Reflections: Leap of Faith

Recently I stumbled again on this moving story of a snail:

snail faith

The Leap of Faith has this curious characteristic of being unknown, unsure, obscure – this is way it’s called so – you are based on FAITH and nothing more. So far – Duh.

Comes the day you want have to make a choice – you gonna do this startup or not? The only way to determine the success is to list the risk factors that can bring it down, and to list the good things that can make it live. I want to turn your attention to one fact – the risks are clearly visible, but the steps to success are not. Consequently your natural instinct is NOT to start a venture, because you see so many risks. This is the moment where you have to close your eyes and Leap. Example:

The first thing I started was a web development company. Client sites for cash. Here is how it looked to me at the decision moment:

  • I didn’t have any support, which I only realized lately.
  • I had no knowledge on how to spread the word about the new player on market for websites -> I couldn’t see how to get clients
  • I had no money -> I couldn’t hire anyone
  • I didn’t have money for real office or extra equipment -> couldn’t look professional in the eyes of clients
  • I didn’t know how to make sites fast and professional -> didn’t have the right self esteem

These are all very specific problems that I can name, explain in details how they relate to my future failure. However none of the good stuff could be well defined to draw the steps to success. I did pay all taxes for a company, did form it, and did open my living room as an office. Here is what happened:

  • It turned out I had huge support from friends, family, relatives. All of them helped me in any way they could. Found friendly lawyers, accountants to do work almost or for free, found clients. Could I have listed those specific situations in calculating the success? No.
  • I know that even without professional full blown ads, I get constantly new clients from friends of friends. I could have included some of those specific clients forwarded by friends in my initial calculations? No.
  • So it turned out I did have some clients, and I did have money I couldn’t have predicted => I did have a programmer I couldn’t have predicted.
  • It turned out I did not need an office and extra equipment. Still operating from my apartment.
  • I stumbled upon a few people that really opened my eyes on how to improve on the process – make it fast and efficient. Could I have predicted this stumbling? No.

In the end, mgPePe LLC is growing, getting clients, making cash – what it was born to do. But slowly I am realizing that the people I have attracted around it now give me the possibility to develop all kinds of inhouse projects that most probably will turn into beautiful startups that will one day change the world.

Did I predict the difficulties that would be associated with my business? Yes. Could I have seen all the things that helped me get through? No.

Take the Leap of Faith. You will find that Faith is not the only support you will find along the way.

Book: The Breakthrough Company

The Breakthrough Company
Keith McFarland

ISBN-13: 978-0307352194
Both Good to Great and The Breakthrough Company are somewhat off topic for now: “book that helps people like me solve the real problems of moving beyond the entrepreneurial stage of development”, where ‘beyond the entrepreneurial stage ofdevelopment’ actually means sales over $250mln. Yet there’s some good stuff to take home.

Few randoms:

  • “Our study makes one thing clear: Building a breakthrough company is less about choosing the right industry and more about acting on the opportunities already available in your existing business” He says that because the breakthrough examples they found where spread all around different industries, rather than being concentrated in the hottest areas of technology, energy, bio…
  • “It’s not about where (or whether) you went to school.” Can I please please mention my school post AGAIN?
  • “You don’t always need other people’s money…We were shocked by the fact that not one of nine [all of the nine prime examples of breakthrough success] breakthrough companies  was funded by venture capital in their start-up years.” Super surprising to me.
  • How employees feel about working in a place is a significant driver of success…[those companies often had] Fortune magazine’s best places to work, hanging prominently on the wall”
  • “While one might expect that entrepreneurs lead through their visionary ideas, the TAIS results show that entrepreneurs actually influence people through deep personal relationships. Entrepreneurs, in other words are successful because they build positive personal and emotional connections with people and groups, traits more commonly associated with sales people. These connections can become liability, however, if entrepreneurs lose their ability to make objective decisions about personnel they’ve become quite friendly with or with whom they’ve worked a long time.” Sooo interesting. Just building a castle in the sky doesn’t work anymore. You have to go back to the ground, and make all those people around you – employees, partners, spouses, investors – fly high and to YOUR castle. That’s when you can make it.
  • “Don’t diversify before you own your existing market”


  • “Our research suggests that one thing that separates breakthrough company from the rest of the pack is a willingness to up the ante, to place bigger and bigger bets as the business grows – combined with the instincts to place the right bet at the right time.” BUT:
  • “Entrepreneurs are born risk takers – this plays right to their strengths, right? Wrong. We were surprised to learn that entrepreneurial leaders, in fact, are often more risk averse than is popularly believed….There appears to be no significant correlation between risk tolerance and starting or running an entrepreneurial business…to most successful entrepreneurs, starting a business isn’t much of a risk at all”. It is true that it is more risky to be at a job, than to run your own business. You can get fired again and again and you can do nothing. This is HUGE risk, without any great return.
  • Interesting fact: “Twenty venture capital companies rejected him before he eventually turned to family and friends [check the fishes section in this post] to borrow the money to get his new company started.” Talking about the founder of Intuit (Quicken Quickbooks)
  • It seems that gambling and betting is not the same thing. Gambling seems to be more like i will put my money on red and luck decides, while betting is when you have some facts to consider, some rational, some strategy and calculations on possible outcomes.
  • Breakthrough leaders seem to do exponential bets. “One + One + One = Six. That’s the math of the exponential bet, the art of linking bets together to build real advantages over your competitors”
  • “While these companies may place additional bets to make sure they “win, even if they lose,” they don’t “hedge” through indecision; they pursue victory with all their might. Oooou, this is curious. ‘I bet on this product, that it will work. When it doesn’t, I fix it and I bet again.
  • Instead of asking “How will we know when it is time to ‘take down’ the bet?”. You won’t – breakthrough companies ask questions BEFORE the bet.

OUTSIDE HELP – Scaffolding

  • “While YPO [forum] and other peer networks can be important forms of organizational scaffolding, we found that breakthrough companies are also adept at using other forms of scaffolding, such as advisory board, boards of directors, and customer or dealer counsils, as well as investors, industry experts, consultants, and advisors. What sets the breakthrough companies apart, however, is not that they have these support structures […] but the optimal manner in which they learn from them.” This is tremendously important.
  • “… entrepreneurial leaders tend to be great at figuring things out, and are supremely confident in their abilities to find the right answer. That’s great in a start-up environment, but as a business grows, leaders need to be willing to look outside their own four walls for people with the experience, connections, and perspective they may lack.”
  • “1) Do you know anyone who heads up a marketing department at a company with revenues ofover $100 million and has experience in brand marketing?
    2) Why, are you trying to recruit someone?
    1) No, I wanted to find a mentor for my head marketing. She does a great job now, but she’ll need to keep expanding her skills if she’s going to lead marketing for us when we’re a half-a-billion-dollar company. I want to find someone who can help her prepare for the new responsibilities she’ll need to take on as our company grows”

INSIDE HELP – insultants (inside consultants)

  • “They created companies where people are encouraged to question the fundamental assumptions of the business.”
  • “If leaders don’t work hard to build an environment where it is okay to bring up potentially bad news, it will get buried. In the words of Polaris CEO Tom Tiller, “Good news rises and bad news sinks like a rock”

Don’t loose your sense of HUMOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“…the companies that were imbued with a sense of humor tended to embrace new ideas and modes of thinking more readily than their more serious counterparts. This sense of humor also seemed to fuel an insultant-friendly atmosphere, as team members, in general, seemed less defensive and more proactive.”

Tough Times University

  • He explained that EVERY one of those 9 companies run into a super hard situation, where they had to get out. He calls that ‘enrolling to Tough Times University’.
  • “Anyone can run a company during tough times – it’s the good times that actually challenge leaders the most”.


  • “Spending three months crafting a strategy pretty much guarantees that it will be obsolete before the ink on the final report is dry.”
  • “We need an approach that is light on theory and heavy on action”

What is the one thing that surprised you?!

Year ‘09

In 2007 I wrote a review of what I have completed and failed during the summer vacation. I meant to do it yearly, but I missed 2008.  I am not a student so here is the 2009 1-year summary:

thefeelgood logo thebetastartup
Aaaaah. The Feel Good has been a great project.  We have users that come to listen and upload songs every day.  The moment the site is down, they call us and scream that they haven’t gotten their daily ration yet.  I learned a lot from it, but I think I am losing it.  Little by little I have been learning about the industry and how things work. It looks like this project will not get much further development, or if it does, it will be mostly for the current user base, without further expansion. We just don’t have the time resources. We’re also paying decent hosting fees (my partner pays them EVERY time) and that’s another limitations. We need to recognize when to drop something. So I guess we flopped on this one. TODO 2010: keep it alive, fix it to be really nice for current user base. logo2neshta.comI
wrote earlier that we did  launch with Irena a classifieds site. It’s been very slowly growing. I worked to make a marketing campaign, which didn’t work out for few reasons. I learned. Next one will be much better. Spent some cash too. I am going to keep pushing. We have still great ideas for marketing. I just need a bit of time and money. Achievement for launching, flop for the marketing campaign. TODO in 2010: Make 3 good marketing campaigns.

mgpepe logo
So in the winter of 08/09 I formed my first legal entity. I needed to generate some cash by making sites for clients. Have done a few that kept me going. Though constantly struggling for money, I have been generally independent. I had a part-time employee, and I just hired a very decent programmer. I am barely writing code. I think that being able to cross the boundary between making a site yourself and hiring permanently an employee is HUGE. Now we execute times and times faster. I am also learning lot’s of new things so I think…great achievement. TODO 2010: hire an in house designer. Stabilize/expand cashflow/clients, begin working on 1 or 2 of the many startup ideas from our database.

planner logo
This one is big. Ilian and Svilen partnered with me and we formed Planner Media LLC. Basically what it does is print colorful student planners for high school kids, fill them with ads and give them away for free. Somewhat promising startup. It’s been evolving quite a lot lately in my head though, and I expect it to be successful. I award myself achievement on this one for starting it and keeping it move at a good pace. TODO 2010: i will skip this for reason, i will myself forget when i reread it.

question marktheProject
I always keep a pot of random business ideas. Some evaporate the moment they are in, some burn out after lot’s of cooking, some linger for quite a long time. There is one idea though that stays forever in there and though quite challenging from money perspective, it’s doable. And even more so, now that I have real things moving on. I am pretty sure I have partner on it too. Flop for having so many ideas, that probably distract me, achievement for keeping my fire for theproject live. TODO 2010 (that would be very ambitious): Launch by the end of 2010.

butchers bar thebetastartupButcher’s Bar
Yes. I did get a job. It wasn’t for the money, it wasn’t for the fame. I just always wanted to be a barman and I did do it. Had some fun time, figured out I didn’t actually want to be a barman and I was out. Nice experience, made some friends, made some connections… all good.  Counts as achievement.

food thebetastartupFood
Last but not least, I did do quite a lot better on food. Been eating significantly more healthy. Been learning about what to buy and what not to. I have the habit now of checking the nutrition labels to see what’s in and what’s not. Those are all great improvements towards my diet. I have also been very strict on not missing breakfast or any other meal for that matter. Stomach still hurts sometimes, but generally I am well. Today I ran in the park too. Taking long baths for meditation. Just taking care of health. Great achievementTODO 2010: learn significantly more about food, what substances are in, and what those substances costs to us. Maybe start a movement that will teach people to look for and value quality food.

Things are being done, and future seems quite busy. SO excited! It’s kurrrraaaaazy!

Book: How To Get Rich

How To Get Rich
by Felix Dennis
How to get rich thebetastartup

ISBN-10: 1591842050

Often times people avoid talking about money. Probably because:

  • they feel more meaningful if other values are put forward
  • they are afraid to share that they don’t have enough money
  • they just can’t admit to themselves how important money is
  • etc

Fact is however, money is important, and part of an entrepreneur’s life. This post is derived and remixed from the book of Felix Dennis and is all about MONEY!

What qualities do you need to have to become RICH?

  • Determination!
  • Confidence
  • Tunnel vision
  • Ability to delegate (make sure you delegate to a person, that is not a copy of yourself)
  • Fear NOTHING. Here is quotation about it:

“Armies and governments fear men or women who know they are going to die soon; and they have good reason to. Such people have nothing to lose. They will commit any atrocity and take as many others with them as they can, if they are driven to it. YOU must now become that doomed man or woman. You are going to DIE. Nothing can alter that fact. It is immutable. Incomprehensible. Unfair. All those things.
But it sets you free, don’t you see? It sets you FREE.
What does anything matter if you are going to die? Nothing matters. Nothing at all. Get that through your terrified mind and you will wake up in the morning ready to rip the throat out of the first gazelle unfortunate enough to cross your path. Why would you rip its throat out? Because you CAN. Not for breakfast. Not for the ‘thrill of the chase’. But because you CAN.
If you want to be rich you must make a pact with yourself about fear of anything. you cannot banish fear, but you can face it down, stomp on it, crush it, bury it, padlock it into the deepest recesses of your heart and soul and leave it there to rot.”

Luck. I have talked before about luck here and here. Felix’s favourite quotes:

  • Luck is preparation multiplied by opportunity. -Roman Philosopher
  • The harder I practised, the luckier I got. -Gary Player, Golf champion
  • Luck is a dividend of sweat. -Ray Kroc, McDonalds founder


  • Inherit it
  • steal it
  • win it
  • marry it
  • borrow it – (sharks) those maxed-out credit cards stories are heroic but stupid. Not the way to do it, interests are too high.
  • earn it – (dolphins) VC’s have good money, but you have to be really careful. 1 sentence in the contract can make the difference between owning the business and not. Buy legal advice. It’s likely that you’ll make your first million with them, but you will make them many millions before that.
  • earn it – (fishes) Fishes are all your friends and partners. This is THE BEST WAY to finance. Get a tiny loan from your aunt. Ask your dad to let you have an office in the other bedroom. Borrow a printer from your friend. Bring partners to do work. Motivate young people to work for portfolios, prove their qualities. etc. All those numerous little arrangements with little fishes can be managed to achieve absolutely realistically huge tasks. Don’t forget though that every fish has to get its share in the end – one way or another.

Staff, partnerships, and ownership:

  • If you don’t need them for a specific reason, avoid partnerships. Differences in visions, differences in manners of operating, and all personal matters turn to be distracting for a focused entrepreneur set on making money.
  • Most of the young people value opportunities and challenges more than money. Exploit that.
  • Keep every single share and ownership to yourself. Be generous in salaries and bonuses, but keep ownership to yourself. 4 guys tried asked FD to give them 20% or they leave. He fired them on the spot. Later those 20% became £80,000,000
  • Do not hire a replica of yourself to delegate to. Makes no sense to strengthen your strengths and not address weaknesses.
  • Leave every now and then in total isolation. The teams that will be forced to work without you will learn quickly to take responsibility, cope with problems.
  • Do quality work. Talent will come to you.


  • Diversify. If you have only one egg in the basket you will be highly unlikely to get rid of it, even if it is not going well and needs to be rid.
  • Go where money is. “If you want to become rich, look carefully about you at the prevailing industries where wealth appears to be gravitating…Computer software, technology and dot com start-ups, cable and satellite television, property, environmental waste clean-up, alternative energy sources…Keep your eye on the ball if you wish to get rich. And do not forget which ball. It’s the one marked “The Money is Here”
  • Dilusions. “When enough people share a short-lived delusion, vast sums of money can be acquired overnight. The ‘tulip mania’…a single tulip bulb was swapped for a …4 touns of beer, 1000 pounds of cheese, 2 tons of butter, …”
  • Happiness. “Happiness? Do not make me laugh. The rich are not happy. I have yet to meet a single really rich happy man or woman – and I have met many rich people. The demands from others to share their wealth become so tiresome, and so insistent, they nearly always decide they must insulate themselves. Insulation breeds paranoia and arrogance. And loneliness. And rage that you have only so many years left to enjoy rolling in the sand you have piled up.
    The only people self-made rich can trust are those who knew them before they became wealthy. For many newly rich people, the world becomes a smaller, less generous and darker place. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Ridiculous and gloomy.”
  • Whores. “To be serious for a moment, some of the smartest, nicest people I ever met in my life were whores…”
  • Keep giving it away. “The faster you give it away, the more money will flow back to you. Not because of ‘karma’ or ‘universal cosmic forces’, but because you then spend less time defending it and more time making more of it.”
  • Never loan it to a friend. “If you loan money to a friend, you will lose your friend as well as your money. Give them whatever you feel like giving. Then forget it. Ditto with relatives”
  • Imagine. Close your eyes. Try to imagine you are 50 and you have all the money in the world. But time is running out. If you had the chance to go back in time, what would you have done differently? Now open your eyes, and do exactly that!

Book: The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point
Malcolm Gladwell
Tipping point thebetastartup
ISBN-13: 978-0316010665

One of the best writings I have ever read. Incredible book by Malcolm Gladwell that sets a new high record on the number of Post-it Flags -> 61. This truly remarkable research outlines the mechanisms through which ideas propagate through society. Who are the key people, what are their characteristics, what are the characteristics of messages that succeed in spreading and what role does the environment play on the process.

Instead of giving a summary of the book, I am going to drop 3 breathtaking topics I encountered through this book, and I am going to let you buy and read the book to understand how they all connect:


  • One of the most important type of people “with a particular and rare set of social gifts” for spreading an idea are the Connectors. When the 6 degrees of separation experiment was made, there was a side discovery – most of the letters went through the same people to reach the targets. “It means that a very small number of people are linked to everyone else in a few steps, and the rest of us are linked to the world through those special few.” What is interesting about those people is:
    • They value the weak tie, they send bday cards, they remember facts, write numbers
    • They know people from very different kinds of social circles and interests
    • They find something interesting in everyone they meet
  • Did you know that roughly 56% of people find jobs through a personal connection, 18% through advertisement or agency and roughly 20% applied directly. Even more fascinating – most of those 56% happen through those weak ties that the connectors value so much, not through best friends.
  • A gossip/news/message can cause an epidemics and tip to become extremely popular only when it reaches those Connectors, which then are able to spread it in bulk to other people and other Connectors.


  • It turns out small changes in the environment can trigger huge behavioral changes, that we used believe were hard coded in the personality of a human. Behavior is function of social context.
  • You don’t need to catch every criminal in New York City to stop crime in subway. History shows that all you have to do is clean the graffiti and stop the fare beating. This creates a friendlier atmosphere where people  are not predisposed to making a crime.
  • This same theory is the reason why perfectly normal regular kids can become nasty guards if put into a simulated prison environment.
  • Honesty isn’t a fundamental trait. It is considerably influenced by context. Kids that don’t usually cheat easily slip into cheating given a few simple incentives, and changes of environment. Kids tested number of times over period of time rarely give the same results in amount of cheating.
  • So all of that means that you can tweak slightly the environment and cause people to behave in a different way.
  • …and our brains are not good at calculating how powerful this concept of tweaking is.
  • People work, live, interact best when they are in groups of 150. This way they have enough power to go through problems, and yet are personal and know each other’s skills  and abilities. It is an important environmental contextual characteristic.
  • This is because people often create ‘joint memory’. The husband remembers some things, the wife others and thus when they get sync-ed over the years, all they have to know is who remembers what. This, on the other side, is one of the reasons why divorces are so painful – it is a bit like loosing part of yourself. Groups of 150 are still able to do efficient ‘joint memory’.
  • Groups of 150 also have tremendous peer pressure, which is much more significant motivator than money. Companies should be run in teams of 150.


  • Preventing addiction:
    • People that smoke & are addicted to smoking are called smokers.
    • People that smoke (even up to a pack a day) but are NOT addicted are called chippers.
    • When kids (around 15) start smoking, it takes them 3 years to phase out from chippers to smokers.
    • The addiction is not achieved gradually, but rather at a tipping point, that is unique for each person, and is dependent on his genetic tolerance to nicotine.
    • Thus one way to prevent chippers to never become regular addicted smokers is to lower the nicotine in cigarettes so that even if they smoke a pack a day, they are not able to reach their nicotine addiction tipping point.
    • Breaking addiction:
      • Three brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters affect our happiness/depression state: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
      • “Drugs like Zoloft and Prozac work because they prompt the brain to produce more serotonin: they compensate, in other words, for the deficit of serotonin that some depressed people suffer from. Nicotine appears to do exactly the same thing with the other two key neurotransmitters – dopamine and norepinephrine.”
      • Thus smokers in effect give themselves little shots of ‘happiness’ by smoking.
      • This is the key strategy – if you treat smokers for depression, you decrease their addiction to smoking and quitting becomes much less painful.
      • This was discovered by Glaxo Wellcome when they released anti-depressant Bupropion and people started reporting decreased desire to smoke. Today this medicine is marketed as Zyban to heavy smokers.

When I flip through the pages, jumping from bookmark to bookmark, I truly get lost in the sea of incredible discoveries of our simple, yet complex social behavior. I super highly recommend that you read this book, and also sit and think about how these concepts can be applied directly to achieve results in life.

Book: Purple Cow

Purple Cow
Seth Godin

ISBN: 1-59184-021-x

After reading The Dip which I thought was brilliant, my high expectations for the Purple Cow were not met. Nevertheless it had a number of really good points to make. Here is my selection:

  1. Seth Godin defines 3 eras: Before Advertising (think tv ads), During Advertising, and After Advertising. Then points out an obvious observation- Before tv advertisement, if you wanted to know who’s got the best cucumbers on the market, you would ask friend and they will tell you. During Advertising, companies that had money advertised, you watched tv and new already who’s got the ‘best’ product, so you already knew what to buy and didn’t have to ask. Now though we are in the After Advertising era when there are billion of ads, billion of products, and we have much less time than before to choose. So what does work if TV ads are ineffective? Answer is: your product has to be brilliant and original, so that it makes people talk about it and recommend it to friends, so that this way it can market itself.
  2. How is this done? Well you have to build the marketing in the product. Don’t make a product, and burden the marketing team to figure out creative ways to sell it. Mix the marketing and engineering team so that the product itself is creative. Sounds very truthful to me.
  3. “While ideaviruses [super successful popular products] are occasionally the result of luck (consider Macarena), the vast majority of product success stories are engineered from the first day to be successful.”
  4. There was an example how one bank has online banking that is used only by 10% of it’s customers. The bank was considering closing down online banking, until it figure out those 10% own 70% of the banks deposits! Always know who the real valuable customers are. Those leading customers will be the attractive force to the masses. If any ads should be created, they should be targeted to this core target group.
  5. I have a strong opinion about how pointless it is to go to school. I’ve written before about it, and this quote fits my vision so well:

    The Cow is so rare because people are afraid.

    If you’re remarkable, it’s likely that some people won’t like you. That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise – ever. The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.

    Where did you learn how to fail? If you’re like most Americans, you leanred in first grade. That’s when you started figuring out that the safe thing to do was to fit in. The safe thing to do was to color inside the lines, don’t ask too many questions in class, and whatever you do, be sure your homework assignment fits on the stupplied piece of card stock.

    We run our schools like factories. We line kids up in straight rows, put them in batches (called grades), and work very hard to make sure there are no defective parts. Nobody standing out, falling behind, running ahead, making ruckus.

    Playing it safe. Following the rules. Those seem like the best ways to avoid failure. And in school, they may very well be. Alas, these rules set a pattern for most people (like your boss?), and that pattern is awefully dangerous. These are the rules that ultimately lead to failure. [Seth Godin argues that in the age of After Advertising, you have to shine with originality, because being normal and safe, you will blend with others in the sea of normal prodcuts and you will die]

  6. Another decent point was that packaging DOES matter. (uhm yeah, think Apple Inc packaging)
  7. Easy simple ‘actionable’ advice – Can you make your product collectible, to raise interest?
  8. And I will wrap up with another great quote about having good customer service,

    “Does the post office hire annoying people, or just train them to be that way?”

Lesson from Prince of Persia 1

So I got my hands on Prince of Persia 1 (DOS version) and I started playing it. Unconvetionally, this game does not limit you in lives you can lose, but in time to beat the game – 1h. Part of the game is maneuvrability, part of the game is mazes you have to roam, and part of it are puzzles you have to solve. Every time you play for an hour and don’t complete the game, you have to start from the beginning. And there is no SAVE, just PAUSE.

So I did make a few tries to beat the game, each much better than the previous. But then I got pissed and decided to read about it in the net. First thing I found is that there is save. You just don’t have a menu and it’s a weird shortcut – CTRL+G. Well that changes a whole lot the concept, because if I waste a lot of time, I can loose the current play and keep playing from the good save (there’s only one save, no slots). Second thing I found is a walkthrough. What I found in the walkthrough was a few solutions to things god-knows-how-long-it-will-have-taken-me-to-solve. The guy that wrote the walkthrough actually said it took him and his dad 2 years to figure this one thing, and another 3 to figure out what to do next. So I did save countless hours of wandering and dying. The third thing i found was a speed run, in which I saw a few good shortcuts and tricks. So I beat the game and had sex with the princess…

Prince of Persia thebetastartup

But the point is – how long would I have kept playing if I didn’t do my research on the web, and didn’t find the walkthrough/speed run? I can’t imagine. And honestly it would have been a shame wasting so much time of my life. Which makes me wonder, why the hell are we so resistant to finding walkthroughs for anything else we do in life? If a 5 minute walkthrough saves us 1/2h every day, it’s tremendous advantage. If a 5 minute walkthrough saves us 1/2h once, but you do it all the time, it’s also a tremendous advantage.

The problem is that walkthroughs for life are not named ‘walkthroughs’, and we rarely make the right association to recognize the situations that can be much improved by a short googling of the problem. Have you ever googled folding a T-shirt? You fold at least 1 T-shirt a day average. How about keyboard shortcuts in Gmail? Or how about marketing your startup?

Like anything else is that you have to intentionally start forcing yourself to think about it, and try to recognize more often those situations. You have to actively pursue it and put effort in it. But boy, how do we do that…

2things logo

It’s really only one but it’s called 2things. We just launched a new beta –

It’s a wonderful site for classifieds for Bulgaria. Sgot some bugs more to cleanup, but generally it’s pretty stable and well done [excl ie6 of course, which will be fixed later].

The story goes like that – there are 30+ sites that do the same thing and all do it really badly. So there is no mentality for posting ads, nor a good platform that makes posting easy. So there’s the classic chicken-or-the-egg question – is there no mentality because there is not decent platform, or is there no decent platform because there is no mentality and market for it? We will finally be able to tell that – there is a not only decent but great platform for classifieds – free, easy, fast, well designed, ad-free, registration free. What more can you ask?

So let’s cross fingers and start working out the steps from the guerrilla marketing.

Facebook Page

Reflections: Simple But Right

pic by FLOODkOFF

After few generally non-alcoholic years, i rediscovered the Mojito cocktail. Quick google on recipes brought me to a very well done youtube video on making Mojitos that brought me to the website:

Now tell me, how the hell do you make a full blown business out of 1 cocktail. Here’s how they did it:

  • Great website – designwise, organizationwise, colorwise, musicwise…
  • Instructional Videos – well made, spread around youtube etc
  • Recipes – tiny collection of the best Mojito recipes
  • 1 simple product – they sell for 13 bucks Mojito muddler, but boy – well made, from stainless steel. It looks so sexy, i wonder if people use it for other stuff.

When I submitted the contact form, it said I was number 19002 or something. shows traffic in August 2008 of 120k! And those guys are not just enjoying their analytics account, they are selling products to this traffic. Everything is so well tied up. Good job guys!

That’s the perfect example of simple, but done right!

Almost everything can flourish and make it big if it’s done right. Sometimes it’s not easy to make it simple & right, but hey, that’s where the line is cut between those who can and those who can’t make it.

What are you going to make right?

Reflections: Why The Educational System Is Not In Place

[Pic by atomicjeep]

I don’t like school. I don’t like going to school. I don’t like the things we do there nor the way we do them. I think that schools are fundamentally wrong in the approach to teaching students how to be successful.

There were specific reasons and needs that led to the existence of the educational systems. However, the world and so our needs have changed but the schools have not adjusted.

Internet was basically created around 1970’s. TV first was introduced in 1930’s. Radio was commercially available around the 1920’s. Now imagine life before those. The only wires that would come to your house are the electrical wires. That pretty much rules out everything we ever do these days. No computers, no video games, no television. All you can do is play soccer out with your friends, drink home-made alcohol or read books.

And indeed, if you needed any information you would have to read books. But it is not like you had encyclopedias to look up everything you wanted. You had to read many books and slowly accumulate the information you need piece by piece, book by book. Let’s say you wanted to know about Paris? Your only choice would be reading a bunch of books that maybe take place in Paris and thus overread facts here and there about this city across the ocean. But it also wasn’t like people had books in their houses like we do today. And how many libraries were there? And how easy was it to get access to them? Or even just to travel to the big city with the libraries. It’s not like everything was concentrated in few big cities 200 years ago. Also, if you were lucky, you could listen to stories of people that have been to Paris. But how many people could afford that? How long did it take them to get to Paris across the ocean on a boat? Those stories were few and probably most of them became legends.

All in all, there was huge demand for information and lack of supply. Thus simply by acquiring more information you’d be ahead of others. Simply by reading more you’d be more knowledgeable, gain more recognition, be able to get involved in business, meet influential people. You would be able to learn about the newest and greatest opportunities. Being knowledgeable at the time already gave you social status.

So in a sense, to do anything in this world, you needed to go to school where you could collect information, learn, and meet other knowledgeable people. Naturally, organized state-supported schools emerged. Their primary purpose was to disseminate knowledge across as many people as possible with fewer resources as possible. That meant then paying 1 person to teach many. That meant having books that all kids read from. But notice that the focus was just on spreading information. Thirst for information was the main driver for the formation of this monstrous educational system that is in place today. It was the most efficient way back at the time. And it worked pretty well. It worked so well actually that in few short hundred years it introduced so many changes that have not been seen in the whole history of the world. It taught people knowledge and people invented things and so came radio, television, internet…

And this is how the educational system created its biggest competitor – the internet. The internet, along with all the other improvements have made the process of finding and acquiring information at cost approaching zero so trivial that the schools now seem out of place. While in the past there was a struggle and fight for more information, and the ones that had it were the successful ones, today everybody has information. All kinds of information! And at a price so low that we could probably safely claim to be free. The world has changed and being successful today is not just knowing more – because everybody knows a lot – it’s what you do with the information you do know. It’s how you satisfy the world’s needs that get you successful. And that is exactly what the schools are very bad at teaching. Schools specialized for hundreds of years to jam you with information and create that feeling of “You just come to us and do what we say and you will come out with a great degree!” But then what is a degree? An accomplishment in knowing a lot of information in certain area? But I just mentioned how this is not enough to be successful. So now we have that crisis – all college kids graduating and having random varieties of knowledge sets and not knowing what to do with it. They take random jobs they find often not connected with their majors. They panic for not knowing what to do and even more often how to do it.

Colleges seem to be taking small steps into correcting that problem but their pace is way too slow to keep up with the world’s changes. What the hell means, “You cannot cite Wikipedia as a source for your paper”? What it means is that colleges are too concentrated on self-centered, useless (in most cases of student papers), professional research and information gathering. Instead, colleges should start teaching people how to collect the information they need. They should as a matter of fact teach people how to determine which information they need. An entrepreneur is not a person that knows everything, it’s a person that knows what to learn when he needs it. We don’t all need to be entrepreneurs, but we all need to know how to cope with life, and this is not simply gathering information anymore.

Well, you could argue that schools never claimed that you would be successful after graduation. They just claim that you would know a lot on a certain topic. For one, this is not explicitly said, but is so implicitly stated that it is hard to think of college graduation anything but a step to success. We just don’t realize how small this step is and that is often a step backwards. And for another one, what are you after – a geeky knowledgeable bum that knows everything and has got nothing, or a successful person that knows only what he needs and could learn what he decides he needs?

So there is a growing number of people that recognize that problem and that try to do things on their own outside of school. They will have no support and now encouragement until they succeed. But hey, where there is a problem, there is a opportunity.