The Startup Files: Sidelines

landing_page_logoThis week’s Startup Files features Sidelines. Sidelines is a platform that lets fans engage in rich discussions about their favorite teams and sports, connect with other fans, and build their reputation as sports experts.

We asked them a few questions to get some behind the scenes deets.

How did you come up with this idea?

Three of us are avid sports fans, with multiple fantasy leagues. Even though sites like ESPN are great for reading sports and places like Twitter are great for breaking news, there was not a single destination where we could have a smart conversation with other knowledgeable sports fans that would not quickly devolve into trash talk. To keep the level of conversation high, we designed our unique reputation system to filter out the noise, reward the smart fan and be a true representation of your sports acumen. In all, I’d say we started Sidelines as a refuge for the fan who wants a better way to talk sports online.

What are your must-have apps? 

Hipchat: We use hipchat every day, it has drastically reduced the amount of email we sent to each other and completely changed our workflow for the better
Asana: We use Asana for our project management
Spotify: Because we code better when we’re in the zone


feedscreenshotWhat do you enjoy most about your day-to-day work life?

Making a product that people love and come back every day to use. Working for a startup means we get to measure our success not only in terms of how many users we bring in Sidelines, but how many users return to Sidelines day after day. Every single decision we make always starts and ends with the question “how would this improve the experience for fans?”

Could you add one piece of advice that you would have to future folks hoping to launch their own business?

Focus on making something that users want and proving out your thesis before doubling-down on growth. Always ask yourself the question: if your product disappeared tomorrow, would your users be disappointed?

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What companies out there do you admire?

We really appreciate companies that put their users first. On the consumer side, we really like Venmo and how they disrupted the P2P payment space with a really great User Experience. We also admire StackExchange/StackOverflow and how they build out a really great community.

Last but not least–Apple or Android?

Between the three of us we have iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices. Generally we try to keep up with current trends and not particularly married to any platform 

Where can you follow Sidelines? 

Twitter

Facebook

Email

Website

 

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is the onset of a new deliberation for companys, startups, and entrepreneurs to add money to their cause.  Finding funding is something that is you can either do by scraping for those pennies in that junker sitting in your driveway to save up for your next million (cause you gave up on your first one).  When you get someone behind you…it makes all the difference.  It gives you instant customers and instant funding.

I have to give credit to  for her pre-made list of optimal crowdsourcing sites.  This cuts the work of finding money…in half!  Who can pass up half off of anything…not ME.

Check it out.

Venessa Miemis, Evolutionary Agent, Provocateur

here’s a few i came across during my research for the future of money project. they’re separated into categories for creative/artistic projects, & for business development/investment. [DIY examples]

  • crowdfunding – creative

- kickstarter http://www.kickstarter.com/
- Indiegogo http://www.indiegogo.com/
- crowdfunder http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/
- peerbackers http://peerbackers.com/
- chipin http://www.chipin.com/
- fundable http://www.fundable.com/
- citizen effect http://www.citizeneffect.org/index
- revenue trades http://www.revolutiontrades.com/
- rockethub http://www.rockethub.com/
- sonicangel http://www.sonicangel.com/
spot.us
- startnext http://www.startnext.de/
- ulule http://www.ulule.com/
- cofundos http://www.cofundos.org/
- buzzbnk http://www.buzzbank.org/
- biracy http://www.biracy.com/
- investedin http://invested.in/

  • crowdfunding – open business investment
- 40billion http://www.40billion.com/
- appbackr http://www.appbackr.com/
- capangel http://www.capangel.com/
- cofundit http://www.cofundit.com/
- crowdcube http://www.crowdcube.com/
- crowdfund http://www.crowdfunding.co.za/
- digital garage http://digitalgarage.co.za/
- globeforum http://www.globeforum.com/
- growvc http://www.growvc.com/main/
- innovatrs http://innovatrs.com/
- investiere http://www.investiere.ch/
- podium ventures http://podiumfunds.com/
- profounder http://www.profounder.com/
- raisecapital http://www.raisecapital.com/home…
- seedups http://www.seedups.com/
- seedmatch http://www.seedmatch.de/
- trampoline http://crowdfunding.trampolinesy…
- vencorps http://www.vencorps.com/
- venture bonsai http://www.venturebonsai.com/
- wealthforge http://www.wealthforgeonline.com/
- wiseed http://www.wiseed.fr/wicket/web/…
- FriendsClear http://www.friendsclear.com
- 33needs http://33needs.com/

You can find some more great responses to options to crowdsourcing here…

http://www.quora.com/Crowdfunding/What-are-some-great-crowdfunding-websites
http://www.crowdsourcing.org/

Need some more advice or options? Reach out…

When Trebuchets Won’t Work

Conflict in the workspace is a problem no matter where you go.  I’m a very black and white person.  If it’s wrong it’s wrong…if it’s right it’s right.  When it comes to handling any stakeholder or employee, blindly lobbing those rocks over the stronghold (your office) that you have built up around you is never a smart idea.  These rocks include – employee complaints, any sort of guidance, stakeholder messages, performance reviews, etc.

People handle criticism in different ways.  Even in basic business writing, you are taught the proper ways to write an email, bad news letter, proposal, and a whole mess of other documents.  The basics include making sure you talk like a professional without sounding too much like a d**k.  When writing a document you have to ensure that you get in and get out and that your point is made while still refraining from tearing the recipient to shreds.  Blind emails, comments, gestures, or documents expressing your state of mind come out like a shotgun blast with little to no realization what consequences it will have.

This in my definition is the “trebuchet effect” of leadership.  You have an issue or a requirement or a document that you “lob” over the wall to your employees with little knowledge of where it’s going to land and who it’s going to crush.  This effect creates the company wide expression of “sh*t rolls downhill effect”.  People scramble, you stew in your office…and shoooootttt…you shouldn’t have sent that email out because it was shot off from the hip and now you have to do some cleanup.

The trebuchet effect will crush you and those over the wall of your office again and again.  When trebuchets won’t work…try opening your door.  Remember to take a deep breath…remember that your employees make your company run.  Come at everything you do with a bottom up approach.  Your priorities in trebuchet mode look like this:

  1. You
  2. You
  3. Money
  4. Maybe your employees

In the “Open Door” mode your priorities look like this:

  1. Customers / Stakeholders
  2. Employees
  3. Company
  4. Never you

Remember that your customer is your priority.  Before firing rocks over that cubicle or shooting them out of that corner office…those rocks are on fire and will spread faster in entirely separate ways of how you intended.  A terse, short email or a heated email may seem like it will motivate…but it will just create more problems in the end.  Get rid of the 500 yard launches and just open your door…see where that gets you.

Ever had any of these experiences?  What would you add?  What would you change?  Let us know!  We would love to hear your feedback.

5 Projects You HAVE to Back

For your weekend afternoon, you are sitting around in your housecoat saying, “What should I do today?”  Maybe you are sitting around with a cigar and some brandy…(oh…it’s morning time…right…)

Well you have options.  You could  go to the pool before it closes for the summer or go shopping for all the labor day sales…  The decisions are endless.  Well I want to make knowing what you should help “kickstart” a little easier.

Here’s 5 things I found on Kickstarter that you HAVE to back…

  1. Open source Android robot – http://kck.st/OJV4uN
  2. Upgrade your Raspberry Pi with this cool microSD card upgrade - http://kck.st/NDGw1q
  3. Turn your Ipod into an Iphone with - http://kck.st/Rxtcqq
  4. For all you turntable music junkies - http://kck.st/PLCcgM
  5. Something for all the drinking folks - http://kck.st/PLCvbr

Startup: The Clockwork Brain

The Know: A quick intro

I know…I know you were thinking Clockwork Orange, you were getting all excited thinking about all of your college days… Wait, maybe you are still in college or you are a teen and have no idea… I’m over-thinking this.

Now I have always had a heart for new ideas and the process of going from point A to point B, but taking the time to charge ahead has to be THE HARDEST PART about doing a startup.  I have had several ideas that I have been mulling over for what seems like the past century but nothing ever comes to fruition.

I have to hand it to Michael Deluca for being so forthright on the “Twitter-mobile”.  I’m always rooting for the startup and entrepreneur (spell check hates this word ), but what caught me by surprise was the fact that he took the time to follow me.  I’m assuming he searched “entrepreneur” or “startup” and saw my name pop up along with many others and then decided to follow me with the intent of me following him back.  His twitter bio states the following:

Check out my Indiegogo project! http://igg.me/p/216977?a=1146394 (note: this site has since been pulled off indiegogo.com for reasons unrelated to this post)

20120828140429-picture13261270703805

Simple and to the point.  This man is looking for business and is forthright about who he is and what he’s all about.  When you come in each day and that idea that you have is nagging at you and even eating you up remember – there’s a world of people who can help you and want to help you.  You don’t have to know how to spell “entrpranureurrererer”…(close enough) to be one.  You just have to learn that you are not alone and there are people with the “leafy greens” falling from that money tree out back that want to see you succeed.  Kickstarter and Indiegogo have to be two of my favorite sites to go and find new and exciting things going on in the mind of people everywhere.  You don’t have to be a mad scientist with electrocuted, wind blow hair to make your ideas come to life.

The How: Off My Soapbox

Michael Deluca is working on a project in his words:

“The short answer: a website designed to gather responses to various questions from people of all ages in the United States (for now) and analyzing the data to allow other organizations to use for their research.  The site also provides an experience for users to learn more about themselves, compare their sociological results to others across the country, and interact with a user friendly platform that allows them to earn achievements for participation.”

A user can go on to this website and answer some poignant questions about race, gender, education level, income, etc. (probably not about the meaning of life…) and the results can be viewed in charts to weigh where you stand in your particular category.  By answering these questions, you receive some achievements that are represented on your home page.  Michael plans on using these results in efforts to improve the – shall we say “slanted” – results of the Gallup poles which really only reach out to a small populace of participants and are closed off to the public.

The Know How: What we need to get it done

Michael Deluca is looking for a total of $5,000 dollars (lots of “leafy greens”) to pay for the production and programming of this site.  Contributions can range from $1-50 and his posting ends in 39 days.  What I like most about Michael wasn’t the fact that our names were the same, but more about his intriguing sense of reaching for opportunities through people he didn’t know – like following me on Twitter or even posting up the challenge on Indiegogo.  A man who has the steel to put themselves on the line are worth a blog – mind you I can’t write about everyone who “follows” me on Twitter.

Doctor Who: The TARDIS you HAVE to help Launch

 

 

 

 

Doctor Who fans are numerous and I keep hearing about them more and more.  It’s that cult following that not many people talk about…and I’m not really sure why…  All I can think once looking into it is:

How did I not know about Doctor Who?!  I’m almost offended my eyes have not been graced by this TV show.

A good friend of mine absolutely loves Doctor Who and has seen EVERY episode.  The DIEHARD fan.  And when I say every episode, I mean EVERY EPISODE.  You know how you can spout off baseball stats and a pitchers ERA and batting averages for the past 5 years…or you can recite every line of Office Space?  This guy can recall every crucial moment in the series to include bloopers in the series as well as how many actors have filled the Doctor’s role in the series.  When I asked him if he knew about the new season that’s coming out on BBC America, this is the conversation that ensued…(yes the classy LOL is me not having the words to describe how nerdy his response was…)

  • Him: You mean season 7 episode 1 asylum of the daleks?
  • Me: Lol
  • Him: Jeepers Crimony what kind of fan do you think I am? hahaha

In all seriousness whether you are a diehard fan of Doctor Who or not…you should go check out what Travis from Sandusky, Ohio is working on.  He’s going to send a TARDIS…to space…yeah…  What he’s asking for are contributions to make this virgin flight which range anywhere from $10-$150 with an end goal of $500 to finish and make liftoff.  What’s in it for you?  Well there are some pretty sick rewards that he’s offering up that any Doctor Who fan would love to be apart of and it’s going to be on YouTube?!  Make it go viral!  Bravo! Travis for targeting these cult classic series fans.  http://kck.st/STfWlv

If you don’t know about the Doctor, Amy, or Rory…you can find the season 7 trailer at the end of the post.  Once you see it you may want your own TARDIS (that magical phonebooth).

Wikipedia describes is best as – “Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a Time Lord—a time travelling, humanoid alien with two hearts known as the Doctor. He explores the universe in his TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), a sentient, telepathic time-and-space-travel machine that flies through the time vortex. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, a common sight in Britain in 1963, when the series first aired. Along with a succession ofcompanions, the Doctor faces a variety of foes while working to save civilisations, help ordinary people, and right wrongs.”

Now that you have some background (if you are a fan I deeply apologize for having to catch up those not apart of the Doctor Who cult following) and you have decided that “yes I want my own TARDIS”, I may have found something that would be just as close or even better.  Seriously this is one project that you HAVE to back if you are a Doctor Who fan or not.

http://kck.st/STfWlv (the link in case you missed it earlier)

And some awesome series 7 Doctor Who trailer goodness…to bandage your Doctor Who deprived, dry, and bleeding eyes.  Yeah I’m here to bandage those wounds.  Get Doctored…

 

Management: From Cheerleader to Loser

Ahh. The ever present (or absent in most cases) “cheerleader” squad from management. They have in their little corporate books that people have to be happy.  They also have a tiny footnote that states that if there is change that they should be involved in helping to make that happen.  So management takes on the role of being a cheerleader.  I wouldn’t say cheerleader as much as I would say that crazy girl with the head gear that carried the baton in marching band that when you were both at band camp…never mind…I did it again…

This should get us back in the game…

Phew…all better…

One thing I do struggle with management cheerleaders is the “do as I say – not as a I do” cop-out. They read through their MBA manual that says they need to do management things and then grab a flask from under the table and take a drink for every time they read the word “employee”.  Management wants change…but they have no idea how to execute. So all you hear is nonsensical words escaping the lips of management saying that “we’ll fix it, there are no problems, we need to change” but never actually do anything about it and there’s nothing to show for in the end.

We need managers or a leaders of that are willing to be  more like Bob the Builder.  

He’s got a team or an army ready to fix ANYTHING.  The guy is legit.

If you want your company to be more trendy and hip…change up your office. Pass some catalogues around. If you want your company’s employees to be more open, put together a user group or just get them in small groups and find out the NEEDS and WANTS of your team. They may not get everything they WANT, but you can sure as hell try to get them everything the NEED to succeed.

My son gets me every time because he seems to get teamwork and working towards a common goal together.  The NickJr show Wonderpets is one of his favorites and now every time we cross the road, I tell him “We’re a team right?” – “Right daddy…we’re a team…you and me.”

As that warms my heart with pride so does the song that follows:

  • Me: What’s gonna work!
  • Him: TEAMWORK!!!
  • Me: What’s gonna work!
  • Him: TEAMWORK!!! (this time 5x’s louder)
  • He and I: Wonder Pets! Wonder Pets! We’re on our way To help a friend and save the day! We’re not too big and we’re not too tough, but when we work together we’ve got the right stuff!  Go, Wonder Pets, ya’ay!

I hope that when you manage people or are starting up your company or project that you make sure that the user base is your boss…not the other way around…  And if you aren’t looking like that girl in the picture you need more than just yourself to motivate people.  Get a team together…street team…colleagues…peers…  Whether it’s rooting you on to get started or finished or whether its a team to motivate the staff get it done!  What’s gonna work?  Yeah that’s right…

 

Friday Morning Startup Mad Libs

Looking for a great pitch for your new company? Or looking for new company idea generators? This startup Mad Libs should do.

Get you Mad Libs pitch on. Get acquired for more than your worth. Do philanthropic work with Bono. Easy.

Get Started (click image to enlarge):

(via Business Week)