Kool-Aid Being Served Here

#1You do not get credit before you do the work

Jason Calacanis, TWiST #47 with Niel Robertson (0:11:17)

If you’ve never heard of Jason Calacanis, then you owe it to yourself to check him out on one of his many ThisWeekIn episodes. I had the privaledge to demo to him once & he’s a character & a half! This past week he went after Generation Y – well 80% of them. And to be quite honest, I agree with him. Check out my own experience – My First Demo Pitch. Are All Retail Sales Associates Like This?

Living the Ultra Light Startup Life

Having lived and died the start up life during the dot com days and after reading everything on the right sidebar under Pivotal Reading, I’m now a proud ultra light startup entrepreneur. (See What are the characteristics of an Ultra Light Startup?.) With Guy Kawasaki‘s autographed copies of Reality Check & The Art of the Start tucked under my pillow at night, I have no trouble admitting to living off my faithful wife, dipping into my two beautiful children’s savings accounts the odd time and yes, there is a line of credit. So, if this was your reality, how would you go about soliciting help starting your startup?

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Work-For-Attribution. That’s what I called it back in my post The Start-Up Chronicles: Chapter 2. Who, Part 2 and that’s what’s in my Copyright Assignment Agreement. At least that’s the politically correct way of putting it. But lately, I just refer to it as Drinking the Kool-Aid.

The Pitch

Here’s my scoop

  1. I have no money.
  2. I’m living off the kindness of my wife & kids.
  3. I’ve done the startup thing & I’ve done it all wrong. Just Read Guy Kawasaki’s books for more examples.
  4. I understand the value of lawyers & accountants, so they get paid first and that comes out of my line of credit.
  5. If I understand my accountant – Sheldon Miller, correctly; banks just want the interest on your line of credit. VCs’ have a different kind of interest.
  6. If I understand my lawyer – François Senécal, correctly; pay for what’s in the critical path to getting your product to market.  Don’t pay for things like; “but what if one day Google buys this thing for a gazillion dollars?”.
  7. If I understand Guy Kawasaki correctly, paying for things that may never happen simply reduces the likelyhood they will.

Here’s what I believe

  1. I believe there’s a certain group of people in the world that love what they do but not necessarily where they’re doing.
  2. I believe there’s a certain group of people in the world that desperately want and can do more than what they’re do now.
  3. I believe these people just need an opportunity.

If you’re one of these people, then here’s what I’m offering you

  1. I’m offering you a chance to build your own micro startup doing things exactly the way you want them done.
  2. I’m offering you a chance to go beyond resumés and looking backwards when all you want to do is look to the future.
  3. I’m offering you a canvas, silly putty, a stage for to show the world what makes you so hot.

Here’s the Risk

  1. You have to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
  2. You have to sign a Copyright Assignment Agreement. Typically, when you sign one of these with your employer, you agree to give them total ownership of your work & they agree to financially compensate you for it. In my case, you agree to give me (Milstein & Associates Inc.) total ownership of your work & I agree to fully attribute your contribution. You get no money, no shares, no promises of anything beyond public attribution. Oddly enough, it’s exactly as Jason said in above episode.

Here’s the Reward

  1. If one day Google wants to offer a gazillion dollars, one of the first questions they may ask is; “Is the Intellectual Property locked down my Milstein & Associates Inc.”. The answer is “Yes”.
  2. If one day Google wants to offer a gazillion dollars, one of the following questions they may ask is; “Is the team that contributed that coveted Intellectual Property locked down my Milstein & Associates Inc.”. The answer is “No”. At that point, my guess is that Google will then determine the value of locking down these contributors.

Bottom Line

In order for my startup to succeed, I can’t afford to chance that maybe you’ll contribute enough for Google to offer that gazillion dollars. In order for you to truly succeed, you can’t afford to give up an opportunity like this. Besides, who would you rather assess your true value? Me – a guy living off his wife, kids & a line of credit, or, Google? Basically, all I’m offering you is a chance to sit at the table. But first, you have to set it & fill the glasses with Kool-Aid. Do you have a better offer from someone else?

Reflection

So far three people have drank the Kool-Aid & I’m hoping one, or, two more will belly up to the table in the coming weeks. Take a look at Dom Derrien’s blog and let me know if you still think, in the worst case scenario, that he’s not seeing some form of immediate returns on his investment.

Next Up

Thanks to TWiST #46 with David Heinemeier Hansson, I just ordered Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (founders of 37Signals). Stay tuned to see why.

TWiST #46 with David Heinemeier Hansson

My First Pitch to More Than One Person Over the Age of 12. What a rush!

In fine company last night among QuantumWhisper, SoleiraSun, SolidWild at Montreal NEWTECH’s Demo Night.

Just demo!

Jason Calacanis, TechCrunch50 2009 Twetailer semi-finalist demo.

In 140 characters, or, less

Twetailer: Brokering Consumer Demand with local Retailers’ available Supply – via tweets, for f(r)ee, or, Reverse Retailing.

Rehearsed version

Live version

Last night I presented the slides & recordings as above but did the audio part live. Technically, I had 10 minutes – 5 for demo & 5 for Q&A. I actually consumed 7 minutes, leaving on 3 for Q&A.

Here’s the Q&A (paraphrased):
Q. Do you have any retailers signed up?
A. That’s the stage we’re at right now. We actually have one, my Volkswagen dealer Volkswagen Des Sources. GregVW thinks its great for used cars!
Q. Is it fully functional?
A. Yes! The recorded demo part was just to make sure we didn’t run into any timing issues. We also weren’t sure about Internet access here – which as it turns out, there’s none. But Yes, it’s fully functional. You can even do you own demo by sending “d twetailer what-are-you-buying #demo” and a robot will play the Sales Associate role. If you want, try sending “d twetailer used vw 2010 #demo” and Greg may even play along too.

Big Thanks!

Many thanks to Montreal NewTech, Felipe Coimbra for all his time, twitter apps & organization savy and the sponsors Bolidea and 63 Squares – Web Technologies and Marketing Collective.

See you at the NewTech Series: Pitch, Thu 2010-04-15 6pm.

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