Last year, Jason Cohen started a new question-and-answer show for startups to go along with his popular blog. It’s like “loveline for startups,” and he called it Smart Bear Live. It’s a GREAT opportunity to ask a question of a true startup guru. Or maybe you don’t have a concrete question, but you’d like to validate a business idea. That’s great (but don’t expect coddling). If you are a bit farther along and want to practice your pitch, that’s fine, too.
Your next opportunity to participate live is February 9 at 5p EST. Visit bit.ly/sblreg to register. This is your chance to talk with not one but TWO startup gurus, because Jason will be joined by noted VC Mark Suster. Jason expects to have an interesting guest host on every show.
A little more background on SBL and my involvement … after his kickoff show, Jason asked me if I wanted to help out. I jumped at the chance, since Jason is one of my favorite startup thinkers. I had been wanting to do a question-and-answer show of my own, but Jason knows more than I do and has a bigger audience, so I think I can do more good by helping him with his show than by doing my own. Now I’m scheduling shows, guests, and callers, and I’m producing the audio. I guess that makes me the producer. If you’re reading this – I’m your IN 🙂
There are two kinds of shows – onsite and call-in. The upcoming show on February 9 is a call-in show. You can listen from the comfort of your computer or phone (don’t forget to register to ask a question), thanks to BlogTalkRadio. We’ve done two of these call-in shows so far; listen to the recordings here and here.
Last month we did an onsite event outside Phoenix to kick off the next round of AZ Disruptors. Hamid Shojaee hosted, and I handled tech and questions. Jason actually stayed in Austin and Skyped in. It went great – it’s amazing to me how well it works to have a room full of people engage with someone projected on a screen. Audio recordings from that show should start showing up on Jason’s blog soon. If you have a community that could benefit from a local SBL meetup with Jason on Skype, please email me to discuss.
Smart Bear Live is a really big deal, in my opinion. Jason is smart as hell and really knows how to dig into startup details. If you’re stuck, he’ll get you unstuck. He’s the first to point out that he’s not necessarily right every time (editor’s note: he’s still probably right), but it’s the conversation and probing that’s useful for ANY startup founder. Take advantage of this awesome resource and call in!
Finally, if you have an abstract question that you want to ask without actually getting on the air, feel free to leave it in the comments below (or on the registration page). I will sometimes ask those myself in between callers. I will make sure the answer gets back to you.
Finally, when you are talking with other startup founders and reach that point where you think they need some help but can’t really put your finger on it … send them our way to ask a question.
Mark Suster and Jason Cohen? That is a show I cannot miss. Could you ask Mark if he is still doing the “This Week In Venture Capital” show? I have not seen a new show for a while and there was always great information and advice in those shows.
Also, another question for both Mark, Jason and yourself… I am trying to get a software startup off the ground and I would like to get feedback from all of you about the idea. The idea with Palo Software is to create web applications to help small and micro-businesses organizing contacts, setting up remainders, store/share documents, etc… in other words, the idea is to create web applications that can be added as modules to share a single interface to help you with the tasks mentioned above.
I know there are many tools out there to help you with all of these things, however they are usually not affordable for small businesses or are just way too complicated. For example, my wife runs a tax preparation business, she has over 600 clients and growing, and she currently uses Intuit’s Contact Manager to manage contacts, she also uses Excel, Outlook and other applications and so all of her business contacts are all over the place and there is just not a simple way to sync them or to do other tasks such as set remainders, add notes, etc… We have looked at some CRMs out there but they are either too expensive or to complicated for what we are trying to do.
The first product is named TidyContact and it is the contact manager web app… we choose this one since it is what we need ourselves, we are scratching our own itch.
What do you think about the business idea? Is it fundable? is it a life style business? be honest, I will still do it regardless of the feedback I get 😉
Also, and this is a question for you (Patrick) specifically… all of these software is being developed by me using primarily the .NET framework, a few open source libraries and Rackspace and Amazon S3 as the storage and backup provider… still unsure about Azure because of the cost… what are your thoughts about it?
Hey man! I will ask Mark about that show – but I hope you come on to talk about your startup yourself!
I like the space, and I like your instinct to focus on ONE specific area of it. I like the idea of scratching your own itch, BUT I hope you also “get out of the building” and talk to other businesses with the same problem. Perhaps they are using something that you haven’t heard of, or perhaps they will not be willing to pay you. This sounds like something to use Jason’s simple “find 10 customers” method before you invest too much in it: http://blog.asmartbear.com/customer-validation.html. But if you’re going to do it anyway … 😉
If you are using .NET, then Windows Azure is a slam dunk for you. You’ll save a lot of headache because you’re not responsible for the guest OS – MS is. With BizSpark, you’ll get a ton of Azure for free for up to 3 years. You literally should pay zero for your Visual Studio and Windows Azure (plus SQL Azure, etc.) for now. Signing you up for that is easy, but let’s set up a time to talk about your business and technology in more depth. I also want to talk to you about an idea I’m working on … I’ll follow up by email.
“Azure for free for up to 3 years” wow, that sounds nice! Regarding the approach Jason suggests about finding 10 customers, I agree with that and have been talking to people about it – including Jason who said he’ll pay a subscription fee for it – I’ll let you know if he actually signs up for it or not when is ready 😉
However, if no one says Yes to me, I will still do this because I need it for my own business (TodoTax.com) and because I enjoy coding – it is therapeutic and I always learn a ton of stuff!
Well if Jason was serious, that’s a pretty good “yes” …
BTW, Bob and I interviewed Michael Sliwinski, the founder of Nozbe a while back (http://startupsuccesspodcast.com/2012/01/show-129-michael-sliwinski-ceo-of-nozbe/). He built his very successful company by scratching his own itch – and he didn’t show anyone his product for about 2 years. Michael is a proud proponent of the “scratch your own itch” method.
I think there are a couple of key points here – for one thing, there’s more than one way to be successful (more than one way to define success in fact). Another point is that scratching your own itch MIGHT involve succeeding more slowly – it might take a while before satisfying yourself also satisfies a market.
FWIW, I like to build stuff, too – I’ve got several different ideas I’m bouncing around. A couple of them I’m willing to build and not worry if I don’t “succeed” with them. I just don’t have the time, of course. On the one I’ve been writing about for the last couple of days, I specifically wanted to find an idea that I HAD to do customer development before building – I wanted the practice doing it, whether or not it becomes a product (or a successful one).
Good chatting, as always – if you’d like to talk more about Azure, ping me by email (I think I sent you one on it). I’m here to help 🙂