Entries for February, 2011

Wow, I haven't posted here much. It's not that I haven't wanted to - I've just been incredibly busy with life.

It's been ... three weeks since I left MindTouch. The best way I can describe my feelings towards it are the same ways I feel towards Carolina: I'm so happy for the experience, and I miss the people and stories... but I'm so glad it's over.

The hardest part of being unemployed is missing the people and being alone all the time. I'm not having as much trouble with structure as I thought I would have - having workout sessions every morning at 8am helps anchor my days. I find myself finding reasons to go out more - errands and bank runs and such.

I will say this: paychecks are the crack of the middle class. I am still having a hard time not having one - I'm not sure when I'll ever adjust to not having a regular paycheck again. Fortunately, I have other sources of income that are helping me extend my personal runway.

So what have I been doing? The first two weeks, I was pretty useless. I brushed off my resume and half-heartedly applied for a few jobs. I spent some time with friends in Vegas (not gambling, don't worry) and basically forgetting about San Diego. It served its purpose - I came back with a passion and a longing to be "at home" once again. I love being here right now, and that positivity has been great.

I then refocused on what I did at MindTouch, and what I would do next. For years, I've wanted to start my own company... well, it seems the world has conspired to bring this to me! I have a solid client list (regular $ per month!), the skillsets, the time, and the cash/perfect location to do so. You really couldn't dream up a more fortuitous scenario for starting a company.

There's a mental barrier you need to bust through: the notion that starting a business is hard. I had this misguided notion for a bit, and it was holding me back. But it was when I was talking to my new tax guy when it dawned on me: what I'm doing is not unique, and it's not anything special. Tons of people have done this, and tons of people will do this. I just need to suck it up and power through it. The rewards at the end of the day are far worth the risks.

So what's next?

Well, I've been slowly getting my stuff in order for the company. The LLC paperwork went through in October (although I may be on the verge of shutting it down and refiling as an S Corp), I set up a bank account, and I'm learning Quickbooks to keep my finances clean. I'm putting together a business plan and setting up a website, while I support my two awesome clients with work. They both re-upped on large contracts for February, so I'm up to my neck in work.

And I've got a passion project that I'm doing some work on. So those four projects take up a bulk of my time. (Oh, and I'm still applying for jobs - hey, who knows - maybe I'll find the PERFECT job somewhere!)

The company website should launch next week... I'll be writing about it lots, I'm sure!


Posted by roy on January 31, 2011 at 11:56 PM in Personal, Ramblings | 6 Comments

Today was a good day. It was the first day, post-MT, where I felt a huge rush of productivity - the first "full" day I've worked.

I hired a career consultant to rework my resume and to help me figure out how I want to market myself to potential employers. Although I feel my passion is in starting my own company, I want to be on the lookout for good opportunities that I can learn from. Today was a phone interview day with the consultant - we talked through my work history and he's polishing up the resume now. I'm excited about the output - I'm pretty sure I'm one of those guys that always looks better on paper ;)

After that was a quick chat with a Quickbooks consultant. I'm doing everything around rykorp super legitimately. I plan on growing this business very aggressively at the end of this year, and I want to make sure I have all the "corporate" things done right so I don't have to come back and try to fix this later. The QB consultant is pricey ($100/hour for a 3-hour minimum block!), but I'll get all the training I need on Friday. Yay!

I finally got my official business debit card today - and I moved some money from the business account into my personal account. Intermingling my personal/business finances has created a bit of a mess which I've been actively trying to clean up.

Met up on another project to finalize the development plan. Got the OK, so I hit up the outsourced developer to finalize his contract and to start setting him to work. This project is my current passion project - something I'm doing for myself. While it lacks the grandiose vision of my other projects, it is far more refined and has greater commercial potential than any of my other projects. I'm really excited to see this come to fruition.

After that was a meeting with the guy who did my logo to pass on two additional projects to him. I'm going logo crazy!

It's 1am, and I haven't worked this late in a while. But I'm feeling the creative rush again. Already I have another idea for a project I want to pursue later on!

I'm loving it - the passion and drive is coming back. And that drive has been missing for a while... even before my departure from MT ... I felt like I was a zombie since last September.

And that Nicki Minaj song really summarizes my feelings right now: "I wish I could have this moment for life... for life. This is my moment, I just feel so alive. Alive... alive."

Tomorrow is a travel day up to Irvine to see friends. But the drive will be good for me to finalize the messaging around rykorp so I can launch the site and talk about some of the reasoning behind it on here!

Posted by roy on February 2, 2011 at 01:59 AM in Personal, rykorp, Ramblings | 5 Comments

A lot has been on my mind about starting a company lately. What would it do? What would it stand for? What would the ideal situation be? As I've been going through a discovery process, there has been one constant in my mind: I want to create a company with a strong culture. What we do for money is less important to me - a cognizant commitment to the growth of the right culture is the most important aspect of the company.

The happiest I've ever been was NOT when I was making a lot of money, but when I felt like I was part of a small team making a difference. That got me excited to go into work.

To me, the ultimate goal of a company is to serve its employees. It is not to serve its shareholders or customers - customers are the means to the end (and excellent customer service is critical for a company's success). The company should exist to serve its employees to pursue their dreams, not the other way around.

So how do we create this environment? What would the manifestation of this dream be?

To me, acknowledging the uselessness of the 40-hour workweek would be the first step. This tradition is steeped from the Industrial Revolution, where more brainless hours meant more output for the company. How much do information workers actually spend working productively? 20 hours? 30 hours?

Banish the 40 hour workweek: I've always said the biggest shift a company could make would be in switching to a 32-hour work week: work 4 days a week. To me, it's a huge mental change. The work/play ratio goes from 5/2 to 4/3, which is nearly 50:50! How refreshed do you feel on those three day weekends?

The duration of work is important. Having three paid weeks per year of work is insane. I would instead push for the mini-retirement idea from the 4-Hour Workweek. Let employees take 3 weeks off for every 12 weeks of work at a company. They could choose to use this time to pursue a passion project with company resources, or just do whatever they wanted.

I'm not a big fan of paying employees with equity: why create shareholders? Most employees care about cash - and there really is a diminishing return in happiness with an increasing salary - recent studies show $75,000 is the magic number. Nevertheless, if I were to run a  company, I would opt to never issue equity out, but just give employees a fair salary instead (with nice cash bonuses for extraordinary performance). (And without saying, pay above market rates for salaries).

I'm pretty sure the combination of being able to take time off to pursue passions all the time, with the salary to support this lifestyle would keep most employees happy. After going through the start-up experience, I'm just not sure that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the right type of incentive.

Posted by roy on February 4, 2011 at 01:13 AM in rykorp | 11 Comments

Devlin is one of my new favorite emcees:

Devlin - Let It Go

I will be gone before you wake
I will be gone before, oh yes
I will be gone before you wake
I will be gone

Listen, yeah carry on whinging and whining
And get left to regret what you said
I'll be out the door in a sec
Like Usain Bolt i'm quicker than lightening
I'm tired of irony
And hours on end, the bickering, fighting
I blame my surroundings
A relationship defined in violence
It blossomed, and it bloomed
Now it's rotten and i'm blue
And even though I still love you
I can't go through with the doom and the gloom again
That's the truth my friend
I'm not leaving for another lady
I felt I had to depart
Cause if I didn't I'd kill you, maybe

Ah, everything fades away
The sun goes on and on
You can't go against the grain
You gotta let it go, let it go
I just wanna be left alone,
It's time to let it go
I just wanna be left alone
I think it's time you let it go

The sun doesn't always shine
I'm stuck in a solar eclipse
Even though I love you to bits
I'm done with the pain that we both inflict
Upon one another
It don't make me happy to watch you suffer
Run back to your mother
Tell her I turned out the same as the others
I don't know how to handle ya
All you do is make me angrier
Till I wanna manhandle ya
I'm contemplating whether to kiss ya or strangle ya
But I can't put my hands on ya
Like a burning flame in the burning flames
In hell if i did so im walkin away
I can no longer stand with ya

You took me high you took me low
You sold your soul with lies you told
And now it's time to ride alone
The lights will guide me home
The more I gave, the more you take
Now I'll be gone before you wake
Cause I just can't ignore my fate
Forget the day you saw my face

I will be gone
In the blink of an eye
I will be gone
With the stars in the sky
I will be gone
And you're askin me why
I will be gone before you

Posted by roy on February 5, 2011 at 11:30 PM in Music | Add a comment

So this is how Apple extracts cash from me!

My 3GS died yesterday. I took it in and got a new one.

Came home, pretty happy, because the 1-year warranty was going to expire in a week or two.

Plugged it in. WARNING: Need iTunes 10 to connect this iPhone.

"Great," I think to myself. Another chance for Apple to botch my computer up.

So I download iTunes 10.

WARNING: Need Mac OX 10.5 (Leopard) to install iTunes.

I have a PowerPC G5 - can't get Leopard on this computer.

So here I am, unable to restore my backup to my phone, because my iTunes / OS / hardware is too old.

Fun times. What a waste of a Monday.

So the worst case scenario? I shell out a shit ton of money for new hardware (which I've been meaning to do) and I might never be able to restore that backup.

Posted by roy on February 7, 2011 at 01:40 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

I figured out how to get this whole thing fixed. I transferred the backup file to my old PC, which *was* able to install iTunes. I had to rename the folder to match the unique key for my iPhone... then I was able to restore it from iTunes. 

But that still didn't stop me from buying the low-end 13' Macbook Air. I have needed a new computer for some time (both my computers are 5+ years old) and the MBA was really the perfect fit. 

I've been cutting down on heavy development/design work, so I didn't need a workhorse of a laptop (I might opt to buy a iMac pretty soon, though). I needed something to surf the web and be able to write proposals and handle light-weight project management. I have some tentative plans to travel in May/June, so I wanted something that would travel well, too. 

So far - this thing has been awesome. The solid state hard drive (or maybe it's the 2GB of RAM) makes things go fast

And now I can go to coffee shops and make eyes at cute, hipster girls with my cool laptop. (Just kidding)

Coupled with my new 3GS, I got so much Apple freshness!

Posted by roy on February 8, 2011 at 01:58 PM in Ramblings | 7 Comments

So after getting my Macbook Air, I find myself working around the loft in different places (bed, couch, etc.). I made the best investment ever: the Logitech Comfort Lapdesk.  

Seriously, this thing is the best thing ever. They should make this a bundled accessory with every laptop - it's so awesome. It has a slightly elevated and angled platform for your laptop. Now I don't have to worry about never being able to have kids!

And a random beautiful photo I've found online (which is now my background):


Posted by roy on February 11, 2011 at 01:30 AM in Ramblings | 6 Comments

(And no, I'm not celebrating with anybody)

Posted by roy on February 12, 2011 at 10:32 PM in Music | 2 Comments

Posted by roy on February 13, 2011 at 04:11 PM in Music | 2 Comments

It's a rare occassion that you feel good about being American. When I traveled in Korea during the Bush years, I had to tell people I was Canadian, which led to an interesting comment by a taxi driver: "So many Canadians here! You Canadians love to travel!"

Anyways, I was chatting with the rykorp sysadmin (who is based out of Bosnia), who made me feel pretty good today:

The upside of capitalism!

Posted by roy on February 17, 2011 at 03:43 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

And this is the type of entry you get!

Justin Bieber cut his hair. I'm not sure how to feel. 

Posted by roy on February 23, 2011 at 01:11 AM in Ramblings | 3 Comments



Posted by roy on February 23, 2011 at 01:17 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

Posted by roy on February 26, 2011 at 01:05 AM in Music | Add a comment

"Each day there are two wolves who fight for control of my actions. The dark wolf is angry, he is bitter, hurtful, arrogant, and resentful. His heart is filled with greed, sorrow, and regret. He has convinced himself that he is superior to all others and he spreads his lies and false pride wherever he goes."

The boys eyes grew big as they imagined this dark wolf inside of their Grandfather.

The Grandfather continued, "The other wolf is the light one. He is filled with joy, peace, and love. He brings hope and serenity to the People. His heart is filled with humility, kindness, and benevolence. He shares truth and gives freely with compassion and faith."

The two boys looked at their Grandfather with wonder in their eyes and not sure what to think.

"This battle goes on inside of me but it also goes on inside of you, too. Each day the battle continues."

The oldest grandson gave this some thought and then asked, "Wise Grandfather, who will win this battle?"

"The one you feed, dear child. The one you feed." answered the Grandfather.


Posted by roy on February 26, 2011 at 06:21 PM in Personal | 4 Comments

It took me a little while, but I launched rykorp.com yesterday. The site's launch was a long time coming and was really the culmination of talking to a lot of different people about my vision for rykorp, as well as some research into a lot of existing companies. 

What was interesting about the approach I took to this website was to start first with the content. Normally I work backwards - I have the website look & feel in my head, build the logo to reflect that, and then build out the copy at the end. 

But with the logo being done weeks ago by the incredibly talented Miguel Vega, I decided that the website design would be as minimalist as possible, so I focused on writing all the content first. 

In case you haven't read the site, my long-term vision is to serve small businesses (<$25 million in revenue, cash flow positive) as their product and engineering arms. These customers do not have technical backgrounds (or even perhaps more than a vague understand of how the Internet can serve their needs). 

This is an incredibly tough problem: these are customers who are fragmented across different industries, and oftentimes need to be educated about their needs. A salesperson's worst nightmare. But it's not a situation that I'm unfamiliar with - MT also faced (and continues to face) the same problems. 

While customer acquisition is tough (to be honest, I don't have a strong strategy for repeatable, scalable customer acquisition right now), the upside is that once a good relationship is made, the revenue is very consistent and the margins are higher. 

After going through a consulting phase in college, I have absolutely no interest in serving the low-end of the market: the one-and-done website projects. I only will take those on if they're part of a broader strategy of the company, or if I feel they'll be a foot in the door for long-term application development. 

So why small businesses? Honestly, I think the market for them will be huge in the next two years. Growing up in the Internet age, the trends and models that are "disruptive" (cloud, social) are all very natural to me - Facebook is merely a reflection of our cultural mindsets. These models are being brought to the enterprise (which is what MT is all about) at a blisteringly slow pace. I do think there will be some maturity in that market - at least two social enterprise companies will IPO by the end of the 2010 and that market will get crowded incredibly fast. I have no interest in getting back into that space right now. 

The consumer market is basically owned by Facebook, and any continued innovation will be on top of the FB platform, or in conjunction with it. 

Governments - well, they're even slower than enterprises, and I frankly don't have the connections to play there. 

That leaves the hardest market to target: small businesses. 

The seminal moment when I realized this is where I wanted to focus my efforts in this space was watching the success of GroupOn. GroupOn is known by everybody, and is the (arguably) most successful tech company of the past five years (FB excluded, and yes, I'm including Twitter in that list). 

And they have NO technology differentiation. None. This is clear by the low barrier to entry and everybody trying to get in on the "Deal of the Day" market. (And of course, the next wave are the deal aggregators). 

I realized that technology and the methodologies for developing software had become commoditized. Forget even the development being outsourced - the whole process is now commoditized. And guess what? Most small businesses don't need revolutionary software - all the pieces they need are already available as open source libraries. 

What you need is the product background to assemble these open source tools and be able to communicate them to a distributed team to build out. 

The cost of developing a customized web-based applications (that don't get too crazy) is probably around $20,000. That is insane. And the costs are coming down aggressively. 

I am betting that within the next year or two, as more companies come online, bricks-and-mortars businesses will realize that they NEED customized software to compete and to become more efficient. And when they do, they'll look for a business like rykorp to build out their technical arm. 

And the cost is reasonable. An in-house US developer will cost you at least $50,000, and that's WITHOUT oversight. If you want an experienced developer who can also handle project management - you're looking at $85,000. And that's taking a risk that the developer can put together UIs and understand market needs. (My business model utilizes these numbers and assumes that recurring business per client will average around $6,500/month)

Currently, there are two types of companies that serve this market: interactive agencies that "do web development" and outsourced teams via Elance.com, VWorker.com, etc.

Interactive agencies will do a great job of hiring an outsourced team to cobble together something, but do they have the enterprise software development background to ensure high-quality code development? Or are they designers who are simply putting lipstick on a pig? 

Outsourced teams have another set of problem: requirements gathering and execution. Using an outsourced team requires constant communication and some level of technical understanding on the clients' part. Now, a good outsourced team will have solid technical project manager who can speak three languages: the clients', the technology, and the product (perceived outbound perception by users). These types of companies are few and far in-between. 

That's where rykorp fits in. I bring enterprise software development background (development, project management, market understanding) with the "product management" experience - the secret sauce that rykorp brings to differentiate itself from the outsourced firms. (The ambiguity of "product management" at the SMB and consumer level will probably not be commoditized for some time)

I feel I'm ahead of the market on this one (like I had been with Tabulas/Audiomatch/Lightbox7). (To a large degree, I think MT was a few years ahead of its time, and had it been more patient on certain roadmap directions, things would be very different). This time, I have the experience and patience to wait until the market matures more. 

But we'll see how it goes. 

Posted by roy on February 27, 2011 at 02:20 PM in rykorp, Web Development | 23 Comments
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