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Showing posts from October, 2015

Mobility LIVE! 2015 - Day 2: More Mobility, IoT, Startups

Wrapped up Day 2 (the final day) of Mobility LIVE! at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The annual event brings together thought leaders in the mobile space in a series of speakers and panels.
I recapped Day 1 on Thursday. That was exhaustive. For Day 2, I’m going with 3-5 take-aways per talk and panel. Except, I’ll add a brief intro to each speaker/ panel to summarize.
Yesterday was all about the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables. Today was a continuation on IoT, but also more focus on mobility as a whole and startups.
Kicking us off was a chat between Glenn Lurie, AT&T Mobility President and CEO, and Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Software and Services at Apple. In many ways, these two helped usher in the mobile world as we know it today being key members along with Steve Jobs and Ralph de la Vega in bringing the iPhone to market in 2007. Glenn and Eddy recall those negotiations between AT&T and Apple and the relationship between the two ever since… The initial…

Mobility LIVE! 2015 - Day 1 Notes: IoT to Wearables

Just wrapped up day 1 of this year’s Mobility LIVE! event held at the Georgia World Congress Center. This year marks the 3rd installment of the annual convergence of mobility leaders from all over. With over 1,200 registrations for this year’s event, it’s proven to be a big hit (3 times the number of the first event).
I attended the event last year, and like last year, I’ll hit the highlights of the sessions I attended. Last year’s event was heavy on mobile payments. This year, we’re concentrating on the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables – two areas I don’t know have much depth about, but do have a degree of depth.
But in addition to mobility, Mobility LIVE! showcases Atlanta’s unique and advantageous position at the heart of the mobile world. As one of the few, the proud, the native Atlantan, this event resonated proudly with me.
So let me start…
Kick-started by Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T 3 trends in mobility: 1) Software and software development à Better, f…

The Finance of Startups: For Dummies Part 11 – To EBITDA, Or Not to EBITDA?... That Is The Incomplete Question

EBITDA. I’ve heard this term plenty of times over the years, and yet, I don’t know why it’s so important. Yes, I know EBITDA stands for “Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation, and Amortization”. However, of its importance, I know little of.
As I’ve done in the past, today, I’ll take a look at EBITDA as part of my series on Finance of Startups (yes, two posts in a row!).
The importance/ relative reasons for EBITDA: Quick and dirty estimate for cash flowsInterest and taxes are omitted in EBITDA as they can be heavily impacted by losses from previous years, debt financing (argued should not be used to measure the inherent value of a company), etc.Depreciation and amortization are non-cash items that can be heavily influenced by company decision-makersCan be used to measure against other companies’ EBITDA as a proxy for cash flows and across industry averages However, there are many critics to EBITDA:
Does not include working capital considerations (cash outlays for inventory, for e…

Finance of Startups: For Dummies (Part 10 – Match Group, Inc. S-1)

Last week, Match Group, Inc. filed its S-1 in its initial public offering under the stock symbol “MTCH”. You probably know MTCH as one of the largest online dating sites in the world as Match.com. They also own and operate OkCupid, and Tinder and over 37 other brands. Outside of dating, they also own The Princeton Review – an education site devoted to test preparation, academic tutoring, and the like.
The company is looking to raise $100M through its IPO. Here are some of my notes: Three classes of common stock: common stock, Class B common stock, and Class C common stock – generally “similar”, but common stock will have one vote per share. Class B will have 10 votes per share. Class C has virtually no votes per share.Match Group, Inc. is owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp (IAC)The company’s mission: “Establishing a romantic connection is a fundamental human need. Whether it's a good date, a meaningful relationship or an enduring marriage, romantic connectivity lifts the human spirit. O…

I’ve Done the Calculations: I’m Not the Average of My Friends

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn, renowned businessman and inspirational speaker. Recent events had me thinking about Jim Rohn’s remark. One event was my brother’s promotion to a Director-ish position overseeing the organization’s information systems group. Meanwhile, I’m fielding many questions about what my Next Great Move and what my fellow Body Boss co-founders are up to. They, too, are heading up software engineering of their respective companies. Add to these events, my interest in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was rekindled by online forums – I wrote this last week.
I started considering the success of those around me, and how they motivate me to do and be greater. Also, what about their personalities are affecting me? Considering Jim’s law of averages comment, I asked those closest to me to complete MBTI assessments.
I’m an ESTJ (Extrovert-Sensing-Thinking-Judging) personality type – I wonder if I’d be the average of…

Using Personality Tests in the Workplace

I love psychology. I love getting to know people – what interests them, what are their tendencies, and the like. One of the best ways to learn more about people (and yourself) is to go to a therapist. Or, like the rest of the world today, you can go online and take a test. Enter the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). MBTI is a self-reported survey revealing the psychological tendencies of people – how they view and react to the world. MBTI was first developed by Katharine Briggs and later refined by (and with) her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. The original Briggs Myers Type Indicator Handbook was published in 1944 with several editions published since then, including the 3rd in 1998. 
The MBTI aligns people into 16 personalities along four dichotomies: Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I) – where one draws energy (external sources or internal)Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N) – information-gathering functionsThinking (T) vs. Feeling (F) – decision-making functionsJudging (J) vs. Percep…

Taking Time Off For Creativity Recovery

I was requested the other day to talk about how I balance work with life given the many things I’m working on today. Coincidentally, I read “Success at Work, Failure at Home” by Scott Weiss, entrepreneur turned VC.
Scott recalls the years his startup was doing great were years life at home was anything but. Now as a VC, Scott coaches startup CEOs on dealing with the pressures of work at home.
I’ve had several downs with the ups over the years, and now, taking on a few projects as I consider my next startup. I get questions, like from my friend, of how I balance work and life. That’s easy to answer, though, because my work is part of my life.
I don’t work all the time, but a perfect day for me includes some work. I love what I do, and I love challenges. Over the years, especially since Body Boss, I’ve weaved in slow-down and even shut-down times.
Compared to years past when I was constantly working, I’ve learned a few things. Not everyone needs everything immediately. I was too wrap…

Invest Yourself To Seize Opportunities

I reconnected with a wantrepreneur I met months ago to see how things were going. Since our first meeting, she’s made connections all around, built a pitch deck, and got estimates for developing her idea. From the outside, she’s doing great. She talks excitedly about a new platform launching soon that would be huge for her product. Sadly, she’s going to miss the boat because her product is still just an idea.
She also pared down her list of features to get more minimum viable product-lean. This has dropped her development costs dramatically to economical levels. However, she’s still seeking meetings with investors to get funding to start development.
Unfortunately, funding hasn’t come through while great opportunities like the new platform launch have come and pass. In two months come holiday season when the new platform will be on many people’s wishlists – another golden opportunity will pass.
We talked about what her idea was worth and what she believes the value will be if she’s a…

Lessons from Early Rounds of Usability Testing

My last post about usability testing talked about set up and guidelines for testing. Following up, here are some outcomes and lessons from a couple testing sessions so far: You can get great feedback. It’d be great to build a product leveraging the experience of the founders in a startup and customers use the product seamlessly. However, founders’ view of the world can be skewed. Usability testing solicits feedback directly from the target audience.Find users who will provide candid feedback. Operative words are “provide” and “candid”. Usability testing can be awkward for testers not used to giving honest feedback. It’s important for the company and customers that users provide critical feedback knowing no answer is wrong – benefits go around for everyone.Bugs can screw it all up. The goal of usability testing is to assess how users interact with the product. Sometimes, you’ll want users to perform specific tasks. However, product bugs can quickly halt testing; thus, preventing constr…

Product Ready? Product Set? Usability Test Go!

I’m helping run usability tests with a startup; though, I have not formally “run” one in the past. It’s been a great learning experience.
The company’s launching a new site in education, and with the product having been in development for a few months, it’s ready for users to test. For us, we’re soliciting feedback on user experience, shaping our product roadmap, and testing marketing messaging.
I’ve uploaded a Usability Testing Guidelines template I created leveraging others I’ve found with adjustments here: Usability Testing Guidelines. I’ve removed some specific portions, but left in others for illustrative purposes. You’ll want to adjust as you see fit.
(Note: I use “site” here, but substitute the product/ service you’re testing.)
Here are the key components of the Guidelines: Testing – Observer Guidelines. General instructions for the observer when moderating tests.Agenda and Set-Up. Establish the logistics for testing. Ensure the location is ready, devices are set up, and have…