Lessons Learned as a Startup CEO

Now that I’ve been non-involved at Teens in Tech Networks in a day-to-day operational role, I wanted to spend some time reflecting on my time at Teens in Tech Networks at CEO.

First of all, since I founded the company in February 2010, I’ve had an amazing time building the company, both as an organization, and as a product. I’ve been really fortunate to have an amazing staff, advisors and board support me through the last two years, and I think that was one of the instrumental parts of the company.

I think I made three crucial decisions as CEO that led to where the company is now, and I’d like to share them with you all as advice.

1) Find someone technical right from the start who can handle anything from servers, to MySQL issues, to database screw-ups, etc. Having Mike Cohen as our CTO almost since the beginning of the company has been instrumental to us. When I was CEO, I didn’t have to think about upgrading the servers, or anything like that — Mike was constantly on top of it, and having someone technical be able to hop on any issues as the arise was key for us. Without Mike, I don’t know what I would have done when we had technical issues.

2) Hire people who are experts in their specific field. I knew from the start that I couldn’t do anything technical, so we hired people for positions that we knew we needed, like Mike as our CTO, and Spencer heading up Operations and Strategy at the time. For me, my specialty is in marketing, product, and customer interaction. To learn more about the latest trend about digital marketing, check out seo company near me at node-marketing.com For everything that I wasn’t good at, we made sure we had someone who was, that way we didn’t have go searching for someone who was great at front end development.

3) Business Partners. Teens in Tech Networks is mainly known for one thing — our conference. The conference would not be possible with out the help of numerous help of lots of people, but in particular my business partner, Sam Levin. And it’s not just the conference that Sam has been there … Sam is one of my best friends and now family friends that I can always talk to. Sam maybe older then I, but he truly is a kid at heart. Find a great partner that you understands you, and you can work well together with in stressful situations and are able to lean on.

There are many more lessons learned from my experience, but now I’m learning about a different position inside a startup — being on the board. Thankfully we have an amazing board supporting us, and Spencer is really rocking it right now. Teens in Tech Networks is literally changing everything right now, and launching something very, very cool.

What startup advice do you have to give? Leave a comment below!

Speaking at CES 2010

The speaking engagements just keep coming! This time, I’m heading to Las Vegas to speak at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) from January 7 through the 10th. CEA is the Consumer Electronics Association, the producer of the International CES. The 2010 International CES is one the largest consumer gadget and electric show. I attended in January 2009 for the first time with my business partner, Sam Levin. I’m really excited to be speaking with an amazing group of individuals who are both entertaining and well very smart.

My session is called Emerging Tech: Hot or Not? I’ll be speaking on Saturday, January 09, 2010 from 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM. All my session information is below — hope you can make it!

IPTV, WiMAX, LTE, Android, OLED, OpenSocial, Windows 7, cloud computing, 4.0 mobile broadband: Which emerging technologies, product categories and standards show the most promise for widespread success, and which are overhyped? Prepare for a lively debate between proponents and skeptics with a focus on what will be big at the 2013 CES.

Facility: LVCC, North Hall
Room Number: N258

Moderator:
Dylan Tweney, Senior Editor, Wired.com

Panelists:
Dr. Kevin Kahn, Senior Fellow, Intel Labs, Director, Communications Technology Lab, Intel Corporation
Gary Koerper, Vice President of Engine Systems, Mobile Devices, Motorola
Warren Packard, Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurveston
Kuk Yi, Corporate VP and Managing Partner, Best Buy Capital, Best Buy

Also, don’t forgot that I’ll be speaking at Macworld coming up in February 2010. Happy New Year everyone, and happy holidays!

Speaking at Under 21 – Digital Natives in Rome, Italy!

Wow, where do I even begin. At this point, I think I’m at a loss for words. I recently got an email that landed in my spam folder, asking me to speak at a conference. More and more, I’ve been getting these types of emails (keep them coming!), but this email was different. It was an invitation to speak at a conference in Italy! It’s not everyday that you get an email from a major telecommunications company asking you to speak at their conference in Rome, Italy.

Telecom Italia has invited me to participate at their upcoming event, Under 21 – Digital Natives on November 18 in Rome at Capitoline Museum.

“Digital Natives” is a project on the future of innovation and digital culture designed and produced by Telecom Italia, Wired, Foundation Romaeuropa, and CATTID University La Sapienza.

I’ll be speaking with a great group of young (well, under 21!) individuals, including; Salvatore Aranzulla, Jessica Brando, Marco De Rossi, Nicholas Greek, Andrea Lo Pumo, and Valerio Masotti. They will be live streaming this event, which you can find here.

I’ll be staying in Italy from November 14, through the 21, mostly in Rome. If you are an Italian entrepreneur, lets get in touch — I would love to learn what your working on! Thanks to Telecom Italia for inviting me — I look forward to this great opportunity. Till then — ciao!

WooThemes: Premium WordPress Themes

WooThemes

I love WordPress. If you know me, then you know that WordPress is my CMS (Content Management System) of choice. I use it for all my blogs, clients, and more. Even sites like TechCrunch, use WordPress to post content online. WordPress is just plain awesome. One of the great things about WordPress is the community around it. The community of developers that contribute their time and energy into making plugins and themes that thousands, or even millions of users will use.

At the business gas suppliers uk we compare gas prices online quickly and efficiently by collecting your information along with your meter address postcode, our quote engine then proposes the best rates around for your business.

One of the many core values of WordPress is GPL. Because of GPL and the way WordPress treats it, I’ve always followed by that code, so when I see sites like WPMU Premium, WPMU.org, etc., it angers me, because these are great quality plugins and themes that I feel like the entire public should be able to access, not just the paying public. If WordPress is free, why aren’t the add-ons? Mozilla Firefox is free, and so are the thousands of add-ons.

One of the more premium WordPress design companies is WooThemes, co-founded by Adii “Rockstar” Pienaar. At first, I didn’t support WooThemes, because you had to pay for their premium themes. But, after recently speaking with Adii, and really understand WooThemes, their business model, and their goal. I really understand, and respect what WooThemes has built. They have over 40 premium themes, and release some of their themes for free. Of course, the free themes are the ones with the most the downloads.

WooThemes has worked with some of the best designers; Tim Van Damme, Bryan Veloso, Dan Rubin, Elliot Jay Stocks, Liam McKay, Matt Brett, Tony Geer, and Veerle Pieters.

Go ahead and look at some of the WooThemes, because they are beautiful, and can be worth the price for you.

Speaking at BizTechDay

I’ve always had a passion for marketing — getting the word out through multiple channels. But, one of the missing ingredients in marketing is how to target the youth. So on Thursday October 22nd, I’ll be speaking at BizTechDay on how to target the youth when it comes to marketing, both traditional and new media. My session is from 1:50 – 2:45 pm in the “New Media Hall,” so go ahead and drop by!

How to Sell to Niche Markets Online – Baby Boomer and GenY/Teen Communities

As each generation ages, what they buy and how much they spend will change. Each product and service has a “best customer” that sustains its business. As these customers mature, the smart marketers will stay one step ahead of them and their money. The Baby Boomer and Generation Y communities are redefining how we market and it would be wise to learn how to anticipate their needs more effectively.

During this session, you will learn:

-How to clearly understand their ideal customer’s purchasing behaviors
-How to successfully build rapport & trust with these markets
-How Baby Boomer and Gen Y consumers evaluate brands and what they pay attention to when making purchase decisions
-How to narrate your business story in a way that resonates with Baby Boomer and Gen Y community members
-The Dos and Don’ts of marketing to the Baby Boomer and Gen Y communities

I’m excited to share my insight on youth marketing, especially since I’m taking a different approach with this presentation. I’ll upload my presentation to Slideshare on Friday as well. Thanks to Edith Yeung to inviting me to speak, as well!

Update: My presentation is embedded below. Please contact me with any comments/suggestions. There is also video of the session coming as well.

Continue reading “Speaking at BizTechDay”

NextGen Conference in November

I tend to take on too many projects, so here’s another one. Teens in Tech Networks has partnered up with teenage entrepreneur Cory Levy, to produce the 2009 NextGen Conference. NextGen is a one-day conference at Stanford University in the heart of Silicon Valley. NextGen’s mission is to help you succeed, by providing lectures, panels and networking opportunities on areas that are vital in building and maintaining your business.

We’ll have a business plan competition, where startups and entrepreneurs can go on stage, and pitch some investors of their idea. The panel of judges will then go over the business plan, and pick a winner. So far, we have Kevin Hartz, co-founder/CEO of Eventbrite, Ann Miura-Ko, Partner at Maples Investments, David Lee, a partner at Ron Conway’s investment firm, SV Angel, LLC, and Skye Lee and Brian Phillips (early PayPal employees and co-founders of Thread).

We’re still getting a lot of the details figured out, but if you’re interested in sponsoring, or speaking, please contact Cory or myself through the contact page. You can go ahead and register for a ticket today.

Also, don’t forget that the second annual, Teens in Tech Conference, or as we are calling it, Teens in Tech Conference 2.0, is coming in February 2010 at Google’s San Francisco office. You can pre-register for tickets today.

Day 2 with the G2

I recently attended the Google I/O developer conference where Vic Gundotra, VP of Engineering at Google, had his own “Oprah moment.” Google gave every attendee (estimated around 4,000) a G2 phone with the latest version of Google’s Android mobile operating system.

I went down after school to Moscone West in San Francisco, where Google I/O was held, to attend some sessions and pick up my G2 phone. After picking up my phone and activating it, etc, I spent the rest of the day playing with the phone. Here are my initial comments/feedback for Google if they care to listen. All of this is subject to change, since I’ve spent less then 48 hours with the G2 and my opinion will change in the future. Continue reading “Day 2 with the G2”