks ago I had them use that as my company name on my badge.

Then a strange thing happened. People — even people standing in front of me in clear view of my badge — asked me “What is Secret Group X?” or “What is Super Project X?” Very few people called it Secret Project X.

Lee from WearAway emailed me after the conference and got it right. She was one of the few.

It’s a good thing that Secret Project X isn’t the real name we’ll be using!

Three envelopes

I routinely mention the “three envelopes” story when talking to entrepreneurs about how startup CEOs often act when faced with a crisis. Many of them have never heard the story, so I’m recording it here for future reference:

A new CEO was brought in to run a tech company. The CEO who was stepping down presented him with three numbered envelopes and said, “If you’re ever faced with a crisis and you can’t think of a way out, just remember these envelopes.”

Months later when the sales team had badly missed their revenue targets, the CEO was under fire and the company’s stock price had fallen. Unable to come up with another solution, he opened the first envelope. The message inside read, “Blame your predecessor.” He scheduled a press conference and explained that the sales team was held back by the previous CEO’s decisions. The market agreed and the stock price rebounded.

Another year later, sales were again way off and this time there was an uproar over some serious product defects. Share prices were at an all-time low. Unable to come up with an alternative, he opened the second envelope. Inside was a message that read, “Reorganize.” He did, and there was another strong rebound.

Later on, the CEO was facing his third huge crisis. Inside the third envelope was a note that read, “Prepare three envelopes.”

Brett Terpstra’s Systematic podcast

I had dinner with Brett Terpstra in San Francisco recently and it was so much fun that he asked me to be a guest on his Systematic podcast. Half of the show covered the upcoming return of Meet The Makers and the other half covered my quest to find a startup religion that worked for me.

On each show the host and guest pick three things they want people to go check out. I believe they’re supposed to be things that make your work life suck less. I chose calm.comiOS keyboard shortcuts and Sonos. Brett chose Belkin’s Bluetooth Wireless Keypad, the Mac note taking and brainstorming app Curio and the Exif Wizard app for iOS.

He diligently posts links for all the significant topics and products that were discussed:

The revenge of QWERTY

Smart designers are asking why QWERTY keyboard layouts still exist on modern mobile devices.

@mezzoblue Yep. Especially on smartphones where we don’t have decades of legacy muscle memory.— Mike Davidson (@mikeindustries) June 25, 2014

For a while now, I’ve been thinking that QWERTY actually does make sense on phones in a way that it never did on desktop keyboards.

Continue reading “The revenge of QWERTY”

Meet The Makers is coming back

Twelve years ago today, I hosted my first Meet The Makers conference in New York City. Later that year I did two more events in San Francisco and NYC. The events were incredible, featuring interviews with the people responsible for some of the biggest online products and sites like Monster, DoubleClick, Google, E*TRADE and MapQuest.

In 2003, I put the live events on hiatus to build my blog network, but I continued producing long form interviews with a variety of creative people: web designers, entrepreneurs, authors, marketers and even cartoonists.

Looking back on my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with hundreds of amazing brands, but hosting Meet The Makers is easily the best job I ever had.

The tagline of Meet The Makers was “Creative people in a technical world.”

Soon, I will bring Meet The Makers back to continue exploring the tension between art and technology while profiling people who have built amazing things that we all wish we’d created ourselves.

Follow @meetthemakers on Twitter to get updates on the relaunch.

AOL address books hacked

I woke up on Sunday morning and saw four spam messages in my inbox from an old AOL account of mine that I almost never use. This isn’t a new thing, nearly every email address gets used to send spam via a process called “spoofing.”

Spoofing happens because anyone can send email as billgates@microsoft.com via sloppy, but common, mail servers that allow open relaying. Open relaying means they don’t verify that you own a particular account. They just pass your mail along to the next server. The reason email works as an identity system is that ideally only Bill Gates can receive email sent to billgates@microsoft.com. Again, anyone can send as him. I can send email as thor@godofthunder.com, but I won’t get your replies so I don’t.

Continue reading “AOL address books hacked”