E287: Shark Tank Takeover – TWiST



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Today on This Week in Startups, five entrepreneurs with pitches at the ready waded into the waters of Jason’s Shark Tank. Which pitch knocked it out of the park? You’ll have to watch to find out!

1:30 Welcome everyone to a Shark Tank Takeover today on TWIST!
4:30 Huge thanks to our newest sponsor Stamps.com! Use the promo code ‘TWIST’ for your no-risk 4 week free trial.
6:45 Omri pitches Ziibra.com, a social discovery platform to help artists pre-sell albums.
9:30 The pitch was terrible because your idea is brilliant!
11:15 You have to be careful when you’re pitching a great idea not to screw it up, because the site looks great and is well done.
13:00 Have you seen any competitors doing something like this?
15:30 How many artists have you done this with?
16:00 Here’s an idea: Using the HumbleBundle model.
17:00 Did you build all of this yourself? Are you part of any incubators?
18:00 How do you pay back the $50k investment?
19:30 Was there some concept behind the name?
20:45 Next up is Evan pitching AfterSchool.me, a site to help parents find activities for children in their area.
22:30 It’s a very clean interface and it’s amazing to think that this doesn’t already exist.
23:30 Are you going to try to get companies to use your own enrollment system?
24:45 So you were part of StartEngine?
25:30 What do you think of the program?
28:00 Thank you to GoToMeeting from Citrix for supporting the show! Everyone use the promo code ‘START’ for a free, 30-day trial.
31:00 Next pitch is from Heather. SpinPicks.com is a web and mobile app for sharing content with your social graph.
34:15 Do you have any techs on your team?
34:45 I think you’re onto something but I think that the design doesn’t do it justice.
36:30 Heather: We only pull photos that are creative commons.
38:00 You might get some push back from VCs, but they also pushed back on Pinterest until it had scale.
39:00 Where are you based?
40:30 How is this different from Pinterest and StumleUpon?
43:00 Next up is Asim pitching WizeNation.com, a location-based social bulletin board to connect with your neighbors.
44:45 You’re trying to do a lot of different things at once, which makes it a confusing user interface.
45:15 What is the single biggest use case?
47:45 Come up with something where it really helps the user, not just provides a platform for real estate agents.
49:15 Looking at a competitor website for the LA area.
50:15 Narrow your focus and try to solve one simple problem.
52:15 Did you build the website yourself?
54:00 Any questions for me, Asim?
54:30 The final pitch is from Clynton of TagRx.com, a way to make the clothing size and preferences of your child available to family and friends.
56:00 Why this idea?
58:15 I think you found a problem that is very small, which is good, but it could be too small. Pick a better, bigger problem.
1:03:45 Do you have a favorite episode of the show?
1:04:00 Thank you to Stamps.com and GoToMeeting for supporting the program. We’ll see you all next time.Support This Week in Startups and independent media by joining the TWiST Producer Program at TwistList.co!Want to support TWiST another way? Use bit.ly/twistamazon when you shop and a portion of your purchase will go toward helping keep independent media like TWiST on air!


Full Transcript

Jason Calacanis: Hey everybody, it’s ThisWeekIn Startups. Today on the program, it is our Shark Tank Takeover. Yes, we’re knocking off the Shark Tank show on television and we’re going to have five entrepreneurs pitch me, Jason Calacanis, on their ideas, I’m going to give them brutally honest feedbacks and hey, I may wind up investing in one or two of them, you never know. It’s happened before live on the air. So, stick with us.
Jason Calacanis: Hello everybody. Welcome to ThisWeekIn Startups. I’m Jason Calacanis. I’m your host, and this is the program where we talk about Startups, where we talk about entrepreneurship, where we talk about trying to put a dent in the universe, trying to make products a little bit better than the ones that came before, try to just create jobs and create awesomeness in the world. Now, if you’re a member of Gen Y who does not want to work hard and create great products, please, by all means, click over and watch, just type cat videos into Youtube, just get the heck out of here. Leave! We do not need you. Leave! This is the show for samurai, for killers, for murderers, for gangsters, for people who want to win. If you’re a loser, if you want to save the migrant workers in China, if you want to ride a bicycle across the Himalayas, whatever, we don’t have any use for you over here. Go! Go forth and fight for causes.
This is for people who want to create awesome products and services and businesses, and who want to create jobs. If you’re one of those persons who, you know, just is living with your mom and dad, in your basement and doesn’t really want to do much, but you know, I don’t know. Anyway, I think you guys get the idea what the show’s about. I’m trying to just be honest with you, I don’t have time for people who don’t want to work hard and don’t want to hit the excellence that is required to compete in the world today. It’s hard today, products are awesome and there’s like, you want to talk about the one percent, I’ll tell you about the one percent, it’s not the one percent of people who have all the money and the ninety-nine percent who don’t. That’s not what it is. It’s really like the ten percent of society that wants to work hard and make things better and then there’s the ninety percent who are either entitled or tired or lame, and who just want to punch a clock, or they want to get theirs or whatever, they want to get paid, they want to get theirs, they want to just chill out. If you’re a part of that ninety percent, please, go back to your Xbox. For the love of God, there are episodes of the Kardashians or whatever their show is, yeah, Meet the Kardashians or whatever the show is. That’s where you belong. Leave! Stop listening, go. Go, there’s Kardashians to consume. This is for the people who want to create stuff. This is for the ten percent.
Anyway, today’s going to be a great episode. Five of those creators, five people who’re willing to take a chance, five people who’re willing to put it on the line, are going to pitch me, Jason Calacanis, angel investor, serial entrepreneur, on their ideas. And I’m going to give them honest feedbacks about how to pitch better, I’m going to ask them questions that the d-bag VCs will ask, the hard questions, the dumb questions that VCs ask and how to do the Kung Fu to answer those dumb VCs. A lot of them are dumb. Not all of them, like the top twenty percent of the VCs are awesome and the other eighty percent are *eck*. And you know what, this program would not exist without sponsors, supporters. I have to have like five to six people working this weekend to make this happen, and to produce this show, two times a week, sometimes three, to get these stories out there and to create this community and we’ve been doing this for 287 episodes. And, it feels like we just started yesterday.
And, one of those, wow, we need like, that little trumpet, because today we have a new sponsor. And I’m so so excited about this partner, because it’s one that I use and it’s one that I’ve been using for, like almost a decade, I think. Of course, three or more companies have used stamps.com. And going to the post office, that’s kind of a waste of time, we all know that and you don’t have a lot of time as an entrepreneur, and if you have stamps.com, you can buy and print official US postage for any letter or package. And by the way, I use the post office like priority mail, have you ever used priority mail, it’s like a tenth of the price of the other products out there in the market. And, you can do that from home, and so, go to stamps.com, click on the microphone at the top of the page and use the promo code TWIST. Once again, go to stamps.com, I think you can remember that. Click on the microphone at the top of the page and use the promo code TWIST, and you get a no-risk four-week trial and you get a free digital scale and up to $55 in free postage.
Two billion letters and packages have been sent with stamps.com. It’s basically the same stamps you’re going to get at the post office. The post office, by the way, they’re doing a great job. They’re working really hard to create competitive products and services, and stamps.com will save you from having to go to the post office and take all that time and do it from home. The free digital scale calculates the exact postage you need, so there’s not guessing and there’s no waste. stamps.com is a great product, I stand behind it fully, I wouldn’t take them as a partner if I didn’t. If you lose, you’re going to love it so go ahead and go to stamps.com and click on the microphone at the top of the page and use the promo code TWIST, T-W-I-S-T. And get some, you know, huge discount, no-risk four-week trial. Awesome. And follow @stampscom. I’m going to have to call a few folks at twitter and see if I can get ‘@stamps’, they have ‘@stampscom’. I’ll try to work that out. I got some hookups, I’ll try to work that out for you stamps.com. I’m going to call my people over at twitter.
So let’s go to the GoTo meeting of the first pitch. And the first pitch is, Omri. Omri is pitching. Hey Omri, how you doing?
Omri Mor: Good. How you doing, Jason?
Jason Calacanis: I’m fantastic. Are you ready to pitch?
Omri Mor: Yeah, let’s do it.
Jason Calacanis: Okay, you have thirty seconds, ok I’m sorry, sixty seconds. 3-2-go!
Omri Mor: Ziibra is a surfel music discovery platform that is helping independent artists make music there full time job by turning fans into evangelists. Right now, there’s three main problems facing fans and musicians in the industry. Fans aren’t financially incentivized to share the music that they love. Two, when they’re making purchases, there’s no personal connection between the fans and the artist. And three, artists are struggling to find a way to make music their full-time job, by making more fans and making more money at the same time. What we’re doing is creating a social discovery platform, that incentivizes fans to share the music they love with their friends. Using our pricing model, the more people that buy music, the cheaper it gets. So fans get the reward of helping an artist grow and artists make money and new fans at the same time. Thank you.
Jason Calacanis: Ok, very well done. I think I understand sort of how this works. It’s for me to discover new artists and somehow I’m going to get paid in the process, is that correct?
Omri Mor: Yeah, so what happens is… Oh, go ahead.
Jason Calacanis: No no, I just want to make it clear that that’s what’s happening. And then here I see this chart, there’s a pledge here, and the price goes down as the number is sold goes up. And it’s got a time on it. Here, you put on my screen, guys. So here we go, I’m on the pledge page, and this is really beautifully designed. So I see here ‘The Girl and The Ghost’ album, and right now, the current price is $3.99 with a 130 sold. If it goes to 250 or 500, I guess that’s going to go down proportionally to $1.99 or 99 cents. Is that right?
Omri Mor: Yes sir.
Jason Calacanis: All right. I’m going to stop myself for a second here and just, I have to grok what you’ve done. First of all, um, the pitch, I’m going to tell you is terrible, because the idea is brilliant. This is a brilliant idea. It’s demand-based pricing in a Kickstarter model. That’s what you’ve created.
Omri Mor: I’m writing this down, Jason.
Jason Calacanis: And what you pitched me on, I took some notes while you were pitching. And the first thing you said was, the problem was that people want to share music but they don’t get any money from doing it or financial incentive. That’s actually not true. People share music because they want to get credit for introducing their friends to something that’s really cool, it has nothing to do with money. So I think that you just started with something that’s not true. Then, you said something else that was not true, which was, there’s no connection between fans and artists. That’s patently false. There’s never been a deeper connection between artists and fans. Twitter, Facebook, I mean, you have people like….
Omri Mor: I said when they make the purchases. I said there’s no connection when they make purchases.
Jason Calacanis: Okay. Yeah, there’s no connection when you make purchases, I mean, when you’re consuming, the purchases are just a tiny moment that, and even with Kickstarter there is sort of a connection because people are buying it through that, and even Bob Dylan, my favorite artist of all time, I’m on his mailing list, and there is a connection. He just sent me an email about ‘Tempest’, his new album, and ‘Tempest’, I can buy like seven different versions of it. One with harmonica, one without harmonica, you know, I can spend from ten bucks to three hundred dollars. So, there is sort of a connection there, so that didn’t ring true in your pitch. And, you know, you said the artists want more fans and more money, which, that was true. So, you’ve to be very careful when you’re pitching a really great idea, to not screw it up. And you did screw it up this time, because when I finally saw this beautiful page, so well designed, and it reminded me of, like, iTunes plus Kickstarter plus this new graph that I’d never seen before, that’s beautifully designed, of the scale going up and down, you’ve visually represented that. Boy, did it just hit for me!
And so, the way to do a pitch like this is to say, so we’ve come up with a clever idea that is part Groupon and part Kickstarter. It’s like Kickstarter, in that, there’s a period of time and a pledge period. But it’s like Groupon, in that, if a certain number of people agree to buy the album, the price goes from five dollars to as low as 99 cents for a whole album. And so it’s kinda fun to watch the price go down and tell your friends about it. So here’s an example of that working, and then you need to go right into the example. You see what I did there, I used something that everybody understands, Kickstarter. I used another thing everybody understands, Groupon. And I just took credit for two of the most successful and intriguing businesses of the last decade, Kickstarter and Groupon. You know, Groupon’s a little bit derailed about the IPL price and looking to stop, but the truth is, everybody loves Groupon, everybody loves coupons, everybody loves what they’ve done on a product basis, so what you have here is brilliant. Really, I’ve never seen this executed this well. Has anybody ever done more albums sold-price thing before? Did you see that previously somewhere?
Omri Mor: No, it’s a direct experience from helping manage one of my best friends in college. We just finished up here a while ago, but his passion was to pursue music as his full time job and mine was to go do my own startup. So it was a great way to give back and also do this. And I think, you know, what validated it was when Lady Gaga sold her album for 99 cents on Amazon, and it just saw a boost of 400,000 users buying it on there. So from then on, I just went on and built Ziibra.
Jason Calacanis: Listen, it’s also very good-looking. So, I do appreciate that as well. I think it’s well-designed. I think the home page, it needs a little bit of work, and I’ll tell you why. It’s gorgeous, and I don’t, you know, you’ve a nice video and all, I’m pulling it up right now. What I would do is, I think, you’ve to show the permalink page. When I saw the permalink page, and I understood, ‘The Girl and The Ghost’ EP. Once I see that, I understand it. You’ve to understand what is the most powerful piece, the most powerful weapon in your arsenal and it’s hard as an entrepreneur sometimes because we’re so close to the project that you’re thinking about all these merit issues that I’m not even at. But when I see that beautiful graph and I can understand it, oh, if this goes to 250, it’s going to go down to $2.99, if it goes to 500, it’s going down to 99 cents. Wow, that’s cool. I would keep iterating on that. You could probably make that two-bar histogram chart even better. I would just iterate on it two more times maybe. Two more cycles of iteration and I think you’ve a winner on your hand. And I would make it even move up quicker, like, I don’t know, maybe five hundred albums, maybe even make it, you know, two hundred albums, because for these artists, they just want to get it out there, right! So, being able to see it get lower and lower in price is even better.
Omri Mor: Yeah, we created an algorithm, where basically an artist would tell us how many fans they would want to reach, and we plug that number in, and we spit out what’s the teardrop for each price according to how many fans they should reach. And then, our goal’s to help them get that and go beyond.
Jason Calacanis: How many artists have you done this with? And how old is this company?
Omri Mor: We launched in June 2006, and we’ve done it with ten artists so far, and we’ve twenty more about to release.
Jason Calacanis: How did those ten artists do?
Omri Mor: The first one sucked, because nobody knew about us. And then, the next one did kinda okay, like they were up in the twenties, then we got some thirties and then this one right now is the best performing one.
Jason Calacanis: So, here’s an idea for you. You know about Humble Bundle right? I’m sure.
Omri Mor: Yeah, of course.
Jason Calacanis: So, Humble Bundle has done a really good job, and if I pledge for one of these, can I pledge and get fifty percent off if I buy three or something?
Omri Mor: No, that’s a good idea.
Jason Calacanis: So, I think, I mean it makes another level of competition, another level of whatever, but if you did this sort of like Y Combinator, like there’s a class, so there’s the November album pack, there’s the December, you know, you do it every month, you do it every forty five days, that I could just say, you know, screw it, for anywhere from forty bucks to as low as ten dollars, I get ten albums. And then, like, everybody got the albums for a dollar each, you know, that would be incredible. So, it’s like, ok I’ll take a risk, thirty bucks for ten albums, oh, and now it’s twenty, now it’s ten, you know, it could be even more exciting. But, you have to test this first. And, did you build this all yourself? You’re the designer, coder and everything?
Omri Mor: So, I’m the designer, product guy. We also have a backhand developer working on it, and we’re bringing two more devs, actually, next week.
Jason Calacanis: And, are you part of any incubators or anything like that?
Omri Mor: No. I’m thinking of applying to YC, this upcoming batch. Right now, we’re strapped, based on the money I’ve saved in college, and, I actually got into a program called Upstart recently. It’s, they invest in students, instead of companies.
Jason Calacanis: Oh, you got accepted to that?
Omri Mor: Yeah yeah yeah.
Jason Calacanis: So how much did you raise through Upstart?
Omri Mor: I’ve raised 50k through Upstart. So, it was really cool, because I was down to a hundred and eighty dollars and everything, before they gave me that money.
Jason Calacanis: So now, they’ve invested the 50k in you, people have invested 50k in you. And then how does that work? How do you pay back the 50k?
Omri Mor: It’s over ten years. You pay a percentage of your income according to the amount of money you take.
Jason Calacanis: And so, is that going to work for you, or do you think, how much do you think you’ll wind up paying back?
Omri Mor: So there’s a cap.
Jason Calacanis: What’s the cap? Ten percent?
Omri Mor: I think for me, the specific number is about 150. So, I’m okay with that. To be honest, they have a great set of mentors and they provided me cash when I was down to nothing. And now, I do have the chance to keep bootstrapping a bit more, and the next goal is to find our seed angel and make this a full-fledged platform and really revolutionize the music industry by turning it upside down.
Jason Calacanis: Interesting. Well, this is doubly interesting. I think you’ve a great idea and I don’t like the name, Ziibra. I think you need a better name, but it’s a fine place for now. Is there some concept behind the name or is it just interesting sounding generic name?
Omri Mor: Uh no, my friend called a piano a zebra, because of the black and white keys and we use the double slash as a comment when you write code. So we want people to comment about the music and talk about it.
Jason Calacanis: Yeah. That’s completely, yeah, that’s a bad name. You got to work on the name. But when you raise your angel round, you can put, you know, 50k or 25k towards a better name, that would be a little bit more memorable and easier to spell. But, it’s Omri, it’s that how you pronounce your name?
Omri Mor: Yeah, that’s pretty spot on.
Jason Calacanis: Ok, Omri, hey listen, this is a great idea. Congratulations. I wish you luck with it. And let me know when the angel round happens, I might be interested.
Omri Mor: Ok, thank you. I appreciate the feedback.
Jason Calacanis: Yeah, well done. That was great. Let’s go to our next pitch. Our next pitch, number two is, afterschool.me, is that correct?
Evan Fieldman: It is. Hi Jason.
Jason Calacanis: Who am I speaking with?
Evan Fieldman: This is Evan Fieldman.
Jason Calacanis: Hey Evan. How are you?
Evan Fieldman: Fantastic. Happy to be on your show.
Jason Calacanis: Look at that, you got a beautiful HD, gorgeous, my God, we must be using GoToMeeting.
Evan Fieldman: You’re gorgeous Jason.
Jason Calacanis: (chuckles) All right. Let’s do this. You’ve sixty seconds. You ready?
Evan Fieldman: Yeah.
Jason Calacanis: Ok, 3-2-go!
Evan Fieldman: For the past six years, I’ve volunteered as a mentor through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. I went outing, my mentee asked if I could help him find an after-school activity. So I spoke to parents, all of his friends and I searched online. With parents spending over thirty billion dollars on their kids’ activities, I was shocked to learn there was no resource where I could find activities in his neighborhood, at what time and at what cost. So I created afterschool.me. Afterschool.me helps parents find the best activities for their kids in sports, art and tech. Parents search for activities based on age, based on cost, and everytime there’s a transaction on our site, whether it’s for a product or registration, we charge a convenience. We launched locally in LA this summer and we already feature over 1200 activities with 125 small businesses and rec centers. We’ve thirty mommy blocks across the country ready to be our affiliates, and we’re super pumped to be on your show. Jason, you’re a parent, check us out and inspire your kid at afterschool.me.
Jason Calacanis: Ok, very well done. And, I have faced this problem myself. Actually I just did a search and the Jag Gym came up, and I’ve actually gone to classes at Jag Gym with my daughter, so, mission accomplished there. And, I frequently turn to Yelp to look for kids’ activities or just do searches, you know, for gymnastics, Los Angeles, for kids. Gymnastics for kids, Los Angeles on Google. And so, it is amazing that this doesn’t exist already, and it’s a very clean interface. And yeah, it really doesn’t exist, huh, nobody’s ever really done it well.
Evan Fieldman: Yeah, what you’re seeing now, you’re seeing a lot of directories where they’re only listing programs, you’re getting used to few tidbits of information. What we’re showing is activities. So you’re not just going to find the gym class, you’re going to find tumbling, you know, when you go to the YMCA, you’re going to see basketball, softball, volleyball. So we’re really breaking it down. We’re saving time for parents, and we’re also a huge resource for a lot of these small businesses. non-profit rec centers. They’re great with kids, but where they need help is marketing, and that’s what we’re doing. We bring them together online and people are pysched, it’s why we’ve had attraction already during out length.
Jason Calacanis: Right. So here I’m looking at the “Balls! Balls! Balls!” at the Palms Recreational Center for two to four years olds, $56 a session and it’s from October 3rd to December 5th. It looks great. I know that park, it’s a great park in Los Angeles, I’ve been to it. And then when I click “Enroll me”, it dumps me over to their web experience, so, which is terrible. And it’s actually broken, so, do you have your own enrolment system as well, are you going to get them to use your sat solution for that?
Evan Fieldman: Yeah, that’s the future. Right now, we’re testing the various ways to monetise, and one of them is registration. So, in the future we’ll able to upsell our programs with registrations, offers and service solutions.
Jason Calacanis: Yeah, I mean I think that’s going to be the key because, although you’re a directory right now, but really being able to manage their lists and do that will make it extremely defensible. And what does it cost you to put these activities in there currently? You have somebody doing the research and putting it in? Do you have people calling up to ask them to put it in? How does it work?
Evan Fieldman: Yes. Right now, over eighty percent of the programs are actually entering the activities for themselves. It’s very easy, it’s an automated process. We also have one intern and we’ve also sort of made the process even easier by using M-ter, so we know how long it takes to enter an activity, how much it costs to pay an intern, but it’s really the programs. They love what we’re doing and they’re entering the activities themselves. It’s been great.
Jason Calacanis: It’s a really good idea. And you were part of the Start Engine?
Evan Fieldman: Yes. Right now, we’re members of the Start Engine, my co-founder Alex and I. We received twenty thousand dollars in seed funding. Our demo day is next week, and it’s real exciting. There’s a group of fifteen startups and it’s been an awesome experience.
Jason Calacanis: And, they are a little more aggressive in terms of the idea they give you, unlike let’s say, Y Combinator which is like 20k at six percent a comin. Start Engine is 50k but you give up twenty percent of the equity? How much equity do you have to give up in that kinda program?
Evan Fieldman: Yeah, so Start Engine you give up ten percent equity but they’re investing in much earlier stage companies where you’re really just coming in with your idea. When I went to Start Engine, it was really just me. Howard Marks was great, he introduced me to a technical co-founder, so they’re providing much more resources beyond simply money.
Jason Calacanis: Yeah. And ten percent for 50k and YC is getting six percent for 20k, it’s seems like a pretty similar deal. And how was the program in the Mentors? Was it a 10-week program, a 12-week program? Are you there full time, are you there once a week? How does it work?
Evan Fieldman: 12-week program. We’re there every day at 9 AM and we leave about twelve hours later. We’re there on the weekends. There’s a great group of startups that are there. It’s just been a wonderful experience to be part of LA’s tech-scene right now, and it’s emerging and there’s a lot of energy and it’s just awesome.
Jason Calacanis: Listen, this is a great startup and I’ll look forward to seeing you at the demo day, I will be there. When is your demo day, in two weeks?
Evan Fieldman: It’s next week, across campus, Wednesday evening.
Jason Calacanis: Ok yeah, I’m supposed to be there, so hopefully I’ll have that on my schedule. Evan, very well done, afterschool.me. Everybody check out afterschool.me. Very cool idea. And I’m sure you’re on AngelList as well.
Evan Fieldman: Thank you.
Jason Calacanis: Ok, moving right along, we got two down and three to go. And I have to say, two really solid execution, the design looks great on both of these, the domain name is very good on one and okay on the other. One of the ideas is very innovative, the other idea is perhaps not as innovative, but very needed, right. So as an entrepreneur, you can pick, on the scale, some things are not super innovative, but if they’ve done well, that in itself is innovative. So, it might not seem innovative to create a directory of kids’ stuff, but I can tell you from the frustration I’ve had, trying to find stuff to do with my daughter and find classes and stuff. It is something that is very much needed. So, you know, Steve Jobs created the iPad ten years after Bill Gates was running around CES with tablets. He just did it so much better that it felt like a new product, so there is a real entrepreneurial lesson there. And then you look at Ziibra, which is taking components, right. Taking the component of demand-based aggregation, which is a fancy way of saying group buying and then taking the Kickstarter model, like hey, it was a campaign, it’s a certain amount of time, we’ve to get a certain number. That’s two different dynamics which that, of course, makes something original. There’s nothing new in the world, you know, is an expression that you hear, but you can create something very new by mixing things that are very old, and combining things. That’s part of entrepreneurship, a little mixing and matching of the best of what’s out there.
Hey, and speaking of the best of what’s out there, GoToMeeting by CITRIX. I use GoToMeeting all the time and I’m using it today. These beautiful HD images, I don’t know if you noticed, but Evan from afterschool.me, was beautiful, crisp and delightful over GoToMeeting. Solid. CITRIX does a great job with GoToMeeting, I use it all the time. When we do the Launch Festival, which is going to be March 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, that is two-three hundred interviews done. Two-three hundred companies interviewed over GoToMeeting, that’s like, you know, it’s atleast three or four hundred meetings because multiple people see each company. We use GoToMeeting because the meetings have to start on time, and if they don’t start on time, we’re screwed because there’s a five o’clock meeting, a five-thirty meeting, a six o’clock meeting, a six-thirty meeting, a seven o’clock meeting, you get the idea. It has to start on time and we’ve to be able to quickly end the call and get the other one up and running. How do we do that? With flat-rate pricing from GoToMeeting by CITRIX, the solution is just flawless. And these guys are specialists. They’ve been working on it for so long, and everybody I know who uses the product, will not go on a conference call with any of the other products out there. And, it works on Mac, and it works on PC, and it works on iPad, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It works on everything. And these HD faces, I’m telling you, what an innovation, it’s so gorgeous and it’s actually more powerful than the camera that comes on your typical Mac computer. I have upgraded in my conference rooms, have the Logitech HD 1080p camera because I want to take advantage of the CITRIX goodness in terms of HD faces. It really is like those old systems, like ten years ago, remember people were spending like half a million dollars putting a teleconference room in their companies. Sony was putting all these teleconference rooms in. VCs just had money to blow so they were buying five hundred thousand. GoToMeeting, it’s better, more feature-rich, more stable, and you can go start a free thirty-day trial at GoToMeeting, click the “Trial Free” button and use the promo code START, S-T-A-R-T. START, START, START.
GoToMeeting, thank you so much for making a great product and thanks for supporting ThisWeekIn Startups, which helps support other great products being made in the world, like we’ve seen already. You can go thank @gotomeeting on you Twitter account. If you do that, I’d really appreciate it. Just say thank you @gotomeeting for supporting @jason, that’s my Twitter account @jason, not bad, and ThisWeekIn Startups, pound, twist, whatever. Thank them on your Twitter account and they’ll get a real kick outta that and I really appreciate it. Go to gotomeeting.com, use the promo code START, get your thirty-day free trial. I use it, I endorse it, you will love it.
Let’s do the next company. Next up, SpinPicks and do we have, Heather on the line. Heather, are you there? Hey Heather.
Heather Solos: Hi, yes.
Jason Calacanis: Wow, look at that, a great headset, I love it. What are you, a videogamer?
Heather Solos: No, I borrowed it.
Jason Calacanis: You borrowed it. Wow, you could land a 747 with that headset. So, let’s take a look here, SpinPicks is yours right?
Heather Solos: Yes.
Jason Calacanis: Ok, you know the rules, and what did you think of the first two companies? Pretty good so far, huh?
Heather Solos: Yeah, now I’m a little intimidated.
Jason Calacanis: (chuckles) Don’t be. Don’t be. We all start at the same place as entrepreneurs, which is at zero. Ready? 3-2-go!
Heather Solos: Hi! SpinPicks is a web and mobile application for discovering visual content. I came up with the idea while I was perusing Pinterest and trying to use it for the site. I’ve been running for the last five and a half years, I was overwhelmed by the UI, I didn’t like the firehose, so I wanted to streamline the experience and so I came up with a dashboard for Pinterest. But, once my developer and I looked at it, we realized we had something much more and it translated the many different visual platforms, Twitpic, Instagram, all of those and we allow the casual expiration and sharing of the content. We launched in March, we had over ten thousand dollars in our first thirty days, one million spins and we average about eight minutes of user interaction and there is a lot of opportunity for seamless marketing and we’ve been having fun with stuff like Opensky and Gilt.
Jason Calacanis: Ok. I am intrigued, and a little confused, which is a good sign, in my experience. So, I flip through images, like here’s a picture from Italy of a woman in a see-through dress with her underwear.
Heather Solos: Of course.
Jason Calacanis: Of course, that’s the first thing. And this came from Reddit, so of course people know funny images all over Reddit. So you’re pulling images that are popular on the web, is that correct?
Heather Solos: Exactly. But, we also filter a lot of things because one of the big problems with Pinterest is they pull images from anywhere, what we do is we filter out images that cannot be properly attributed because I’m a content creator and if you can’t click through from the image to my site, I really don’t want you sharing it. In that way.
Jason Calacanis: Got it. So you have, here we go, here’s a picture of somebody who says on Reddit, first marker said, “My grandfather put together this panorama shortly after the US took Iwo Jima. Any photo wizards want to take a crack at it?”. But if I click this, I’m going to go to Reddit.
Heather Solos: Exactly.
Jason Calacanis: And, so in a way, it’s like StumbleUpon?
Heather Solos: Absolutely. We have a joke that if Pinterest and StumbleUpon had a baby, but then after Pinterest pulled their API, it’s kinda like the went out for cigarettes and never came home.
Jason Calacanis: Okay. And I can very easily, with this little box on the right, say, this is cool, and share the spin to my Facebook page. And it should share it right? It said shared and I just move on.
Heather Solos: Absolutely.
Jason Calacanis: And I just click the spin up here, and if I put it on Autospin every x number of seconds, it will spin.
Heather Solos: Yup!
Jason Calacanis: Oh, this is very sad. This is somebody who died on 9/11, today being 9/11. And so, this is just super compelling because all of these things have been pre-vetted in a way because it’s the best of what’s on the web.
Heather Solos: Exactly. And one of the things we found when we first launched this, we experimented with promoted spins and which the brands I’ve worked with in the past, we won a hit and pooled the images from their Pinterest boards, with their permission of course. And we monitored the interaction that was happening and when it was done perfectly with people’s interest, it was shared and tweeted and re-pinned, just as much as the rest of the content.
Jason Calacanis: Okay, now are you a designer or does your team have a designer on it or are you guys all techs?
Heather Solos: Paul is my partner and he does the tech side.
Jason Calacanis: He does the tech side. Are you a designer or you’re the idea…?
Heather Solos: I’m a content creator. I just came up with this because I didn’t like the way Pinterest was.
Jason Calacanis: Got it. Okay, so, here’s what I think. I think you’re onto something the same way StumbleUpon is and Pinterest is. I think that the design doesn’t do a justice and I think the name SpinPicks is good. So, I think that if you were to engage a UX/UI design expert, maybe even three of them and give them each a thousand dollars and say go, then you might come up with something really really game changing. I think the world expects design that’s a little bit better than this, but I can see where you’re going with this, and it’s compelling. It’s very compelling, because people love images, now there’s a legality issue that’ll come up, of course, and you’ve to be sensitive to that.
Heather Solos: We already have an “opt out” page, and it’s right there on the SpinPicks.com.
Jason Calacanis: Yeah, so that’s by domain or by image?
Heather Solos: Both. You could do either one.
Jason Calacanis: Okay, so obviously Reddit might say at some point like, you know, Reddit wouldn’t, because they’re cool. But other people might have a problem with this and “opt out” is a little aggressive but, you know, most people would want to “opt in” for images, so if you were to, for example, pull up a litigious group of people, like Perfect 10 are the people who have like an adult magazine and sued Google. I don’t what ever happened with the Perfect 10 lawsuit, that was the first one of like, image navigation lawsuits. You can have problems. And so, as a startup, you’ve to take risk, and you’ve to be aware of the risk you’re taking and try to reasonably avoid it. So I think you probably have.
Heather Solos: Yeah, we do it like Flickr, we pull only from creative comments and so we’re pretty careful of what we do.
Jason Calacanis: Yeah, but even with Flickr, it’s like, if you pull from any photo on Flickr, and as long as you take like, as long as it’s not advertising around it and you’re linking to the original source, I don’t think people would have a problem with it. And you know, I immediately thought this would be a great great iPad app.
Heather Solos: Oh, it is. I works beautifully on the iPad, because the spin button is where your thumb is when you hold it.
Jason Calacanis: Yeah, so if it’s me, I would be spending a little bit of time on the design and the UX, and just try to nail that, because we know people love photos, we know people love to share, we know people love to comment and we know that there’s plenty of APIs and systems out there for you to just, skim the cream of what’s the best images out there and most interesting, and why not. You seem like you’re doing it in a classy way with good intention by linking to the original sources and who posted it. You’re really making it clear where this came from, which I like. And you probably didn’t even have to do that. I think angel investors and VCs will not invest in this is the challenge you have, because they will look at the IP risk where Pinterest is protecting itself because the users are the one who put it into the system. You’re using other methods to put the photos in the system like Reddit, et cetera. You might get a little setback from them and let’s face it, VCs didn’t appreciate Pinterest till it had scale, but what I love about this business is that if you do paid exposure in it, paid discovery.
Paid discovery is what StumbleUpon. For people who don’t know, you hit StumbleUpon, it’s a very popular service with a small number of people, popular in that they use it for a lot of hours, but it’s low millions of users. Every fifth or tenth page is somebody paying a nickel to ten cents to have you look at that page, but the other nine are super compelling and interesting, picked by the community. So you’re not doing something super revolutionary here, but I do think, as a fact that all these social networks now exist and quickly allow you to post on them. That is kinda neat, so you’re going to need to do a little innovation. maybe personalisation, maybe based on my likes, you survey up more of the similar categories, but I think you’re off to a good start.
Heather Solos: Thank you.
Jason Calacanis: And you pitch not bad. Great. Well done. And where are you based?
Heather Solos: Charleston, South Carolina and my partner’s at Myrtle Beach.
Jason Calacanis: Awesome. You have to move.
Heather Solos: I want to.
Jason Calacanis: Yeah, just leave. I mean, go to The Valley, go to New York, go to California or go to Austin and Seattle or Boston. One of those places that’s got incubators and I think if you do one level of iteration on this, you’ll get into an incubator, no problem. In fact there’s so many incubators out there. Is that what you’re thinking of doing? Trying to getting to YC or try to get into something?
Heather Solos: Yes.
Jason Calacanis: Which one do you want to get into?
Heather Solos: We’re just doing the research right now.
Jason Calacanis: I think incubators are a good way for you to go. You’re a first time entrepreneur?
Heather Solos: Yes. Well, I’ve been running my website for five and a half years.
Jason Calacanis: You need one more little thing to amp it up, so I’m sure you have a huge road map. Look at your road map and think of something that makes it a little more unique, you know, because when I look at it, I say, okay great, StumbleUpon, Pinterest. You need to have a perspective or a view of the world something that just amps it up a little more, I think to capture the imagination of, like let’s say, you wanted to get Shervin or Kevin Rose, it’s not enough to show them StumbleUpon, because those are pretty savvy dudes or Cyan Banister who’s a savvy lady. They’re going to look at it and go, I’ve seen StumbleUpon, I’ve seen some things like this, how is this different? And you need to have a really good answer. So I’ll ask it as if I’m Kevin Rose or Shervin. So I’m an investor in Pinterest and I’m good friends with the person who created StumbleUpon, how is this different?
Heather Solos: Crap!
Jason Calacanis: It’s fine if you don’t have an answer right now, but that’s the question you’re going to get from an angel and you gotta be ready for that one.
Heather Solos: Right. We have a lot of plans for doing things like rating the spins because if somebody shares something, it doesn’t necessarily mean they like it, you can share something thta you think is just awful. So it’s not necessarily an indicator so we want to pull in a lot of data on how long people are looking at it, what they’re looking at and there’s also a lot of potential in discovery based shopping.
Jason Calacanis: Okay, so that’s not enough. Yeah, rating it, okay, everybody knows rating systems can be gamed or rating systems are like very Yelp 2000, 2001, 2002. So, one way to think about this is think about what are the major trends on the internet right now. The major trends on the internet right now is obviously, like you said, social shopping. Pinterest and Fab and The Fancy, so adding a spin on shopping is an interesting idea. I don’t know what it exactly is but anyway, this is how an entrepreneur needs to think, what are the trends right now that I can attach to a previous trend, like before we saw Groupon, sort of an older trend, combined with Kickstarter, a newer trend, to create something that, ooh, captures the imagination. You’re missing the other piece, you’ve got half, you need to add the other piece. So crowdsourcing, crowd funding, there’s no real crowd funding opportunity here, okay we’ll take that off the list. Mobile, okay that’s a big opportunity.
Heather Solos: That’s actually how I got started. There was no Android app for Pinterest, so we created it.
Jason Calacanis: Yeah. So that’s a good story. And so, working on the mobile and saying, what makes mobile interesting. What’s unique about that format, that would make this more compelling, so easier share and mobile, maybe. What’s other trends right now? Educational, social, mobile, location-based, you’ve to start thinking about those things. Maybe there isn’t one but, it could just be an execution play, making it more refined. But you’re paid discovery model, that was the unique thing about StumbleUpon, so you can’t really take too much credit for that. But anyway, good start, good start.
Heather Solos: Thank you.
Jason Calacanis: Okay, stay in touch and let me know how it goes, Heather. All right, let’s do our fourth company, our fourth company, and this is the part where Tyler would say that reminds me of something, that reminds me of a blank in a blank, with a blank. He hopefully wouldn’t say that last part. Okay, let’s go to WizeNation. WizeNation is Asim. Asim, are you there?
Asim Siddiqui: Yes, I am. Hey, Jason.
Jason Calacanis: How you doing?
Asim Siddiqui: Good good. How are you?
Jason Calacanis: I am well, I’m well. So, you know the rules, you’ve sixty seconds. 3-2-go!
Asim Siddiqui: All right, so WizeNation is a location-based social bulletin board to connect with neighbors, local businesses and others with local interests and skills. Like a bulletin board located in your building, community center, office or apartment building. You can pretty much post any kind of message on WizeNation. For example, if you’re looking for a babysitter, you can just do a shoutout on WizeNation and all your neighborhood and vicinity will be able to see that. And if there are any other babysitters in your area, they will be able to reply to it directly. And they can even send you a private message if you want to exchange their phone numbers and emails. WizeNation can also be used as a local classified to buy or sell stuff and local organizations and businesses, they can create business profiles to make local announcements and reach their local. And, in a nutshell, WizeNation is a local social network.
Jason Calacanis: Okay. So, this idea’s been out there. People have talked about it, and I’ve yet to use one. I know there was MyBlock or something like that, or MyTown. And it was like a location-based social network. And you could only join it if you were in that neighborhood, I like the idea of a Craigslist that’s local. But I think right now, you got a couple of problems. You’re trying to do a lot of different things at once. You have the business, you have My Wizzy, you have Wizzinity. It’s a very confusing user interface and a confusing product message. So I’ll ask you a question, how long has this been out for?
Asim Siddiqui: About three months.
Jason Calacanis: What is the single biggest use case? Who’s using it the most and what are they using it for?
Asim Siddiqui: So, real estates and people who are trying to sell used stuff.
Jason Calacanis: Okay. So you got a real estate broker, like this dude Kim Louie, who just cannot stop posting and it ruining the feed.
Asim Siddiqui: Yeah. I’ve to put a cap on some of these real estate agents.
Jason Calacanis: Yeah, that’s what happens on message boards that are local. Now, do I have to be at that geo-location in order to post?
Asim Siddiqui: Yes.
Jason Calacanis: How do you know that I’m at that geo-location?
Asim Siddiqui: So, when you sign up, you’ve to sign up using your postal code or zip code.
Jason Calacanis: So I could fake it?
Asim Siddiqui: Yes, pretty much.
Jason Calacanis: Yeah, so the fact that it can be faked means it will be gamed, it’ll have less signal. So this guy Kim can go all over and post to it. And the fact that this is a web app is also a little bit weird and the fact that it’s not a clear message is also confusing. What you need to do as an entrepreneur is solve one problem really well and then scale from there. And if that one problem doesn’t work, if you don’t solve that one problem, it doesn’t take off, you can either iterate on it or you can move on. I think what you really want to try to do here is pick one of these use cases and make a clear brand that does just that and that would force people to be in that location, and I would do it only in a small city. So I’d pick some city you’re in or another city do Austin, Texas or just do Brooklyn. And if you did this just in Brooklyn, and if you used the name like Brooklyn Blocks, right, be around different blocks in Brooklyn or Brooklyn Hoods, and it’s an iPhone app or an Android app or a web app where you, it’d be better as an app, you can post based on being in a, whatever, three-block radius, but that’s it. And it’s just a message board, by block. When you take out your phone, you see message from that area, that’s it. And the messages are around community building stuff or it’s dating or whatever. Because you see, Highlight and that other one are doing dating and finding people online and in this, is it going to be getting pitched by real estate brokers, really? That’s a bad use of technology, it’s annoying, marketing is terrible. Everybody hates marketing messages. Come up with something that really helps the users. So what problem do you have on a local basis, do you not know your neighbors and you want to, that’s one problem. Do you not know what programs and services are in your neighborhood or what issues are in your neighborhood? You have a solve a very specific problem for yourself or for at least somebody you know well or a group of people you know well. And I think what you’re building here is what you intellectually think people need. And what happens is when you try to build a whole bunch of stuff that you think people intellectually need, but you yourself do not need, it becomes really hard because you’re thinking in the abstract. So what’s something on a local basis that you yourself need, Asim?
Asim Siddiqui: So, when I’m looking to borrow something from my neighbor or trying to sell it, sell my old stuff, I can just shout out on WizeNation. I could use Craigslist or Kijiji, but those websites are not social, they haven’t innovated in a while, so what I did was, I just used those models and I made it social, because the web is going social right?
Jason Calacanis: So, do you perceive that the idea of borrowing from your neighbors is a good idea?
Asim Siddiqui: Yes. Why not? Let’s say, if you want to borrow a ladder or a tool. Why would you want to buy a ladder if you’re going to be using it once a year, right?
Jason Calacanis: Right. So here’s an example, it’s called neighborgoods.net and a woman named Mickie, here in Los Angeles created this. It’s only for Los Angelester. Thirty two hundred people using it, let’s see, twenty three hundred items. And I’m not sure if it’s really working or not but it did get a little bit oppressed two years ago, when it came out. And as you can see, there message is super clear and may have density in an area and you can see all the people in Santa Monica or Vista, using it. And you can see, it got in the New York Times, Boing Boing, Opera, LifeHacker, TechCrunch, Good, NPR. So what you see there is people actually want this. However it’s closing. And I guess there’s another company called Favortree, which is a favor trending startup. But people have been navigating around where you are, so there is some activity there which means there might be something to do. But it’s hard to trade, I guess, from your neighbors, so I think you’re still very much in experimental phase, but you might not have the right methodology for experimenting. I suggest you narrow down your focus and try to solve on simple problem on your block, on your neighborhood and for yourself. If you think it’s just borrowing and trading stuff, just having a directory of who’s in the neighborhood and, you know, there’s one startup for local neighborhood watches. There’s Zillow, For and Trulia for real estate, you know, try to do it vertical specific first, because you’re not going to have enough critical mass to make this sort of wide thing work. That makes sense?
Asim Siddiqui: Oh yeah, those are some good suggestions.
Jason Calacanis: Where are you based?
Asim Siddiqui: I’m based out of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
Jason Calacanis: I think you’re watching the Silicon Valley scene from a distance. You’re a fan of startups I take it?
Asim Siddiqui: Yeah.
Jason Calacanis: And is this your first startup?
Asim Siddiqui: Yes.
Jason Calacanis: Okay, so for your first startup, you got a couple of things right. For one, you found the show. So you’re listening to ThisWeekIn Startups, hopefully, religiously right?
Asim Siddiqui: Oh you’re pretty popular over here.
Jason Calacanis: You’re out there seeking out information from other entrepreneurs, whether it’s AngelList, ThisWeekIn Startups, Kevin Rose’s Foundation podcast, This Week In Tech with Leo Laporte, you’re seeking information. So you’re a seeker right? And you’re learning. But the problem is when you’re this disconnected from Silicon Valley, you’re probably looking at all these different ideas being done and you’re trying to do too much. You have less resources and less experiences as a first time entrepreneur. You have less knowledge being in a second tier city to the top tier tech cities. It is even more important for you to be focused and trying to solve one problem because you’re disconnected from the tech hubs and you’re first time. Narrow your focus, solve one problem and do it beautifully and elegantly. And you’re technical right? You built the website yourself?
Asim Siddiqui: No, I work with a developer.
Jason Calacanis: So I think you need to have a skill yourself. Whether it’s web design, programming or user interface. So if you can’t code yourself, I think the easiest thing for you to do is either become a designer or a UX person, because your UX right now and the color scheme and everything is terrible. You have to really work on that and the reason that it’s probably terrible is because you lack experience but you also lack a focus. It’s hard to do a lot of things well, that’s why even Steve Jobs or Google likes to pull features. Everybody is trying to pull features out of products so that the products are elegant and simple. It’s easy to design a product with three features. But when you start adding like thirty features, on your home page here, I’ve got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen things I can click on above the fold. It should be five, or three, like really start to narrow that down and reduce down the amount of stuff I can do on the website, so that it’s clear for me what to do. But you’re off to a good start, and you’re doing something which, the fact that you’re even trying means that you’re better than ninety-nine percent of the people out there, or let’s say ninety percent of the people. Now that you’re part of the ten percent, we gotta move you out of the tenth percentile to the ninth to the eighth to the seventh to the sixth and the way you’re going to do that is focus and with domain expertise in something. So focus in on a vertical and gain some domain expertise in something, whether it’s geo-targeting, whether it’s design, whether it’s UX, just start working on your skills, Asim. So then those skills come out in the product. Well done, let’s hear it for Asim.
Asim Siddiqui: That’s great. Thank you.
Jason Calacanis: Any questions for me, Asim?
Asim Siddiqui: No, you gave some solid suggestions, so I’m bound to follow them now.
Jason Calacanis: Okay, done. Check back in with me when you’re done doing them.
Asim Siddiqui: Thank you so much.
Jason Calacanis: Okay, one, two, three, four, we’re left with one more. TagRx. TagRx, are you there?
Clynton Caines: I am. How you doing?
Jason Calacanis: That is Clynton right? Clynton Caines?
Clynton Caines: That’s correct.
Jason Calacanis: Okay Clynton, you know the rules, 3-2-1-go!
Clynton Caines: Clothing and gift cards are multi-billion dollar businesses, because kids are always growing and only moms know the current size of the kids. TagRx was developed to help families save time and money, buying clothes for kids especially. Families that have moms that are extremely busy or working, and they don’t have a whole lot of time to go shopping but they have extended families that want to help, they just don’t know what to send and what the current sizes are when they do try to send something. So that’s our target market. TagRx is going to launch later this fall. Hopefully in the next few weeks, but we have a public beta available now and the goal is to connect folks on any system, to have the ability to interact with other family members and find out whatever information they need. We’re actually looking for fifty thousand dollars to bringing on a CEO, because I’m a technical guy, I build stuff, but I definitely don’t make it pretty and we actually need to get a few UI folks on this as well to make it a whole lot nicer looking.
Jason Calacanis: Okay. Well done, well done. Why’re you building this? Why this idea? There’s a million idea, a billion ideas, why this one?
Clynton Caines: Well I had a personal pain point and that is that, well really two of them. I have a nephew and every time I wanted to buy him something or send him something, I had to call my sister and find out what’s his current size and this was like every few weeks or something like that. Then the other problem is, I have kids of my own and everytime I go shopping, my wife says, hey can you pick this up for the child or that, and I’m sitting there like, whoa, I don’t know what the size is and I don’t want to go up to someone and say, hey can you guess what size my daughter is. That is a very embarrassing kind of situation, so I think it solves both of those issues.
Jason Calacanis: Okay. And, people are faced with the issue of buying a gift for somebody once, twice, three times a year. Probably a nephew or for their own kids. With your own kids, I guess figuring out what size they are is something that you do. You just put your foot in that shoe thing and you figure out the size, no harm, no foul. That’s pretty easy.
Clynton Caines: I am a dad and I never know. I always have to go back and ask my wife, hey what’s the current size?
Jason Calacanis: Yeah, and ordering online, size is a problem and so you found a pain point. The question is, is your solution the best solution? So finding a pain point is one part of entrepreneurship, figuring out what solution to put against that is another. And so, people usually route around this pretty easily. I buy gift cards for people or give them money for their birthdays and make them buy whatever size they want or whatever else they want. That’s one way to route around it. Another way to route around it is to buy something with a receipt, so that they can return it and plays as examples that you return in a year, so there’s that. And also, emailing or texting somebody what is their size or knowing their age from their Facebook page is another way to route around it. I’ve done that. How old are they, approximate age, I’d just guess the size and worst case scenario, they return it.
So, I think that you found a problem that is very small, and there’s also people solving this problem by having the ability to take a picture and understand the size of somebody. So that’s like a really technological solution to it. So I think you may have found too small of a problem and as an entrepreneur what you gotta realize is entrepreneurs put in sixty-seventy-eighty-ninety weeks into something, no matter what they do. Putting eighty hours a week into building this app or eighty hours a week building Path or eighty hours a week building Angry Birds, whatever it is, it’s the same eighty hours. It’s all your effort as an entrepreneur. You’re all in, leaning into it doing the best you can. And so you’ve to pick the right problem and so this problem, I don’t perceive as a huge problem or one that is necessary to solve right now. But if you talk to twenty people about the problem, I bet you, you’re going to triangulate around something and maybe the problem is gifting is hard.
It’s hard to get gifts for people, it’s hard to know what they want. Now we’re like, okay, in the funnel of problems, if you do such a thing, you found this problem here about like, okay, I couldn’t figure out the size for my cousin or my nephew to buy him a gift. But there might be a bigger problem when you step back and say, gifting is hard, it’s hard to get somebody a gift and know what they want. Amazon had a solution for that, the wish list. Some people actually keep wish lists.
Other people are creating gifting apps, one of them was called Karma, that got bought by Facebook, where you could give, it’d suggest things to you and you could give them to somebody. Another possibility is, you know, so Fab and Pinterest are sort of, and The Fancy are sort of solutions to this as well. Fab, The Fancy and Pinterest are giving you ways to find interesting stuff and gosh, if somebody starts pinning stuff they want, you’d have an idea if they want it. So I would start looking at the bigger issue of gifting and go down that path because that’s hot right now, and social gifting and commerce and getting people to make impulse purchases or I’m buying you something. That’s going to be a bigger, sexier, more fun thing to do, whereas just getting something their size is too easy of a problem for you to be solving, I think. And there’s not going to be a global directory of people sizes, people are not going to fill it out. It’s not a juicy enough problem, so move up the stack, find a bigger problem, find a bigger pond to swim in or fish in, find a bigger wave to surf.
This is too small of a wave, you’re in the kitty pool. You gotta get a bigger wave, because it’s not worth solving this problem. If you solve this problem, what do you win? What’s the price? I don’t think there’s a huge price. But if you solve the overall gifting problem or gifting problem for teenage girls or gifting problem for teenagers or gifting problem for parents, whatever it is, or collective, somebody who wants a big gift, and you know, you have ten different uncles and aunts and whatever, chipping in to buy a big gift, that’s a better problem to solve. I’ve seen people dance around that one.
So I’m a kid who wants an Xbox but I’m going to get a forty dollar gift from ten different people when I really wanted a $400 Xbox, with Kinect or something. So, maybe you try to solve that problem of I’m a kid, I can send a reqest out to everybody who’s buying me a birthday present, saying don’t buy me a $40 pair of socks that I don’t want, put it towards my Xbox fund and here’s a way to do it, I’m starting an Xbox fund. So that would be my advice to you Clynton, is pick a better problem.
Clynton Caines: All right. One of the things I hear you saying, we actually have in the app right now, which is closer to the bottom though, where you can actually specify these are my favorite stores, these are my favorite characters, et cetera, et cetera. So it sounds like what you’re saying is we definitely need to go more based on those things and forget about the sizing specifics.
Jason Calacanis: Yeah. I think doing too much and forcing me to fill out forty fields for some possible payout, filling out the fields doesn’t feel like fun, people have form fatigue right now, that’s why something like Pinterest or The Fancy is doing so well because it’s actually fun. It’s a game to pick the cool images and it’s really rewarding and they’re servicing the most interesting stuff and hiding the stuff that’s boring, so those systems have made it fun to enter information about yourself. They’re doing it for different reasons than your friends buying stuff for you. They want your data. And the Like button is sort of that whole thing. So you’re triangulating but I wouldn’t be afraid to scrap the entire idea and start over two or three times, four or five times, until you find something where you provide tremendous value to the person.
Right now I don’t feel tremendous value, I feel light value and in a world today, where people are so inundated with so many different products and services, you are obligated to solve a big problem for me or delight me or save me a lot of time and money. One of those things and hopefully a couple of those things and so keep triangulating, keep iterating. Not a big enough problem and not an elegant enough solution and so you gotta work on both sides. And you’re very early, clearly you’re very early, so I wouldn’t raise money for this, I would start over and take a second step at the idea. If you’re going to do something innovative, it might take two or three, four, five times to hit on that. Angry Birds took thirty-nine times so I encourage you to not give up and keep iterating.
Clynton Caines: Thanks so much.
Jason Calacanis: You’re watching the show for a while or are you new to the show?
Clynton Caines: I’m relatively new to the show. I did go back and look at them.
Jason Calacanis: Do you have a favorite episode?
Clynton Caines: Probably, #276 with Bill Lee.
Jason Calacanis: Oh, Bill Lee is great. Yeah, I love Bill Lee. Good friend of mine. All right, one vote for Bill Lee. I should’ve asked all the others which their favorite episodes were. Well keep watching and if you have any questions, you know how to get me, @jason, on Twitter.
Let me thank stamps.com for supporting the program. Welcome stamps.com to the ThisWeekIn Startups family. Go to stamps.com, click on the microphone at the top of the page and use the promo code TWIST. Go to stamps.com, microphone, click on TWIST. Please do that if you’re a super fan. You’re going to love the servcie, I love it, it’s great. And thank you, of course, GoToMeeting for flawless service for the last six-seven years that I’ve been using it. Thank you so much GoToMeeting. We’ll see you next time on ThisWeekIn Startups.

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