Toward the end of reading The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman, I was struck by an excerpt in which he describes his vision of the invisible computer of the future.
“The computer of the future is perhaps best illustrated by my imaginary perfect calendar. Suppose I am home one evening, deciding whether to accept an invitation to attend a conference next May. I pick up my appointment calendar and turn to the appropriate page. I tentatively decide that I can attend and pencil in the topic. The calendar flashes at me and displays a note reminding me that the university will still be in session during that period and that the trip overlaps my wife’s birthday. I decide that the conference is important, so I make a note to check whether I can get someone to take over my classes and to see whether I can leave the conference early for the birthday. I close the calendar and get back to other things. The next day, when I arrive at my office 1 find two notes on my message screen: one to find a substitute for my classes next May, the other to check with the conference organizers to see if I can leave early. This imaginary calendar looks like a calendar. It’s about the size of a standard pad of paper, it opens up to display dates. But it really is a computer, so it can do things that today’s appointment calendar cannot. It can, for example, present its information in different formats: it can display the pages compressed so that a whole year fits on one page; it can expand the display so that I see a single day in thirty-minute intervals. Because I frequently use my calendar in conjunction with my travels, the calendar is also an address book, notepad, and expense account record. Most important, it can also connect itself to my other systems (via a wireless infrared or electromagnetic channel). Thus, whatever I enter into the calendar gets transmitted to my office and home systems so that they are always in synchrony. If I make an appointment or change someone’s address or telephone number on one system, the others get told. When I finish a trip, the expense record can be transferred to the expense account form. The computer is invisible, hidden beneath the surface; only the task is visible. Although I may actually be using a computer, I feel as if I am using my appointment calendar.”
I am astounded by the image Norman had of the future 25 years ago. We are in this future Norman imagined. Technology exists for a calendar like Norman describes to be created. However, with the countless amount calendar and virtual assistant apps available and constantly being created, it does not seem like people are taking the leap to reach these levels. Within a few years, I believe my calendar will be like a mom is to a young child — having more knowledge about myself than I know, able to book and schedule my life each hour of the day without me having to do much of anything.
If you have never read this book, I highly recommend it. It will make you look at daily routines such as opening doors and turning on a stove in a completely different way.
With Dots soaring to the top of the app store rankings and everyone posting their scores on Facebook and Twitter, I thought about what has made the game so addicting. Here are the 5 key reasons that continue to make us connect the dots.
1) It’s Quick - 60 seconds is the perfect amount of time for a game. You can do it waiting in line, in the bathroom, as a quick distraction, on the subway, etc. it’s enough time that I don’t feel like I’m wasting too much time on a game
2) It’s Easy - connecting the dots doesn’t take much thinking or skill. You don’t have to pay much attention as you play. Any age range can enjoy it. Both my parents and little cousins can play without the need for much learning.
3) And yet it is Strategic - when to stop the time? Eliminate a dot to get a square? Using the power ups at the right times separates the good from the great
4) It’s Competitive - who doesn’t want to beat their friends?!? Bring on the competition
5) Each game is Different - you never know what to expect with your dots. It reminds me a lot of bejeweled, which I have spent way to many hours playing several years ago
I have always struggled with my daily to-do list. I constantly download every new productivity app and yet feel that it is not the right solution for me. I realized over time that the best method was pen and paper but struggled to find the optimal layout of my to-do list that would help me be the most productive.
I always wonder how other peoples home screen on their iPhone look. I have seen many people post their screens on Twitter (Jack Dorsey) and I wanted to conduct some sort of experiment detailing the statistics of people that have certain apps on the home screen. I have created a tumblr (http://homescreeniphone.tumblr.com/), in which I will post peoples home screens that are sent to me. Please comment on this post, tweet at me @andrewjbryk or email firstname.lastname@example.org with a screenshot. I will post the statistics on the apps each week
One of the first memories I recall in my life was when I turned 2. I remember the cake of Thomas the Tank engine that my dad spent 12 hours making, however, my favorite memory was the presents I received from my grandparents. They bought me a Little Tikes basketball hoop along with a set of plastic golf clubs. This hoop was witness to the blood, sweat and tears as my brothers and I played epic games in our basement for the past 18 years. The games started when we were young, as my dad played 1 against 3 on his knees. The games progressed to me and BJ, my second oldest brother, playing against my oldest brother Darren, until we were finally able to beat him. After Darren’s retirement from basement basketball, I went through years of torture and tantrums until finally beating BJ with some miraculous shots. After playing with him a few weeks before I left to Florence for one of the first times in a couple of years, my parents were having flashbacks to our games as kids and it reminded me of all the good times I had with my siblings. On the court, we were all fierce rivals and yet off the floor, we were the closest of friends. Being able to separate the two is a lesson I have taken with me everyday of my life.
People say that one should not live in the past. However, reminiscing on specific events of the past and realizing the traits and skills you gained that have shaped you into the person you are today can bring a lot of serenity and good feelings. There is a huge difference between living and looking back on, which is something I find myself doing often. These experiences motivate me to live life to the fullest and to appreciate every moment that comes my way so that when I look back on these times, I will be reminded of the great times I have had and the great times to come.
The celebration of Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday has bothered me. Every website and channel focuses on his individual achievements. They make it seem that Jordan has made it possible that the name on the back of the jersey is more important than the name on the front. I believe that Jordan would not want people to get this image. Where are the interviews with Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson and his other teammates discussing how good of a team player he is? MJ was all about elevating the games of his teammates and yet this fact hasn’t been mentioned. Despite the fact that Jordan could take over a game at any moment, his teammates always benefited from his leadership and style of play. I hope that younger people, who were not there to witness Jordan display his acts of leadership know that the name on the front is way more important than the name on the back and MJ would agree. Jordan was the ultimate team player and would not want anyone to think otherwise.
As I study abroad at NYU in Florence for the semester, I have noticed several areas where I believe there is room for innovation in Italy and other countries as well as the US. I have listed a few below.
1) Information on Restaurants and other local businesses - In a search for restaurants that my friends and I would like to visit, it is often difficult to find information, particularly the menu and products. A majority of restaurants do not have websites, let alone any type of info on yelp, etc. Single Platform has killed it in this area and it seems like there is potential for someone to provide these foreign local businesses with easy ways to manage and post their offerings to the web to help make consumers decisions easier.
2) Restaurant Menus - On my trip last weekend to Venice, I was shocked to see that in over 75% of the restaurants I visited, there was a picture of every item on the menu as seen in this pizzeria. I found it very interesting to see what my order looks like and it personally helped me make a quicker decision. As Dave Mcclure noted in this post, there is a ton of areas for innovation in the restaurant industry and I think this is a trend along with many others will be seen soon in many NYC restaurants.
3) Language barrier on tips and recommendations in Foursquare and other sites - When I visit famous restaurants or shops, there are tips that have been voted very highly except I have no idea what they are recommending because it is in a different language. It would be awesome if Foursquare had an easy way to translate people’s tips.
4) Where is the place to be tonight? - This is an issue everywhere but I have noticed the potential as I am studying in Florence as the work is not as intense and more people go out at nights. The constant question I here everyday is which bar or club is the place to be at tonight. In Florence, promoters have many “spammy” tactics in trying to get students to come to a certain place each night. They primarily use Facebook to blast out information in student groups on parties and deals at a variety of locations. However, they do not help the students in knowing where the “party” will be at. This problem exists everywhere as people always struggle in deciding where to go out but I think with innovation in sensor technology, a place should be able to tell people how many people usually come on a given date, the ratio of guys to girls etc. This will not come close to solving the problem completely as people still wont know the place to go to that particular night but it is one idea that can perhaps help make a decision easier.
I have recently been thinking about the value of celebrity endorsements through social media, particularly through twitter. Everyone wants to be given a shoutout by the Justin Bieber’s and Shaquille Oneal’s of the world. People believe that with that one celebrity endorsement, their startup will take off.
How valuable is their tweet anyway? Thousands upon thousands of people retweet their tweets but does that mean conversions for a company. Out of the people that sign-up for a product that they mention, what percentage of those stay on as recurring customers or visitors to the site. Does it add any value to just gain signups? Does anyone know statistics of how valuable it is for startups to have celebrity endorsers or have examples of ones that have succeeded or failed?
Ever since I can remember, I have always been a shy individual. Like majority of younger kids, I was afraid to approach people I did not know. When I got to college, I decided that I wanted to rid myself of this trait and this was not an easy process. It took quite some time before I felt any sort of comfort talking to new people and it can still difficult at times. However, I believe putting myself out there has helped me make tremendous strides in my everyday life. It led me to the startup scene and has led to numerous chance encounters with fascinating and incredibly talented individuals.
Last week, as I waited to board my plane in Salt Lake City as I returned to New York from a trip with some friends, I sat down in my seat at the airport. I opened up foursquare, checked-in and noticed that Bryce Roberts, founder of OATV Ventures had also checked in 5 minutes earlier.
Without thinking twice, I opened twitter and tweeted at Bryce, “@bryce just noticed after my checkin you are in slc airport as well. Headed to nyc? Any chance you’re available to chat.”
Unfortunately, about 10 minutes later, Bryce replied to my tweet “@andrewjbryk sorry I missed you. no NYC for me tonight. safe travels!”
Despite not being able to chat to one of the brightest minds in the VC world, I came to several realizations after this Twitter exchange with Bryce. The biggest thing I realized is that there is “0” downside in trying to connect with someone you dont know, no matter how much higher they are than you in the totem pole or whether the odds of them responding are .001%. The worst thing that can happen is they say no. And as long as you ask politely, even getting a no has its benefits. You will be noticed as making an effort and showing that you care. There are many ways to try and reach out to someone that will be able to give you great advice and possibly connect you to the job of your dreams (will get to in future post). Making these efforts just takes guts and not overthinking your actions. It has helped me grow both personally and professionally and it is something many more people should try to do.
Last week I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a fascinating documentary that details the daily activities of one of the most famous sushi chefs in the world, Jiro Ono. He is so well known that he can charge hundreds of dollars per person. Several lessons can be learned from Jiro in how he conducts himself and how he has achieved this grand stature in his circle.
All in the details - If Jiro notices someone using his left hand, he makes a small adjustment to place the sushi on the persons left side. He makes sure every single aspect of his restaurant is in perfect condition and that the customer will feel at home. Companies should pay attention very closely to the needs of their customers and make sure they feel at home as well.
Love what you do - There was never a day in Jiro’s life where he was unhappy doing what he does for work. This reminded me of what Vin Vacanti said in his skillshare class I took several months ago. Since starting Yipit, Vin has not experienced one case of the Monday blues and wakes up excited to get to work each and every week.
Always look to get better - Jiro has been making sushi for over 65 years. And yet he says he can always get better. He constantly works toward this goal and is never satisfied with what he has done. When Jiro’s sons were asked what the most important lesson they learned from their father, they said, “Always strive to elevate your craft”. This is perhaps the most important lesson that can be learned from Jiro. In order to elevate one’s skills, one must constantly be working toward his or her goals and must not slack off. Jiro’s dedication is unmatched. Jiro is like a CEO. He explains how he is always the one in the limelight that looks over his sons and apprentices that work under him. It is his responsibility to teach all of them. His success is not just due to his unbelievable sushi skills but also his great ability to pass his skills on to those working with him.
I recently went to the doctor for a regular checkup and physical and felt that my doctor was lacking information on my everyday activities. My blood and urine sample were taken. I was asked some questions about my regular day and then I was good to go. Why isn’t all the personal health data I keep track of accessible or required to be seen by a doctor? Aside from the possible problem of patient privacy, there is no reason a doctor shouldn’t have access to the potential data that could be gleaned from the great amount of apps being developed for smartphones. The doctor will be better prepared for the patient and their symptoms, will be able to give better advice and it will lead to a better experience and improved outcomes for everyone
I mentioned this to my father, an interventional radiologist at NYU who also performs physicals and he made several points as to why this can and can’t work. The main point my father stated is that data being accessible to doctors is hard to do because of the way patients report it. If the data is recorded into the app by the patient, their reliability now comes into question. Are the patients reporting or entering the data accurately? Are they fudging the numbers to make themselves look better. The classic example is when patients are asked how much they smoke. Classic teaching is to double whatever the patient reports. If the data is retrieved and reported independent of the patient, it will be much more accurate.
A company that has stood out to me that uses data that is independent of the patient is Flatiron Health, founded by Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg. They use existing data to help doctors provide better diagnoses and treatments. It has immense potential in hospitals that are smaller than the large NYC hospitals that are able to have people working on this data to provide better treatment. This is the type of data that can be used to help the treatment process because it is already there and they are just analyzing it and organizing it for the doctor.
It is clear from my conversation with my dad that with the technology at our fingertips, doctors will have access to much more of our daily activities. However, it will be up to the people creating these apps and connections between doctors and patients to make sure that all data is accurate and not being tampered with by the patients, to make themselves appear to be look better.
I have never been one to think of new years resolutions. However, this year I realized that instead of making specific resolutions such as exercising more or eating healthier, I would try to work on bettering myself as a person. I thought about what it is that I control in my life in my daily activities that is not affected by anyone else that can make me a better person.
After some deep thinking with a close friend of mine, he said a quote that he heard awhile back that really struck deep within me. The quote was, “There are only two things you can control in your life. Your attitude and effort.” No matter what hits us, whether good or bad, these two traits will always be under my control.
I can always be more optimistic. My pessimism may be rooted from my upbringing as a New York Jets fan, but it is something I can always work on. Seeing that one good thing out of something bad that happened to me in a given week can be a key factor in my mood. This is something I hope to work on as I depart to Florence this semester that I can be as positive as possible and look on the bright side of the world while traveling and learning in Europe. In terms of my effort, I hope to continue to give it my all in any opportunity that comes my way. Whether it be a sporting event or an interview, the only thing I can control is the effort I put into it. The rest of it is not in my hands. As long as I can keep my attitude up and put in the utmost effort, I have great confidence that this year will undoubtedly be an amazing journey.
During the summer as a participant in the General Assembly Summer Startup Intern Accelerator, I had the opportunity to attend any GA class free of charge. One of the most fascinating classes I attended was taught by Lerer Ventures partner Steve Schlafman on VC pitch tips and tricks. I intended to post my notes but could not find the file on my laptop. After my laptop crashed this week, I luckily found the file backed up when I restored everything and thought it could still be helpful.
- Consumer + B2B
- Value add advisors
What LV looks for
- Great teams
- Compelling story – very underrated to have good story
- Differentiated – being able to communicate is very important
- Big markets
- Distribution – You can have most beautiful product in world but if users don’t want it, you’re screwed – always have to think through distribution
- Find the right people that have done it to get their advice
- Data – understand how all the pieces fit together – have to understand the numbers and what’s going on
- Intro – Get in by someone LV knows and trusts
- Review Business Plan – quick review of the deck (want to see sense of design/brand, how think of product and communicate brand) – prefer to see a demo
- Schedule in Person
- Due Diligence – see if it fits into LV macro themes
- In Person Meeting
- More Due Diligence
- Decision / Negotiation – often don’t lead – terms are usually set
Process takes about a month
Plan, Prep, Practice
- Obsess over weakness – know where your blind spots are and understand them
- Identify strengths – also know what you’re very good at
- Leverage Network – get intros to other investors – find entrepreneurs that have pitched to them in past and get feedback
- Demo, Demo, Demo – always practice
- Customer Development – truly understand your customers pain
- Refine Deck – always refine between pitches
- Investment Strategy – know the strategy of the fund you are going to approach
Things I Look For
- Action not analysis – no 25 pitch decks
- Team dynamics
- Culture – something that is vibrant, unique and gets people excited to work
- Customer Obsession
- A Good Story
- Hustle / Traction – showing that you think outside the box and are a hustler is what people notice – doing crazy grassroots stuff like standing in front of la colombe with a funny sign can attract attention
- Composure / Confidence
Pitch Deck: Teeing Off
- Problem you are solving
- Market – macro trends – why is time right
- Customer segment- how do customers behave, what look like etc.
- Customer acquisition
Pitch Deck: Finish Line
- Milestones / traction
- Funding – sometimes people say not to put in – can go both ways
- Always ask for next Steps
- Follow up with Thank You – don’t make it too long
- Advisor outreach – pay attention to questions and issues the investor raises and you can role play with advisors
- Action items – what are takeaways from meeting
- Product tweaks
- Keep positive attitude – always stay positive
I highly recommend going to this class if you want to learn more or have any questions. Steve was very responsive to everyone’s questions, even staying late to make sure he answered each and every one.
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Roosevelt said it best. If you don’t put yourself out there and try to succeed, that is the true failure. Even if you receive a no 95% of the time, there is always something to learn from it. Through the ups and downs of a startup, and more importantly life, the experience of being told no is one of the most important learning opportunities. The next steps one takes after being told no is a key factor in one’s growth. Does one go and mope and try to reason why they were told no, or does one move forward and take the no as motivation to put in more effort. I believe that this choice is one of the key aspects to success in a startup, particularly in a business development position. In the biz dev process of reaching out to potential partners, one will receive many “no thank yous” and taking these as motivation and learning experiences is a key determinant of success. If one cannot deal with the notion of being let down time and time again, the path of a startup may be very difficult to handle. However, if you push forward and persist, the outcome will be well worth it and will be even more satisfying once you receive that “yes”.
Thanksgiving is a time of thanks and of being grateful. Families come together for large meals. I think that everyday is an opportunity to be a time of Thanksgiving. Being thankful for the small successes in one’s daily routine gives one great pleasure and happiness. As the youngest son of a very close family of 7, we have family dinners every Friday night, as a part of the Sabbath. Several years ago, my mom recommended to my family that we start a new tradition as a part of our meal. My mom said that every week we will go around the table and we would all say what we were thankful for during the previous week. At first, my siblings and I laughed it off and did not think it would actually become a weekly routine. As it is now over 5 years since that weekend, it has become one of my favorite experiences that I look forward to each and every week. Tears have been shed, babies announced and the joy of everyone’s gratefulness spreads around the table. I think that there is much to be learned from the tradition my mom brought to my family. Going through the roller coaster ride of life, it is important to be thankful for one thing each day. Thanksgiving is the penultimate day to look back on your year with your family and cherish the times you have shared together and be thankful. I wish every reader a Happy Thanksgiving.