Over at Seattle 2.0, Marcello has announced the Seattle 2.0 web awards, though without "Most Likely to Eat at Salumi's" Athleon will probably have to wait until next year. Nominate your favorites here:
A year or so into this whole 'starting a company' thing, some stuff I've learned, in no order what so ever (they may be obvious, but we sure didn't learn them in business school):
No matter how basic you think something is, you have blinders on, and it will still confuse some of your users/customers.
Nothing is better in a business than a great, random, unsolicited testimonial from a user. Well, maybe cash is better.
When someone pays for something, they have much higher expectations of the product than someone who uses something for free. Those expectations take a lot of time to manage. It's worth considering if your product is ready to be purchased yet...even if you have customers who will pay.
People use your product in ways you never imagined, and don't do things the way you want them to. Fighting them or trying to force them to use it the way you want them to is a waste of time and effort. Letting your users define your product makes much more sense.
Treating every user, even the ones who want to remove their account, like the most important thing on your schedule is good business. They should be the most important thing on your schedule.
Everyone in your company at a startup is first and foremost a salesman followed closely by a customer service representative. Their third job title is CEO or CFO or VP of whatever. Sales and customer service are your first job.
It's easy to forget about HR requirements in a startup...including your own. Sometimes taking 30 minutes to drink a beer away from the computer is good for the bottom line.
The easiest way to not overspend is to not have any money.
Never hire someone who can't do something better than you can...even better if you only hire people smarter than you.
For all the stress and heartache and late nights and financial forecasting spreadheets and Ramen noodles, there's nothing like watching an idea come to fruition. Except for maybe cash.
Poe-Tree was finally able to offer haiku, limmericks, and Homeric epics to the masses of people who were unable to fill their need for poetry via book. Alas, Edgar Allen Poe rolled over in his grave over loss of profits.
Timothy Ferriss, the 4 hour work week guy who's taught millions to outsource the mundane, hasn't been blogging for over a year, thanks to outsourcing his posting.
Spent the evening listening to Glenn Kelman, one of the most engaging entrepreneurs I've heard in Seattle. He gave a speech at a UW Business Plan Competition resource night entitled "Where Do Ideas Come From?"
Some random notes worth sharing:
"Trying to imagine what user #! wants, if you aren't user #1, is very hard." Yep.
He added some things he wished there was, including a computer monitored digestive tract for his biking, an environmental yahoo, and Resident Evil 5, with strafing.
"It takes time to build something that's fundamentally valuable, it's better to be better, not first. First to market is not a long term strategy."
"You have more time than you think to do something really good."
"You have to solve real pain or really capture consumer delight"
"History writes out the bad stuff," apparently Redfin started with a fistfight.
"Squash the competition," I'm willing to bet he likes Lance Armstrong (as do I, ask me about my Lance Armstrong stage 5 in Montargis story)
"Make haste slowly" from Roman Emperor Augustus.
Redfin's financials can be seen on Guy's blog here. Very helpful for anyone writing their first business plan.
From the Seattle Times, adlibed by Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church:
"Seattle has unleashed this weird phenomenon on the world called the coffee shop. The coffee shop, thanks to Starbucks, is the place where socially isolated, lonely, needy people gather together to ignore one another. All these lonely people go to the coffee shop to open their laptop and drink their burnt coffee and put in their ears their iPod so they can ignore one another...in community,"
A buddy of mine had a conversation this past thanksgiving with his grandmother. During the conversation, she asked him "Do you know what text messaging is?" Not, do you text? or do you know how to text? But what is it?
What that simple conversation taught me: despite the rise of technology, and the social web, and blogging, and twittering and facebooking and googling and mobile, folksonomy, enterprise web solutions:
A lot of people, are getting along JUST FINE, without it.
Case and point: can you see your grandmother on facebook (link found via Seth's Blog, originally posted here)?
Ever see My Big Fat Greek Wedding? You probably did. The father claimed he could take any word and show you that the root of that word is greek. Athleon is greek...sort of.
Guy Kawasaki has a post about coming up with names, and I figured it was a good jump start to take you through our naming odyssey.
I, like many, many companies in my space felt the need to have some sort of straight forward name for people to understand...sports is NOT a market where you can get away with adding vowels (atleast I don't think so, spoooortio.com?) So, after some more thought, it became teamandfitness.com, primarily because that domain name was available. $8.00 on godaddy...my first investment in my company. I would keep that name for about three months, until I found my co founder, brought on a designer and started talking about branding and the logo...and realized that what we had just wouldn't work. If we wanted to build a brand (which we do) we needed to have a name that could actually BE a brand. As my cofounder put it, we needed a name and a logo you could put on a golf ball if you really wanted to fit in the sports space.
Athleon was the byproduct of about a month of research, the best of which was me sitting at Barnes and Noble with two greek phrase books, a latin phrase book, an Italian phrase book, and a Hebrew phrase book. I studied abroad in Greece and like the obvious tie ins with Greece and athletics (a certain shoe company did too), and the greek words encircling anything athletic SOUNDED like American words...so that book won out.
Maybe the man from My Big Fat Greek Wedding was right.
So, in keeping this post relatively short, I continually transfered from a Greek phasebook through 2 online translators and on GoDaddy, trying to see what I could do with a domain.
We ended up with Aethleon, (to be an athlete). Plus the domain was $8.00
Then...while we were still developing the alpha and doing a boatload of market research, when we told people the name, we had to spell it.
Everyone forgot the first e (and my co founder, looking at pronunciation, said it actually sounded like eeth-leon, which wasn't athletic sounding).
So, we dropped the e, and Athleon was born. A domain squatter owns the name, we'll buy it when we need to, but for now athleonsport.com, for $8.00, works out great.
I'll tell you about the logo process sometime later on.