Founders RAW Is Looking For A Seattle Based Videographer

We are gearing up for a new season of Founders RAW and I’m looking for a new videographer.

This individual needs to be local in the Seattle area and familiar with both recording, post production and slicing of longer videos into short clips.  You can get an idea of how we shoot Founder RAW by viewing of our previous videos here, as well as the video below.  If you are interested, or know of someone who might be interested in being a part of a fun team producing great entrepreneurial focused videos, please reach out to me asap.

  • Part time position, estimated 10-20 hours per week
  • Portfolio and previous video production experience strongly recommended
  • Compensation depends on experience as well as project sponsorship status
  • Establish yourself as an experienced video professional within the tech industry
  • Opportunity to meet well established CEO’s and founders of tech startups who possibly have other video needs

A Few Thoughts On Friendship, Authenticity And Creating Awesome Experiences

A few months ago my friend Kyle announced he was moving himself and his company to Las Vegas.  It was a sad day for us here in Seattle – since we were losing a staple of the Seattle startup community – but he received a huge outpouring of support for his decision and ultimately made the move down in September.

Kyle recently sent out a message saying he was going to be in town this weekend and was planning a brunch gathering, and of course I jumped right on it.  It was great.  Here we are as a group…

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Although I could write much more on this topic, I want to touch on what I have observed (learned) from Kyle and his approach with the people in his life.

Friendship

Friendship is not simply treating people the way you would want to be treated, it’s also being genuinely interested in them and present when you are around them. Kyle does an amazing job of treating each and everyone in his life with authenticity and respect.  It isn’t fake or half-hearted.  He is genuinely interested in you, your life, your company and the people you are sharing your life with.  I admire this about Kyle and actively try to live this way in my life as well.

Do yourself and your friends a favor and treat them with the love and respect you would wish to be treated, and genuinely work towards being present when with them.

Awesome Experiences 

Creating awesome experiences is Kyle’s Modus Operandi.  He isn’t just concerned with seeing you, he’s all about experiencing life WITH you.  Earlier this year, Kyle started sending emails to a large group of his friends simply stating “Brunch this Sunday at such-and-such diner, first 12 that respond get a seat!”  How cool is that?   Things as simple as organizing a group brunch on a Sunday takes an average drizzly November Sunday morning and creates long-lasting memories for everyone involved.

Do yourself and your friends a favor and start creating unique experiences to share with others.  It’s better than sitting on a sofa by yourself!

Rose Colored Lenses

If you follow Kyle on any social media, you will see he has an incredible eye for photography and uses a lens to capture life’s beauty to share with his network of friends.  I admire this quality and talent since I am not the most creative and talented in the world of visual art.  But what I can do is start to view the world like Kyle does, keenly observing its uniqueness and beauty from every angle imaginable.  Ya know, it’s kind of our generations “stop and smell the roses” perspective, except the difference is today we pretty much don’t ever stop for anything anymore, and just snap it and send it off to our friends without blinking an eye.  Kyle’s approach is a lot more meaningful, introspective and thought provoking.  I like that.

Do yourself and your friends a favor by taking a breath, looking at the world’s details from a slightly different viewpoint, and fully appreciate its beauty.

Sometimes it takes a good friend visiting from out of town to remind you how to (better) live your life each day.

Founders RAW: Here’s What A Good Founder Looks Like To An Investor

In one of my latest Founders RAW conversations I sat down with Seattle VC and managing partner of Seapoint Ventures Tom Huseby to talk about entrepreneurship, investing, patents, and what he looks for in founders he might potentially invest in.

This clip encompasses what he considers a “good” founder – most important is the fact that it’s all about the relationship and the connection/alignment between entrepreneur and investor.

Watch more Founders RAW clips here >

 

 

Who Makes Seattle? We Make Seattle.

A cool new project about the Seattle creative community hit Kickstarter recently.  It’s called We Make Seattle.

Given the fact I am an entrepreneur, founder of a Seattle startup and now founder of a site that helps other founders tell their  startup stories, I am very excited to see something like this come out of our community.  Seattle needs more exposure to put to rest the “Seattle vs Silicon Valley” arguments.  We are not SV and never will be; we are Seattle.   We are unique, different, but also a land of huge opportunity.  Films like this allow us to tell our stories to the world and show them we know a thing or two about creating great products and companies.

They are more than half way to their goal of raising $28,500 to get this thing in production, so go on and help them achieve their goal!  Below is more about the short film.

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This short film is a celebration of what makes Seattle the best place in the world for entrepreneurs and creatives to live. It tells the story of the vibrant and supportive community we have for starting companies, betting on dreams, and chasing big ideas.

Despite being named the #1 tech city in America by The Atlantic, and consistent top rankings on the list of the world’s most livable city, we’re frequently overlooked as the place to go for people with big talents and ideas. This film will change that.

The film has three goals:

1. Celebrate the creative community.  We have all personally benefited from the Seattle community, and the film will be a reflection back to the community itself on how many amazing companies, events, and projects are based here. In our daily lives we rarely step back to see the entire city, and We Make Seattle will inspire by telling the story of how many great things happen around us.

2. Help recruiters and entrepreneurs attract talent. NYC, LA and even Portland have produced short videos to help local companies tell the story of their city. Seattle has no such film, until now. The film will be the perfect one link to send to convince ambitious creatives, potential business partners, or top candidates from around the world to bring their passions to the northwest.

3. Have the community tell its own story. Everything about this project is built by the Seattle community itself, and led by well known leaders who have benefited from our creative city and want to give something back. We’ll be inviting people to contribute in various ways throughout the production of the film.

All funds beyond our budget will be used to promote the video, as PR and reaching a wide audience is as important as the video itself.

What It’s Like Inside SURF Incubator After A “Wild And Unforgettable” Year

Screen Shot 2013-02-24 at 6.52.04 PMIt’s 4:45pm on a cold and wet Thursday afternoon in downtown Seattle. Perplexed and a bit agitated as I walk down 2nd Avenue , I find myself rushing back to the office like I’m late for an important meeting. Being February – still cold and rainy in Seattle – it’s not a good day to be trekking back across a PNW city. In fact, it’s blistering cold. You know those days where it’s a wind-whipping-your-face type of evening, making your walk that much worse. A better idea would be to stop and wait inside a warm building for a cab or grab an Uber.

But I don’t care! It’s happy hour at 5pm at SURF and I ain’t missin’ out!

Over the past few weeks, I have been reflecting on my last 12 months and I cannot talk about the year without mentioning SURF. SURF Incubator opened their first full time location in Seattle almost a year ago and Seconds had the opportunity to be a tenant pretty much from the day they officially opened.

I wanted to take a moment and review the last year with SURF Incubator, what they are about and what they are looking to do next, because I believe it’s one of the best things to happen to Seattle’s tech scene in quite a while and you should probably hear it right from the source.

To begin with I must admit I wouldn’t be here today – not only writing this but as a startup – if it weren’t for SURF Incubator and the support of the two individuals running the show, Seaton Gras and Neil Bergquist. If only to speak for the larger group, I feel the support, encouragement and the SURF community is truly a blessing for an early stage startup still trying to find its way.

Seconds could easily be the prototypical startup Seaton loosely refers to when he describes SURF and its story of survival, evolution and filling a need for early stage startups.

According the Seaton:

“For three years, prior to being in the Exchange Building, I ran SURF Incubator at numerous locations – including Regus, friends’ offices, FiberCloud, restaurants, coffee shops and even my condo’s meeting room. It was a wonderful time to experiment with different ‘products’ from consulting and meetings to networking and roundtable discussions.”

“The sad thing was that I did not have enough square footage to offer any long-term working space for my members. Even so, the membership in my two Meetup groups continued to grow and was more than 1,000 strong when I began looking in earnest for a permanent large space to call home and fulfill the bigger vision that I had for SURF Incubator.”

For those who aren’t familiar with SURF, it provides office space for tech-oriented startups so they don’t have to work out of their homes or in random coffee shops around Seattle. They host events, organize meetups, partner with local service providers (legal, recruiting, etc…) and help young fledging startups with the nuances of getting out of the gate on the right foot.

Maui Huge Wave

Realizing SURF needed a permanent home, Seaton secured office space in the Exchange building in Downtown Seattle and officially opened their doors in April 2012. “Now, with the new location at the Exchange Building with more than 15,000 square feet, we have been able to create and/or host some amazing events. Having a permanent location has really helped SURF Incubator do much more. We have also been able to host some wonderful happy hour events as well as some fantastic networking parties and meetups.”

Four years into their journey and almost a year into their permanent residence (and seeing it first hand) I can say Seaton and Neil have pulled it off. I am quite impressed and it’s only the beginning. Walk down to any coffee shop or talk to entrepreneurs at various events and their ears perk up when you mention you are a SURF startup. It is obvious SURF has exceeded expectations of both their tenants as well as the greater Seattle startup community.

But more waves are forming on the horizon.

SURF just announced their biggest deal to date, and in my opinion have just set in motion a chain of events no one inside SURF could have predicted. The newly announced B2B accelerator 9Mile Labs will be taking residence inside SURF and holding their 3-month program in SURF’s office space.

This is great news and you can literally feel the change taking hold inside SURF. It’s like we just dipped down on the rollercoaster and are now speeding up the other side.

According to Gras, 9Mile Labs was attractive for a few major reasons. First, they are unique because they are focusing on Business-to-Business startups and are offering follow-on support. “Their program was of particular interest to me because they offer more than just a 3-month program. Three months, in my opinion, is not enough time to really gain adequate traction and in the B2B space, this is even more of an issue. So, I think it is wonderful that 9Mile Labs is looking at 3-months to Demo Day, followed by 3 months of continued support.”

And although 9Mile Labs is a newly formed accelerator, they have already gathered amazing traction and a strong board of mentors. The long list of high-quality mentors is very impressive and will positively impact 9Mile startups as well as the larger SURF community. “These mentors offer a vast amount of experience and since experience can make all the difference for a startup, it’s a great opportunity for the chosen group of 9 startups,” Gras added.

Very true: with experienced professionals by your side startup founders are much less likely to make fatal mistakes.

The 9Mile Labs deal cannot be understated. For a fairly new incubator space still in its infancy, SURF just further solidified its place in the larger Seattle tech ecosystem. In addition, by partnering with an “accelerator” program SURF now expands the opportunities it can offer early-stage entrepreneurs.

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Every day is unique at SURF. With the diverse companies inviting friends, families, customers and advisers to take a tour, we have always a different mix of people. The companies run the full gambit from medical and educational to gaming and cloud services (and payments!) and any given day you will find yourself in a conversation with someone who can teach you about a new industry or business model.

In addition to local visitors, people from more than 30 countries have stopped by for a tour.

This is especially interesting for Seaton, since he spent so many years traveling around the world. “For me, it is such a pleasure to get to meet these wonderful entrepreneurs, get to learn about their plans and see their vision unfold. And sometimes, I get to ‘lend a hand’ by sharing my own perspective, which was learned the hard way … my own struggles with building my businesses,” said Seaton.

According to Neil Bergquist, the year has been “Wild, it’s nothing what I expected but has become everything I wanted it to be!” He also added it has been a huge learning experience for not only him but also the entire SURF management team.

To say the last 12 months have been wild is an understatement. My take is it’s quite possibly the best place to plant yourself as an early-stage founder in Seattle looking to soak up startup knowledge and wisdom. You could meet possible cofounders like I did, engage in numerous happy hours and gatherings, learn from various service professionals and continuously meet interesting people. All those are important, especially when you are just getting out of the gate.

“During the last 12-months, we have held about 200 events. Topics covered included two main areas: Business Development and Programming. For the business development, we had professionals present detailed informative sessions on marketing, corporate formation, intellectual property, employment issues, graphic art, go-to-market strategy and much more. For the Programming side, we held meetings where programming languages were discussed and demonstrated. For example, Ruby on Rails, PHP, MySql, Scala, Android, HTML5, XCode and Windows8.”

So what’s next for SURF?

Neil mentioned expansion is on the horizon but the need to operationalize (which comes with growth) is paramount. They will soon be adding a complex educational program for members – both in programming and business development. Seaton strongly believes programmers need to constantly learn about the new features of their particular programming language and hopes the education can be supported by a grant.  “These languages are very dynamic with new features added almost every day. Without vigilant study, a programmer may actually go backwards and may ultimately ship an obsolete project. I know this … because it has happened to me.”

He’s totally right. No matter how seasoned an entrepreneur may be there is always a need to learn the latest perspectives. For example, Twitter and other social media tools have forever changed the way businesses promote their products, services and even their existence. We all, regardless of age or experience, need continual education on how to leverage the latest technical advancements.

I can tell you 12 months ago I had no idea I would be sitting here thanking these two individuals for not only opening their doors for me and my team but changing the Seattle startup landscape in the process. It’s amazing what they have accomplished in such a short period of time and I can only imagine what this next year will bring.

I know one thing for sure – those typical “two guys in a coffee shop”, even though they are working dutifully, are definitely making a mistake.

Lift Off… In Just A Few Seconds

…6… 5….4….3…2…1…

WE HAVE LIFT OFF.

This is exactly what I am feeling right now as we prepare for our latest release.  And it’s a huge release.  In fact, it’s a company defining release and will launch us into brand new territory.  It involves a Seconds launch event Friday night in Seattle, with hundreds in attendance.  It involves national press coverage.  It has involved weeks of (almost) all-nighters from the team – blood, sweat and tears.

It, by all regards, has been the most challenging but exciting time of each one of our lives.

It also involves a hell of a lot of dev work on the product.  We basically rebuilt Seconds from the ground up, keeping what worked and threw away the unnecessary.  At the time, I didn’t think we could make a more streamlined payment experience, but we did!  This could be taken as blasphemy, but the Seconds payment experience is unlike any other.

If you are are a frequent reader you know we have experienced growth each and every month yet we were struggling to onboard new customers/find the right market.  Based on that situation, during this summer we decided it was time to expand what was working and remove what wasn’t.

If it’s on or after Sep 28th, check Seconds out now!

Here’s a run down of our changes.

1.  We stripped away much of the old merchant experience, it was too clunky and confusing and have drastically redesigned the experience from the ground up.  Seconds is truly a new age payment system, built mobile first. 

2.  We realized the payment experience must be available to everyone (device agnostic), available and functional anywhere the consumer finds themself (proximity agnostic) and merge together communication and transaction for a quick but complete commerce experience.

3.  We created a clean interface for both individual and merchant accounts, easily usable and quicker to complete a task.  The product is even leaner than before and in my opinion, way more potent.

4.  The Seconds experience starts with a simple search bar asking you “who do you want to pay?”  You can make payments by searching name, email, twitter @username, phone number and possibly location, if they are not in our system there will be an option to send a quick invite.  If you find them, you then enter an amount and click pay.  That’s it.  The new interface is an interesting direction we are leaning towards…. The merging of Search and Payments.  It’ll be exciting to see how this will be used and where it will go from here, especially with merchant’s ability to create keywords. ☺

5.  We reimagined what “accepting payments” meant, and have now placed the opportunity one click away from a general Seconds user.  Basically, anyone can instantly upgrade to a “merchant account” if they want.  The cool thing is merchants are users by default, so they can make payments as well as accept them.

6.  We split payment acceptance in two options: a web only account (people are only able to make payments to that account via the web) and a text enabled account (involving both the web and messages sent via text/keyword based payments).  Web only is free.  Text enabled is $5 per month.  All merchants are charged $.50 per transaction through Seconds.  We believe the free monthly option will be a big winner and help increase merchant account creation.

7.  Creating a merchant account and accepting credit card payments can happen in just a few minutes – all on a mobile device if necessary.  It’s truly an amazing experience.  This was not the case just a week or so ago – a recent discovery of a new payments partner is going to open doors previously unimaginable.

8.  Based on these changes our margins are becoming even more awesome.  We enhanced how we are facilitating credit card payments and digital cash payments to create not only a better merchant onboarding but a better overall business.  This is huge and will allow for a nice cashflow in the short term as we get going.

9.  We have decided to focus Seconds on the college/University/Greeklife student market.  We have been told over and over how desperate they are for a sleek payment system where mobile users can quickly make a payment on the fly when they need to.  There is also strong interest in non-profits and donation collections for the same experience.  These two markets have one big thing in common: the payment is the product, in the sense there’s typically no physical product to be served.  This is where we’ll start and should get some strong growth from there.

Below is just a few of the events on our calendar:

Sep 28th – Media Launch of new Seconds payment system

There will be solid media coverage of the launch of our new system.  Sky’s the limit.

Sep 28th – Startup Crawl Fights Poverty

I have organized an event for the startup Seattle community and which will double as a launch party.  It will be a great night, should grab some exposure for Seconds and you are definitely invited if you are in Seattle.   https://soentrepreneurial.com/2012/09/18/the-seattle-startup-crawl-fights-poverty-september-28th-at-5pm-rsvp-now/.

Oct 1st – 3rd. – DEMO Conference

We will be down in SF for the DEMO conference, the trip we won during the SURF Incubator pitch competition.  It will be fun and we’ll be working on meetings and connecting with people there.  If you are in SF, please connect with me.  @jnickhughes.

Oct 16th – 18th –  TwilioCon

Twilio (the platform we use for communications) has invited Seconds to be a part of the event, one of a select group of startups to demo/highlighted during the event.  TwilioCon will be an awesome time for Seconds to get some solid attention from other startups, users, investors and media.

Soon – Dwolla partnernership

Dwolla will be making some big announcements and they have asked us to be associated with the event.  More on this soon!

The Seattle Startup Crawl Fights Poverty, September 28th at 5pm. RSVP NOW!

Hey Seattle, it’s that time again!

Here’s your chance to mix Seattle startup life, a little food and drink with an opportunity to help fight developing world poverty. This year’s Startup Crawl has partnered with local non-profit startup Vittana in support of their vision to break the cycle of poverty by facilitating micro-loans to students in developing countries.  Host venues will graciously provide alcohol (and non-alcoholic) drinks as well as tasty snacks and a damn good time for us attendees.  All I ask: How much good can we do in one night as a Seattle startup community?

In lieu of an entry fee we ask you choose to donate any amount you feel appropriate should you decide to have any food or drink.  Even a $25 donation can go a long way!  You may do this upon registration or during the event with Seconds, our local Seattle startup providing mobile payments.  ALL PROCEEDS FROM THE NIGHT WILL GO TO VITTANA.

The event will be in the form of a progressive party, with each host providing their choice of snack/beverages.  We will start at approximately 5pm with SEOmoz as the first host venue.  After an hour or so the group will move on to HasOffers and finishing out the night at Vittana.   Thanks in advance to our host startups, it should be one heckofa night and a great opportunity to check out your digs!

Note: last year this event sold out so you better jump on the train now!

RSVP HERE.

Date: Friday, September 28th

Time: 5pm and later

Cost: Free entry, but we encourage donations if you want to drink 🙂

Stop 1: SEOmoz – 5pm

119 Pine St., Suite 400
Seattle, WA 98101

Stop 2: HasOffers – 6pm

2220 WESTERN AVE
SEATTLE, WA 98121

Stop 3: Vittana – 7:30pm

617 Eastlake Avenue #203
Seattle, WA 98109