feecha

The new Foursquare 8.0, just released today and after unbundling, is of particular interest to me as it was basically what feecha versions 1 and 2 tried to do starting from two years ago. Feecha had a broader scope: it wasn’t just about food and places but about news, events and activities too. Our implementation was also a lot less structured with a feed approach, instead of the lists and directories you see in Foursquare.

The similarities are there: Default content is about what’s around the user. Users’ experiences were personalized by who they follow and what interests (i.e. tastes on Foursquare) they have. They get alerted when something relevant and interesting is nearby without needing to open the app. Foursquare’s “Tips” section was basically our main news feed and you level up (i.e. expertise on Foursquare) when people appreciate your contributions.

Sadly, we gave up on that ambition when it came to version 3 because of one key reason: we just couldn’t get enough good data. We relied on users to create useful content and that proved exceedingly difficult. Foursquare 8.0 — at least for food and places, and with their archive of 55 million tips — is executing that vision a lot better than we could.

Read Full Article

Phew!  Today was an intense day of travel and meetings.  I’ve been preparing a tirade about Chromebooks but lack the energy to complete the story for today.  So instead I’ll post a few thoughts about business development.

For most consumer-oriented start-ups, business development can be a complete waste of time.

Example #1: A major phone manufacturer promised to preload feecha on their flagship phone — to the point of sending us stuff to sign — but then overnight became totally unresponsive.  We later learned a certain telecom company had a similar app and suggested we get dropped… yep.

Read Full Article

When Facebook first started, the homepage was essentially your profile.  You navigated by viewing a friend’s profile; and then a friend’s friend’s profile and so on.  Facebook was about jumping from one profile to another.

Then Mark Zuckerberg debuted the news feed.  Instead of having to check each person’s profile to see what’s new with that person, your friends’ updates were all pooled into one page.  People then consumed the news feed regularly, and only visited an actual profile when they wanted to go in depth on a person.  This was a fundamental shift in how people used Facebook and it’s hard to imagine going back the old way.

Profiles are static while the news feed is dynamic.

Profiles are “what is” while the news feed is about “what’s changed.”

Profiles are X, the news feed is ΔX.

I hope this distinction makes sense, because I’m about to apply it to mobile phones.

Read Full Article

A good friend asked for my feedback the other day for his start-up, still in stealth mode.  It’s a finance website with lots of cool ideas, but I thought the website and especially the homepage was a bit of a mess.  (He agrees.)

Given a choice between one big feature or many small features, it’s better to have one big feature.  You don’t want to be the product that can do lots of little things but nothing great enough for users to remember you by.

People don’t have the energy or desire to understand your product’s nuances; they need to be grabbed right away with that one thing they must know about you.

My friend’s website has a lot of useful tools and interesting content, but it wasn’t well packaged.  You don’t know what you’re supposed to do when you first visit it.

Read Full Article

Of all the announcements at WWDC, iOS8’s extensibility feature excites me most.

A quick introduction in case you don’t know it — Apple is finally allowing apps to communicate with one another.  For example, let’s say you’re on the Facebook app and you upload a photo; there might be a button to launch Instagram and use Instagram’s filters for that photo while still on the Facebook app.  Instagram’s interface appears like a pop-up over Facebook.

Android actually already has a version of this kind of extensibility, but on first impression I like Apple’s implementation more.

(Isn’t that Apple’s real magic?  Not actually being the first, but being the first to enthrall the press and technorati about something.)

Read Full Article

The winner of this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt New York is Vurb. First, please watch the start-up’s finalist pitch. Done? Impressed?

I can see Vurb working on the web, though I’d be more comfortable saying that if I can try the service first. Unfortunately, Vurb is still in closed beta.

Like Vurb, feecha is an aggregator, so there are insights I can share. They will inevitably face some of the same problems we faced.

Read Full Article

Aspiring entrepreneurs frequently ask me one thing they should know before starting a company; and recently, a university magazine asked me to write an article about the same topic for their students.

I wrote my answer. The magazine didn’t like it.  Said it was too negative and so changed it to be made more palatable to wide-eyed teenagers.  Now here it is, in my little corner of the universe, the original in all its unedited glory.

So you are in school and want to be an entrepreneur. I was there too in 2007 after graduating with an MBA from Stanford University. My first start-up failed. The second one made money. And now I’m on my third riding the roller coaster that is entrepreneurship.

Before you take that leap, here’s my advice.

Read Full Article