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My Experiences in Startups

I have avoided talking about my experiences with working in startups for some time now. It’s one of those things like being an actor. Talking about being a successful actor is awesome because most people have seen your work. Talking about being an “aspiring actor” is horrible because you fall in line with a very large population of other people that are all trying to do the same thing but falling short in one way or another.

Mt first startup experience was actually my dad’s company growing up. It was called E-Motion and what my dad was doing was buying broken down gas cars, converting them to electric, and then re selling them. This was in the mid-80s up until the early 90s. This was before Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for making a movie about climate change and the “go green” movement hadn’t really taken off here in Oregon. My father passed legislation here on the state level providing tax breaks to those with alternative energy vehicles, the first legislation of it’s kind on the west coast. He was the founding president of the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association. All of that being said, my dad only did a handful of these cars over the decade or so that he was doing it.

Back then, the batteries simply weren’t as good. Lithium Ion batteries hadn’t come out yet and the cars were very heavy. Still though, they had about the same speed, range, and charge times as a Chevy Volt, which is impressive since this happened over 20 years before. That picture at the top of this post is me, in the third grade, taking an all electric Triumph TR-7 with my dad down to Phoenix Arizona for an all electric race series at PIR. They called it “Formula Lightning” which I thought was a pretty sweet name.

We raced it at Phoenix and the ruthless Pikes Peak Hill Climb in Colorado and actually won. I went with my father to countless trade shows, owners club meetings, and PR events and spent a lot of time hearing people ask my dad the same questions over and over. In the end, my father was unable to find a way to make it a viable business profit-wise and got out of the electric car business. These days, he’s a science teacher up in Alaska. A lot of the things that I know about running your own startup come from that time.

Lets fast forward a couple years. Today, I am 31 years old. I no longer have those cool 80’s acid wash jean shorts and I currently drive a gas powered Acura. However, I have worked in a couple of startups of my own. This all started about 4 years ago when a friend on twitter told me about something called “Startup Weekend” happening up at the Microsoft campus in Redmond. So I went up there for 3 days with my brother Gavin who was finishing law school at the time. Basically, the way it works is that you meet some strangers, come up with an idea for a company or app and then try and build the thing in 54 hours. It was crazy but it went well. We ended up building a kind of HR training app that was built on Coldfusion which I had never worked with before. I did all of the  design and front end development work and we just barely got things working on time.

A couple months later there was another Startup Weekend event here in Portland. This time, my brother and I knew what we were doing. At this particular event, we meet up with a Flash developer named Joe Kim and built a web app that let you video chat and play a flash game with someone in browser at the same time. The demo went well and we won the event. You can see the 3 of us below on the left with the judges for the event.

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Local blogger Scott Garman was there and did a great writeup for the event. We left this event determined to keep working on our startup. Shortly thereafter Joe decided to leave and game developer Mike Parks down in SF came on board to take his place. We decided that we wanted to build a web-based video chat platform that would allow you to use apps and games with your friends while interacting over video chat. We named the company eyeclash.

Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 10.59.51 AMWe didn’t want to raise money until we took the product public and we didn’t want to take it public until we felt like we had a semi-stable beta with at least 3-5 apps available. That doesn’t sound like much but that is actually a very large scope for just 2 developers that were holding down full time jobs to pay the bills. After, about a year of building things, realizing they were wrong, rebuilding them and then rebuilding them again, we decided to shut it down. I was completely burnt out from working all of those long nights and weekends. Gavin was moving on to other things and Mike needed to spend more time on something that actually generated real income.

Since then, I have done a handful of other hackathons and Startup Weekend type events but I have yet to go all-in again on a real startup. The lessons I’ve learned are way too extensive to list here but I will say that next time I do this again I’ll build a team first and then decide what we will build based on the skill set of the people involved.

 

 

The New Site is Up

Hi Everyone. Thanks to the help of my wife, I have just relaunched my personal website. Basically, having a baby in the house makes it impossible to get any of my side projects done. However, after I built a website for her newborn photography business, she vowed to take the kids and give me as much time as I needed to work on mine. Also, she took that great photo of me above as well as the headshot in the right column.

So let me know what you think. Add me on facebook, LinkedIn, or twitter and stay in touch.

3 Resume Templates That Don’t Suck

Recently, someone ask me for help on designing them a new resume. I decided to make a couple templates and post them on here for anyone to use. They are all saved as Microsoft Word documents but you will want to save them as PDFs before sending them to anyone. Also, all of these have been built using different fonts. If you do not have access to the fonts that I have selected, make sure you choose your own clean sans-serif font. Never use any other kind of font on a resume (unless you are a lawyer). Feel free to manipulate and modify these at your own discretion.

 

Example-Resume-1
Resume Template 1

This has been what I have used for my personal resume for some time now. In order to get the look that I have created in the example, you’ll need to download and install the font Segoe if you’re on on a newer PC. You can download this template here.

Feel free to change the colors at your own discretion. I prefer going to Colour Lovers for inspiration on this kind of thing.

 

Example-Resume-2Resume Template 2

This one I created a while back for a friend that reeded a resume that stood out but still be conservative. I opted for only one color and a neater layout. You will need the roboto font (free) to use this template. You can download this template here.

Note that part of the design is that the name at the top lines up with the main column of the page. After inserting your name, you’ll need to adjust that center column accordingly.

 

Example-Resume-3Resume Template 3

This is a template that I created to be able to fit as much text in without looking clunky. While long pretentious vocabulary is to be avoided, some people simply cannot write up a resume without a lot of really long adjectives and pronouns (mostly engineers). This template uses good old helvetica and can be downloaded here.

2012 in Review

Well, it’s the end of the year and things are finally starting to slow down at the office. Usually, the last 3 months of the year are busiest for advertising agencies and razorfish is no exception (we are hiring by the way). Normally, we are not permitted to talk about or share a lot of the cool projects that we work on until they are out the door and viewable to the public. Even then, we are kind of limited due to the various NDAs that we have to adhere to and other legal reasons.

Luckily here are a few of the highlights of some of the campaigns that I have worked on over the past year or so. Here is a video of one of the spots that we did for the Bing Holiday campaign about a year ago.

There was actually a series of clever TV spots that we did as well as several online banners and rich media work that tied into this campaign. The purpose was to get people more comfortable with using bing as more than just a text-in-answer-out search engine.

2012 also had me spending a lot of time working with the Tourism New Zealand account. We have and are continuing to produce a lot different types of media for these guys and the art that we have been working with is amazing. We actually, built out a couple sets of online ads that tied in with the release of the new Hobbit movie but all I can show at this point is the demo reel that we did.

Lastly, since this post seems to be all about videos. I thought I’d share this one from our corporate HQ. It’s one of those “company culture” videos that does a good job at what the environment is like at the razorfish offices. Also, it feature one of our developers that I have worked in the past. Teo Litto, is based out of San Francisco and did an awesome job on some HTML5 work for the Experian account back when I was managing the dev side of things for it.

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