Sunday, January 10, 2010

John Yerhot - &

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing: John Yerhot of &

Name: John Yerhot
Company: &
Role: Founder

What are FOSSCasts and Technicasts?
FOSSCasts and Technicasts are both in the educational screencast business. A screencast is a video of a computer desktop with an expert narrating. It's just like watching over their shoulder as they work.

FOSSCasts are free and short, almost in a blog format. A new one is released every Friday morning and the topics are strict to Open Source software.

Technicasts is a much newer venture that was born out of the need to find a way to help defray the increasing cost of hosting, bandwidth, and the immense about of time being put into FOSSCasts. Technicasts are longer, have a bit higher production quality, and are not strict to Open Source.

How did you get involved in screencasting?
My day job has been a programmer and a number of years ago I watched a screencast of someone programming with a technology called Ruby on Rails (
link). I absolutely loved it and found that there were a few boutique producers of screencasts in the Ruby on Rails community but not many that extended outside of Ruby on Rails.

Since I have some experience in teaching (was my original carrier path) and I had done some recording in the past, I just decided to give it a try. FOSSCasts was born last September and has been gaining popularity since.

What kinds of people are best suited to work at a startup?

My experience may not be that of the stereotypical startup - I still have a day job and I'm the only employee. Even so, you have to be prepared to put a lot of time in and really believe in what you're doing. You'll find that there is always work to be done and you can't be afraid to try new things. In my case, I also had to be comfortable "putting myself out there".

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs getting started?

A couple of things.

1. Quit thinking about it and get started.

2. If you wait till it's perfect, you'll never release it.

3. Learn to take criticism.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

5. If you can, do it on the side until you're making enough money. I still have a day job.

6. Be prepared to work a lot.

7. Be prepared to feel great pride in your successes.

Thanks for the reading!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Craig Diamond - Diamond MMA

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing: Craig Diamond of Diamond MMA

Name: Craig Diamond
Company: Diamond MMA
Role: Founder

What is DiamondMMA?
We design, test and manufacture products for the sport of mixed martial arts, We’re Diamond MMA. Right now we’re working on the ultimate in groin protection. Think how football changed when Riddell invented the helmet players wear today. We’re doing that with a new breed of fight shorts. In the past a fighter could get injured because of a cheap plastic cup that would shift, it just couldn’t handle a kick, punch or knee to the groin. Ours is different. We designed a state of the art cup made from unusual materials that we found through Inventables.

We’ve taken a compression short and re-engineered it with a built in jock strap that prevents the cup from moving and keeps it in the right place during a fight. MMA is ready for that game changing product and Diamond MMA is bringing it to market. Check out some commercials that explain the products.

How did you get involved in DiamondMMA?
I got involved in Diamond MMA by starting out with making my own brand of t-shirts for MMA. I soon realized that there was a need for fight shorts which led to the Diamond MMA all-in-one fight short. In July we brought a few prototypes to the UFC Expo in Vegas We got a tremendous response from fans, fighters, and even a few CEO’s of the other big brands at the show. We walked away with a waiting list for our product and we knew we were in business.

The best thing about working at Diamond MMA is that we assembled the who’s who of top entrepreneurs and designers that are all passionate about the project and the sport of MMA. The market for MMA is huge - it’s exploding and that’s even without taking our products to other sports. Being a part of the MMA movement and seeing the potential for expanding into these other sports is exciting for me as an athlete and as an entrepreneur.

What type of people are best suited to work at a startup?
The type of people who are best suited to work at a start up are people with personalities who can go "all-in" and get totally engrossed and obsessed with their project, you have to be the type of person who is able to dive right in and be comfortable when your startup consumes every second of your life.

What advice to you have for entrepreneurs getting started?
For me I didn't and still don't have any seed money so I had to cash in on my connections. I called all the smart talented people I thought could help me or knew someone who could and assembled my team. That required great networking skills, you have to be able to pick up a phone and ask for help.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dale Miller-Visionati, Inc.

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing: Dale Miller-Founder of Visionati, Inc.

Name: Dale Miller

Company: Visionati, Inc.

Role: Founder and CEO

What is Visionati? is a virtual creative department. Businesses, brands and agencies can search portfolios for individual creatives or creative teams to hire. In addition, creatives can use the community features to connect with each other. They can find like-minded people to help them, whether it’s for a paying gig or an “off hours” project. Our mission is to break down the silos, to be the single resource reaching across disciplines (art directors, photographers, designers etc) and roles (brand managers, agency producers).

How did you get involved in Visionati?

I founded another company Miller Creative Partners, an artists’ representation firm, specializing in commercial photography. Through my daily work, I was often asked for referrals to other creative types: designers, videographers, illustrators etc. It occurred to me that within the creative community, people were comfortable in their “silos”, and yet there seemed to be a growing need to break through those barriers and connect with others outside of their area of expertise. Visionati provides a place for creatives to find other creatives across multiple disciplines, and a way for brands to find creatives to hire.

What is the best thing about working at Visionati?

I get to meet and work with very smart and talented people. Bringing people together to work on a shared vision is my passion. I also love learning, and working with so many smart people means I’m learning all the time! I’ve been very fortunate to have found great people that took an interest in Visionati from the beginning.

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at start-ups?

I think it goes without saying that people working at start-ups need energy and enthusiasm. So assuming they have those qualities, what’s really important is being able to maintain them. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and persistence to keep going and deal with the ups and downs. It’s also important that people set ego aside and be willing to pitch in and do whatever it takes. Roles are less clearly defined at a startup and people need to be proactive and do what needs to be done.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Adam Robinson - Ionix Hiring Systems

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing: Adam Robinson - Founder of Ionix Hiring Systems

Name: Adam Robinson

Company/Product: Ionix Hiring Systems (Ionix)

What is Ionix? Most businesses' #1 problem is, simply put, hiring the right people for the job. Ionix is a comprehensive, web-based solution that helps managers choose the absolute best fit for any given job opening, and then helps them ensure that their new hire is immediately productive. Our product guides managers through the process of defining their open role, selecting the right predictive interview questions to ask, scorecarding results, and building a performance plan for the new hire's first 90 days. In doing so, we save companies a boatload of money and substantially improve the productivity of new hires.

How did you get involved in Ionix? I co-founded a Recruitment Process Outsourcing firm, illuma, in June of 2004. Over the course of four years, we great that company to nearly $4M in annual reveneue and services some of the best-known mid-market firms in the Midwest. As a result of running that business, I knew that there was a huge gap in the marketplace for products that help managers and entrepreneurs achieve hiring sucess - so here we are.

What is the best thing about working at Ionix? We are a company that rewards results, and goal-focused people can do exceptionally well here. We're not building software for technology's sake - we're building a product that has to work for our customers (and it does). For the right people, that's incredibly rewarding, and a lot of fun.

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at start-ups? The first employees into a start-up have to think like owners, and they have to be comfortable with ambiguity. There's nobody else who's going to pick up the slack for you - you own the result, good or bad. The lack of defined processes and structure can be unsettling for people who are used to doing their one job in the corporate world, particularly mid-career managers and executives. People who are able to buy into the vision while recognizing the harsh reality of limited resources and long odds make for good hires.

Genevieve Thiers - Sittercity

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing: Genevieve Thiers- Founder of

Name:Genevieve Thiers
Company/Product: Sittercity
Role: Founder and CEO

What is Sittercity? Sittercity is America's first and largest network to find caregivers online, with a little more than a million caregivers nationwide in five caregiver types: child care, pet care, senior care, home care and tutoring.

How did you get involved in Sittercity? When I was about to graduate my senior year of college, I saw a nine month pregnant mother climbing 200 steps posting flyers for a babysitter. I could not believe she was walking! I posted the flyers for her and as I was posting them (this was in 2000,) I thought "it would be so interesting if someone took all the caregivers in the country and put them in one place...kind of like an online dating service." I ran back to my dorm, used my roomate's computer, and saw that no one had created an online web site to match parents with caregivers online in the format that I envisioned. I was so excited! I called my dad, borrowed money for the domain name, hired two college friends to build and design the site, began flyering the city of Boston to get sitters, and never looked back.

What is the best thing about working at Sittercity? The performing is my favorite thing! I am trained as an opera singer, and have been performing since the age of eleven. I love doing press for the company--we've been on Ellen, The View (2x), TODAY show (5x), GMA, CBS Early name it! It's been awesome. I also love doing speaking events. If I were asked, however, what the best thing about the company is, I would say the people. We have an incredible team, with so much talent.

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at start-ups? You have to be a bit of a zealot, in my mind. You have to believe 100% in your vision and be willing to take up a banner and run with it and never look back. If you falter, the army behind you does too.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pek Pongpaet - Tweetlytics

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing: Pek Pongpaet - Founder of Tweetlytics.

Name: Pek Pongpaet
Company/Product: Tweetlytics
Role: Founder

What is Tweetlytics?
Tweetlytics is a social media monitoring web based application that provides various analytics on Twitter. Brands, marketers, and PR agencies can use it for brand monitoring and seeing a big picture view of their campaigns. Tweetlytics lets you slice Twitter data by various dimensions including time, geography, gender, sentiment, and location and more.

How did you get involved in Tweetlytics?
Our company has built several Twitter based apps mostly games that are consumer focused, some of them for clients. As we were building more and more of these, I was curious to know the effectiveness of these Twitter apps so that I could answer the question that our clients had of what am I getting out of this? Questions like how many people is this reaching, who where when what? And so the idea of an analytics dashboard came up that could be used for such a task. However we realized that this was an even bigger idea. The field of social media/brand monitoring was huge and that was how the product came about.

What is the best thing about working at Tweetlytics?
By far the best thing about working at Tweetlytics is the people. We bring on really talented people who are great at what they do and we have them do what they do best. I'm constantly amazed at what people have produced for Tweetlytics. Also the field of social media is so young and new that it is very exciting to be working in this space. Aside from being an entrepreneur which means we are trying to figure out what to do, we are also trying to figure out this new field of social media, so it is doubly exciting.

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at start-ups?
I believe the people best suited for start-ups must have at least these 3 qualities: passion, perseverance, and self motivation.

Start-ups are hard. And more often than not, start-ups will eat up your life. If you do not love what you do, it will not happen and I believe it will be difficult to succeed. Passion means you believe in your idea wholeheartedly. If you do not believe in your own idea, how will you convince someone else either to join your cause or buy your product.

Start-ups also do not succeed overnight. Every time you hear of an overnight success, it usually involves years of lessons learned. It could be the founder tried several start-ups before finally hitting on the jackpot. The idea that you can just build a site and tons of users will immediately flock to it is a romantic fantasy. Behind the graceful execution of that is usually a bunch of people working hard at making it look effortless much like a swan that moves around the lake gracefully. You do not see it kicking its feet beneath the water. People who do not have the stomach to persevere through the ups and downs of start-ups and willing to roll up their sleeves for good old fashioned hustling are in for a rough ride.

Start-ups can also be very open ended and ambiguous. The very definition of start up means that there are not yet processes in place. Things are also usually so crazy that if a person needs to be micromanaged and told explicitly what to do, they would find it hard to succeed in a start-up. I believe a start-up requires people who can self identify tasks, opportunities, and goals and just go ahead and execute them. The essence of a start-up is a different beast than a corporation. In a corporate setting, your role is clearly defined. This is what you are and hence what you do is already predefined.

I also agree with Mark Achler that you have to be a little crazy to want to work at start-ups. No one in their right mind would want to subject themselves to the stresses of start-ups. There are much easier ways to earn money than to go in a start-up. But for those people who are not motivated entirely by money, but to the pursuit of creating something lasting and of value and have a helping hand in shaping and creating a new entity, then start-ups might be for them.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Scott Robbin - Songza

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing: Scott Robbin - Founder of Songza.

Name: Scott Robbin
Company: Songza
Role: Founder

What is Songza?
Songza is a music search engine and Internet jukebox that allows users to listen to any song or artist simply by typing in
names and titles. Users can share songs with friends through e-mail, create links to songs and share music via social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

How did you get involved with Songza?
In the Summer of 2007, I had been working with Aza Raskin and friends, updating the Humanized website. When that project came to a close, we realized how much we enjoyed working together, and decided to try something else. It turns out that "something else" was a music search engine that Aza had prototyped earlier that year. The idea was simple: find a fast and legal way for users to search for, and share, music online. We spent the next month building the site, layering Aza's innovative UI designs with my content aggregation and business logic. In November 2007, we launched Songza to the public. 7 days later we had over 1 million song plays. In one month, Songza's traffic had grown exponentially, and we decided to spin Songza off into its own business entity. I became that entity's President.

What is the best thing about working at Songza?
Disclosure: I'm not longer with Songza. We sold the company back in October 2008.

That said, my favorite thing about having worked at Songza was the vibrant community of online music start-ups and their founders. I've become good friends with many of our would-be competitors. At the end of the day, we're all just fans looking for a better way to discover music.

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at start-ups?
I think there are two types of people out there: those who are excited about things, and those who want to make money off of people who are excited about things. Both work at start-ups, but only one succeeds. The best suited are those recognize this trait in each other.