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3 Things You Probably Suck At (I DID) As A Startup Founder

So you’re a first-time founder of a startup — awesome — welcome aboard the roller coaster of a lifetime!  A great way to manage this incredible journey is by seeking help and guidance of others.  Unfortunately, you (most likely) suck at introductions, asking for help and email.  Don’t feel bad, I sucked at these too, the good news is reading this post will make your life a lot easier.

1) Introductions:

Introductions are an integral part of being an entrepreneur (and life).  Many successful business relationships begin with a warm introduction.

Before asking for or giving an intro, remember an introduction really is:

The connection of two people for the purpose of a value exchange. In essence, the introducer is ‘vouching' for a value exchange and asking both parties to participate.  

(Sometimes this value exchange is “you guys should play ping-pong”  OR perhaps, “you should invest in X’s startup..”)

Startup founders are typically in one of two roles, either the beneficiary (being introduced to someone awesome); and the introducer (connecting two parties).  

I’ll start with the beneficiary. 

Make it effortless for the introduction to happen

  • Provide context (why you want to meet)  and what you do (or who you are).
  • Provide this in the form of a 2-3 sentence blurb (that can be copied + pasted by introducer).

Why?  Writing emails suck - especially when you are doing someone a favor.  So, make it so easy they don’t need to think. 

Don’t be a Chazer (pig)

  • Assume the person is doing you a huge favor (AKA: they value their time very much).  
  • Offer 10-15 minute phone chat (because it’s easy!)  
  • If you insist on lunch/coffee/beers then offer to meet them at a place convenient for them. 

Follow the lead of the Introducer

  • If the person says you should hop on the phone.. you should not ask to meet in person. 
  • If the introducer says you should meet offer 3-4 times/dates when you are available.

You should also:

  • You should reply quickly (and first!)
  • Follow up with the introducer and let them know how the meeting/call went.

As an introducer, remember that the person you are introducing is a reflection on you.  

Don’t make “hail-mary” introductions (introducing someone you barely know)

  • This is risky, if you do it — definitely ask them person first — otherwise, it makes you look like a jackass.

Set expectations in the intro

  • If you feel compelled to make an intro you should explain the reason why you are suggesting the parties connect.  

 Some of you will realize I have not mentioned the introducee (the important person being introduced) for this article, we’ll assume we aren’t that person.  Yet.

2) Asking for Help

As a startup founder, you are probably going to need to leverage your introductions, connections and network for help.  It’s hard to always be asking for stuff — and if you’re going to do it, learn how to do it properly.

Asking an experienced entrepreneur or investor for advice (“to pick their brain”) is always a good choice.  First, find a way to get an intro (see above), then…

Make it easy for them to help..

  • Pick a location close to them 
  • ALWAYS offer (and expect) to pay for them
  • Offer them several times / dates

Make the favor reasonable

  • If a potential investor: ask for advice not investment
  • If a potential customer: ask for feedback not purchase
  • Everyone else: expect to get their attention for the meeting only. 
  • Don’t expect them to prepare before OR do anything specific after.

Be prepared (do your homework)

  • Learn about this person (use LinkedIN, twitter, blog, etc).
  • Understand how they can help (don’t ask a Sales person for technical advice)

3) Email

Rule of thumb: If the email takes up your smart phone screen  its too long!

  • There is no excuse for grammatical errors (especially the persons name)
  • Keep it short (2-3 lines)
  • Don’t email a stupid question that can be answered by a simple Google search
  • If sending a short sentence, put the question in the subject line (then add - nm (no message) or eom (end of message).

Follow these tips and you’ll be much farther ahead than most people seeking help and guidance.  Good luck!

26146681221

Detroit Street Artist Spends Over 1,000 Hours Changing Detroit Landscape

If you have ever driven to downtown Detroit, you’ve certainly noticed the amazing “Chimera” mural that graces the side of the Russel Industrial Building.  This mural is 85 x 100 feet!  

Consider a donation (via Kickstarter) to Kobie Solomon, who spent over 1,000 hours painting this incredible mural so he can get the time and resources to properly finish this masterpiece.

Check out the video… 

Again, to donate via Kickstarter - go here: http://ow.ly/bUWyW 

16105040961
Godspeed, lot’s of people are rooting for you!
mattgalligan:

This is what makes the internet so special.  We can save lives with pixels and a bit of heart, people.  We are living in the future.
superamit:

Many of you have asked, so here’s what’s going on with me.
WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE
8/1979: Born. Grew up in CT, built a killer eraser collection, fell in love with computers.
Left college to start a company. Fell hard. Fled to India for 3 months.
Started 2nd company. Learned to be an adult. Fell in love with NYC.
Moved to SF, discovered burritos & some of my fave people on Earth.
9/2011: Got diagnosed with Leukemia!
Cried. Went through 3 cycles of chemo. Hurt. Thought hard about what I want out of life. Grew up a second time.
TODAY
… After over 100 drives organized by friends, family, and strangers, celebrity call-outs, a bazillion reblogs (7000+!), tweets, and Facebook posts, press, fundraising and international drives organized by tireless friends, and a couple painful false starts, I’ve got a 10/10 matched donor!
You all literally helped save my life. (And the lives of many others.)
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
Tomorrow, I’ll be admitted to Dana Farber in Boston for 4-5 weeks.
First I’ll get a second Hickman line to allow direct access to my heart (for meds and for nutrients if I’m not able to eat). Over the next week, the docs blast my body with a stiff chemo cocktail to try and eradicate all traces of cancer cells. In the process, the immune system I was born with, and my body’s ability to make blood, are destroyed.
Next Friday, I get my donor’s stem cells by IV. I start on immunosuppressants to prevent my body from rejecting them (I’ll be on them for 12-18 months). For these weeks I’ve no immune system, so I’m severely vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. My hospital room and hallway become my world.
Meanwhile, the stem cells make their way to my bone marrow and, with some luck, start producing platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells. At this point, my blood type changes to the blood type of my donor. And my blood will now have my donor’s DNA, not my own.
This is science fiction stuff. I can hardly believe it’s even possible, and there’s lots of chances for things to go wrong. It’s frightening.
AFTER THE TRANSPLANT
Recovery to a new state of “normal” takes about a year, but there’s a few storm clouds hovering:
My immune system is new, like a baby’s. I’m prone to getting sick.
Just as with any organ transplant, there’s a chance of rejection. Except in this case, it’s my blood that’s the foreign body, and it touches every organ. They call it graft-vs-host-disease and it can cause health issues and organ complications for the rest of my life.
Successful transplant or not, Leukemia can relapse. Stubborn mofo.
Overall, 75% of AML transplant patients survive year one, 50% make it through year five. My odds are a little better since I’m young.
THE GREAT NEWS
I’ve got a long road ahead. But I’ve got a donor & amazing family & friends. A few months ago I didn’t have many options. Today I have a plan.
I am alive. I start tomorrow. Wish me luck!
Thank you.

Godspeed, lot’s of people are rooting for you!

mattgalligan:

This is what makes the internet so special. We can save lives with pixels and a bit of heart, people. We are living in the future.

superamit:

Many of you have asked, so here’s what’s going on with me.

WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE

  • 8/1979: Born. Grew up in CT, built a killer eraser collection, fell in love with computers.
  • Left college to start a company. Fell hard. Fled to India for 3 months.
  • Started 2nd company. Learned to be an adult. Fell in love with NYC.
  • Moved to SF, discovered burritos & some of my fave people on Earth.
  • 9/2011: Got diagnosed with Leukemia!
  • Cried. Went through 3 cycles of chemo. Hurt. Thought hard about what I want out of life. Grew up a second time.

TODAY

… After over 100 drives organized by friends, family, and strangers, celebrity call-outs, a bazillion reblogs (7000+!), tweets, and Facebook posts, press, fundraising and international drives organized by tireless friends, and a couple painful false starts, I’ve got a 10/10 matched donor!

You all literally helped save my life. (And the lives of many others.)

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

Tomorrow, I’ll be admitted to Dana Farber in Boston for 4-5 weeks.

First I’ll get a second Hickman line to allow direct access to my heart (for meds and for nutrients if I’m not able to eat). Over the next week, the docs blast my body with a stiff chemo cocktail to try and eradicate all traces of cancer cells. In the process, the immune system I was born with, and my body’s ability to make blood, are destroyed.

Next Friday, I get my donor’s stem cells by IV. I start on immunosuppressants to prevent my body from rejecting them (I’ll be on them for 12-18 months). For these weeks I’ve no immune system, so I’m severely vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. My hospital room and hallway become my world.

Meanwhile, the stem cells make their way to my bone marrow and, with some luck, start producing platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells. At this point, my blood type changes to the blood type of my donor. And my blood will now have my donor’s DNA, not my own.

This is science fiction stuff. I can hardly believe it’s even possible, and there’s lots of chances for things to go wrong. It’s frightening.

AFTER THE TRANSPLANT

Recovery to a new state of “normal” takes about a year, but there’s a few storm clouds hovering:

  • My immune system is new, like a baby’s. I’m prone to getting sick.
  • Just as with any organ transplant, there’s a chance of rejection. Except in this case, it’s my blood that’s the foreign body, and it touches every organ. They call it graft-vs-host-disease and it can cause health issues and organ complications for the rest of my life.
  • Successful transplant or not, Leukemia can relapse. Stubborn mofo.

Overall, 75% of AML transplant patients survive year one, 50% make it through year five. My odds are a little better since I’m young.

THE GREAT NEWS

I’ve got a long road ahead. But I’ve got a donor & amazing family & friends. A few months ago I didn’t have many options. Today I have a plan.

I am alive. I start tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Thank you.

14681957119

We Believe We Can Change the World: Together, We Made a Dent Today

Most of us entrepreneurs do what we do because we believe we can change the world. 

Yesterday, we united together in a GoDaddy boycott based on their public support for SOPA

I quickly created a step-by-step tutorial to remove your domains from GoDaddy, as a way for people to vote with their wallets.

The post sat atop Hacker News for almost 24 hours and drew had over 950 1050 (woot!) upvotes along with driving roughly 50,000 visitors to my small blog.

The post was even linked to Forbes and the LA Times.

On twitter, we had over 35 RT’s and hundreds of mentions.

On tumblr, we had 190+ 247 notes, and about 75 90 reblogs!

Most importantly though, is that we made a massive company PUBLICLY CHANGE their stance on SOPA. 

Entrepreneurs, I salute you.  Awesome job.  It’s an amazing experience to feel so empowered.

 

We won a battle, now we need to win the war against SOPA.

Please do your part and help protect the Internet.


===============

About Jeff Epstein: I’m a tech entrepreneur & founder of Ambassador: social marketing software which enables any size business to turn their customers into brand ambassadors

I’m a Techstar: part of the NYC 2011 summer cohort. I also founded FundedByNight, a startup competition where 25 companies competed to win a 100k convertible note. I also love Michigan State sports & have a ninja-like backhand in ping pong.

Follow me on twitter

14629857835

A Step-by-Step Guide to Transfer Domains Out Of GoDaddy

Follow these step-by-step directions to transfer all of your domains from GoDaddy to NameCheap.

I’m Boycotting GoDaddy because they are pro-SOPA.  

[edit: apparently GoDaddy changed their stance according to TechCrunch]

Step 1:  Login to GoDaddy and get to the domain manager.

Step 2:  Select all domains

image

Step 3:  Click on the “Locking Icon”

image

Step 4:  Uncheck “lock domains”

image

Step 5:  Find the tools tab —> “exportable lists”

image

Step 6:  Click on “Add New Export” button

Step 7:  Select “All My Domains” as the list type

image

Step 8:  Check the “Authorization codes” box

image

Step 9:  Generate the Exportable List

image

Step 10:  Create account at another provider

I chose NameCheap (affiliate link).  The rest of the images are specific to NameCheap.

EDIT: NameCheap is Against SOPA, here is their official stance.

People have also sent promo codes: “switch2nc" and "SOPAsucks" - try them too.

Step 11:  Go to “transfer domain

image

Step 12:  Enter domains you wish to transfer & click “transfer”

**EDIT:  You can simply add the domain, Auth code in Step 12 above**

ex: myURL.com, authorizationcode

**Thanks to Josh Pigford for the tip** 

image

Step 13:  Checkout

image

Step 14:  Update EPP (Authorization code) code from GoDaddy Export File

image

Boom! There you go. 

UPDATED: thanks to Jordan Skole, here is a way to expedite the transfer process.

Step 15:  (Back at GoDaddy) Chose “Pending Transfers”

image

Step 16:  Check all the domains (note: not all of the domains are not showing up yet, this takes a few hours apparently…)

image

Step 17:  Check the “Accept” button and approve!


image

Step 18:  Adios Godaddy!

image

Step 19:  Transfer Complete (about 6 hours later)

image

Please do your part and help protect the Internet.

===============

About Jeff Epstein: I’m a tech entrepreneur & founder of Ambassador: social marketing software which enables any size business to turn their customers into brand ambassadors

I’m a Techstar: part of the NYC 2011 summer cohort. I also founded FundedByNight, a startup competition where 25 companies competed to win a 100k convertible note. I also love Michigan State sports & have a ninja-like backhand in ping pong.

Follow me on twitter

14125474803

TechStars: More than an Accelerater for Your Business, It’s a Way of Life

It’s 2:50am ET and I’m on the redeye flight back to Detroit.  I just spent the last few days in Las Vegas for the TechStars reunion — and sadly, it feels like I’m leaving family members that I won’t see for a while.  I know I’m not alone, the connections we’ve made during our 4 months and the unwavering support from our fellow alums make this group feel like a big (and actually very functional) family.

It’s no surprise when you consider the founders of TechStars: David Cohen and Brad Feld.  They teamed up to found TechStars to build an entrepreneurial community and support entrepreneurship to help change the world.

Even though I have heard Cohen & Feld speak dozens of times, their opening remarks once again reiterated what makes TechStars so awesome.

When Cohen addressed the alumni he said, “I started TechStars to be around a group of awesome entrepreneurs…”

Feld’s opened with: “Remember to give before you get.”

You see, TechStars is bigger than just the sum of the companies + people incubated in our respective cities.  TechStars embodies they way we should conduct business as entrepreneurs and act as people.  This fosters the tight-knit family atmosphere for each founder, mentor, intern, hackstar associated with TechStars. 

It was awesome to connect with fellow entrepreneurs who have offered to lend a hand, chat or support us as we were going through the inevitable rollercoaster that is startup life.  I couldn’t be more proud of being a TechStars alum.

If you have a startup, I urge you to apply to TechStars. If you think that you won’t get more value than you give (in equity) for being in TechStars — you couldn’t be more wrong. 

What are you waiting for?  The next NYC class is accepting applications: http://apply.techstars.com/

Jeff Epstein is an entrepreneur, hustler & founder of Ambassador (formerly @) a social media marketing platform for any business.  A graduate of the 2011 class of TechStars New York.  He also has a ninja-like backhand in ping pong.