I Am Writing A Book

Finally some good news I have been dying to share.  Yes, it’s true and you should be excited, I will be putting out a book very soon and I hope you help me help you by purchasing it.

Amazon-Kindle1I was approached recently by a company wanting to help me publish a book.   I felt very honored as I glanced through their previously published authors consisting of greatly respected people, such as prominent investors Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, tech blogger Semil Shah, entrepreneur Jeff Atwood and others.   Pretty cool I will be now sitting along side these guys.

A collection of my writings found on this blog is being put into book format by a cool new company and will not be your traditional novel meant to be read from start to finish.  It is bits and pieces of truth about technology, entrepreneurship, founder stories, leadership and life in general meant to educate and encourage others.   It will be in ebook form, and you will be able to download it in the common e-reader formats.

If you are a longtime visitor to this blog you surely will remember reading the original posts as you browse the book.  I hope you choose to purchase it and re-read them again, as sometimes we only really connect with lessons on the second go around.

If you are a newer visitor, we’ll this is perfect for you to get caught up on almost 2 years of thoughts and musings (that hopefully) have been useful to others around the world.

Keep your eye out for the release.  This should be the start of an exciting future of publishing great content in book format.

Earth To USA Today and JP Morgan – There Are More Startups Today Than Ever Before

A recent column in the U.S.A Today makes the bold claim that there are less startups today than compared to the 1980’s, during the Carter administration.

The rationale:

At any rate, the latest data indicate that start-ups are becoming rarer, not more common. A new report from JPMorgan economist Mike Feroli indicates that employment in start-ups is plunging. New jobs in the economy tend to come from new businesses, but we’re getting fewer new businesses. 

I am going to guess Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a professor and the author of the post, is not an entrepreneur and has never been one.  If he was one he would know basing innovation metrics and the quantity of “startups” solely on the amount of people they employ is an incredibly flawed argument.

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 8.00.44 PM

Diving deeper into the JP Morgan study, they lay claim to a few reasons on why we are seeing an apparent slow down in startups:

Hudson’s possible suspects for the slowdown: a) higher business taxes, b) Obamacare, c) an IRS crackdown on US employers that hire U.S. workers as independent contractors rather than employees, and d) a steady barrier erected to entrepreneurs at the local policy level.

But whatever the cause of the entrepreneurial decline, two possible impacts: 1) A less productive and innovative economy, and 2) higher profits for big business thanks to fewer upstart competitors on the horizon.

Here are a few observations on why I feel this assessment is off the mark:

1) Assuming Obamacare is a factor completely misses the point, since Obama wasn’t even in office when the decline in jobs started (see chart above).

2) Although a local policy issue may influence certain industries – since we’re talking the entire nation here it’s irrelevant to include local policies because they vary state to state.  I, for one, can tell you it’s quite easy to get going in your own new venture.

3) The IPO market really cooled off over the last decade, suggesting a rise in mergers and acquisitions.  Simply stated, startups are being bought by bigger companies before they beef up their workforce, which also will affect overall startup employment numbers.

4)  If anything, they miss the most obvious reason why people would choose employment at a larger corporation rather than a startup: job security and dependable paycheck in a shaky economy.   Although this also doesn’t apply since the economy didn’t tank until late 2008 and beyond, so again, not a very high correlation.

5) The largest omission in this report can be seen by evaluating technological progress and the resulting drop in computing costs.  Comparing the chart from the JP Morgan article and a graph of Moore’s Law (which is exponential) you now realize using a simple number like the number of employees of startups is probably the wrong approach when determining the current status of innovation.  Moore’s Law states the computing power is increasing at the same time the cost is dropping.  So, it is easier to start a business than ever before. The cost of computing, virtual work environments, AWS, instant and free communication tools, and the proliferation of the web have coalesced to create a startup nirvana.  Looking at two charts from the same timeframe you will notice the stark drop in jobs at the same time a drastic increase in computing power?  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

So am I missing something here?

Maybe if they simply stated “startups are employing less people” I wouldn’t have a problem with the report.  But they didn’t.  They claim (in fact lead with) the idea that there are less startups and innovation than in the 80’s and 90’s, which I feel is wrong – or at least how they came to that conclusion is currently flawed.  They go on to make a few solid points regarding higher taxes and government regulation and how those influence an early venture hiring but lack any real depth for their argument.  Maybe they should have consulted an entrepreneur or two who could help them sift through the chaff a bit further.

Moore's Law of Computing Power

Moore’s Law of Computing Power

My take: it takes less people to achieve more today.  What once took a team of 10 to accomplish now only takes 2 or 3 people and a wifi connection.  So I am claiming the exact opposite of the USA Today and JP Morgan.  We are seeing more products, apps, and startups created today than ever before.  Ask any VC or startup founder and I guarantee they will say the same thing.

Hell, Instagram and their entire team of 12 employees was sold for almost $1 billion to Facebook in 2012.  So whatever you do, do not believe there is a lack of innovation and startups out there.  If anything, there’s more innovation and startups created each day than ever before because we can do more with less.

One just needs to look closer and use the right measuring stick.

An Intriguingly Utopian Vision For The Future Of Technology

You may have seen this two-year old video but I saw it today and thought it’s worthy of highlighting.   It puts together a quite intriguing vision of how we’ll interact with the web and technology in the future.

Entrepreneurs, you might want to look for ideas of how you can get involved building some of these things starting today.

To Change The World Solve A problem – Just Not “Your” Problem

As founders we’re generally told the best way to build a business is to solve a problem in the world.  Find a problem, create a solution and someone will pay you money for it.

Great, I think we can all agree with that.

Issues arise when you are advised to solve “your” problem, which I have noticed happens quite often.  And on the surface it makes sense – the easiest problems to find in the world are the one’s right in front of your face.  So we are told to look at our life and determine what needs to be fixed.  Next step, we go out and build our solution so our lives can be made better.  Then we think, “if I have this problem, then others must have it too!”  We dream about getting lucky, the moment others figure out they have this problem as well, and think we just might hit the home run and cash in on our new idea.

I started thinking about this the other day when I read or heard on video someone mentioning the fact that this is precisely why we have so many copycat startups around Silicon Valley.

Think about it (yes I am generalizing): pretty much everyone in the valley is of the same demographic and has mostly the same problems in their life.  It’s hard to argue we are in a relatively small bubble and can only see our own groups unique problems.  Simply put, we all have the same problems in our small little startup world.  That ‘s why we have so many founders trying to make an incrementally better photo sharing app, food ordering app (or input-any-cliche-mobile-app-example here).  We are too narrowly focused on what’s in our palms each day we don’t lift our heads towards the rest of the world and see what they are dealing with.  We all walk around with smartphones in our pockets and cannot stop thinking about how to make our lives 10% better with this new app, or that new website.  This is how we get 10 Pinterest’s and 50 Instagram-wannabes.

That’s all fine and dandy for the 1% in our bubble but what about the 99%?  What about the person that doesn’t have a smartphone or doesn’t want to think about being plugged in it 24/7/365?  The problem is we don’t know what all the problems are out there in the world because we aren’t really thinking about the rest of the world.

So how do we get away from all the copy cats and towards real world changing ideas?

We need to start solving problems, just not “our” problems.  We need to start talking to other people outside our network and our little bubble, maybe they aren’t as fortunate as us and still have challenges we aren’t aware of but could help solve.  We need to shut up and listen to what they are struggling with and then start thinking about how to bring a solution to them.

Real customer development happens when you have many conversations – hundreds or even thousands – and you find random people are all having the same problems but lack a viable solution.  That’s when you know you are onto something – not when you have a thought in the shower about this thing in your life that really needs to be fixed.

Uniqueness will come when you look outside of yourself and your little bubble and discover issues people not like you are dealing with.  If you have the problem as well, even better!

So If you really want to change the world, solve a problem.  Just don’t solve your problem because it’s probably not something the 99% aren’t even thinking about.

16 years to one million… 18 months to two million

Crowds of people gather on the mall to watch the swearing-in of U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington“It took us more than 16 years to get to one million paid households but just 18 months to double it.”

I read an article today that talked about how well Angie’s List did last quarter, posting impressive growth around users and revenues.  If you are not familiar, Angie’s List is a new age Yellow pages, a marketplace for service oriented local businesses.

One sentence caught my attention: “It took us more than 16 years to get to one million paid households but just 18 months to double it.”

How’s that for patience?  I had no idea Angie’s List  was even 16 years old.  More impressive, I haven’t heard of many companies where it took so long to reach a milestone like that.  Both are impressive feats of patience, persistence and obviously hard work.

But what’s fascinating is how quickly they reached 2 million paid accounts – just 18 months.

18 months vs 16 years.  Wow.

I’d be curious to know what they did to increase the paid user base so quickly.  Of course, a certain amount users will come from viral, word of mouth actions of existing users.  But, in the local space it can be more difficult to achieve viral growth.  It would be great to hear what has worked for them.

Never forget, the amount of work it might take to get to your first big milestone isn’t necessarily the amount required to reach the next milestone.  Just test a lot and keep doing what’s working and stop doing what isn’t.  Things do get easier and the system can start working for you once you reach a certain critical mass.

I have never really been a huge fan of Angie’s List, but I certainly have more respect for them now.

More Humanity, Less Technology

A few recent experiences have spurred my thinking on the subject of humanity vs technology.  Some of this will seem inevitable and some of it will seem commonsense to you.  Some of it might even go against the grain of what you are currently working on right now.  My purpose is to get you thinking about how you go about your life using technology – by yourself and around others.

I am not sure if it’s just me but I feel we are starting the upswing on what will be viewed as the turning point in our society.  We will never have a “slower” life than we do today.   Cell phones allowing us to talk to and message anyone in the world was just the beginning of this movement.  Now, we have really powerful mobile computers in our pockets which basically bring the entire world to us – instantly – with a touch of a finger.  In a not so distant future we will be wearing these computers on our wrists (I hope not) or our faces with such innovations like Google Glass.  Will brain implants one day do away with any device or hardware required to access all the worlds information?

Fashion faux pas aside, I think these technical advancements are inevitable yet at the same time very scary.

What seems to bother me is what will happen to our humanity as all these technical advancements come into our lives.  We already deal with the quick “phone, text and email check” at the dinner table or during a conversation with someone else.

Is it lost on our society that this action is actually quite rude to the other person you are sitting with?  I know I am guilty of frequently swiping my iPhone and seeing what I missed over the last 5 or 10 minutes.  In reality, it simply says to the other person, “you are not very important to me and I am wondering what other bits of information I can quickly scan to keep my attention.”

What will happen when we were a pair of glasses with a screen ever-present right in front of us?

I am afraid we, as a society, are not prepared for this use of technology.  Socialogically, we are trained to observe people and gauge them via non-verbal cues as to how we are connecting with them.  Are they threatened, scared, turned on, tuned out, distracted, interested, ect…   The human eyes/mind/body instantly calculates all these millions of inputs and tells us what is going on within this specific human interaction.  We live our lives on non-verbal human cues.

These thoughts hit my mind the other day as I read an interesting article in the New York Times with the idea that Friends don’t let friends lose their capacity for humanity.  It raises the same alarming points I am mentioning here.

Ironically, as tech advances to help us “connect” with others we seem to be moving farther away from actually connecting with them – on a human level.  Does a text message saying “hi” do more than a slightly extended eye-gaze between two interested individuals?  Absolutely not.  I can learn more in 2 seconds looking at woman than 100 text messages sent from her iPhone.  All those text messages just create more questions and uncertainty between the two people.

The second experience happened yesterday as I was chatting with friend.  She mentioned how she was a natural introvert and she really needed to get out more, get away from her monitor and into social situations more often.  According to her she has a tendancy to lose track of time when she gets into her work and feels more at home in front of the screen.

I understand what see is saying but I also counter with the fact that she actually feels more at home across the table from me looking into a human eye and enjoying a face to face chat.  That is why she said she needs it more often.  There are just certain things we see/say/do which will never be replaced with technology.  Even Skyping with others doesn’t actually feed our appetites for human connection.  Like it or not you are addicted to dopamine – a chemical released when you interact with other human beings – and you will withdraw from society if you do not get enough on a consistent basis.

All this has me thinking deeper on what technology means for us humans and how we should use it in our daily lives.  More interesting is the fact that as time goes on and technology continues to move us “forward” we will actually desire more of these authentically human encounters.

Our society depends on it.

As I continue my path in the technology sector and build experiences around the web and mobile devices I make sure I keep one foot firmly planted in the area of Humanity so I don’t end up losing it.  I hope others do too, it would be a shame if we all just ended up always looking down at our mobile devices tweeting about the fact that we are feeling alone in a crowd.

Spring Is In The Air And Something New Is Upon Us

This post is part wind-down announcement and part new product news.

We started Seconds (back then called Order SM) in September 2011 with the goal to experiment around mobile – text ordering at local restaurants.   Our assumption was people would want to simply text “burrito” to their local mexican restaurant and then be able to swing by and grab it without having to wait in line for their food pay with a physical credit card.  Everything would be taken care of in the background on the web.

We learned a ton, but the biggest thing was both merchants and customers really liked being able to just pay for something by sending at text and not mess with all the other communication crap, so we ended up moving towards specifically focusing on a mobile payment system.   We changed the name to Seconds and rolled it out in Jan 201n2.   We saw a dramatic market interest in our unique take on payments, receiving inbound request from almost every continent in the world.   Unfortunately, we weren’t able to secure capital it required to scale our team and out product and so we basically stalled out at the end of the year.

Rather than being a Zombie-startup, I decided it was best we make better use of each members skill set (go get paying gigs) and wind down the operations on Seconds, as a mobile payment startup.  This means we are not taking new customers or putting in new work around the product.  It also means we are retaining the IP and tech, placing it on the shelf for a while as we determine the next phase for our ideas.  As I said to the team when we made this decision, “with each passing day, people will only get more comfortable with mobile payments and we’ll make more and more mobile payments as the months and years go on.  I don’t think this is the end of the line for our ideas, just not the right time and place for Seconds as it is today.”

This was definitely a tough decision and one I probably put off for a few months not wanting to accept the reality of the situation.

For all you who know me personally you will be quite familiar with my challenges as I built Seconds.  It is not easy to be a founder, no matter how “rock star” it may be described nowadays.  It’s lonely.  It’s stressful.  It stretches you in ways you will never imagine.  It mentally challenges you to the point where you actually think you are crazy (and probably could be) yet just normal enough to not be committed.

Frequent readers will recall my many posts on what it’s like to be a founder.  Rollercoaster is an understatement, mainly because when you get off the ride you say to yourself “wow, that was crazy fun” and then simply go back to your normal, unaffected life.  No so when you jump head first into your life as an entrepreneur.  There are scars from this journey that will take years for me to fully recover from.

With that said, we are not finished.  Strangely, I am scarred yet more excited and more prepared for future success.  A backstory will help you understand what is about to transpire from here on out.

About 7 weeks ago the Seconds team took the Super Bowl Weekend and entered Sports Hack Day, a 3-day hackathon to see who can build to coolest thing using sports oriented data.  What a weekend.  It was full of late nights, massive brainstorming and beer infested hacking.  Although we didn’t end up winning any prizes or awards, we emerged from the weekend with a kernel of a cool idea that as sports fans we just wanted to use as we went about our life.

“What if you predict – or make a call – on any stat, play or outcome of a sporting event, and in Twitter fashion simply be able to shoot it out into the social sphere telling the world you think ‘X’ will happen in this game.  If correct, your score would go up.  If wrong, it would go down.  You could then challenge friends with a simple finger swipe on your phone and then go back to watching the game.  And what if we could then determine who knew the most about sports by this running number, similar to a Klout score but for sports.”

We liked the idea so much we decided to continue to work on the concept after the weekend concluded.  I couldn’t get it out of my head and as a sports fan I wanted to use it – like really bad.  I don’t normally play fantasy sports leagues because it feels like such a commitment of time and mental energy.  But if I could simply make a few predictive calls on my mobile as to what I think will happen in the Bulls vs Knicks game tonight, and show my friend I know more about sports than he does, I’m into that.  It’s addictive.

So the 3 of us wondered what it would look like and continued to build it out.  It ended up more of an undertaking than we realized and has required many late nights over the last month.  We are now almost ready to release it to the world and see what happens.  That is all I will be saying until we announce the release very shortly, but needless to say we are interested to see what the world thinks.

As for me, I will be hired here soon and will have new daily responsibilities with another company.  Am I excited to join another company?  Yes.  Do I wish I was full time (and paid) in my own company, not having to work for someone else?  Yes indeed.  Will it just take a little more time until that happens?  For sure.  Will I give up on pursuing my creative side as an entrepreneur?  Hell no.  Do I realize my time building Seconds is pretty much the only reason I will be hired into this next position?  Yep.  It’s not lost on me all this has been worth it no matter the financial outcome or the pain associated.

Spring is in the air; no better time to emerge towards a new direction and pursue an exciting new opportunity.

Hey Facebook, Can You Please Make The News Feed This Easy To Customize?

The noise!  Ah, the noise!

Part of what is so frustrating about Facebook is how annoying and noisy the news feed can be.  I can only deal with so many baby pictures and silly posts and or how little Joey just couldn’t go to bed tonight.  Or random pictures of people I don’t know…  Somewhere, deep down somewhere in Facebook there are thoughtful posts and pictures from friends I actually want to hear from.

So I am asking Facebook to help us help ourselves to use Facebook more by giving us full control of the news feed.  I want to customize it as I wish based on characteristics of both my friends and type of posts.  I am sure they would appreciate us using Facebook more, but the number 1 complaint I hear from people is it’s just not relevant anymore.

Imagine being able to simply slide a bar to tune out those annoying over-sharers without doing the awkward unfriending or having to hide them.  What about wanting to see more posts (and pictures) of women?  Or men?  What if you could organize it more positive updates rather than see people vent and rant (which by the way doesn’t make my day any better when I read those).

My vision of it is below.  Share on Facebook and Twitter if you agree and maybe we can help make this happen sooner than later.

new feed sliders

Blood + Sweat + Tears + Code + Polish + Sales + Luck = Startup

Startups are tough…..  Here’s a simple equation to get you headed in the right direction.

Blood + Sweat + Tears + Code + Polish + Sales + Luck = Startup


Blood – Like an initiation to a gang, founders basically cut their hand and make their pledge to build a successful company.  No Blood, No Commitment.

Sweat – A massive work ethic and a JFDI attitude  will be required to break down all barriers and knock down all doors along the way.  Better bring your gloves, water bottle and a sweat towel.

Tears – You will feel pain.  You will cry.  It’s ok.  A better way to think about it is if you haven’t cried because of your startup experience you are on the road to nowhere.  Comfort doesn’t equal success.

Code – Something needs to be built and someone needs to code it.  Piecing together other services or just pulling API’s is not defensible long term.  Figure out what you – and only you – can create and then protect the IP.  Once you build the secret sauce you can outsource all other technical needs of the product.

Polish – Design is quickly becoming the great differentiator between the good, the bad and the ugly of technology.  User experience, or how the end user interfaces and understands your product, should be your number one focus.  If a user doesn’t enjoy using your product why should they tell their friend to use it?

Sales -Plain and simple, customers pay the bills.  A startup’s need for sales and marketing talent is still undervalued in today’s technical heavy Silicon Valley.  Minus a large investment, your startup will wither on the vine if no revenue is ever generated.  And if VC’s ever do invest they will want to see revenues, so either way sales and marketing are a core function of startup success.

Luck – Perhaps the most important of all is luck, which unfortunately is out of the hands of the founders.   But the saying goes “you make your own luck” so being in the right place, at the right time, in the right market, talking to the right people and releasing the right product all can be influenced by the founders.  The more chances you take the more lucky you get so get out there and get discovered.

Pretty simple stuff.

Ultimately The Tech Needs To Disappear

In this video Hosain Rahman, CEO of Jawbone talks with Kevin Rose on subjects ranging from Jawbone’s startup phase and the future of wearable technology.

About 30 mins into the conversation when referring to Up, their new wearable wristband movement tracker, Hosain mentions something about how ultimately technology just needs to disappear.  More specifically, he says people are most concerned about the look and feel of technology they are wearing over what it does for them.  Only if they feel comfortable and believe it is stylish will they then fall in love with idea of wearing it each day.

It’s a great insight into how to both build something people will WANT to use as well as something that actually WORKS.

Although we are not building wearable technology products, this is something I have been thinking more about recently.  The best technology basically disappears or is very subtle in operation in the background, allowing an person to more easily go about their life.

Think about Uber.  You click your location and put away your phone.  Then a short time later a black car arrives, you get in, they drive to your destination and then you simply get out of the car.  Payment and credit is all taken car of in the back end and out of sight of the consumer.  It’s beautiful.

This is a great conversation and you get the feeling Jawbone is going to be a major player in the coming wave of wearable technology.

Seconds Is The Fastest Mobile Payment Method Involving Dwolla Or A Credit Card

As the name suggests, Seconds is the fastest way to make a mobile payment using either Dwolla (digital cash from bank account) or a credit card.

If you are familiar with Seconds you may already know you a transaction can be completed by simply texting the merchant phone number with a keyword (that they previously set up) or any dollar amount value you wish.  With an account already created and payment credential already in place, the transaction instantly takes place securely in the cloud and you are done!

No text boxes to mess with, pinching and zooming or other hassles.

It’s that easy.  Watch this video to see just how easy Seconds payments are…

If you are walking through the mobile web experience for the first time with no previous Seconds account, you will see below we’ve made it a piece of cake to complete.

Click here if you are interested in accepting payments in Seconds >

Go to getseconds.com


Find the merchant.


Input the amount.


Complete payment with Dwolla.


Or complete payment with credit card.


It’s that easy.

Click here if you are interested in accepting payments in Seconds >

3 Reasons Why Non-Technical CEO’s Need To Go To Hackathons

SHDI am not the typical person you would find at a hackathon.  I don’t code and would be described in the industry as a “non-technical” cofounder.

As a non-technical CEO I tend to focus on things like marketing, branding, positioning, investors, and customers.  I do it because it’s my job and during the early stages of a startup no one else on the team is responsible for those things.

This is all nice and good but it doesn’t build a product.  And if you don’t have a product you can’t actually have marketing, branding, positioning, investors, and customers.

So if you are a non-technical CEO what you need is a techie bootcamp of sorts, short but intense periods of learning and doing so you can start to understand what its like to be a developer.  And trust me, if your devs don’t feel like you understand the hows and why’s of their work you will soon find yourself standing alone at the alter.

So what is a Hackathon?  It’s a room full of developers focused on building the coolest product they can in a 54 hour period.  It’s a self-inflicted bootcamp, challenging you and your team to execute on a new idea with little time, resources or sleep.

Crazy huh?

My team and I participated in the recent Sports Hack Day at the Hub over SuperBowl weekend in Seattle.  It was a great experience.  Obviously, the focus was building something oriented around technology and sports – two of my favorite topics.  While we didn’t take home any of the prizes, we did take home a kernel of an idea we think might actually be something substantial.  More on that later.

I want to review some lessons learned over the weekend and possibly help other non-techical CEO’s who are serious about building a startup realize how important the time spent at a Hackathon can be.

Lessons 1. Become part of the community

There is a strange brotherhood between technical people – developers, hackers, coders, designers – anyone who considers themselves one with the terminal.   It’s like they just have look at each other, head nod without saying anything and instantly know each is in the club.  I have to admit this was quite foreign to me as I began my entrepreneurial journey (uh, what’s that say on your screen?)   I credit the few CTO’s I have worked with for their patience and understanding with me being a non-technical person.  Yet weekends like the last one spent at a hackathon do A LOT to not only further educate me on technical aspects of software/web development but also include me into the community.

The quote “showing up is half of the battle” comes to mind here.  By simply showing up and intuitively saying to others “What’s up?  I’m right here on the front lines with you!” goes a long way to gain respect and inclusion from the community.  Also, asking questions – lots of questions – about various languages, platforms and API’s tells your fellow technical team-members you are interested in learning about their world.  THIS IS HUGE.  You will learn a lot and gain respect from them just based on the fact you are taking the time to know what’s going on.

And the coolest thing is I am actually starting to retain this stuff!

Lesson 2. Execute under pressure

A weekend is barely enough time to take an idea and deploy a working product around.  In fact, it’s not really much time at all since our code deadline was at noon Sunday and Demos started about 12:30pm.  This means you learn to make quick decisions.  There is no time to battle back and forth about a specific feature or naming structure.  You must decide and JFDI.  With less than 54 hours available, Hackathons are all about execution and swift decision making.

You know what?  Swift decision making is incredibly valuable in the real startup world as well.  Hackathons help you to become agile, testing what works and what doesn’t and quickly make corrections if needed.  This is arguably the top advantage of being a startup so being able to polish the diamond during the weekend has tremendous benefits in the long run.  Also, it can be crazy stressful as you get down to the deadline.  The team learns to work in a “crucible” where intense pressure hangs over you as people work tirelessly to get something “respectable” completed and deployed.

Hackathons are not for the faint of heart.

Lesson 3. Find the value proposition

I’ve written previously about the value of pitch competitions, so I will talk more about the process of how you get there than the actual pitch.  During the weekend as you are building out your product you still have to keep in mind what value your product brings to the world.  Remember, after the deadline you will be standing in front of the group and a field of judges describing your product and why it should be used.  There really is not much use for a product that doesn’t solve a problem or pique someones interest in one way or another.  Don’t be the guy/gal who doesn’t even understand how or why their product would be used.

So in addition to building really cool tech you are challenged to figure out the value proposition – both are required to winning a Demo competition.   The condensed timeframe places increased pressure on you to figure out what problem you are actually solving.   Quickly evaluating the market, determining if there are existing players and what problem they are solving.  Finding holes in the market and quickly determining how to meet them.  Evaluating potential business models, although not fully required during a hackath0n, will stretch the creative mind farther than anticipated and lead to interesting business developments.

The benefits can be compared to exercise:  the more ‘reps’ you accomplish at a higher stress level the better (stronger) you become at that particular activity.   Especially for non-technical founders, hackathons provide a great training ground to hone value proposition skills.

Whew, what a weekend!

For all the non-technical founder/CEO’s out there: Don’t shy away from hackathons.  Trust me, you need them more than they need you.

ZappBug Dissected: The Crazy Story About Turning Bed Bugs Into A ‘Killer’ Business

bugDid you know there are 110,000 unique searches a month on Google for “how to get rid of bed bugs”?

I didn’t either.  No one wants to talk about the fact that there’s a Bed Bug problem in our world.

No one but Cameron Wheeler, founder of ZappBug. He has no problem talking about how he can rid people of one of the worst and most traumatic infestations – Bed Bugs.

I met Cameron more than a year ago at a startup event here in Seattle and, to be honest, my first reaction when he told me what he was working on was “uh what was that again, I thought you said bed bugs!”

Turns out that’s exactly what he said.  I quickly found Cameron to be a smart dude and Bed Bugs to be a killer business.  But this story isn’t all about how to get rid of Bed Bugs (although you can find the link below).   Intrigued as an entrepreneur I wanted to learn more about how he was approaching this massive problem and how he built a physical product company in a web dominated startup world.  This is a story of how three normal guys started a product company that actually generates revenue without seeing a single bug.

Do You Have Bed Bugs?

First off, if you have the misfortune of Bed Bugs, you have to check out their solution.  ZappBug is meant to be a one-stop resource for how to get rid of bed bugs and their main products are multi-sized oven heaters to place clothing, luggage and other stuff meant to kill 100% of the bugs.  Basically, you can throw all your stuff in there and “heat em” just like a washing machine washes clothes.


They’ve also designed a set of free tutorials that gives you all of the information you need to completely get rid of bed bugs in 8 steps. You don’t need to purchase the ZappBug Oven to use these steps, although it looks like oven is an extremely clever and helpful tool in getting rid of an infestation.

Check out ZappBug.

Starting A Company

“Looking back, I never saw myself as the leader of a startup with the sole purpose of killing bed bugs” says Cameron.   In 2009 he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and entered the big world. “But my definition of failure at that time included “working for a large, impersonal behemoth so….”

So naturally, starting a company was his only logical choice.

Cameron knew startups are quite different than large behemoth companies – they are smaller, more agile and generally more fun to work at.   I chimed in and said “But they are also cash strapped!”   Being low on capital they have a harder time building businesses around physical products, which was a problem in Cameron’s case.

So the question he had to figure out was: Is there a way to apply Lean Startup principles to physical products?  Could you actually produce and sell a physical product without a huge amount of capital and actually make a profit?

Turns out…there is. And this is exactly what they are doing at ZappBug.

Solving A Big Problem – Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are a real problem and many of us know someone who has encountered them (even though your friends might not tell you).  It all started when a neighbor of one of the company’s co-founders had bed bugs and they spread through the electrical outlets into units across the building into his apartment.  [Gross.]  Having to deal with this “fun” experience searched and searched and finally found out how to get rid of the bugs.

During the initial research process they learned that there was a real need for better solutions and more information. They found out the market is huge but fragmented. Pest control companies want to come to your home and sell. Bloggers spew tons of words with little actionable advice and sellers want to throw products at you.  They realized there weren’t really any great resources or solutions in market and thus, ZappBug was born.

To Cameron the bed bug market is unique for several reasons.  First, it’s new and a surprisingly large niche.  With approximately 110k unique searches for “How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs” a month, its obvious people are continually looking for a better solution.  According to goggle, that number rose by more than 400% in 2010 – so apparently  it’s becoming an even bigger problem – and bigger opportunity!

Also, the subject is Taboo… so there’s less competition that you would see in niches of a similar size.  There are virtually no comprehensive resources online for how to deal with bed bugs from start to finish.  By helping people get rid of bed bugs in their belongings, you are also helping them save thousands of dollars.  A lot of people panic and unwillingly throw away everything they own.

This further intrigued Wheeler and his team.


After some research, they found the elusive hole in the market – no one was providing high quality products at affordable prices so they decided they would develop a physical product and sell it directly to customers.  The idea was to develop a bed bug oven that could use heat to kill bed bugs in luggage and other personal belongings, saving peoples belongings in the end. “We chose to begin with this product because we had the technical competency to do it. Heat treatment is a proven way to kill bed bugs. The product could be used for both prevention and extermination and would be a great revenue generator.”

The Challenge With Physical Products

Apparently, ZappBug is not Wheeler’s first rodeo.  “Ecowell was my first major startup, coincidentally around physical products as well” says Cameron. “We made environmentally friendly, extremely expensive, vending machines. Yes, that’s right, we made a physical sheet metal box with an electromechanical mess of PLCs, solenoids, pumps, valves, filters, and syrups.  But, of course, we ran out of cash in 2010. I learned a lot from this including the fact that cash really is king.”

Through previously failed startups, he learned the importance of applying lean principles to product development and market testing.  Also, as a product manager responsible for overseas manufacturing at Direct Global Sales, he learned how easy it was to get things made in China.  “When my cofounders and I talked about the opportunity, things began to move quickly. I soon developed a strategy for low volume overseas manufacturing and developing an MVP to bring us into the market.”  

Although the “Lean Startup” phenomenon wasn’t out yet, Cameron had intuitively learned the basic concepts of product validation and cash flow and determined to build ZappBug with those in mind.

This is why I have been so interested in Cameron’s approach to ZappBug, and why I wanted to dive deeper into the mechanics of his business.  It can be very expensive to start a company that makes physical products. Testing and manufacturing alone can require more time/money than software products. And there is the fact that each unit costs money. You need working capital up front to buy inventory. Also, you need to make enough units in each production run to meet the minimum order quantities required by factories producing your product. There is no Amazon Web Services for physical products, just Chinese factories…which are a far cry from the affordable but flexible services we are used to in web services.

But there are also advantages!

“The biggest being that people actually pay money for physical products.  I don’t know about you but I spend about $20 a week on coffee and maybe only about $20 a year on apps,” says Wheeler.

So it was obvious they had some good ideas.  But first, they needed something to manufacture.

We Need A Prototype!

The team had the idea, but they needed a prototype.  “I went to home depot and got a heater, some insulation and a storage container. Then I brought all of my nerd tools home and pulled out my Arduino. By the end of the day, I had a working prototype.”

He basically built an oven from scratch.  The goal of the simple bed bug oven was to heat items and hold them lethal temperatures for a period of time.  After a few days of testing they had a really good idea of the max size and how the product was going to operate.  “We then found a guy on craigslist who used to design clothes for Nordstrom and was willing to sew up some samples for us. After a couple of revisions and a lot of testing, we already had a design that was ready to manufacture.”

About that little issue of manufacturing…?

Producing textiles like their “insulated folding box” (aka bed bug oven) is not feasible in the U.S. because of labor costs and minimum order sizes.  Most People don’t really understand how you can go from a prototype in your garage to a factory sample and then a production run.  Cameron, remembering what he learned at his previous job, started looking for a small factory in China to make their stuff.

So how did they find one?

“We took some pictures of the prototype and sent an email to the factories! We sent out hundreds of emails to manufacturers across China and got replies from most and then just started negotiating from there.”

And before he knew it, Cameron was off to China!

Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 4.59.19 PM

Once things in China were in the works they spent some time developing the website and by June of 2012, everything was done. The product was loaded into a shipping container bound for Seattle. Before the container arrived, they rented out two storage units near the port to store the products.

Everything was ready!

The Cosco Seattle arrived with the goods on June 28, 2012. They started selling the product on Amazon immediately and sales went well.  So well they quickly sold out of the first shipment.  Needing more, they made another manufacturing run and landed their first full shipping container of product in December of 2012.  Cameron passed on the opportunity to talk specific revenue numbers but he did mention they are driving margins “double the wholesale average” and their sales are solid and growing with the latest (and larger) run of heaters.

Lessons Learned

Major lesson # 1: “Chinese manufacturers have a much different concept of what “next week” means.  We had a lot of difficulty getting samples and product out of factories in a timely manner.  Next time I will press harder and be less friendly.  Those guys are tough and everything is a negotiation.  You cannot let your guard down.”

Major Lesson #2: “Get it right the first time.  We had to go though several prototype iterations with the factory. Each one took about a month and it was a painful process.  But we could not afford to do a manufacturing run on a product that we couldn’t sell.  Looking back, this process would have been a lot smoother if we had spent more time perfecting the design ‘state side’ where the iterations would have taken less time.”  

Author’s Lesson:  Cameron is solving a big problem and thus has a nice growing revenue curve to support his business.  With ZappBug, people simply search and find a solution to a nasty problem.  And not too mention, when people have a pressing issue they will not hesitate to spend money on an easy to find solution.  Huge lesson for entrepreneurs out there – solve an urgent problem for people and money will follow.

What’s Next?

ZappBug now has a validated product and the cash to design much more sophisticated products. It’s open road ahead.  “Our goal is to be a one-stop resource to help people get rid of bed bugs.  Anyone coming to our site will find free informational videos and tutorials as well as products that will help them get rid of bed bugs.”  Already, they are looking ahead to larger and more value generating products.  The next will be called The ZappBug Room and will be large enough for a couch or a mattress meant for professionals and consumers.

“I really don’t think this could have been possible just a few years ago” notes Cameron.  Using (mostly free) tools from the modern world allowed a small team in Seattle to quickly build an international operation with very little capital.  “We used google translate, craigslist, wordpress, amazon.com, Alibaba and several other amazing resources.  At the end of the day, our lean approach to ZappBug allowed three normal guys to start a company that now generates enough revenue to pay each of us and grow the company.”

Who knew Bed Bugs could be such a killer business?

It Just Got Even Easier To Find Talent At SURF Incubator

logo_104x60One of the most common challenges for early stage startups is finding talented and willing people to join your startup.   In the early stages, finding the right developer can be the difference between success and failure for a young startup.

Today, SURF Incubator announced how they are addressing the recruiting challenges of its tenant companies by partnering with local recruiting agency Capability IT.  With an intellectual partner like Capability IT, startup entrepreneurs are empowered with intellectual resources and a robust network to find culturally and technically capable employees, enabling them to more quickly secure talent and get back to work.

Although the Puget Sound region has proved itself to be home to a world-class high-tech workforce over the last few years, with several companies either opening Seattle engineering offices or expanding their engineering departments, it still remains a tough hiring environment for early stage startups.  Especially since the competition can promise an immediately rewarding salary with large signing bonuses, full benefits and various amenities like a famous executive chef at Google.  But through a partnership with Capability IT, SURF startups will receive greater access to a network of developers and potential growth opportunities, making their lives a bit more pleasant in the process.

Over the past year, Capability IT has made solid traction in the tech community, by adding superior talent to a number of Seattle based startups.  Not only does Capability IT provide more access to developers, they can also help startup entrepreneurs identify and secure contract assignments. It is quite common for entrepreneurs to take on technical consulting projects while their startup gains traction, enabling entrepreneurs better cash flow and sometimes even finance their startup. Because Capability IT works with companies ranging from early-stage startups to publicly traded companies, they are able to efficiently source opportunities for fledging entrepreneurs.

Being a SURF tenant startup founder myself, I can validate how important this move is for all the startups within the SURF Incubator community.  During the early prefunding stage of a startup, founders have little more than their dream to pitch to prospective early talent.   We also have limited time and energy to somehow go and find this talent., which requires scouring online profile databases, attending local meetups and events, searching through our own networks or simply asking around.

At times those can work, but where I see Capability IT really helping is farther up the funnel, providing founders with a larger pool of applicants/names to sort through.  Even though we might still be looking for a needle in a haystack, Capability IT will give early stage startups more haystacks to look through and in the end helping us find better talent to join our teams.  In this way, Capability IT’s partnership with SURF Incubator is just one part of SURF’s mission to be a community-supported space for digital startups.

SURF will be celebrating this announcement with a happy hour event, including beer and wine as well as a few startup pitches from resident companies.  Everyone is welcome to attend, if you are interested – RSVP here.

Launch Event – When & Where

Thursday, January 24th, 2013 from 5:00 – 8:00pm PST

Exchange Building – 821 2nd Ave, Suite 800

5:00 – 6:00pm          Hosted wine and beer

6:00 – 6:15pm          Partnership announcement

6:15 – 7:00pm          Startup demos

7:00 – 8:00pm          Entrepreneur conversations


The Stubborn, In Search Of An Open Mind

Why do we do the same things each day?

Why do we think about things in a certain way, taking certain stances and dismissing others?

I became aware of my open/closed mind recently as I ponder my own situation and life direction.  For a stubborn founder type it can be difficult to not look at things with a very narrow mind, only focusing on the business at hand.  And even then, with all the talk about laser focus and “being great at one thing”, one can quickly fall into a dangerously narrow view of the world.

Please pardon my philosophical and existential tonality.   The day, given its early in the new year, is met with a renewed sense of observation and analysis of my current thoughts and actions – both personally and professionally.  I think it’s healthy to frequently step back and evaluate your thoughts, feelings, words, actions and directions in life.  I, too often and probably like you, stay narrowly focused on what is two feet in front of me.  And I am starting to realize its to my loss.


The danger of a narrowly focused individual can be staleness of perspective and a stagnation of progress.  If we are not careful, what we call “the daily grind” will actually do just that – grind away and remove the excess layers.  The problem lies in what layers are ultimately removed.   Remove layers that provide a fresh view of the world and we become intrenched in sameness, staleness, and stagnant environment, with no regard to anything different.  Not to get too off subject but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this type of viewpoint has a large affect in racism, religious dogma and other societal problems.

To get around the trap is to first realize you might be narrow minded.  You can do this by consciously observing how you go about each day, each month and each year.

Do you mostly frequent the same places?  Same coffee shops, restaurants, theaters, stores, parks, roads, cities, etc..?

When was your last big vacation?  Where did you go?

What are you currently reading?  Fiction or non-fiction?  What about movies and art?

When was the last time you simply pulled up YouTube and found a talk given on a subject you knew nothing about, so you could be introduced to it and possible start a new study?

Who have you spent the majority of your time with lately?  How many different people have you spent time with talking and experiencing life?

Do you venture out on weekdays and weeknights?  Or do you normally stay in?  Why?

How many different cities and communities have you lived in over the course of your adult life?

If the number is quite low… over an extended period of time… for one or more of those questions you may be embracing a narrow minded perspective in life.

Is that such a bad thing?  No, I don’t think so.  But I do think a narrow minded stance hinders ones ability to fully experience the world, as well as discover unique insights one would otherwise discover.

It is both these – to experience life and discover insights – I am yearning for right now.  For some time now I have sensed my life narrowing into a frustratingly tight viewpoint and I am now looking to do something about it.  I want new perspectives on my current business.   I want new insights for future business opportunities.  I want a refreshing new take on the world and how technology can improve it. I want new perspectives on where to live.

I want, for lack of a better term, a more exotic life.

I am not sure where these thoughts are coming from.  I don’t exactly know why but for the first time in my life I am sensing we just recently crossed over the technological threshold and maybe this is how I am responding to it.  Technology, mobile devices and their apps, constant connectivity and the like… is now mainstream and something we all must have.  It’s no lie when most people in our society believe being without their mobile device feels like they are naked.  That’s quite startling.  Before, it was early adopters with these gadgets and ideas for new uses.  But now, it’s everywhere you look and go.

This is both exciting and frightening.

Maybe I am overly aware of societal changes and the feeling things are continually speeding out of my control.  This is worrisome to me.  Part of the worry is in the irony that even though we have access to more information than ever it seems we tend to stay within our comfort zones of products, people, places, reading material and thoughts.

So I am making a conscious intent to open my mind.  I want to look at things with a different lens, seek out new people and new places in the world, accept different stances on things I wouldn’t normally accept.  I also want to do more things WITHOUT the entire focus on my handheld mobile device.

I am going to do this because I believe it will make me a better person.  I also think it will put me and the company I lead in better place, and to hopefully bring something materially better to the world.

Watch How Easy It Is To Give In Support Of Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts

Here’s a video showing how easy it is to participate in GIVENATION and use Seconds to give to IRD in support of Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.  Although he’s paying rent and booking a hotel room, your payment experience will be just the same.

It actually takes longer and it’s more difficult to stand in line and order a latte at Starbucks.  Today, hold the latte and give to those who need it.

Text dollar amount to 202-999-3736


go to getseconds.com/givenation

Seconds Announces GIVENATION, A Nationwide Challenge For Sandy Relief

Today, Seconds is excited to announce GIVENATION, a nationwide competition during the holiday season challenging you and your state to give whatever you can to help with the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort.

We thought it would be encouraging to establish a friendly competition between states to determine “the most giving state” based on amount of dollars contributed using Seconds during this year’s holiday season.

Seconds is also excited to announce a partnership with International Relief and Development (IRD) on the nationwide campaign to raise funds for Hurricane Sandy relief.

As families shop for gifts during this holiday season, it is important to remember that our neighbors in New Jersey and New York are still in need. GIVENATION encourages people to give what they can. Even $5 or $10 can help rebuild a home or provide a winter coat or blanket for someone in need. Imagine what millions of Americans can accomplish by giving up one holiday latte and gifting that amount to help others.

The funds collected through this challenge go directly to IRD, a global non-profit that has distributed $3.5 billion toward disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, and development programs since 1998. Funds raised for Sandy relief will support IRD’s immediate disaster recovery efforts. IRD is working in association with FEMA, the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD), and several local organizations to supply water, blankets, winter coats and clothes, cleaning supplies, hygiene kits, and other items to individuals in New Jersey and New York. This is just the first step toward a long-term recovery and rebuilding plan for the region.

To donate—and represent your state’s support for Sandy relief—go to getseconds.com/givenation, where you can make a donation in any amount you wish. You can also text your donation dollar amount to the phone number (202) 999-3736. For example, texting “5” will instantly send back a link where you can quickly complete a $5 payment using a credit card or bank account.

Seconds will be mapping the competition results in real-time starting November 3 and continuing through December 31. Visit IRD’s Facebook page at facebook.com/irdvoices to download and share the “I Gave” and “Did You Give?” images. And learn more about the GIVENATION campaign at getseconds.com/givenation.

For more information on IRD, visit www.ird.org, and visit the IRD Voices blog to read first-hand accounts from IRD staff in the field.

Full press release below image:

Seconds and IRD Launch GIVENATION, A Holiday Challenge For Sandy Relief

Which state will give the most to help the recovery efforts of Hurricane Sandy?

SEATTLE, WA – November 16th, 2012 – Seconds, the company enabling quick payments using mobile devices, is announcing GIVENATION, a holiday campaign encouraging the nation to get further involved with the Sandy recovery effort.

Hurricane Sandy recently caused billions of dollars in damage, destroying cities and displacing millions of people. People may have already given via The American Red Cross or other relief campaigns but there are still a lot of people who are in need and Seconds believes much more can be done.

Today, Seconds is announcing GIVENATION, a nationwide competition during the holiday season challenging you and your state to give whatever you can to help with the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort. “We thought it would be encouraging to establish a friendly competition between states to determine “the most giving state” based on amount of dollars contributed using Seconds during this year’s holiday season,” says Seconds CEO Nick Hughes.

So as people are buying toys, clothes, electronics and other items for family and friends this holiday season, they are urged to not forget about a nation in need. People are encouraged to give what they can – even $5 or $10 – and help rebuild their country. Imagine what millions of Americans can accomplish by simply giving up one holiday latte and gifting that amount to help others in need.

The funds collected go directly to International Relief and Development (IRD.org) a global non- profit which has distributed $3.5 billion towards disaster relief, and will be put towards immediate disaster recovery efforts. IRD is working in association with FEMA to supply water, blankets, winter coats and clothes, cleaning supplies, hygiene kits, and diapers in addition to other important recovery efforts.

To donate, go to at http://getseconds.com/givenation where you will see the map and a donation box to enter any amount you wish. Mobile users can also simply text a numeric dollar amount to the phone number (202) 999-3736. For example, texting “5” will instantly send back a link to quickly complete a $5 payment using a credit card or bank account via payment partner Dwolla.

“While we hope and pray for the full recovery of those affected by Hurricane Sandy, we are excited to partner with IRD in encouraging the entire nation to give any amount they can during the holiday season to help with the disaster recovery,” says Hughes.

Seconds will be mapping the competition results in real-time starting Nov. 16th and proceeding through Dec 31st, 2012.

About Seconds

Seconds enables any device holder to send or accept payments, whether through the web, mobile web or a quick text message. They believe the payment experience should be as quick, simple and intuitive as sending a text message. Founded during the fall of 2011 in Seattle, the original idea was to enhance mobile ordering and commerce for small local businesses. After pilot tests proved both merchants and customers just want the payment experience to be completed as fast and easy as possible, they decided to only focus on the mobile payment experience. They have a vision of any individual being able to interact and transact with any merchant in the world, holding any device they wish. Currently they hold office space in the recently opened SURF Incubator in downtown Seattle. 

A Mobile First Mentality

Fred Wilson has written extensively on designing for mobile first, desktop second.  I couldn’t agree more and that is exactly what we are doing at Seconds.

When looking at our initial user interface design of both the mobile view and the web view, one will see quite a few similarities.  This is not by accident, this is because we start with the mobile view first.  We first ask ourselves which mode most people will use our service, mobile or desktop? Given the fact Seconds is a payments platform oriented around mobile devices, mobile takes highest priority.

Also, the fact that more smartphones are shipping than feature phones and the estimation by 2017 is the majority of web traffic will come from mobile, we feel designing for mobile first is a safe bet.

Finally, it’s such a pain to view a website on a mobile device only to have to pinch and zoom to even read the content and click the desired button.  We feel it’s better to design for the smallest screen and allow the larger screens to pull the content/visuals out.  It’s the reverse perspective of the pinch and zoom experience you mostly see today.

So, if take a look at our desktop web presence you will see pretty much the same information and visuals, just aligned slightly differently since there’s quite a bit more real estate.

How did we do this?  Did we use a different service to create a “mobile optimized website” to augment our desktop website?  One with drop down menus and a very different look and feel to it?  Nope.  I don’t believe this is the right approach.   Unfortunately, farming out your mobile experience to a third party white-labeled service removes your branding and familiarity of your product.   (For example, view this blog article on a mobile device vs the web and you will see what I mean.)  You can refer to this mentality as desktop first, mobile second because you are not allowing the mobile device constraints drive overall user interface design.

Without sounding too redundant, why would you focus on desktop first when as a society we are clearly spending more and more time on mobile devices?

So how do we go about it?  As stated above, we have a mobile first mentality.  We design all Seconds experiences mobile first and then scale up to desktop.  You can see this in play when you access Seconds on a desktop browser.  (Try resizing your browser and shrink the width of the page.  It’s responsive.)  If anything, one might initially feel there is something lacking in the desktop view.  You might think maybe there’s not enough imagery or things to look at… yet is that really the reason to go to Seconds?

You know what, we don’t care.  We know people aren’t coming to Seconds to view pictures, to browse friends’ profiles or to see anything else.  What we care about is that the primary functions of the system, which is to complete a transaction as quickly as possible.  This is paramount.  We measure user experience in mere clicks and finger swipes and most times the more visually stimulating the design, the more clicks/swipes to complete the desired experience.  Those extra steps, in the end, often result in a lost transaction.  Just ask PayPal.

Our mobile first mentality allows the design and UI constraints of the smaller mobile screen to aide us in development of Seconds.  Why?  They help us sift out all the unnecessary and focus on the essentials.

Brevity is always refreshing.  Clean and clear is more compelling than busy and confusing.  Adding things when it seems right is always easier than trying to determine what to remove from the 100 options that could be the problem.

What Is GIVENATION? Would You Give A #@$%?


Hurricane Sandy recently caused billions of dollars in damage, destroying cities and displacing millions of people. What if GIVENATION was a holiday challenge to give whatever you can, helping with the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort?


What if we established a friendly competition between states to determine “the most giving state” based on amount of dollars contributed during this year’s holiday season?

What if Seconds just partnered with one of the largest global non-profits focusing on disaster relief around the world?

What if, as you are buying toys, clothes, electronics and other items as presents for family and friends this holiday,  you didn’t forget to give a gift to a nation in need?

What if we announce something big this Friday, November 16th 2012?

What if GIVENATION was real?  Would you give?


Seconds Was Just Chosen For Another Nationwide Mobile Donation Campaign

We will be announcing the partnership with a global non-profit and the roll out of a national campaign for donations towards a recent disaster to our county.  More to come….

In the meantime, try Seconds out and give to the Capitol Christmas tree to support forest restoration.