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…



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 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.

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 12.12.17 PM

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.


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…


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.

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!


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


Stop 3: Vittana – 7:30pm

617 Eastlake Avenue #203
Seattle, WA 98109

Café SURF: How A Startup Incubator Turned Tech Hangout In Less Than A Year

The Seattle startup scene just gets better by the day.  One of the coolest things to come out of Seattle this year has to be SURF Incubator, which opened in April and is now home to more than 40 startups.

Yes, there are other startup spots in Seattle (ones where I have thoroughly enjoyed spending my time), but the progress SURF has made in less than a year is staggering.  Over the last five months they have grown from just a glitter of an idea into a strong argument for the tech startup epicenter of Seattle.

Not a week goes by where something’s not happening in their massive office space.  They’ve thrown a raging launch party, hosted entrepreneurs from 23 countries, facilitated a number of members to join forces and become cofounders, hosted various meet-ups and weekly tech gatherings, and let’s not forget the frequent and tasty happy hours!

Community-supported space for digital startups

SURF is dedicated to advancing the ideas and passions of technology-focused entrepreneurs.

I believe the vision of SURF founder Seaton Gras and Director Neil Bergquist for a better startup experience is the main reason SURF is seeing such awesome adoption.  That, and the fact that paying an arm and a leg for office space is pretty much a non-starter for most early stage startups.

Entrepreneurs around the world can be more productive when they collaborate and have access to a broad network of business and technical resources. Working at home or in a coffee shop makes it difficult to gain exposure to fellow subject matter experts. It’s also hard to maintain momentum or gain any serious traction.  SURF can reduce the barriers of entry by providing flexible and affordable space with a robust community of resources. This reduces entrepreneurial risk and enables startups to operate incredibly lean.

Realizing people love hanging out at SURF, today they are announcing their latest concept, Cafe SURF.

Entrepreneurs who may not be ready to lease office space and typically work in low-cost locations such as coffee shops or local cafes now have another option.  SURF Incubator just created its own cafe inside the incubator’s 15,400 square foot facility in downtown Seattle and has opened it up to the public.

SURF is building the cafe to help integrate the startup ecosystem thereby helping entrepreneurs collaborate with one another and engage with the various support resources available at SURF Incubator.

Highlighting the technology and companies built within their walls.

The thing is, Café SURF isn’t your ordinary coffee shop. With the contributions of resident startups, Café SURF is Seattle’s first tech-focused, fully self-serviced coffee bar. Patrons pay just $50 per month and receive unlimited coffee, 100Mbps internet access, and designated work space.

Additionally, food and tea are available for purchase via Seconds, my company and a SURF resident startup, which deploys a text-based mobile payment system. Café SURF members can also provide feedback to the management through a text messaging comment service provided by another SURF resident; Talk to the Manager. Thanks to the various technologies from SURF residents such as Seconds and Talk to the Manager, Café SURF will be sustained as a fully self-serviced operation.  SURF has also partnered with local coffee roaster, Caffe Vita to help establish the cafe.

Café SURF members may attend open office hours with investors, mentors, and SURF Incubator’s corporate partners who provide counsel and startup services. This startup centric cafe is anticipated to become a central link for innovation and networking within Seattle’s technology community.

The technologies and services being integrated into Café SURF are outlined below:

Seconds – Deploying a text-based mobile payment system.

Talk to the Manager – Text message comments to the SURF Café management

Knotis – Online marketing, advertising, daily-deal promotion

Imaginative Design – Creative work

Equilitree – Logo and SURF Café page design

Best Practice – Space design and architecture planning

Caffe Vita – Coffee

Hey Seattle Tech Startups, Should We Host Another Startup Crawl?

Last year we threw a party called the Startup Crawl, and it was awesome.  On a Friday in August we had 4 various startups around downtown Seattle host for one hour and we crawled to successive parties.  If any of you made it you remember it was great times indeed.  Here’s a bit from last years event.

It 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 Cheezburger Inc./ as the first co-hosts.  After a drink or two, the group moves on to the offices of Estately/Nine-by-Blue to continue the festivities.  Next, around 7pm the group (probably growing at this time) will arrive at Habit Labs on 9th and finish up with a stop at Big Door in South Lake Union.  The afterparty will begin immediately afterwards, held downstairs (in the same building) hosted by Founders Co-op/TechStars.

So, should we do another one this year?  Please let me know and if enough people want another excuse to toss a few back and get social maybe we can quickly get it together.

Also reach out to me if your startup would like to host for an hour during the event.

Hey Coach, What Is A Startup CEO Supposed To Be Anyway?

As I was chatting with another CEO friend of mine tonight he said something that caught me off guard.

He said:

“I was talking with another person and we determined as a CEO you push your people in just the right way to get things done… you’re like a coach.  We realized that is a good thing and need to do more of that type of leading in our startups”

Some of you may be familiar with my history so being referred to as a coach might not be much of a surprise.  But in light of the context in which this conversation took place it was a surprise to me.  My CEO friend is farther down the startup path than I am and I tend look to him as a mento-friend.  I appreciated the kind words and thanked him accordingly.

Yet this begged the question: what is a startup CEO anyway?

My take is my friend was exactly right: a coach.

Okay Nick, then what is a coach?  A coach is a Leader.  A coach is someone who is responsible for the outcome of the team – win or lose.  The coach determines who plays on the team and who gets cut. Coaches push players to the brink and guide them in achieving levels of success previously thought impossible.  Coaches know the most about each opponent and dictate the playbook accordingly.  And most important, the coach evaluates each and every player, helping them identify where they are weak and exploiting where they are strong.

Ladies and gentleman – that’s a leader.

Given I am still at the beginnings of the exciting growth of Seconds and my personal journey as a CEO I will not take any credit of success – history will be the judge on that one.  But I couldn’t help but notice myself in the exact moment of this conversation grasping a few lessons regarding leadership I think are important for CEO’s at the startup level.

Face it, you ARE a coach

Like it or not, as the CEO you are the coach.  This should not be taken lightly and in the wrong hands it could lead to disaster.  One of my favorite quotes from author John C. Maxwell is “everything rises and falls on Leadership.”  The statement could be viewed as general toss-grass-in-the-wind pontification.  I tend to just take it at face value – life happens because leaders make things happen.  Or they don’t.

Leaders (CEO’s) determine the pace, structure and culture of a young startup company.  Understanding this should weigh heavily on a CEO’s heart and mind as they relentlessly plow forward.  What you say and what you do will hang like London fog within your small company.  You should think twice about each and every word, positively and negatively directed toward cofounders or customers.

And whether you know it or not, your team is looking  right at you to make decisions.  These decisions can be as mundane as the color of text on your site and as crucial as choosing to relocate the company or adding a co-founder.  Great leaders consistently make the right decision, and even better, teach and empower others to make the “right” decisions for them.

You are also a player

One of the toughest things about being CEO is the fact that you are a player – equal with other team members – at the same time being the coach with added intangible responsibilities.   Highly self-aware CEO’s intuitively understand this dynamic and can navigate the waters accordingly.  Some days you need to get your hands dirty with specs, feature fixes and other product oriented tasks – things you are probably drawn to more naturally as you flex your engineer or designer muscles.  Other days you need to put your coach hat on to lead your team by dictating the vision, talking to investors, evaluating opponents, interviewing new hires, connecting with media or visiting customers.

These things may not come natural to you but believe me they are essential.  I am convinced the drastically high level of failure experienced at startups is due to a failure of leadership.  Delineation too far in any direction from a leader for too long spells doom for a fragile company being built on a hope and a prayer.  If “everything rises and falls on leadership“, startup success must surely follow the same principles.

Leadership is in short supply

My friend mentioned something interesting as we were talking.  He said “I just don’t feel I can push them very hard… I guess I have that Seattle passive thing going.

I said, “look, people actually want to be led.”  And it’s true, (most) people naturally want to be told what to do.  Quite frankly, they are scared to make any important decisions so they naturally default to having someone else tell them what to do, in case it doesn’t work out and they have someone else to blame.  That’s the harsh reality view.  The more positive view is people want to be led and inspired, hoping that the time they are taking away from other important areas and people in their life is actually going to turn out to be something positive.

Unfortunately we have too many people more concerned with not pissing people off then accomplishing the current mission.  Appropriate and authentic leadership is definitely in short supply.  I am not advocating being a jerk or other unmentionable words.  I am calling for people to get more in-tune with the dynamics of human nature and motivation.  This is not rocket science, it’s all right there at the intersection of psychology, sociology and biology.  Notice how I didn’t mention technology…

I also noted to my friend the most common reaction from anyone who worked for Steve Jobs.  I said “dude, most people have said Steve Jobs was a jerk, an asshole, and generally not enjoyable to be around.  They also follow that statement up with the fact that he actually inspired the best out of them and they were somehow able to perform and deliver well above levels they ever thought possible.”  

That’s leadership.  Steve Jobs might not have been best friends with most people he worked with but boy did he get the best out of them.  Indeed, he was their coach.

The Proper Way Give An Acceptance Speech By SURF Incubator Pitch Contest Winner

What a great launch party SURF Incubator had last week.  More than 300 people attended the event.  It was awesome.  We hung out.  We drank.  We socialized and networked.  We even had a pitch competition, where 10 chosen founders from SURF startups had 90 seconds to explain their concept to the crowd.

The attendees voted after everyone was done.

And we won!  Seconds wins 2 tickets to fly down to San Francisco to attend the DEMO conference in Oct.

Here’s a video of my acceptance speech, where I am not totally sure at the moment I knew exactly what to say…  but deflecting my own praise and edifying SURF seemed to be what instantly came to mind.  When in doubt, edify the organizer.

(my portion starts about 4:30 into the video)

Below are some images from the event and to find more pictures:

waiting to pitch

giving the pitch

shaking hands with Seaton Gras, founder of SURF 

giving acceptance speech

SURF Incubator Launch Party Happening Friday June 22nd. And It’s Gonna ROCK!

The unofficial mantra at SURF is: Get inspired. Explore ideas. Start companies.   It’s crazy how you feel it the moment you walk through the doors.  Although SURF Incubator opened its doors at the end of April, they were busy accepting startups and inviting them to join the party even before the April 30th opening.

What once was a quite space with more empty desks than people walking around has now turned into a bustling center for early founders and tech startups.  Somehow I feel a lot more at home in SURF than I ever have at coffee shops or other temporary offices around Seattle.  More than 25 startups have joined the team and remaining spaces are quickly being claimed by others.  In fact, there is so much interest they doubled the tenant base over the last 2 months and Neil Bergquist believes “with about 150,000 square feet of vacant space in this building there’s no reason why we can’t take all this space.”

It’s now time to have a launch party and make the launch official.

The night is dedicated to Seattle’s startup community and specifically to (us) entrepreneurs who are taking the risks necessary to advance our vibrant ecosystem.  It’s about time we were honored!  They expect quite a few in attendance and in an effort to accommodate SURF took an additional 2,000 square feet in the building for the launch party and startup demo.

From the sound of it – it’s gonna ROCK.

The event will feature a Startup Demo Competition, successful entrepreneurs, and the investors and companies who support them. Attendees will also have the opportunity to network with the SURF community, which includes resident startups, entrepreneurs, mentors, and sponsors. A few SURF resident startups will be selected to give a three-minute demo presentation in front of local media and hundreds of attendees. The crowd will choose the best pitch via a text-voting system and the winning team will be featured in GeekWire and flown to Silicon Valley for DEMO Fall 2012.

Register for the Launch Party.


5:00 – 7:00 Meet the startups, Tours, Brewery and Winery exhibit, Hors d’oeuvres
6:00 – 6:30 Startup Demo
7:00 – 7:30 Keynote and program
7:30 – 9:00 Network, Brainstorm, Celebrate

Current SURF Startup Tenants







SURF Incubator Already Barrelling With Numerous Startups and Entrepreneurs

As you might have heard, Seconds is one of the first tenants to stake claim on high value territory in Seattle’s newest tech hub SURF Incubator.  They officially opened their doors April 30th but already we are seeing some solid action emerging from within.   We’ve only been in there a few weeks, but here’s some highlights from a few early  SURF tenants I was able to get some time with in between  the craziness of startup life.

Knotis, which helps you discover great deals from businesses you’ll love, is one of the initial launch tenants.  CEO McLean Reiter says he chose SURF because “their mission is to help startups launch as quickly as possible so they can get out on their own, which is pretty much every statups’ goal.”

For background, knotis is reviving the concept of the digital coupon by taking the marketing strategy originated by Asa Candler with Coca-Cola and infusing it with 21st century tools. They are calling this new take on coupons an Online Social Incentive and merchants can now easily create as many as they wish at the low monthly cost (as opposed to the Groupon style of massive revenue share which can be detrimental to businesses). Merchants can share these self-generated OSI’s in online banner ads or through their social media channels like Facebook and twitter.

Knotis is doing business differently and intelligently by charging its merchants a low, flat-rate of $14 per month, and if the merchant doesn’t make a sale during the month, they are not even charged! “That’s just company culture,” says 28 year old founder, McLean Reiter. “We want to help local businesses thrive!”

Asked about why he favors SURF, McLean adds “My favorite thing so far is that everyone is there for the same reason – to succeed – and other entrepreneurs and developers, although busy, are still willing to help other teams achieve success.”

Another early startup is Shopobot, a better search engine for shopping. For example, stores are constantly changing their prices (even day to day), and they make it clear when it’s the right time to buy – which can save people a lot of money. At their heart they’re an analytics company, and  using their data and UI to give people an edge when shopping online.

According to one of the founders Dave Matthews, they went through more of an accelerator in San Francisco before coming back up to Seattle.  “When we started Shopobot we went through an incubator in San Francisco called AngelPad, which was super helpful for doing the demoday / launch / fundraising push. It was really hands-on with all the companies in the program moving on the same schedule towards launch. Now that we’re past that phase, SURF is a great spot for us to focus on our product and growth – while getting the benefits that come from a shared space.”

He notes they wanted to work in a shared space for the unexpected conversations, and meeting other people working on startups. “SURF has the right balance for us of lots of meetups and events and other teams working here, but we still get our private area to focus as a team.”

Lastly is Pandamonium Games, who just announced a Kickstarter project called The End Saga: Revival.   In short, it’s a 90’s style mobile role-playing game, bottling the best of that era and sticking it into a beautiful mobile gaming experience. Using the art of nexxing to build new items, while you amass a team of fighters, magicians or rogues to take out the evil Ismata.    (You should go check it out on Kickstarter!)

Jimmy Gambier from Pandamonium Games says “We chose SURF because we’re not big enough to have a dedicated office space and yet meeting in coffee shops was getting old. I’d also visited places in the Valley like Dogpatch Labs were you can feel the sense of community in the air. We wanted a place where we could bond with like minded people and companies.”

Digging a little deeper on why they chose the Kickstarter/crowd-funding route , Gambier said they went with Kickstarter because they wanted to go directly to the community versus spending their precious time pitching to investors. “We would rather spend the next 6 months heads down on our product instead of raising money.”  I can attest to that!

Gambier believes Kickstarter is the next evolution in investment, as you can receive instant market validation which helps you determine if you are heading in the right direction.  Interestingly, he sees a side benefit from crowd funding platforms.  “Building a fanbase is also crucial for the kind of game we’re working on. We’re catering to a hardcore gamer audience and we thought building that user base early would be wise.”

Through his words it’s obvious Jimmy couldn’t resist the entrepreneurial pull and is the exact person SURF and other incubators need to help cultivate a great community of founders.  “I had been involved in startups in the past and had an unshakeable desire to start a gaming company. It almost seems like there wasn’t anything else worth doing. The art of building a fun game has fascinated me for years and continues to as I learn more about the craft.”

If you are like me, you’re probably not familiar with Pandamonium Games, a scrappy Seattle based games startup who loves RPGs. They’ve made a couple of social games before, but this is their most ambitious game to date. The team has worked at places such as Nintendo, Wizards of the Coast, Amazon and a large MMO company.

Here’s Jimmy’s take on their quick history:

“For the past two years, we’ve been a small but committed team working in the social games space. When Glen Matsushita and I met at Tully’s in Bellevue, Washington, in 2009 to brainstorm our first title, we had never built a game before or worked together as a team. By the end of the first month, we had settled on using the Facebook platform to create Champions of Justice, a superheroes game. We brought on a couple of guys who had worked at Wizards of the Coast—a publisher of fantasy and science-fiction based role-playing games, board games, and collectible card games—to help with the art and writing, and went to work.

“The company was founded on the principle that there is a place for hardcore games in the next evolution of gaming.We made a couple of games along the way—neither a major hit—and are now working on our third title. Whether or not this will be our breakthrough in what has become a highly competitive market, we have the same passion and dedication that got us into the business in the first place. In fact, as we’ve gotten more experience, we’re getting better with each iteration and this title has been the most fun to work on since we’ve carved out more definitive roles and skill sets among the three founders.”

It’s early days for SURF Incubator and I look forward to meeting (and possibly writing about) many more startup founders.  If you are interested in SURF office space, feel free to visit their website and send them a note.

How SURF Incubator Was Started And Why You Should Go To Meetups

As an entrepreneur, I am always curious of how people come to start their projects.  Here’s a little Q & A with SURF founder Seaton Gras.  SURF Incubator is Seattle’s newest hub for tech startups and my new home for the foreseeable future.

1) Where did the idea of SURF originate?

The idea for creating the SURF Incubator came out of my personal frustration when I was trying to learn mobile app development from a textbook. No matter how hard I tried with great pains of details, none of the sample apps would function. The book, as it turns out, was full of bugs and there was no way that a novice, such as myself, could discern where the bugs were located or how they could be fixed because the error messages were even more baffling to me. I started looking for other programmers who wanted to learn a new language, which led to the formation of a Meetup group, which later pivoted into SURF Incubator.

2) Sounds like SURF is a startup itself? Can you describe the path that got it here?

I attended a Meetup group for iPhone developers and proposed that it would be easier to learn iPhone coding with peer support. I had one eager participant: Ken Decanio. So, we agreed to meet weekly, starting the very next day. The group grew organically as we expanded the hours and the frequency. It did not take too long before we outgrew our free location.

Then, the meetings were terminated until I made favorable arrangements with Regus. But, as it turns out, the economy caused Regus to reduce their own space and there was not enough room for SURF Incubator to continue. In November last year, I began to look for a permanent home for SURF Incubator. When I toured the Exchange building, it was so obvious that it was absolutely ideal for many reasons. For example, it was fully furnished and included Internet wiring to every desk. This provided a way for SURF Incubator to get up-and-running very quickly with minimal capital expenditures.

Surf Incubator: Seaton Gras (left) and Neil Bergquist

3) Why does Seattle (and possibly other parts of the world) need SURF?

Entrepreneurs around the world can be more productive when they collaborate and have access to a broad network of business and technical resources. Working at home or in a coffee shop makes it difficult to gain exposure to fellow subject matter experts. It’s also hard to maintain momentum or gain any serious traction. Trying to secure an office is a major step forward but few landlords are willing to lease office space on month-to-month terms to a tenant with little to no operating history. SURF can reduce the barriers of entry by providing flexible and affordable space with a robust community of resources. This reduces entrepreneurial risk and enables startups to operate incredibly lean.

4) What do you look for in founders and startups wanting to be part of SURF?

First and foremost, we are looking for passionate people who are committed to advancing their business. Second, we are looking for product and service ideas that have the ability to rapidly scale and disrupt large markets. The ideal businesses are the ones that challenge mainstream thinking and can make a significant contribution to the well-being of the world.

5) What do you think SURF will look and feel like in 3- 5 years out?

SURF will be an international community of entrepreneurs launching and advancing globally disruptive companies and technologies. It will be a community that enables startups to go further with less money. They’ll receive access to critical services at a fraction of the cost if they were to go at it alone and they’ll have exposure to a diverse set of global thought leaders. In the few weeks leading up to our launch I am already overwhelmed by the quality of connections made in the SURF community. “Game-changing” advancements are already occurring. I can only imagine what will happen in 3-5 years time. The success of the SURF residents is really what gets me fired up.

If you are interested in SURF, feel free to email Seaton directly –

Introducing Seattle’s New General Assembly: SURF Incubator

As a startup founder, not too many things are more important than where you and your team will spend most of their time building you world changing, billion dollar company.  Before you receive an influx of cash and are able to have your own office space, the choices are basically 1) toughing it out in your home, 2) hopping between coffee shops or 3) spend an arm and a leg for office space in a place you really can’t afford.

Although starting a company today is quite a bit cheaper than it was 10 years ago, square foot for office space is not so much. It’s actually getting more expensive.  And it sucks, especially for a young startup that is likely pre-funding and cannot afford much more than cloud hosting.

So what to do?

Well, I’m going SURFing.  Since the beginning of the year, SURF Incubator has been quietly building a network of technology focused entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and corporate partners. On April 30th, the SURF community will come to life when it officially launches with fifteen incubating startups.  I am proud to say Seconds is one of them, and very excited to be a part of this burgeoning startup community.  Located directly downtown Seattle, this is perfect location for startups, as it’s 5 minute walk from Pioneer square, Westlake mall and a short bus ride to South Lake Union.

SURF has also been collaborating with various corporate partners to develop a robust benefits program to aid in the growth of our young companies.  By leveraging the support of service providers and larger technology companies, SURF is able to provide opportunities that reduce the costs to start a technology company in Seattle. Bringing down the economic barriers associated with building a technology company has the potential to significantly advance the growth of Seattle’s startup community. SURF has already received applications from entrepreneurs located from Vancouver, BC to South America.

This is exactly what Seattle needed.  There are a number of places for co-working and startup office space, but none that were this neutral and spoke with the most potent vision.  Most other spaces are in connection to an accelerator, investment or other ties to companies and investors.  Not SURF.  Their vision is to provide cost effective space (over 15,000 square feet) for innovation and collaboration between tech startups and greatly impact the general startup scene.

It’s crazy because I had this idea last fall and wanted to organize a handful of startups to make it happen, which as I got further into the planning I realized it was a quite a bit larger undertaking than I had time for.

Thanks to the support of some of Seattle’s most respected technology companies and service providers, SURF Residents will not only benefit from subsidized office space, but they will also have access to a suite of free or significantly discounted services. One of the many benefits associated with building a startup at SURF are the free educational workshops provided by corporate partners – covering topics on company formation, intellectual property, fundraising, various programming languages and more.

The monthly SURF membership fee of $300/month per entrepreneur, which nicely suits early startups comprised of 2-4 founders.  They even offer evening hours (which would be 5pm on) at $200 per month.

SURF and its network partners are making it dramatically less expensive to start a technology company in Seattle.  I now know where I am spending most of my time!

Some of the other startups include:

Shopobot – tracks price changes at major online retailers. Using this data, Shopobot helps consumers get the best price on books, cameras, computers, and video games. Name your price, and we’ll alert you when it’s reached. Shop Shopping in the dark!

BBC Easy – dedicated to optimizing the commercial lending process between banks and their borrowers.

Translational Software  – simplifies the logistics of genetic testing and transforms test results into actionable guidance for doctors.  The cost of molecular diagnostics is falling precipitously but genetic tests are not useful without interpretive information.

Knotis – helps consumers discover great deals from local merchants. Customers can find personalized, location-based offers – happening in real time.



Make No Mistake, Seattle Needs More Events Like The GeekWire Gala

If you had the opportunity to attend the recent GeekWire Gala you will probably agree with me when I say it was awesome.

Was there some crazy entertainer or cool band?  No.

Were there fireworks or a kick ass pyro-technics?  Nope.

Was it for a special occasion like a reunion or anniversary?  Not really.

Yet  more than 500 people showed up in attendance from various pockets of the tech community.  Investors to startup founders to lawyers and aspiring entrepreneurs gathered for a night of talking tech and socializing.  I know it sounds like a normal Seattle Startup event, so you might be wondering why it was so awesome?

As I looked out over the crowded event I started to realize all these people, in just this one room, can help me become successful if they get to know me well enough.  And this is true for all of us in that room.

I give a very big thanks to the entire GeekWire staff and all others who helped put on the event.  Although most people arrived, had a drink or two and then left without realizing how important this gathering was for the health of our tight-knit community; it was not lost on me.

Every so often the “Seattle vs. Silicon Valley” argument boils up to the cognitive surface with various differing opinions shouting about who is better at the top of their lungs.  Regardless of your stance it’s fair to say we – Seattle –  have our own identity with our own startup and investment characteristics, for better or for worse.

Yet I cannot shake an off-the-cuff comment given to me at a startup event this fall from someone close to me at the time.  They said “Nick, go down to the valley and you can find something like this going on pretty much every single night.”  I was immediately taken back by the comment but once I thought about it a little more I started to grasp the deeper meaning of the statement.

It wasn’t about “the valley” at all.  It was about community.

And it is with that statement I come to the conclusion: if Seattle is going to continue to grow as a serious technology, startup, and investment epicenter we need more events like the GeekWire Gala.  We need more opportunities to come together and get to know each other – as individuals and as a larger community.  And it desperately needs to happen more often.

From Wikipedia, The term community has two distinct meanings:

  • a group of interacting people, possibly living in close proximity, and often refers to a group that shares some common values, and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household. The word can also refer to the national community or international community, and
  • in biology, a community is a group of interacting living organisms sharing a populated environment.

Notice the bold word interacting.  It is an important word – as a verb it indicates what we should be doing as a group of people.  We gather.  We interact.  We get to know each other.  We socialize.   We share common values.  Only when we are able to interact are we then able to possibly collaborate and do deals.

Interacting.  Hmmm, that’s an Interesting word  we find there, shall we dive a bit deeper… and find out what that word actually means?

  • communication of any sort, for example two or more people talking to each other, or communication among groups, organizations, nations or states: trade, migration, foreign relations, transportation,

Ah… there it is!  Communication – the one thing that will make or break any relationship.  So it seems to build a robust community we must continue to sharpen the communication lines between the individuals within our larger group.  As a relative newcomer to this scene, this makes a lot of sense to me.

What good is the “tech” or “startup” community here in Seattle if we just remain in our own silo’s, sitting behind our monitors in our own little offices.  An easy habit to form these days is thinking you, as an individual company, are building one something isolated from the outer world.  So we tend to want to stay within our own walls and this is a big mistake.  If you are apart of a large company or even a startup here in Seattle, you are a very important piece to a large organism.  Just as cells of the body must stay in constant communication with each other to remain in healthy stasis; so must we here in Seattle continue to communicate and interact so we can build a strong and healthy tech community.

What about using technology to virtually communicate?  Yes, we may banter back and forth via email and on Twitter but those are only extensions of community.  They don’t actually create a community.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we don’t have events and activities to cultivate the ecosystem.  Currently there are a number of events happening on a monthly basis in which we can participate.  To name a few:

  • StartupWeekend events
  • Poker 2.0
  • WTIA Events
  • Morning Coffee’s
  • Pitch events
  • Meetups

I am suggesting even more events need to be put together to create and foster the tech community here in Seattle.  We all are responsible to do something for the health of the larger community – that is if we are going to voice our opinions on the subject.  And the Gala illustrated larger events bringing together a lot of people can spawn interesting and advantageous opportunities, just as a being a part of a small group playing poker will do.  This is why I organized the Startup Crawl, it was a great time to relax with a beer in your hand and just talk openly with people you might not otherwise interact with.  Sometimes these events are the start of something special.

Do they all have to revolve around drinking alcohol?  No, not at all.  Whatever the event, it should enhance the strengthening of existing relationships at the same time encourage new comers to attend and make some initial and important connections to help them get further ingrained in the community.

We may not be able to have much impact on the investment macroeconomics here in Seattle but we sure as hell can do something about the over community interaction.  And interestingly enough… I believe the later will pull the former along towards a better day.

Order SM Takes Home The Second Place People’s Choice Award at Seattle Beta!

The first annual Seattle Beta was held on Tuesday October 11th, and Order SM took home second place on the people’s choice.  We were highlighted in TechnologyWeek:

Seattle Beta held its first event last night. It turned out great , the whole room was packed and there were plenty of people buzzing about the new companies.  13 companies were listed on the roster. The format was an open room with many booths. It was very casual and everyone was mingling the whole night. We only got interrupted once by Softlayer who was a sponsor, they wanted to announce an open bar for 15 minutes. The 13 companies were 9Slides, Cloak, Govpinion, Habit Labs, KindleGraph, MobileAppTracking, Omnom, OfferUp, OrderSM, ReadyPulse, Timber Software,, and Wiavia. The venue was packed and it was hard to walk from room to room.

 Order SM placed second among 13 Seattle startups, and it was a solid second place.  The results came from an email the day after:

We’d like to give a special thank you to the demoers, and announce the results of the voting you did with those poker chips.

The demo that got the most chips was HasOffers, showing off, with 95 chips.

In second place was OrderSM (thanks for helping route our drinks!) with 80 chips.

In third place was OfferUp with 56 chips.

Jay from TechnologyWeek was on hand and actually placed an order through Order SM.  His experience:

I used OrderSM last night to order a beer, it is a service that allows customers to text simple orders directly to the staff. This company is showing a lot of good effort to bring their product to market. The service remembers who you are and when you text in the future it uses that knowledge to facilitate making the process faster. They have plans to incorporate payment into the service as well. It is as simple as texting, “Bring 2 Blue Moons please”. I did this last night, I got a text back, “Sure thing Jay, where are you at?”. Me: “Backroom.” Five minutes later the beer was delivered directly to me and I didn’t need to leave the conversation I was in. Look for our article on this company shortly.

In addition to Jay, we saw a number of orders placed using Order SM and the attendees were quite impressed with the entire concept.  This event result was just another moment of truth for the Order SM team, proving once again we have a great product with a strong value proposition.

NYC, Seattle or Silicon Valley? If You’re A Flounder It Don’t Matter

Every so often a proverbial argument reverberates around the tech world.

It will sound something like “How can we be more like Silicon Valley?”  or, “New York is now a more hip Silicon Valley”

We here in Seattle have even gotten some flack lately from predominant VC’s trying their best to state their respect for the city at the same time point out it’s obvious flaws.  That is a difficult position to hold for sure.

Then this was written last weekend on GeekWire.  Choice quote: What we do need is to go and build some fucking companies.

I must say I was a bit taken back with Kirill’s approach.  It just felt like someone blowing his hardest in an effort to make a forest fire burn stronger.

But ya know, I do agree with Kirill  in principal.  Yes, we all need shut up and go build some companies.  And let me also agree with others who are stating “there is just something unique about the valley… and as a founder you should start your company here.”  It does not take a genius to realize there are certain subtle aspects about Silicon Valley which can help founders build great companies.

But let me frame this argument slightly differently: If a founder builds the next billion dollar company outside the valley, is he in fact a better entrepreneur since he did it without the resources and luxury of Silicon Valley?  What if he did it without going to Stanford?  How about without being part of the latest YC batch?

I say Yes.

Or read differently: are we just mind-sweeping ourselves into thinking since we aren’t in Silicon Valley we cannot build great technology companies.  Although not the entire reason, I believe this is playing a somewhat significant role in the perception of the “Silicon Valley Only Success.”

Let me go on record as saying there is more than one city in the country.  There are also millions of people who (currently employer or unemployed) are not in the valley and would almost die for a great opportunity.  There is also something called the web, something that has connected humans and money like nothing ever before in history.  My point: proximity is getting less and less important is time goes on.

But Nick, why the typo in the title?

Being a Founder is one thing.  I think that describes the ones who start companies and instantly compare themselves to Silicon Valley . They use the word Founder like it’s a surname.  They are worried about “who funds them, who’s party they are going to, who will be their next prominent acquisition, who is writing about them, etc.. ”  Founders get sucked into tunnel vision, influenced by group think and worried what the Jones’s are doing.   They have two eyes looking straight ahead and focused on the ground.

Don’t get me wrong, these things are important to the success of a company.  But they are not the only thing  just as makeup, dresses and friends don’t really make the ultimate girl.

Being a Flounder is a whole other level of entrepreneur.  They have one eye on the ground and one on the horizon.  Ever notice flounders (the fish) seem to be looking in two directions at once?  That’s called vision.  And I believe the best entrepreneurs always have one eye on the ground (present) and one eye on the horizon (future).  They are Flounders.

A Flounder isn’t bothered by where he builds his empire.  He just builds it.  He doesn’t care if his company isn’t written about as the next hottest thing.  He builds it large enough and becomes the largest thing.  Flounders have such a strong sense of purpose they attract others to join the mission and turn any naysayer on their head with amazing and consistent results.  Flounders have an eerie way of being calm in the storm, so much so they freak you out.  Why?  Flounders can see what you can’t.

So next time you start to fall into the Founder hole, think Flounder.  Think Vision.  Think about seeing with one eye here and one eye over there on the horizon.  You will start to realize most of the B.S. all other founders are talking/bitching/complaining about really, in the end, doesn’t add up to much.  With better perspective Flounders see the big picture and stay the course.


Seattle – Learn the Secrets of LinkedIn

If you live in Seattle and are interested in learning how to best use LinkedIn, go to this meetup on the 23rd of June.  The Tea Palace in Renton, WA will play host for the meetup, and it will only cost $5.00.  Well worth it… it might just help you find your next business partner or land that great gig you have been wishing would fall in your lap.  By the way, I received this courtesy of Michael Surkan just by being a part of the Linked:Seattle group on LinkedIn.  Good stuff.

Learn the secrets of LinkedIn at the Linked:Seattle June 23rd meetup.

At the next Linked:Seattle meetup I will be giving my presentation on “LinkedIn Secrets”. Learn how to use LinkedIn to not only find people but to build productive relationships that will help your career or business.

To get an idea of what I will be speaking about, I have published some short videos of my LinkedIn secrets here (you need to register as a member of the site to view them):

The meetup will be at 5:30pm on June 23rd at the Tea Palace in Renton. My presentation occurs immediately before the meetup starts at 5:00pm. To help cover expenses we are now charging a $5.00 fee for attendance.

You can find details about the meetup and register here:

You can find details on being a meetup sponsor and having a table for promoting your business here: