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A Cultural Revolution here in Boston?

Scott Kirsner does a compelling write up on the changing start up scene here in Boston.  He theorizes that there is a revolution going on and poses the question – which side are you on?  I was honored to even get a mention! ;-)

The new culture is open, fast-paced, and encouraging of first-time entrepreneurs. It’s about blogging and tweeting and digitized networks of people sharing information about what they’re interested in, and where they’re investing. It’s about informal "unconferences" popping up to discuss the latest tech trend. It’s populated by people who see the value in having broad networks of friends and acquaintances across lots of companies.

- Blogs exposing the inner workings of venture capital and entrepreneurship, from local leaders like Larry Cheng, Bijan Sabet, Jeff Bussgang, Dharmesh Shah, Healy Jones & Prasad Thammineni, and Leah Busque.

I’ve seen this trend begin to surface, and I hope it continues, because I believe we still have a long way to go.  The potential is there, and those of us who are engrossed in the scene, and by our very nature, are playing the game differently must continue to forge ahead.  I actually think that the revolution, as Scott describes it, falls in line with the growth of the internet and digital media industry in general.  It is so cheap to get a company started these days.  The old overhead of server costs and data centers is a thing of the past, replaced by slick computing clouds and lean resources.  These changes in the industry only help to propel ideas forward – the good ones and the bad ones.  As more and more people continue to innovate, its just a matter of time before the startup scene is flooded with companies a-buzz. 

If you think of Boston as a fresh water pond, and new ideas and companies popping up each as their own crystal of salt, its only a matter of time before Boston turns into an ocean.  I say let’s build an ark, load it up with scrappy entrepreneurs and seasoned thought leaders, and see how far we can go!

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Optimize.

Tim Ferriss came to fbFund last Monday and gave a fabulous talk on creating a global phenomenon.  The author of the Four Hour Work Week (4HWW), a New York Times best seller, had some great insights about how to break into a market and secure earlyvangelists.  I was excited about this session, because I had read 4HWW on the plane the night before.  I read it in 3 hours instead of 6 using Tim’s speed reading techniques outlined in the book! ;-)  Actually I tried to read it faster, but didn’t quite double my speed.  I think it takes some practice. 

I can summarize the take aways from Tim’s talk in one word – optimization.  He shared great tips on the optimal time to post blog entries (7am / 6pm Tues, Thurs, & Sat), how to optimize the landing pages of a website for conversion metrics, how to launch a new product and being hyper focused about the initial target.  "What is the smallest meaningful number that will start a cascade effect?"

Also I enjoyed the excellent insights into naming companies.  You may remember that we thought long and hard about changing the name RunMyErrand.  To be honest, the name changing battle still haunts me on a daily basis, and I think that eventually we’ll have to make the switch.  I loved hearing about Tim’s very analytical approach to deciding on a name change, check out the description about 6 minutes into this video, and as we continue to obsess of this, we’ll absolutely follow his approach in making the final decision.

So I told my buddy back in Boston about the awesome talk, and you know what his response was?!  "OMG … I read the 4HWW back in college and was a total mess for the next 6 months … trying to start new companies left and right."  Made me laugh!

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Glamming it up in Palo Alto

So I’ve been back and forth between Boston and San Francisco for much of the summer.  The longest amount of time I’ve spent out here consecutively has been 16 days.  Other than that longer stay, its been a lot of smaller kamikaze trips, so that I can try to reap the full benefits that this fbFund REV program offers and keep up with the business in Boston as well.

Because we wrap up here the end of August, with two exciting "Demo Days", I decided to try to sublet a space for the entire month, instead of racking up more hotel charges.  This proved to be a smart move, since I found a cute studio 2 blocks from the Facebook office for $800!  Compare that to hotels @ $100 a night, where I could get 8 days for the same price of an entire month.  Awesome, I thought!  For the most part, I was right.  The "challenge" with the studio apartment is it was completely empty.  No bed.  No TV.  No towels.  No anything.  But for $800, it still seemed like the best deal.  So I packed the suitcase with a few necessities (towels, sheets), and "borrowed" …. okay stole 1 roll of toilet paper from the Facebook office.  I called up Rent a Center and paid $100 to have a twin size bed delivered to the apartment.  Still … I’m pretty sure I am coming out on top.

So this is where I have been staying all week, and it has been pretty great.  There is a leaky facet in the kitchen that kept me up the first night, but I rigged up a little "bag" system to mitigate the dripping noise.  The bag system is composed of 1 small zip lock bag wrapped closing to the drippy facet, along with a large kitchen bag secured via pony tail holders.  The system works great, but the only problem is the kitchen bag fills up just about every 5 hours, which requires me to get up in the middle of the night to dump out the water and set up the system again.  Kind of a pain at 2am, but not the end of the world. 

I won’t describe the questionable issues with the tub, but lets just say I have been using the same leaky facet bag to stand on in the shower.  Honestly, I’m just glad there is hot running water and I don’t have to sleep on the hard wood floor!

Startup life is super glamorous! ;-)