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The Intersection of Sports and Startups: Seattle Startup Week

Talk Sporty to MeSeattle Startup Week kicks off November 14th with an event focused on “The Intersection of Sports and Startups“. We have Jen Mueller, founder of Talk Sporty to Me and Seahawks Sideline Reporter moderating the event. Jen is also the author of the book “Talk Sporty to Me: Thinking Outside The Box Scores”. Here’s a little bit about the book:

Any book that starts with a paragraph about the Seattle Seahawks winning the Super Bowl against Denver is going to be a great book! The parts that I liked most about this book were quotes from various people in Seattle like Coach Pete Carroll and his philosophy to “Always compete”. I also really enjoyed the conversation that Jen had with John Nordstrom when he talked about three things 1) “Everyone is included” 2) “No one wants to take credit for any of the success” 3) “Pete (Carroll) understands the importance of the last three feet”. The last three feet, refers to the distance between you and the customer. In my mind it also refers to the last yard in a startup where you need to make sure the customer experience is great or it could also be the final yard that propels you forward in your startup.

Sports is a great way to get a conversation going and build rapport with people. This book is useful for anyone starting out in the business world or branching out into a new industry that wants to understand how sports can be one of the ways to create a connection with someone.

Space is limited at the Seattle Startup Week event, please be sure to register for “The Intersection of Sports and Startups“.

Moderator:
Jen Mueller, Founder of Talk Sporty to Me and Sideline Reporter for the Seahawks

Speaker Panel:
Chuck Frizelle, CEO of Coros
Jesse Smith, Manager of Analytics for the Seattle Mariners
Josh Decker, CEO of Tagboard
Steve Schwartz, Founder of ProInfluence

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Re-hiring an Employee That Quit Your Startup

ryan-gosling-back-at-your-doorWhat I’m about to write is NOT going to resonate with the millennial Gen-Y crowd and that’s ok. This post is written for the startup founder, entrepreneur, and small company CEO. This topic is looking through the lens of the person that created the company, started the company with their own money, and pretty much has everything on the line if this company doesn’t succeed. Much of this post was inspired after reading “Never Hire Job Hoppers, Never, They Make Terrible Employees“.

The millennial Gen-Y crowd mostly are job hoppers.
In six years of running this company I would have to label all employees who can’t stay in a company for more than 2.5 to 3 years as a job hopper. I get it that those people are just starting jobs after college are going to make a 1000 different decisions on what is best for them and their career. So, that said, I look back at my own track record as a Gen-X and see that I was with the same company for 3.2 years. Not every day in those three years was great, but, I didn’t quit at the first sign of hardship. I always think about the “fight versus flee” mentality and at the first sign of trouble are you a person fights or runs out the door? I do realize that we just came out of the worst recession our generation has ever seen and there are going to be reasons out there why the economy impacted a person’s career path. If that’s the case, make sure that your resume reflects that the company went bankrupt which is why you left your job.

I quit my job because my manager sucked.
In Mark Suster’s blog he said: “I was working for a lame boss.  I had to get out of there.”  What I hear, “You’re difficult to work with.  You don’t have gravitas.  Anybody with any common sense would know not to talk badly about a prior boss.  What will you say about me after you’ve left?  What will you say about me to your peers in my company when I make difficult decisions?”.

I quit my job because I was recruited away.
Again in Suster’s blog: “I was recruited away from that job.  The new company was willing to pay me more money / give me a title increase” – what I hear, “Three times?  You were recruited away three times?  You aren’t loyal.  The first company that offers you a higher check means you going to jump ship.  You’re only about the money and yourself.”  Believe me – people WILL offer your employees more money.  Job hoppers take it. I’ve personally been there, considered it, but I’ve turned it down.

They ran away from home.
A good employee that quit. One and a half years later they come back and say they would like to be re-hired. What do you do? Assuming that they left in good standing you have to ask them the hard questions. I’ve come up with questions to ask an employee who quit and is asking to be re-hired:

    • In what ways have things changed for you and the company so that those reasons that you left are still not reasons why you would leave again? [This is non-negotiable, if the reasons why they left the first time have not been exterminated then this employee will leave you again. Be the first person to offer and help them find a company to work for where that problem doesn’t exist.]
    • In order to build a great company, which is a huge challenge for startups and small companies, what are you going to do help me attract and retain great employees? [A lot of the momentum in your company is built upon hiring great employees, when someone great leaves the can destroy that momentum. They can even recruit other employees away on your team, and being a small company or startup it is devastating to your company. I’ve had this happen and it causes an incredible amount of pain. The flip side is when you hire great employees, it attracts more great employees, and I’m fortunate to be in that cycle right now! A-Players love it when you hire more A-Players. B-Players get scared and turn into C-Players.]
    • You’re back on my team for a month and someone that used to work with you gives you a call and recruits you to come work with them, what are you going to do in that situation? [You already question their loyalty and because a persons network is only so large, they are likely to be recruited by someone from within their network. You’re looking for loyalty and the opportunity for them to recognize that you’re giving them a second chance.]
    • What new skills have you learned in the company you are working for that you didn’t have when working at your company? [If they left your company, hopefully, they have learned something new that they will bring back to your company and improve your business. If not, then they aren’t worth re-hiring.]
    • Their life plans and goals have changed. [Find out how have those life plans changed. You have every right to understand how and why the stage in their life is now going to impact further life decisions such as finding a new job. The reasons why they left in the past, is no longer valid.]

With that I would have to say that if you’re going to take a risk on re-hiring someone that quit, the absolute number one reason to not re-hire them is if the reason why they left has not changed then they will undoubtedly leave you again. Don’t waste your time with that. You’re investing in people that believe in your company, it’s mission, and even when the tough gets going (and I’m 100% sure that it will get tough) that they are not the person that will run out the door. One of my best decisions, which was also a hard decision at the time, was making a decision on going with a new employee who really wanted to work for me rather than re-hiring someone who would have been excellent but probably not in it for the long run. I trusted my gut and now I have someone I can build the company around rather than have questions in the back of my mind.

No take back policy

I’m a person that believes that people need to be shown more grace. With that I think that if they get through those questions then it’s worth the chance that they can become exceptional loyal employees. One of my favorite blog posts that I’ve ever read comes from my advisor Annie Duncan, who wrote this blog post: Maybe the Grass is Greener on the other side. Annie says: “Instead of being jealous or threatened by greener grass, see it as an invitation to water the grass you’re standing on”. What are your thoughts on re-hiring people that have quit? What other questions have you asked to test their loyalty?

Some other good blog posts on this topic:
Never hire job hoppers. Never. They may terrible employees
Why job hoppers make the best employees (I have to say I totally disagree with this blog post)
A Gen-X Managers Advice to Millennials
Confessions of a job hopper
Job Hopping Is the ‘New Normal’ for Millennials: Three Ways to Prevent a Human Resource Nightmare

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Inside startups with Founders Less Than Three: Speaker – Halley Suitt Tucker

Halley Suitt Tucker HeadshotYou know when someone jokes that they have “done it all?” Halley Suitt Tucker could put Chief Everything Officer on her business card. Halley is currently living in Boston and writes for a living. You name it she writes it. Halley has been blogging for 10 years, went through Techstars, and is now writing books! Halley is also CEO of BoOkBoX, and created a Kickstarter to fund her novel and e-book “Founders Less Than Three” . Halley has incorporated her knowledge of startups and entrepreneurial knowledge into this new read, which will be available on Amazon August 15th. “Founders Less Than Three” is centered around 10 young entrepreneurs creating a startup and racing towards their demo day in Boston. Though fiction, there are solid pieces of advice and insight into starting a business.

Halley’s friend, mentor, and author of APE – Guy Kawasaki – once told her “If you thought starting a book was hard, wait until you try to finish one.” We are so lucky to have Halley launching her (finished!) book at Hackers and Founders August 20th.  We’ll be meeting at the Bellevue Microsoft Store at 6pm that Tuesday. Please join us, and RSVP here.

Thinkspace Member: Donuts – Named to WSJ’s “The Next Big Thing 2012” List

Donuts CEO, Paul Stahura

The Wall Street Journal unveiled its third annual ranking of the top 50 U.S. companies backed by venture capital—A list that attempts to identify start-ups that could become the “Next Big Thing 2012“. Geekwire reported “… after considering nearly 6,000 companies, here are the top 50 startups that The Wall Street Journal editors believe have the the best chance at success.”

Congrats to our very own Donuts, Inc which is ranked 14th on the list! The other company in the Seattle area is Cheezburger which is ranked 28th. Pretty awesome to have both companies on this impressive list.

Updated: 9/29 @ 9:40am: I also forgot to mention that Docusign is on that list as well, ranked #6. I believe Docusign was founded in 2004, I guess they can still be considered a startup!

Here’s a link to a Q/A blog post that we did with Donuts last week.

Tech Tuesday- Sales for Startups by Matt Heinz Recap

Sales for Startups Presentation Matt Heinz

Matt Heinz presenting to the group

Yesterday, we hosted a Tech Tuesday talk discussing Sales for Startups by Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing. Matt spent an hour sharing his startup sales expertise with our community. If you were unable to join us for the event. You can check out yesterday’s slideshare presentation below:

Matt Heinz recently published his newest book, Sales for Startups. If y ou would like to purchase a hard copy, you can do so on Amazon.com. Or, you can access a free digital copy of his book here.

Sales for Startup Event

Sales for Startups Attendees

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Apply to Attend Seattle Startup Riot on August 24th

Seattle Startup Riot

Startup Riot is coming to Seattle on August 24th! Startup Riot is an all-day event where twenty five startups will have the opportunity to present 4 slides for 3 minutes to the audience. After each presentation, the judging pannel will have 3 minutes to ask questions. There will be two keynote speakers throughout the day. Noah Kagan, co-founder of AppSumo will be presenting in the morning, and Jeremy Hanks, co-founder of Doba will be the afternoon speaker. The event starts at 8am and goes all day until 5pm with an after party to follow! Startup Riot is a great opportunity for investors who are interested in meeting twenty-five different startups. However, it is also a fantastic opportunity for people looking to connect with the Seattle entrepreneurial community.

The top 3 startups will walk away with some extremely useful prizes:

  • 1st place: 7 hours of investor meetings and $6,700 of services
  • 2nd place: 6.5 hours of investor meetings and $1,200 of services
  • 3rd place: 6 hours of investor meetings

The event will be at the Showbox Sodo and tickets are only $30 for attendees and $70 for investors. Tickets is reserved for investors, entrepreneurs, students, startup community supporters, and event sponsors.  Questions?  If you’re interested in attending, take a moment to apply and use ‘thinkspace‘ as the reference code to get $10 off your ticket price!

Want to know who else will be attending? Check out the official Twitter Seattle Startup Riot list! I just registered, so I hope to see you there.

Check out this video from Startup Riot 2010 in Atlanta featured on CNN.com:

P.S. there will be a career fair the day before on August 23rd. If you’re interested in working for a startup, or if you’re a startup looking to hire- apply to attend the Seattle Startup Riot Career Fair.

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3 Reminders for Starting a Business

Starting a BusinessEntrepreneurs are passionate about their startups. Many are so eager to get started with their newest, greatest business idea that they rush out to get their licensing from their city and state, then sprint to press the “Go Button.” In reality, it really shouldn’t take too long to get your business up and running but there is a little more to it than just obtaining your licensing. Here are three things to do that will make your start up look legitimate right off the bat.

  1. Get a website. Just in case you didn’t know, phone books have been replaced with this thing called the internet. People now use the internet to get information. Without a website, how do you expect your clients to find you? Websites are a great way to introduce potential clients, investors and partners to your business style, concepts and information. If you are not skilled in the ways of website development, there are plenty of great people out there who can do it for you for a relatively low cost (and, if you don’t know of any, I can give you some amazing referrals).
  2. Get a professional email address and separate phone number. I know that the AwesomeBob123@hotmail.com account is what you’ve always used. But, this really isn’t appropriate for business. Even if your email address is reasonable, you really should be using your business domain to host your email. This is another thing that those savvy website designers can set up for you. As far as a professional phone line goes, you really want to have your calls separated from each other. Local and toll free numbers go for extremely cheap these days and you can even forward the line to your cell. Then it will be separated for when you finally decide that you can get your own business phone. (If you don’t know where to get a cheap business phone number, you can talk to me about that too!)
  3. Get a business address. The internet is a great resource for information but the amount of information that can be attained by strangers is also a bit scary. Many new business owners set up their company with their home address. This is a bad idea. It is very easy for to find the registered address for any given business. Online maps have made it all too easy for people to look up addresses, find out right where that address is and even view the area via satellite street views. Not sure if you feel comfortable with this, but most of the time this is clearly not a good idea. We, at thinkspace, actually offer a Redmond business address for just $59 per month (and includes much more than the address) and should be providing other locations very soon.

There are quite a few things you should do to ensure you get your start up off on the right foot, but these seem to be the most vital (and not always all that obvious). Anything you think I missed?

Stay Focused at Work While Rocking Out on Turntable.fm

I enjoy listening to music while I work. However, I am sick of Pandora, and my iTunes library is embarrassingly out of date. Therefore, when someone told me about the New York based startup, Turntable.fm– my work music source changed for the better.Turntable.fm is a site where users can connect and share music in genre categorized rooms. The music in each room is controlled by five DJs. Any user can be a DJ if the spot is vacant. However, the popular rooms can have close to 200 users inside of them making the DJ role a coveted position. Turntable.fm keeps it social by adding a chat box to each room.
I have learned to use Turntable.fm as a resource for productivity rather than a distraction. At work, I will login to Turntable.fm and select a room that fits my current music mood (right now I’m hanging out inside of the “Indie While At Work” room!) Instead of taking on a DJ roll and chatting away with the other users, I will keep Turntable.fm active in a browser tab and carry on my way.
I love how the music played on Turntable.fm is hand-selected by other users, and the songs keep playing without annoying ad interruptions (at least not yet).If you’re interested in spicing up your music playlists, I recommend giving Turntable.fm a try. Just keep in mind that it can be extremely distracting. That is, if you let it.

Find a restaurant in your neighborhood and save gas by ordering online

A friend of mine, Julia May, founded a company called “Clickeats”. The company provides online ordering for restaurants. Julia and developer Jay Karlin provide the technology and engine to any restaurants that wishes to provide their customers online ordering. Since most restaurant owners don’t have the time to setup a website and building out an online ordering component is not feasible, this gives restaurants a very quick way to be online at a reasonable price.

Clickeats has a restaurant search tool that allows you to filter by many different things. For example, I tried to do a search by organic Japanese food, provides catering, and is in Redmond. The Clickeats engine then displays a list of restaurants that meet that criteria. You can even sort by things like does the restaurant provide delivery. With gas prices so high, I don’t want to be driving anywhere if I don’t have to. So, naturally, I’m looking for restaurants that are in my neighborhood, where I can walk over to them, or they can deliver the food to me.