Entries from October 2009 ↓

Crowdsourcing Your Product Name

Product naming is hard.

Too many factors come into play when looking for a name and it’s almost impossible to decide on the right name once you’ve stared at the same list for a week straight. This is the kind of thing that keeps you up at night, even after you’ve made the decision.

And asking opinions is fine, but more often than not the people you ask are not in your demographic:

“Hi Mom. Things are good, thanks. Hey while I have you on the phone, what do you think I should call my enterprise level encryption engine?”

About two months ago Patrick Thompson, a member of the Micropreneur Academy, was in search of a name for his speed reading eBook reader for the iPhone. We emailed several times about the process he followed to find his optimal name, and given his creative approach I wanted to share it here.

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Hear me on the Startup Success Podcast

Hot off the press, hear the hosts of the Startup Success Podcast interview Mike Taber and I about the Micropreneur Academy. You can download the MP3 here.

P.S. I did a written interview a few weeks ago for LocationIndependent.com. You can find it here.

Work Less, Get More Done, Convenient Open Source, What a Startup is Really Like, and more…

Work Less, Get More Done: Analytics for Maximizing Productivity – Patrick McKenzie is the embodiment of Micropreneurship; his focus on marketing, metrics and outsourcing is nothing short of impressive. This is a great post on how working hard is not a defensible advantage.

Making Open Source Convenient: JumpBox – A startup focused on making it dead-simple to get started with open source applications, they create virtual machines completely pre-configured to just start and go (including versions that runs on Amazon EC2). If you’re having trouble installing an open source app, JumpBox is your answer.

What a Startup is Really Like – Another great Paul Graham essay. My favorite points:

  • 12. It’s Hard to Get Users. If you make something where the challenges are mostly technical, you can rely on word of mouth, like Google did…but with other types of startups you may win less by features and more by deals and marketing.
  • 17. The Value of Community. A surprising number of founders said what surprised them most about starting a startup was the value of community [hanging around other people also starting a company]

A Story of a Launch Disaster…Fast-Food Style – While the truth of this tale is dubious, it’s still a good story of doing the unexpected to thwart your competition.

CrossLoop – Mom calling you for tech support? Send her to CrossLoop, affordable online computer help.

Coolest Business Card Ever – How am I not stealing this design right now?

Know Thy Audience – And look at creative funding sources.

How to Avoid Being Outsourced or Open Sourced – Pointed out to me after my post about competing with open source competition.

My Report on StackOverflow DevDays

On Monday I attended Stack Overflow DevDays in San Francisco. Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood are hosting this series of one-day conferences as a way to get alpha-geeks out of the office to hear experts talk about new technologies ranging from Python to ASP.NET MVC. It was the best $99 (including lunch and coffee) I’ve spent in quite some time.

The highlight of the day was that I finally had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror and Stack Overflow. We’ve emailed several times over the years but never had the chance to meet face to face. And yes, he’s as smart as he sounds on his blog and podcast. And a super nice guy to boot.

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Are Twitter and Facebook Killing Blogs?

These days you can’t throw a brick at your computer without hitting a story about Twitter and Facebook (and each time I read one I find myself with the urge to throw a brick at my computer).

Yes, Twitter and Facebook are the darlings of the media for the time being, and it seems no one gives a rip about blogs anymore. That hot topic of yesteryear is now a fad of the past, much like Chia pets and Snuggies. Wait, you haven’t heard of a Snuggie? Be really disappointed you missed out on that one.

Where was I? Oh yes, blogs. They’re over. Done. Kaput. They are so 4 years ago…

But wait…actually, they’re not.

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Memorable Postcard from a New Mechanic

We just moved to Fresno, CA and I’m looking for a new mechanic. I needed a smog check to get my car registered and went to the closest place – a Shell gas station about 3/4 miles from my house. The mechanic was very nice and the service was prompt. It was a pleasant experience, but nothing remarkable (I didn’t even mention it to my wife).

Two days later I received a postcard that read:

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Micropreneur Spotlight: Online Mind Mapping Software ThoughtMuse

The Micropreneur Spotlight is a look at a Micropreneur Academy member who has launched their product.

This episode’s Micropreneur is Thomas Kjeldahl Nilsson who recently launched his online mind mapping software ThoughtMuse.


Rob: Hi Thomas. Thanks for taking the time to appear in the Spotlight. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thomas: My name is Thomas Kjeldahl Nilsson. I’m a 31 year old Norwegian software developer. By day I work in a small startup specializing in mobile software. On nights and weekends I work on my own product – ThoughtMuse.

Rob: Tell us about your product, including when it launched and some info the size of your user base.

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