One Liner

This comes from an anonymous programmer applicant, who had the following assessment of my last posting about working at a startup:

“I had in fact already read your blog on startup environment. I have not experienced a work setting of precisely this nature, except possibly as an EMT on scene. “

All Coming Together

You can look it up on — there are few things that I love more than seeing a plan hatch, and that’s just what I’m seeing as this site makes some big steps toward being the most usable site of its kind for its users. We began our first round of seeking seed investment this week, and so far, so great. People seem to quickly comprehend how this will be a big step forward in shopping, and the fact that I have a team that personifies awesome certainly makes for an easier sale.

hedgehog.jpgOnce we finish acquiring our seed funding, things get really fun. The old adage of “time is money” inverts to state “money is time,” and my hope with seeking our first group of investors is that the money we can obtain will buy us many months of time compared to the means that I’ve used to get the site to where it is now. I’ve been fortunate to get significant discounts on basically everything we’ve purchased so far (web design about half price, programming costs ridiculously low for the quality) by getting people excited to be part of the idea, but goodness, having a bit of capital to work with is going to open a lot of exciting new doors.

There’s still a hell of a lot to do, but if the team matters as much as the product, we’re golden.

The Worst Ass Kickin’ There Ever Was

I was talking with Josh today about Hotmail vs. Gmail. He informs me that Hotmail is apparently offering two gigs of space to its users these days. “Hey,” I thought, “that’s almost as much as Gmail. Good for them! Two years after GMail was released, Hotmail has finally almost caught up.”

It occurred to me then that I think the release of Gmail signaled the single worst ass kickin there ever was of a previously existing online service. Zillow vs. Housevalues is close behind, but I’ll never ever forget the day that I got my 1 GIG of space from Gmail at a time when Hotmail was offering users 1 MEG of space, and charging its users something like $20 a month for 250 megs of space. I still grin when I think about the discussions that must have gone on behind closed doors when someone had to break the bad news to the Hotmail director.

Poor sap to boss: “Yes, um, sir, I don’t know exactly how to break this to you, but our most reviled competitor just released a product with 1,000 times more space than ours, better tools, and far faster.”
Boss: “They what?! #$#@$ at least tell me it’s not free. Please tell me it isn’t free.”
Poor sap: “Well……..sir……..”

What’s worse, even though Hotmail (and Yahoo) reacted pretty quickly to get users a semi-reasonable amount of space (I believe both had a free 250 megs within a month or two of Gmail’s release), the quick turnaround only serves to make them seem more evil for not giving their users that space in the first place. That bad taste is still in my mouth today, and the whoopin Google put on both Yahoo and Microsoft still frames the terms in which I think about the relationship between the three.

Of course, the alternative for these sites was the approach: provide your users with a tool that takes 10 times longer to use, has less features, and blame a sagging national real estate as your woes mount.

800 Steps to… Becoming a Farmer?

Talk of the “long tail” phenomenon is all the rage these days amongst web sites in general, but especially amongst consumer/retail sites. I hadn’t quite figured out why, so I decided to take a look at what queries had led searchers to 800 Steps.

It’s an amusingly random list. Topping the list of queries, as you might expect, were people searching for more info about the person behind this blog. Yes, people of the web want to know more about Karrie Kohlhaas. Here’s lookin’ at you, Karrie! She might not write the blog, but she did initially inspire it, and as far as Google is concerned, that’s apparently “close enough.”

Some other notable search hits: “steps in getting an active investor into my business,” “manifest investor who is like minded,” “realitivity,” “william harding press release,” “paul allen,” “write the four steps in creative entrepreneurial problem solving cycle,” “marcus latham pickles,” and my personal favorite, “steps to becoming a farmer.”

Look ma, I’m making more web sites! It’s even CSS savvy, as marking up numerous pages in CSS for our site has drilled into me.

I have to believe it’s only going to be a matter of time until I create the site that chronicles Seattle’s Best and Worst Nachos. Alas, nachos, your time will someday come.

The Pickle Plan

I went to a most excellent Pickle Party for The Pickle Plan this weekend. What you need to know about The Pickle Plan is that they stay up until 4 in the morning in a hot kitchen in Ballard creating delicious, spicy (and non-spicy, I suppose) pickles that are sure to delight. After puppies and piercings, I don’t know of a surer conversation starter than these flavorful, small-batch pickles. Buy them, share them with your friends, and be able to say you were eating these before they were nationally loved.

What’s more, the founder, Marcus Latham, is a gentleman of outstanding character who will probably go swimming in the dubious Juanita Bay again if he’s in a good mood, which he most likely will be if enough of you buy his packs of pickled…pickles.

Hours + More Hours = ?

productivityaccount.pngIt’s baffling that Mr. Productivity Crusader myself didn’t figure this one out earlier: it pays to organize and catalogue where my Bonanzle hours are being spent. I’ve done it at my day job for the last six months or so. I keep an open Excel spreadsheet that provides me a minute-by-minute breakdown of where my time is being spent during a given day, week, or milestone. Using Excel’s Pivotcharts, I can then aggregate results from my spreadsheet to reveal meta-patterns such as “Mondays are usually administrative-heavy” and “Milestones where I have the time to program go more smoothly.”

The other simple-stupid and supremely insightful fact from these spreadsheets? How much time I really spend each week working. Since I’ve held myself strictly accountable for my minutes, I’ve reduced my garbage Internet time from about a half hour a day to basically none.

But I hadn’t thought to apply any of these techniques to Bonanzle. Partly because there is some energy-overhead in being that responsible. Partly because I have had too many things to do to be able to precisely define what I ought to be doing and what I am doing. But that changes now. Partner or none, there are enough different areas that require my attention at this point that I’m going to start maintaining a simple list of what I plan to do for the week, and how much time I’d like to allocate to it. And what do ya know? Blogging got two hours this week!

I’m looking forward to determining just how much time I am dedicating to this site on a weekly basis. From my rough (and somewhat conservative) projections for this week, it looks like I’ll be spending about 30 hours on it. Add that to my 40 hour work week, and that goes a long way toward explaining some of those rough mornings. It also goes a long way toward explaining how I know that this site will work out to the extent I can be disciplined to spend my hours smartly; particularly since my hours are matched by those invested by the growing Bonanzle cadre.