Friday, June 19, 2009

Osman Can Ozcanli - Osman Can Ozcanli Design Studio

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing Osman Can Ozcanli founder of Osman Can Ozcanli Design Studio and

Months active: as of June 2009 - 20
Startup #: 4
Location: Izmir, Turkey

Gigs: What is Osman Can Ozcanli Design Studio?

Oz: I work with companies that want to increase their brand value. A
customer would call me and ask me to come up with a product for them
that will be famous world wide. After some design research, I would
design the product and with my team of engineers we would build it in
about a year. Other projects I am working on include: ozpack (a
bookstrap company I founded), (a website where designers
can upload and get feedback on their designs), transparent toaster (an
invention of mine that I am working to build and sell)

Gigs: Why did you start Osman Can Ozcanli Design Studio?

Oz: I believe what you do best, and what you have fun doing needs to be
your business.

What I do best is creating products that get a lot of media attention.
I naturally create entertaining products. What I also love is
challenging projects that are seemingly impossible to achieve. I am
currently working with a Kitchen&Bath company from Turkey and we are
working together to build a very exciting product. I cant begin to
tell you how amazing and fun of a project it is. For an outsider, It
would be seemingly impossible to even build a functioning model. But
its this anything is possible attitude that we have here that will
make it a success. And thats exactly what makes it fun.

You've worked at a startup and founded a few yourself, what advice would you
give to people that are trying to decide to start their own company or join
an established startup?

Find a niche, and be the best at it in the world.

Gigs: Anything else we should know?

I think working for a successful startup before starting your own
might be a good idea. I learned so much working at Inventables both
technically and professionally.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Joseph DiVerdi - XTR Systems

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing Joseph DiVerdi founder and CEO of XTR Systems.

Months active: as of June 2009 - 120
Startup #: 2
Location: Fort Collins, CO

Gigs: What is XTR Systems?

JD: XTR Systems, LLC is the holding company for my various consultancies over the past decade. I have served as a technical trainer, RF designer and contract scientist over this period.

Gigs: Do you have experience with other startups?

JD: I came to Colorado in 1986 to join a high-technology, scientific instrument manufacturing startup. It had begun operations in 1979 and originated from a professor at CSU (Colorado State University) and one of his graduate students. I joined during a period of expansion where the company sought to increase its product offerings to include large systems, a specialty area of mine. We grew the company until we were seriously under-capitalized and sold (in total but in several stages) to major Japanese concert to correct the financial situation. With sufficient capitalization we embarked on a second product program of medical devices. Ultimately, the Japanese owners carved up the organization into several separate groups and sold them off in pieces.

Gigs: What is the best part about working at XTR Systems?

JD: It provides me with the opportunity to seek out interesting problems and apply my talents to their solution. As long as I can see a way to generate net profit from an interesting project I can have a great time working on it.

Gigs: What advice would you give someone who was thinking about joining their first startup?

JD: There are several important areas of preparation: (1) Be financially prepared. Reduce debt to the absolute minimum before starting. Manage your personal "burn rate" while you are getting started, that is, getting customers. Be prepared to spend money on getting customers. (2) Be emotionally prepared. It is lonely at the top. There are relatively few people for you to talk about your problems. Keep your personal communication channels open and active. Get all the support you can from family and friends. (3) Sales is/are king. You will need to bring in revenue very quickly (unless you are independently wealthy - Note: What is the fastest way to make $5 million in a winery? Start with $10 million.) (4) Understand what it is that you do, what you have to offer to your prospects, why they will hand over their own money to you, what is your "value proposition".

Gigs: Anything else we should know?

JD: Your word is your promise. Your reputation can be destroyed faster than you can imaging by your own behavior. It will take an eternity to rebuild it after you have ruined it. Maintain the highest standards of integrity. While doing this don't be stupid, volunteer things that you needn't, give away the store.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rishi Shah - Flying Cart

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing Rishi Shah founder and CEO of Flying Cart.

Months active: as of June 2009 - 34 months
Startup #: 1
Location: Chicago, IL

Gigs: What is Flying Cart?

RS: Problem: You have t-shirts/solar panels/CD's to sell and want to go online with your own brand and start a like website.
Solution: Go to and create an online store in minutes. You get the tools to build and design your own online store, build a community around your products, use our marketing features to push your products all across the web.

Flying Cart allows business owners to create a professional online store in minutes. Launch your own store online and sell products you are passionate about.

Gigs: Why did you start Flying Cart?

RS: I had a different idea in the ecommerce space. After talking to hundreds of small business owners and getting "No" I started to ask "what do you need?" - the answer was an easy to use online store builder. That was in 2006.

Gigs: Do you have experience with other startups?

RS: No. But have been working at Flying Cart for the last 3 years.

Gigs: What advice would you give someone who was thinking about joining their first startup?

RS: Make 1 sale. Then go out and build it.

Gigs: Anything else we should know?

RS: Get to know a ton of people. Almost everyone is willing to help you out.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Anand Chhatpar - Brain Reactions

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing Anand Chhatpar founder and CEO of Brain Reactions.

Months active: as of June 2009 - 60 months
Startup #: 2
Location: Madison, Wisconsin, and San Francisco, California

Gigs: What is Brain Reactions?

AC: BrainReactions is an innovation services company. We provide creative consumer panels and training on well researched systematic innovation processes to companies looking to innovate new products, services and marketing campaigns.

Gigs: Why did you start Brain Reactions?

AC: BrainReactions was started as a bridge between the idea generators of the world and the idea implementors of the world in order to accelerate world progress.

Gigs: What is the best thing about working at Brain Reactions?

AC: Over the last 5 years, we have brought several new ideas to the market which came from young college students and then were transformed into actual feasible products by highly experienced teams of engineers and marketers within large corporations. So, definitely, the best thing about working at BrainReactions is to be able to see the vision of the company becoming real.

Gigs: What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at startups?

AC: Ideal startup employees are people who are so passionate about their work and their customers that it becomes the absolute highest priority in their lives. They thrive in high-pressure, high-risk, high-reward environments.

Gigs: Anything else we should know?

AC: Anyone who gets an opportunity to read this interview should think about working with successful founders. One of the fastest way to become great at building startups is to learn from the masters by working with them.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Klaus Georg - Inventables

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing Klaus Georg of Inventables.

Role: Head of Finance
Months active: as of June 2009 - 36 months
Startup #: 1
Location: Chicago, IL, USA

Gigs: What startups have you've worked at?

KG: Just Inventables.

Gigs: What's your role?

KG: A little of everything. I've done product development, finance strategy and management, sales, customer service, and Director of Research

Gigs: Why did you work at a startup?

KG: I'm addicted to variety and get bored easily. At a startup every day is a new day and it's very intellectually stimulating. When I see an issue I can speak up and we do something about it--it's great to have an impact right away.

Gigs: What was the best part about your startup experience?

KG: The best part is how the team pulls together in times of adversity. When we've got our backs to the wall and things look like they could collapse is when everyone fights hardest to keep the company afloat. That builds a really strong camaraderie, and in retrospect it's kind of fun. For better or worse, you're right at the heart of the organization.

Gigs: What was the worst part about your startup experience?

KG: There are some days where you just wish it was all figured out and you could just clock in and do a well-defined, structured job and then clock out again. It can get exhausting to always have to create something out of nothing--on some days. On most days (for me) it's exhilirating.

Gigs: What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at startups?

KG: You have to be comfortable with ambiguity and low data decisions, and be ready to act now. Also, you'd better be willing to work--there's nowhere to hide.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Welcome to Gigs at Startups

The purpose of the Gigs at Startups blog is to raise awareness about what life is like working at a startup company. We do this by having conversations with people that have gigs at startups.