Seconds Highlighted on Started In Seattle, And Discuss How To Get Noticed

We were highlighted on Started in Seattle yesterday.  Started in Seattle is a a new site where Stephen Medawar and Chet Kittleson profile startup that were actually started in Seattle.  (Stephen made the distinction that it not just companies that reside in Seattle, but you actually have to have started in Seattle.)

Here’s our profile.

It’s a cool new idea and I was honored to do a short interview with Stephen, where he asked a few questions about how to get noticed in a very busy and competitive market.

Here’s My New ‘Current Projects’ Page, So Y’all Can Keep Tabs On Me

I am noticing a trend forming in my life.

I’ve been more open to starting a few new projects lately and so I decided to update this blog and create a spot where you can go to at any point in time and check out what I am working on.  You can find the link at the top right of the header menu bar on this blog.

Current Project page.

Below you can see a snippet of things I am up to right now.  More will probably come soon but this is what is happening at this point in time in my life.  Given the fact I am currently also doing some outside contract work for other companies, I am only listing the projects/companies I have founder or equity stake in.

Enjoy.

And reach out to me if you are interested in partnering or getting involved with any of them.

Current Projects

Seconds logo

Seconds is a payment system allowing you to swiftly complete transactions via the desktop web, mobile web or text message. It shouldn’t matter what method you use, the payment experience should be as quick, simple and intuitive as sending a text message.  Realizing how important ongoing relationships are between customers and merchants, and also realizing the main point of entry into our world is now through our mobile device, we see an incredible opportunity.

 

Callin'it logo 2

Callin’it is a mobile web based real-time sports prediction and data analysis platform.  Using Callin’it, people are able to test and share their sports knowledge by publically predicting – or calling – stats, plays or outcomes of an upcoming sporting event.  For instance, right now I am calling the Miami heat will have more rebounds than the Chicago Bulls in tonight’s game.  Using real time sports data, we then compare the specific call with the actual result to build out a score for each user based on the accuracy and difficulty of their calls.  If Twitter and the ‘SAT’s for sports’ had a baby, Callin’it would be their lovechild…

 

Founders Raw logo2

Founders Raw is my newest project, a video blog with conversation style interviews focused on bringing out  raw stories early stage founders experience in their rough and tumble entrepreneurial journeys.  I invite founders to talk openly over a beer or a coffee about the “truth” of how they survive and grow their companies.  We intend on slicing up the conversations and sending out daily videos no more than 3 or 4 minutes long so we all can receive daily nuggets of the entrepreneurial truth.

 

Published Books

The Agony and Ecstasy of Entrepreneurship

The Agony and Ecstasy of Entrepreneurship has been adapted from this blog, So Entrepreneurial, and placed into book format.  They are my thoughts and musings on all things entrepreneurial, meant to help you understand what it takes and how to think like an entrepreneur in today’s world.  Far from perfect and by no means the only way to go about the journey, they represent my lessons taken straight from the trenches.  Since my thoughts originated as blog posts it’s best to take them piecemeal, maybe even digesting just a few topics each day. You will find my main perspectives are around mobile, digital and internet technologies but the principles can be applied to any other entrepreneurial focus.

Spring Is In The Air And Something New Is Upon Us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go to getseconds.com

payment1

Find the merchant.

payment2

Input the amount.

payment3

Complete payment with Dwolla.

payment4

Or complete payment with credit card.

payment5

It’s that easy.

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

Seconds Partners With Dwolla For Awesome New Guest Checkout Announcement

Seconds is happy to announce our partnership with Dwolla for their latest product release, referred to as guest checkout, allowing anyone to use Dwolla to make a one-time payment from their financial institution to an online merchant or marketplace.

Why is this so awesome?  Now people can make Dwolla payments, in Seconds.

Simply put, Dwolla is great.  For months we have been evaluating how to include Dwolla payments in our mobile payment experience.  Their online and mobile payment network enables friends, families, and businesses to move money in a way that is safer, faster, and significantly more affordable than traditional payment options.  We always believed in Dwolla’s mission to rid the world of credit card fees and today we are excited to finally turn on the Dwolla payment option.

With Dwolla, you simply connect a bank account so you can make payments through the system.  The challenge up to this point was the fact that unless someone already had a Dwolla account created, it was nearly impossible for them to create a Dwolla account and make a quick payment during their first Seconds experience.   Unfortunately, there were a number of steps – some even taking a few business days – to authorize the financial institution and finalization of the Dwolla account.  It was basically a non-starter for our emerging payment platform.

As you can see, this new release leaves all that behind and puts Dwolla center stage in the Seconds payment experience, allowing someone the choice of quickly paying with their bank account using Dwolla in addition to a credit card.

Why is this so great?  Merchants accepting Dwolla are charged at most $.25 per transactions over $10, and transactions under $10 carry no Dwolla transaction fee at all!  Comparing this to the traditional 3% processing fee when dealing with credit cards and your looking at significant savings for merchants with each transaction.

We believe Dwolla has an incredible future and are excited to see where this will lead.  More information about the Dwolla announcement is below.

Try it out now with GIVENATION, and give to IRD.org to help with Hurricane Sandy recovery.

What is Dwolla?

Dwolla is an online and mobile payment network that enables friends, families, and businesses to move money in a way that is safer, faster, and significantly more affordable than traditional payment options.

Using the Internet, Dwolla has designed a smarter way to structure payments and identify fraud. This allows the system to bypass credit cards, PayPal, and other payment types and, at the same time, offer the nation’s lowest cost payment network.

Since 2010, the Des Moines-based company has processed millions of transactions, becoming the nation’s newest and fastest growing payment network.

Pay as a guest:

Now, with Dwolla’s new guest checkout option, anyone can use Dwolla to make a one-time payment from their financial institution to an online merchant or marketplace.

Guest checkout adds Dwolla’s payment engine to traditional bank-issued transactions, allowing the same level of security, safety, and innovation regular Dwolla users enjoy.

Benefits of guest checkout

For consumers:
  • No need for a pre-existing Dwolla account
  • Free to pay: no hidden fees or costs
  • Cardless and checkless
  • Safer than writing checks
  • Safe and secure Dwolla network technologies
  • Save money with Dwolla price (with participating merchants)
  • Privacy conscious (we do not sell your data!
For merchants:
  • Increased profit margins and savings over credit cards (flat 25 cent fee for transactions over $10, under $10 is free)
  • Easily add Dwolla as another payment method
  • Fluid offsite checkout experience
  • Automatic PCI compliance


Using Guest Checkout vs. paying as a traditional Dwolla user

Paying as a guest (for those without Dwolla a account):
  • Free to pay: no hidden fees or costs to use
  • Safer than writing checks
  • Cardless and checkless
  • Safe and secure Dwolla network technologies
  • Save money with Dwolla price (see below)
  • Privacy conscious (we do not sell your data!)

Users with Dwolla account (“Paying as a guest” plus the following): 

  • Pay your friends and family through your social networks
  • Lowest-cost (25 cents for payments over $10, free for transactions under $10)
  • Faster payments and clearing dates
  • Suite of features and tools
  • Connect a bank account for simple depositing and withdrawing
  • Use your phone to pay merchants and friends
  • Minimum balance keeps your account full
  • “Plug-and-pay” with numerous web third-party applications

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Does the merchant ever see my banking information

No. Aside from the fact that you’ve paid, Dwolla does not disclose or include sensitive financial information inside of transactions.

2. Is Dwolla safe?

All information is securely passed, encrypted, and stored in ways that meet or exceed industry standards. Dwolla does not sell your data or transactions with corporations or private parties. For more information, visit security and partnership.

3. Can I cancel my payment?

Yes, but the canceled payment must a.) be initiated by the merchant and b.) occur before the payment is processed.

4. How do Refunds and Disputes occur?

Dwolla defers to the refund policy of its merchants, but will assist in the dispute process whenever necessary. Learn more about Dwolla’s dispute process.

5. Why isn’t my total cheaper when I use Dwolla?

Not all merchants have opted to offer the Dwolla price discount. Dwolla believes it’s up to the merchants to decide what’s best for their business.

 

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

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

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

Text dollar amount to 202-999-3736

or

go to getseconds.com/givenation

Founder = Learning To Juggle While Riding A Unicycle On A TightRope

Being a founder is often hard to describe.  When you are asked, “what do you do” at parties or other social events, it’s easier to brush it off and not bring up the fact that you are a founder of your own company, just so you don’t have to go into how crazy it is.  When they realize you are a “founder” and you have a “startup”, it’s quite impressive to them.  They think it’s all glitz and glamor.  “Oh” they say, “that must be really fun!”  They think you make a ton of money and instantly give you more credit than you deserve.   They almost give you rock star status.

Or, ironically, they don’t give you enough credit.

The problem is they have no clue what you are going through and what it took just to get to where you are right now.  They have no idea how much you gave up to get here.  They don’t understand you don’t go back to a desk in an building owned by the company you work for, push some pieces of paper around, report to a boss, provided daily meals by your employer, given a shiny mobile device and a cushy salary with benefits.

They don’t actually realize NONE of that is included.   They have no idea you have given up everything in your life for this moment.

They also have no idea being a founder is like learning to juggle while riding a unicycle on a tightrope.

Why would I use such an analogy?

Most people’s idea of a founder is Steve Jobs – Miraculous.  Incredible.   Innovator.   Charismatic.  Leader.  Someone who’s all put together and very wealthy.  Use whatever descriptive words you want but they will be wrong.

Sorry to ruin the fun, but as founders we are generally running around like a chicken with our heads cut off trying to put out the latest fire threatening to burn down our dream.  Most things presented to you will be foreign and scary as hell to fix.  Customers will leave you.  Investors will say no.  Tech will fail.  Team members will leave.   Bank accounts will go dry.  And that’s just par for the course each day.

Most of the time you have no idea what you are doing or what the right move is, you are just putting one foot in front of the other and feeling your way around the dark room.

It’s feels like this: you attend to one thing, and just when you think you have it figured out another thing pops up.  So now you have two things to look over and figure out.  Yet before you know it, instantly another issue arises.  But this one is specifically attached to how you actually make money so you must drop everything else and go figure it out.  Hopefully, once you get that figured out you remember what the last issue was so you can return and fix it.

Learning. To. Juggle. While. Riding. A. Unicycle. On. A. TightRope.

Yes, it feels that tiring each and every day.  Next time you find out someone is a founder, please just give them a hug and ask them what you can do to help.

And you know what?  Juggling and riding unicycles also have their benefits and the analogy works the other way.  More on that topic at a later date.