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January 13, 2005

Mousedriver Chronicles and day jobs

I read The MouseDriver Chronicles recently because of a review on Brad Feld's blog about it.  I just looked it up and his title for the review was Young Jackasses of the Post-New Economy He wasn't talking about the MouseDriver guys because these guys created a real business while a lot of their B-school buddies where creating dot coms that ultimately cratered.

I've referred a couple of people to this book recently.  It is one of the few books that I've read that talk about what it is REALLY like to start a company.  The last person I mentioned the book to asked if they are still in business, and while it appears that the product has been licensed to someone else and is still available, the company has been closed down.  The book came from the newsletters that John and Kyle sent out over the years of their business, and their website has all of them available online.  There last issue is a summary of the lessons learned and it is a good one - check it out.  As I like to say, "lessons will be repeated until learned" so it is a good list for new entrepreneurs as well as experienced entrepreneurs.  (The newsletters are now available as a pdf here)

I would disagree with them on one point in their last newsletter though.  They said they would not have quit their day job.  There's a saying in Kentucky - "you can't cross a creek in two steps."  Starting a company is hard enough without also having to work a day job too.  I spent a lot of time planning and thinking with my partner Jim before I gave notice, but I believe that when you are ready to go you need to do it full time.  I talk more about this in my Frequently Asked Questions post.

January 13, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 11, 2005

Buzzword Bingo and Jarbarish

I just received a PowerPoint from an analyst and in it they had a table of "Buzzword Bingo" with some of the current hot words.  Words like .Net, Self Healing, On Demand and Seemless Computing.  These words actually have meaning but a few years ago I started collecting words and phrases that have little or no meaning, but are used way too often in business presentations.

I even came up with a new name for these words and phrases - Jarbarish.  It is a combination of the words jargon and gibberish.  I was showing the list to my wife (who also hates it when people don't say what they mean) and I started rattling off a little speech that only used my Jarbarish list and meant nothing.  At Gold Systems' last company meeting I gave a similar speech using the list to try to lighten things up and hopefully to remind people to speak clearly.

I collected every word or phrase from real sales and marketing presentations.  I believe that the lesson learned is to speak plainly.  Most people are not really impressed by Jarbarish.  If you are a VC, you must get this all the time.  Try counting the number of times you hear these words in a presentation, and if I've missed any please comment.

Bingo Jarbarish by Terry Gold



24x7 we must be taking the 30,000 foot view so that at the end of the day we can perform the balancing act between developing the best of breed while doing the basic blocking and tackling.  We’ll carry the day as long as we circle the wagons around our core business and our core competency.

There are many data points to suggest that disruptive innovations will allow us to divide and conquer our competitors.  It may feel like we are drinking from a fire hose but as long as we hold back our dry powder and focus it on our eBusiness, etc, etc, we can even the playing field.  We’ll need feet on the street to present the many flavors of our applications.  Frankly we’re going to need a lot more full-time equivalents in the future.

We’re going to get under the covers with our customers to develop a go to market strategy that will bloody the nose of our competitors.  I’m giving you the green light to go after green field customers.  Have a dialog with them, do the heavy lifting and soon we’ll see our sales hockey stick.  We’re going to huddle up our human capital for the dogfight, and I sincerely believe that we will win this fight in the margins.  We’ll integrate our investments in knowledge transfer to be the leading provider, and we WILL NOT leave money on the table.

Let me share with you how we will level the playing field and leverage our advantage.  We’ll look at the landscape to achieve mindshare so that we can monetize the click stream.  There is a moose on the table and it is as important as motherhood and apple pie that we nail that down.  Our sales need to go north and to the right.  It is not an option, but also it is not rocket science.  It is on your plate, so you can be out of pocket to think out of the box.  I want to see good ideas, not just something flung over the transom.  There is a real paradigm shift going on here. 

We need to partner to peel back the onion and pick up the shovel.  If we can’t get to all of the good ideas we’ll put them in the parking lot so that we can put the most wood behind our arrows QUOTE UNQUOTE.  (Said while making air-quotes)  So I’m raising the red flag that we need more resources to do the work that is behind this sea change.  We need skin in the game to find the solution that is soup to nuts.  It may take on a couple of flavors but we will tap new people to put their thinking cap on.  This is the tip of the iceberg and to be honest there will be many touch points for us to get traction, but there is great upside opportunity and value-add.  The value proposition is win-win, there is business to be had in the white space and we WILL NOT get wrapped around our own axle.

Update #1 10/30/2009 - thanks to Bob for this catch - "Terry, Great stuff! Nit alert: minor typo in the last paragraph "... peal back the onion" s/b "peel back". You peal a set of bells and peel an onion. Thanks for my laugh of the day."

January 11, 2005 in Entrepreneurship | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 03, 2005

Should corporations give?

A few years ago I happened upon the concept of Tzedakah.  It has to do with the way we as people give to others in need.  I hope you will read it, and then help me work out how it relates to if and how corporations should give to others.

The Eight Degrees of Tzedakah

There are eight degrees of giving tzedakah (doing justice), each one higher than the last.

The lowest degree is when one gives grudgingly, reluctantly, or with regret.

A higher degree is when the donor gives less than is required by the poor person, but does so willingly.

A still higher degree is when the donor gives what is required by the poor person, but only after being solicited.

A yet higher degree is when the donor gives before being asked.

The fifth and higher degree is when the recipient knows the donor, but the donor does not know the recipient.

The next degree is when the identity of the donor is not revealed.

A higher degree of tzedakah is when both the donor and the recipient are anonymous.

The highest degree is when the donor helps the recipient become self supporting by means of a gift, a loan, or by finding employment for the one in need.

-Moses Maimonides, twelfth century Jewish philosopher

My mom taught me early in life that it is wrong to make a big deal out of helping others, and it is especially wrong to do it just to get the recognition.  I doubt if she had heard about Tzedakah, but she got the idea of it. 

So then, does this apply to corporations?  I believe corporations are a strong force in making the world a better place - they provide jobs, they bring people together into communities and ultimately they are simply groups of people working together.  But should they as an entity make charitable donations or should they leave that to their shareholders and owners?  I can see it both ways.  What do you think?  Don't be shy, please comment.

Whether you choose to help others as an individual or through your company, I'd like to suggest one way that is as close to level eight as I can figure.  Heifer International is a non-profit organization that will take your donation and will turn it into a cow, or a pig or a goat that will go to a person in need.  That person can use the animal to support their family, and part of the deal is that they then are supposed to share the offspring of the animals with others.  It is self-sustaining and Heifer seem to do a good job of making sure most of the money they collect actually gets to the people they are trying to help.  It's as easy to give to Heifer as it is to buy a book on amazon.com. But if you do it, don't tell me or anyone else about it.  Do find a way to pass on the idea though.

In the United States in just a few generations we have prospered to the point where most of us have too much to eat.  There are still too many starving children around the world.  (One is too many)

January 3, 2005 in Entrepreneurship | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack