Stop Shanghaiing Your Users

The other week someone posted a question on (our 500Startups internal forum) about whether subduing an unsubscribe link in email newsletters proves to be beneficial to the unsubscribe rate. The individual also posted a question on Quora to get input from another channel.

I’ve been meaning to get around to answering this since I saw the email come through, because it reminded me of how we started out in the early days with Kibin.

When new users signed up for Kibin, we auto-opted them in to our email newsletter. Furthermore, we tucked the unsubscribe link way down at the bottom in very small font.

Why did we do this?

Well, we wanted to beef up our newsletter subscribers so everyone would see our awesome news, we could market to EVERYONE that joined our service, and we’d reap ridiculous rewards for it. (more…)

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Ten Things Poker Taught Me About Being an Entrepreneur

When I graduated college, I left with a degree in Economics, one course short of a minor in Bio-Chemistry, and absolutely no clue what I wanted to do with my life.

I graduated in 2005 and had been playing poker for about a year.  The poker scene was heating up quickly with the Cinderella story of Chris Moneymaker’s 2003 World Series of Poker main event victory.  The ‘Moneymaker effect’ was, for lack of a better word, in full-effect. Like millions of other people, I was inspired.

I remember my first encounter with the game. I was waiting patiently for my (now ex) girlfriend to get ready. We were headed out the door for something… well, we were supposed to be.  I was flipping through the channels and ESPN was covering a World Series of Poker event.  I was instantly intrigued. (more…)

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Raising Money for your Startup? Stop Talking to Investors!

It was mid April and things with Kibin were cranking along nicely. Jim and I both had our heads down and were working like crazy to push the product forward.  Unfortunately, keeping your head down doesn’t pay the bills or quiet your grumbling stomach.  I had decided we needed to raise some money.  It should be easy, right?  Hell, I remembered back when I had time to read TechCrunch… it seemed 80% of their posts were about a company raising a round.

Turns out, its not easy.  Turns out, when people tell you that raising money will always be a lot harder than you thought, they’re actually telling you the truth. (more…)

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How it Feels Being a Startup Founder

I spend most of my time stressed, worried, and frustrated. We’re really on the cusp of having everything ready for Wednesday, but we’re definitely cutting it close.  There are a million things to do.  It feels like finals week in college.  You know you’re going to get through it and you would be extremely excited, but you can’t really visualize the end because you’re so caught up in the now. (more…)

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Come 1/1/2011 Kibin will Have Two Full-Time Employees

In an interesting and abrupt turn of events, Jim will be joining me come January 1st as Kibin’s second full-time employee.  He notified me yesterday over Gchat that he’s putting in his resignation today. It sounds like this will come as a pretty big surprise to his current employer, but Jim’s been venting to me about his position for at least a month now.   (more…)

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Kibin is Back on Track (Part 3/3)

With Pablo back in the picture, I definitely had a revived hope to get everything back together.  Pablo was ready to go, but my expectations remained muted until I could get a team back together and start seeing some headway.  It was now sometime in mid August.

I knew Brion would be the most difficult to get on board and I asked Pablo to try and get in touch with him.  I was pretty certain Jim would be wanting to get back into things as he was always motivated and excited about the project. (more…)

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How Social is Your Social Circle?

My social circle is comprised of a lot of amazing people…  you’d just never know it.  We have a ton of fun in our Sunday Recess social sports league, organize fun trips to Tahoe, invade Vegas with 40+ people (can’t wait for January!), or storm Angel Island with 200+ people in a drunken debauchery twice a year.  Over the past couple years I’ve spent a lot of time with these individuals.  Some I know better than others and a very select few I know very well.  I can’t tell you what most of these people do for a living or what they truly wish they did for a living.  Aspirations, goals, dreams, etc… no clue.  But ask me to pick a beer pong partner, organize an unbeatable flip-cup team, or rank all these people in terms of their alcohol tolerance levels or drinking game skill-sets and suddenly I can provide a wealth of knowledge. (more…)

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