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!

Announcing My Next Venture — iPad Case Finder

Well, that didn’t take long! A few days ago, I got an IM from Lachy Groom, a friend of mine. Lachy and I had a chance to work together when he was the Director of Product Management at Teens in Tech Networks for a little bit. If you don’t know Lachy, then you probably should. He started PSDtoWP.com, and grew it into a sustainable company. Since then, he’s sold the company and moved on.

After I got Lachy’s IM, we quickly got down to business. He was launching a new venture, and we wanted to work on it together. That venture is launching today — it’s called iPad Case Finder. The name speaks for itself, but in a nutshell, iPad Case Finder helps iPad users find their iPad case.

If you think about it, peripheral makers are like developers in the App Store. There are tons of apps in the App Store that do the same exact thing, but some stand out. Same with cases — they all do one thing, protect the product, but some do it better then others. So how do you know which one is the best?

The concept is simple, and so is the execution. Here’s how it works. You go to iPad Case Finder, and you can either look at all the cases, or search for cases from a particular case maker. Once you find a case you’d like to find more information on, you click on the case, and you get a hi-res photo of the case, along with a detailed description of the case, with features, etc. You also get price information on the case, where you can buy the case, and similar cases to the one you selected.

This is just the start for iPad Case Finder — we’ll be adding tons of features like ratings, user profiles, favorites lists, and much more. Check out the site, and let me know what you think! We’re still fixing bugs, and adding features, but we’re on the right track.

Update: How crazy! Just launching today, and already getting on Daring Fireball!

What I Launched in a Weekend: My Startup Weekend

With Startup Weekend San Francisco now over, I wanted to talk about what I did this weekend, and where I’m going from now on with my latest project. Initially, I came into Startup Weekend thinking I was just going to help oversee the event along with the lead organizer, Tyler Willis. On Friday night I was helping take pictures, and doing other small things.

After the pitches were done, which most were amazing, I went off and hung out with my friend Dylan Field. We were talking about technology, the web, and social networks, when Naveen Koorakula came up to us, and asked what we were (developers, designers, etc). I quickly explained that I was an organizer, and probably wouldn’t partake in the event. Dylan, also an organizer, told Naveen he was a developer with strong PHP experience (I agree – he’s an excellent developer). Once Naveen started talking, I tried to remember what his pitch was. His pitch actually turned out to be on the top 10 pitches according to angel investor Dave McClure.

Naveen’s pitch was a ponzi scheme website, which we named BigPonzi.com. Not an actual ponzi scheme, but a tutorial of sorts with training on how not to get into a ponzi scheme. I think every single person in the room at Microsoft (who we thank very much for hosting the event) started laughing. It was a brilliant idea. Once we started talking more about Naveen’s idea, we started thinking on how to develop, etc. From there on, we decided that Naveen, Dylan and I were a team and we started brainstorming. Later on, Naveen’s wife, Sakina (who’s also awesome), joined our team. Sakina is Head of International at YouTube. She basically runs anything outside of the US having to do with YouTube. Sakina had a background in PR, marketing, business development, online, and more. By the way, are you familiar with king kong sabri suby? He’s the founder and head of growth at King Kong, a marketing company. They offer services like SEO, CRO, PPC, web design, landing pages, and Facebook advertising. This was all Friday. Continue reading “What I Launched in a Weekend: My Startup Weekend”

Going to Seattle [UPDATE]

I’m really happy to announce that I’ll be going to Seattle April 8-9 for spring break. I’ll be flying in to Seattle on Wednesday morning, and will be flying out Thursday at night. I’ll be visiting my friends over at Tatango.com in Bellingham (about 80 miles away from Seattle). My goal of this trip is to profile startups outside the Valley that are making differences in technology. It will be my first time in Seattle or in Washington. I’m trying to decide if I will spend any time in Seattle, so if you would like to meet with me, feel free to get in touch, and we’ll try to work something out!

UPDATE: I’ve decided that I’ll spend the first day in Seattle, and drive to Bellingham at night, and stay overnight in Bellingham, spend the day with Tatango, and then drive back to Seattle to head home! I’m booking meetings now, so email me if you want to meet!

UPDATE 2: I’ll be flying Virgin America with in flight WiFi, so I’m pretty sure I’ll try out that service and see how good it is! Maybe I’ll video chat with the rest of my family back home! We’ll see… 🙂