My Baby is Ugly. From Concept to a nearly functional MVP.

394 days ago I posted to HackerNews that I not only had a startup idea but after a few brief conversation I had also “secured” some funding to build an MVP.

I am now at a crossroads and I am reaching out the the community and I am looking for some help. The technology works but my baby is ugly. Which essentially means that the interface is clunky, the user experience lackluster, the signup process and information screens don’t flow well and frankly there is no sex appeal. My biggest concern is that the system is overly complex and that without a UI/UX overhaul I have the feeling that this application will never see the light of day.

I am hoping for some guidance or pointers, but rather than just post a few lines and asking for recommendation for a UI/UX person I figured it was best to share my journey with you first.

This is a quick recap of the last few months and to update everyone on my progress.

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Direct and to the point

“He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.??? –Oscar Wilde

Locella – Frank Kern, Jordan Belfort – What Happened Here?

Did the marketing brilliance of Frank Kern and the sales mastery of Jordan Belfort strike out with their joint venture

One of the best parts of living in San Diego other than the weather which goes without saying is the HUGE and very viable Internet marketing community that thrives in the Southern California climate. For those of you who are not familiar with the ranks of the Internet marketing elite in San Diego we have Mike Koenig (personal hero) from Traffic Geyser and his new social media marketing machine , Frank Kern, Trey Smith, and not sure where Jason Moffatt is these days but San Diego was his home. These and others understand that the San Diego lifestyle works perfectly for our Internet marketing business – the benefit of living close to these guys is the ability to go to the events and to network with other people who are are at the top of their game….that was a long ramble but anyways living in SD also gave me the opportunity to walk by the Locella building on my way to the bank.

Full disclosure here – I’ve been a big fan of Frank Kern for a number of years I went through his Mass Control, Mass Control 2.0, and List Control with my Four Hour Work Week Meetup group. My girlfriend thinks that given the chance I would name my first born child male or female to – “Frank Kern”.

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Disney Social Action – Give a Day, Get a Day

Lisa shared a website with me last night about social action, volunteering and of all places Disneyland.  The meat of the matter is –

Disney wants to inspire a million people to volunteer a day of service in their own communities and in exchange Disney will give each of them a 1-day, 1-theme park ticket for free!  Now Disney has always been about community – think “it’s a small world after all” but this is the best example of social action from a major corporation that I have seen in a while… If you are a facebook friend of mine you have seen my Disney pics – if not, watch this to get a hint of what they are offering.

You can get all the info at the  Give a Day, Get a Day site.

The Darwin Awards for 2009 Are Out….

My rules for keeping out of the running..

  1. Use dynamite sparingly
  2. Look before you leap
  3. Don’t jump back in the lake
  4. Leave the balloons to the movie Up.

Fire Extinguisher for Flame Wars

Where was this post three weeks ago? A great article about the love hate relationship that trolls have with the Internet community in general. The Collegehumor video is a must watch…if you spend part of the time trying to keep up with the terminology, be thankful.  If you don’t know what they are rambling on about, it just means that you have a life.

Traffic Information About the Video

I have had some emails requesting some insight into where the traffic is coming from.   Well it started with Engadget yesterday and then spread to twitter and a few other sites.  I am not really sure of where all the traffic is coming from because youtube does not have really good analytics – but here is a screencap of the stats.  Thanks for the folks at who make this oooh so easy to do.  (no not paid, nor sponsored – I just like their application)

Click for the bigger image.

bitly traffic

Screencap from Youtube

youtube impressions over 200k

Lots of Youtube Email in the Inbox…

youtube inbox

Now that’s a lot of mail in the inbox… Last count 1740 video comments, almost 400 additional contacts. Not bad.

Comment Conversion Rate for Youtube

I was reviewing the comment to views conversion rate on the youtube video and it really sucks. I think it works out to be .006% views to posts. Not complaining, but on the blog the numbers are yet unknown. I have started tracking in GA using the technique found at but if anyone has a better method let me know.

Update – Just made the edits to track submisions, and I hope nothing broke. However if you need to reach me, just send email.

Microsoft Store in Mission Viejo

Last night on our way to a birthday party at the Derby Deli & Dueling Piano Bar – Lisa and I stopped in at The Shops at Mission Viejo mall to kill some time. Traffic from San Diego was a little hectic so I figured that some time spend doing some retail therapy might do some good.

As we walked into the mall I was confronted with the early signs of Christmas and while the prospect of walking the mall with “deck the halls” at my back brought a grimace to my face but the little kids running by the well lit displays made me remember what the holidays are all about.

Walking down the main corridor of the mall I saw a huge white banner that read “Microsoft Store – Now Open”. I guess I have been disconnected from the platform for quite a while because I did not even realize that Microsoft had store but I have heard so many great things about Windows 7 I just had to check it out. I half expected the store to be a bland uninspiring cheap knockoff of an Apple Store, but WOW was I in for a surprise.

From the moment you first step through the door you can feel it, something is special, something is electric in the air. So many smiling faces, so many people engaged and fully committed to the experience and NO I am not just taking about the employees the nearly sixty shoppers in the store were having a riveting experience interacting with what is clearly the future.

Words really can’t do the experience justice so here are some videos that I created on my new Kodak ZI8 in 1080p mode.

Project Natal is the next level of user interaction with a computer. I had not even heard about it, I guess like so many other things Microsoft it looks to be game and life changing.

We have all seen the previews of the interactive table but I actually had the chance to “interact” with it. The table uses 3D bar codes to determine what object has been laid down. I tried taking a picture of the bar code with my phone and displaying the picture to see if I could clone it, but no luck there.

Mid way through our visit the entire store broke out into song. Now I have seen this gimmick before at Coldstone Creamery and I know how they have been criticized in the media for it, but here it did not seem forced nor contrived, I would honestly say that this was the staff letting go, having some fun and not taking the brand all to seriously.

I was absolutely floored by this experience, Microsoft has made a bold move to capture new market share. I ordered a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate edition – I have been a hard core Mac person for the past five years, I completely bypassed the Windows Vista experience but something is telling me that I am at a precipice looking directly into the future. Oh, and I just canceled my order for the 27inch iMac quad, I need a little time to think it over.
Its easy to see that Microsoft primarily is a software company committed to changing the world through technical innovation and that Apple is a hardware company that is changing the world through design innovations. They need each other to push the limits of their own visions.

Earth Class Mail: A better way to handle physical mail

Earth Class Mail is a service that I have been looking at for a long time as a solution to my bad habit of NEVER checking my mailbox.

They have a system that handles physical mail via email it is called Earth Class Mail brlliant! On more than one occasion I have had to visit the post office because my mailbox filled up and they “impounded” the mail and halted delivery. Ouch!

The majority of my bills are electronic, I get the statement, I use my bill pay software to pay the bill and I never have to touch paper! No spam, no junk mail, no credit card offers, no coupon packs. And after a while you also get no checks from clients 😉 because the mail carrier stops delivering the mail… Ouch.

After picking up the huge box of paper (time after time) I realized that 99% of the volume and almost 100% of the weight was just junk…trash…(well actually recycling) but its a problem. There is just no reason that there should be so much junk. The other issue is that with all of that crap, its easy to miss the important pieces of mail trapped in the folds of the local coupon books.

Earth Class Mail

The other reason to consider an all digital delivery for your mail is to protect against identity theft or if you are a vagabond and like to travel. This way you can get your physical mail sent to your Inbox wherever you have access to your email. Check them out – I will and I will keep you updated. Once again, Earth Class Mail for handling your physical mail via email.

Oh you can also view it on my cell phone.
Get your physical mail on your cell phone and inbox Milestone

Last night I hit a personal milestone on the social networking site Linkedin. I have 300 business connections and contacts from all over the globe. I have been a member for about 3 years and with my new Online Data Backup venture I hope to get out and meet more people in the upcoming years.

I have written about Linkenin before, So you’re Linkedin. Who cares

I forgot to vote…

Perhaps it was my lack of desire, perhaps it was the late night of blogging…no matter what the excuse – make sure that you don’t forget to vote.

Watch this video to see how important each and every vote can be.

Writing a book on Marketing

I have started to write a book.. the working title is the “math of internet marketing.” The intention of the book is to provide a workable framework for businesses to design, optimize and measure the impact of their website using a few simple metrics.

This information is available for free from software like Google Analytics but it is the understanding of how to take ACTION based on the data. I will also be talking about content as king, conversion ratios, landing pages, SEO / SEM, multi-channel marketing and affiliate programs. Other touch points will be viral marketing, video, business referral sites and other ways to keep your brand in front of your prospects. How to select a search marketing company, what to focus on for your brand or market segment and how to provide value to your viewers.

There will be a detailed section on Multi-variant testing and specific calls to action. This is just the tip of the iceberg…I will be keeping everyone in the loop as the triumphs and failures of getting this launched.

Brad Slavin for President.

I got sent an email from a friend… Talk about 6 Degrees of separation. I always knew that there were other Brad Slavin’s in the world, but its fantastic to see one that is really making a difference.

I wish that this was me! I am in the process of investigating who he is and where he comes from.. Praise the power of social networking.

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Google Gets a New FavIcon

What the Heck is Google doing? You may have noticed that our favorite search engine Google has a new . That small little icon that you see in your web browser next the the URL or website name.

How many of you noticed? Today I was meeting with David O. at the Starbucks in Del Mar and we must have spent ten minutes on it… Its an OLD looking font, do they want to make people feel like they are a publisher? Why blue? Its not the same feel as their current logotype – what exactly are they doing?

Got to admit, I am sure that it will grow on me, but I am not a fan right now.

It seems that Google is putting more value into its brand, its marketing and its international recognizability. They need to keep up with the other internet giants like Apple with the Apple Favicon and Microsoft with the Microsoft Favico symbol.

Google Favion Family

Google is a constantly chainging and evolving company and they have relized that when expand into other platforms like Mobile Phones, TV Ads or other media that they will need to have a easy to identify symbol that represents the company.

You can read what Google has to say about their new Icon –

Check out some other favicons at or create your own favicon

Your iPhones Sucks

Despite what some clients believe I do not work for Blackberry nor for Microsoft! I do however have some pretty strong opinions about the iPhone and their rapid adoption as the ‘must have CEO’ device. It is a real love / hate relationship; One the one hand they are the most elegant, powerful and purpose build devices that exist in the marketplace. The iPhone is the number one consumer electronic device.

The phone is masterful at web browsing, turning heads and having extensibility for third party applications. It is really the most potent pocket computer and it has changed the expectations that we have of a phone and a rich media device. However it is not ready for Corporate prime time!

If you own one you already know it’s the best browser, not the best business PDA.

Your IT people already know this, but tens of thousands of CEO’s are creating havoc on your mail servers, your corporate security policies and their good nature. The one thing the phone has going for it is that your IT people love Apple so they are willing (but not happy) to put up with it. Oh yea, they also want one when it finally syncs with the corporate mail server.

The technology that the phone is lacking is called direct “Exchange Server Push” this means that your phone gets email pushed to it as soon as it comes in within a few seconds. The way that the phone currently works is that the phone connects every few minutes to the server and then checks to see if there is any new email. Not as efficient nor as fast as the push technology. Apple wants it, and so does everyone else.

You must be wondering why I am making such a big deal about this? Well it because most businesses are needing to adjust their firewall / spam filtering policies to allow access to the iPhone for IMAP and SMTP connections. The iPhone also does not have a sophisticated anti-spam feature like most modern email clients so phone inboxes are getting plagued with spam. Nothing like 1,000 new Viagra and Trouser Snake emails on your phone when you wake up!


Security is also a huge concern, with phones like the Blackberry or Windows Mobile your handset can be remotely erased if it gets lost. Not so with the iPhone. Think about it most desired phone on the market, and with a $500 price point mainly executives are going to own them; and there is a lot of sensitive information on them.

As dedicated and caring IT people we know that the phone is amazing, we know that you just have to have it.. but understand that there are limitations. Using iTunes to sync contacts and calendars is taking a step backwards and it becomes another one off software application that we have to support.

I know of a number of execs that are running iPhones as their personal phones / browsers but still keep Blackberries on their hips to keep in touch with the office. Do I believe that the trend will continue? I know that Apple will be releasing the software in the next major version to support syncing with Microsoft Exchange Server.

My advice if you have to have the have to have phone; go ahead and get it but remember your poor IT staff along the way. For the Enterprise the security issues and the lack of push email would keep me from endorsing it whole-heartedly. The other issue is that the phone is tied only to the ATT network. The phone is not perfect, it is getting there but it is not the best PDA on the market for corporate users.

Wait a few months, get the latest software revision pre-installed and keep an eye on your phone. Or get a Blackberry 🙂

Blackberry 8800

Live at a Ken Blanchard Taping

Yesterday I was invited to be a participant at the video taping of Ken Blanchard speaking about motivation and goals for a new DVD. I was sitting front and center as one of the most dynamic motivational and business transforming speakers captivated the entire audience.

The taping took about 2 hours, and the first part was lead by Don Hutson who has written a new book called the “The One Minute Entrepreneur”.
The One Minute Entrepreneur

I am a big believer in business and personal transformation, I am an avid reader of process books that can be applied to enhance life and the realization of goals. I have read the One Minute Manager but to see Ken Blanchard speaking is an entirely different experience.

Don Hutson seems to be an authentic speaker that has a viable message, he is not quite as polished as Ken but powerful none the less. His speaking style is a little more conversational and perhaps a little more “country”. To me he sounded like a southerner weaving a tale – a compelling story but there was a little bit off in his presentation style. He is good, perhaps a little to polished for my liking.

I took a ton of notes during the session – I will transcribe them an put them up here in a few days. Right now I need to write a couple customer proposals.

Changing the Group Dynamics – 4 Hour Work Week

Attention Fellow 4-Hour Work Week Aficionados.

So far people have shown great participation in the 4HWW meetup many people are engaged in this active dialog on a monthly basis. I feel that the original intention of the group which is to provide a supportive forum and the tools to be successful has become blurred. I have been doing a lot of thinking since the last meeting and I feel that I went down the wrong path with the chapter a month format!
This is NOT a book club, this is an action group that would like to excel and actually cause results…and with that as the motivation this is what I propose.

I would like to do a complete shift of the 4HWW meetup to be something extraordinary; something passionate and something that we can all find value in. Going through the book as a review is just not as valuable as ACTUALLY DOING IT. I need to be moving my own life towards the goals that Timothy outlines and by PASSIVELY meeting about the book I know that I am not going to get there, and most of you will not get there either.
I was trying to be a helping hand, a guide and a resource because of my experience and how passionate I am about the book. I have realized that too many people are at too many levels to make this sccessful for everyone WITHOUT focusing on a PROJECT.

So I am hereby switching the focus of the group from a DISCUSSION of the 4-Hour Work Week to a HANDS ON group that uses the book as a guide to bring a product to market. YES, you heard me correctly the new focus of the group is to MUTUALLY create a Muse, outsource a website, start an Adwords account,test our product, refine our market and learn by DOING each of the steps. Each person who participates will be able to IMMEDIATELY take the knowledge learned in the forum and apply it to their own 4HWW Dream.

We will no longer be sitting on the sidelines but we will be DEVELOPING and LAUNCHING our own site and product. I am requesting that people donate $10 per meeting for a fund that allows us to outsource web design, run Google ads, register a domain, host the website etc. And actually create and outsource a product and its marketing! This would be the BEST and fastest way to learn the skills to be successful in your own projects.

I will need help developing an active syllabus for all of us to follow. I have the basics; I just need someone to help with formatting. I also need someone to act as the assistant to the group to keep track of payments, attendance and to track projects.

If you have any prior experience in any part of setting up an ecommerce site, product development, Google Ads, outsourcing your input will be very very valuable. If you have a specific skill, we can have you present this skill or experience to the whole group.

The Meaning of Integrity

Doing what I know to do.
Doing what I said I would do.
Doing what others expect of me even though I did not say I would do it.
Doing what is expected of me to have my work complete.
Doing things as they were meant to be done.