Understanding “BETA”

First thing to get out of the way… your users “don’t” understand BETA. This means that when they visit your business, if it doesn’t solve their problem they won’t come back. They don’t care if its Beta or Gamma. That is why BETA must not be approached as a way to get some feedback while work is in progress, but as a way of having a controlled situation where your objective is to learn as much as possible about the not-so-obvious motivations of your clients.

We have been “in Beta” since May and now we approach BETA in a different way. Mainly dividing it in two phases. This is what we’ve learned:

Use BETA wisely

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Ready for BETA

One week from now GIFTYBIT will launch its first BETA version. It has taken longer than expected (we started this adventure almost 8 months ago) but it all seems worth it. We are very excited with what we are building and truly believe that we have crated something that will “humanize” our social relations on the web forever.


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A tiny life-changing lesson from a great guy

I’ve been working on a post for the last couple of weeks. It was an interesting post. I had learned some very important lessons on the final steps of launching a company and was very sure that the advice was going to be useful to quite a lot of people starting a new company… but this morning me and my wife learned that a friend that we had met, one year ago, at a wedding, had died.

That wedding was the first time I met him, and although we did try to meetup once after it we actually never did. Therefore in reality I only shared a few hours of my life with him. With that in mind, i guess you could say we weren’t very close… I guess not, but for some reason, writing that last sentence of the first paragraph has been one of the most emotional moments I’ve had in a long time. All because I have some sort of conflict inside. I have been feeling incredibly sad and incredibly happy at the same time. Sad for obvious reasons, but… happy? why?

I have been asking myself that question since I learned about it. What was different from Javier that made us feel that way? And I say “us” because I started to read all the messages people had left him and it was something I have never seen before. Simply put… it was a celebration of life.

And that is why I have decided to postpone my other post and write this one. To tell you the little that I learned about Javier on those few hours and how, thinking a little about it, with only 30 years of life in him, he “made a dent in the universe”.

For what I remember, Javier was diagnosed with a serious liver illness when he had just finished college and started to work. He went through very tough times and against all odds he made it out of it but with not very good news from the doctors. Javier had a quick laugh and lively look. He could talk his way in or out of any situation. He was a great guy.

If someone told you about his illness, you would never believe it. Only after he spoke about it, did it become a reality. But in a very special way… he spoke about his life turning event in such a way that it was shocking. For him the illness was not a big deal (he almost didn’t speak about that)… the big deal was what had gone through his mind, and his conclusions after many days trying to swallow the doctors news. He decided to change his way of looking at life and with that, he changed his life. Because he wanted to. Himself, and only himself, was responsible for that change. He decided to live at the maximum, with no regrets, and to simply be happy. Yes he was a journalist and enjoyed it very much, but as far as I could see, being happy was his full-time job.

That energy was what made him special. He made happiness and enjoying life his motto, and in doing so when you were around him you were pushed to do that same thing. To enjoy life and be happy.

When he was diagnosed, there where many things about his life that he decided to change. For what we were told, before he was a quiet and timid guy. He didn’t make too much noise and simply, as most of us do, traveled through life at the most comfortable speed. And then, he decided to change. But he didn’t start doing base jump or climbing the Kilimanjaro. He was a normal guy just focused on being happy, enjoying life and as a side effect, and I a am pretty sure that in a conscious way, made everyone around him happy and eager to enjoy life.

And that is why I wanted to tell his story. There is something truly eye-opening in this. It is a story of a normal guy being absolutely exceptional because he wanted to. Javier focused on not being “normal” and he made himself exceptional, and in consequence made people around him exceptional.

Steve Jobs once said that his objective was “to make a dent in the universe” and that is how he lived his life. I learned one comforting lesson from Javier: To make a “dent in the universe” you don’t have to do an extraordinary feat. You “just” have to wake up every morning focused on changing everything that is needed with one goal in mind… enjoying your life at the fullest.

At least that is what I’ve been working at and what you should do. Don’t live life how it’s “supposed to be”, live it like you want it. Be “responsible” with yourself not with what people say. Challenge yourself everyday and feed your eagerness to be happy.

Managing Your Attention Span

I have relatively short attention span. Let me explain myself… I love solving problems, in fact, I always say that I haven’t found a challenge that I couldn’t solve (and I mean daily challenges not age long mathematical problems). If I find a challenge I will focus on it like a mad man and learn about it, turn it apart and become an expert as quick as possible. I think there is a medical name for that, OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder… or something.

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My take on Amazon rumors and lessons to be learned

Amazon has been a lot on the news lately, mostly on the matter of revenues and their statements that the market just doesn’t get their “long-term” strategy. I have my personal opinion that I will share at some point, but this last days there has been some other matters about Amazon that have caught my attention. These are the rumors (more or less confirmed) about Amazon opening brick-and-mortar stores and if it’s a good or bad idea.

My first take on that rumor was of complete shock and denial. It couldn’t be, by doing so they were completely messing up the core of its business. They where fumbling with their very own values! But then after giving it some thought I started thinking that if they did it right maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea.

So, am I in favor or against? It depends, and here it is why:

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Tips on building your tech company for non-tech guys

First of all, as I have said many times, I haven’t got a technical profile… I’ve majored in Business Administration and have always worked in Business Development and Product Management during my “short” working life.

One common advice to all of us non-technical profiles that decide to start a new internet business is to “learn to program”… So that is what I did… And after some days of Python and Ruby-on-Rails I can tell you one thing: I am sorry to say but if you take into consideration all the implications and the time needed, that advice is… nonsense.

After attending some developer meetup and telling my story almost every advice I got was in fact the contrary… “Want to learn to program? don’t even try. Go find a CTO co-founder”. And that is what I did, and after a month doing that, I had a big breakthrough. That advice is, also… nonsense.

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Changing your source of motivation

When working at a big company there is always a focus on daily tasks. You have got a full inbox, 3 or 4 meetings and a trickling stream of people approaching your table to discuss this and that. The little time you have got left is focused in getting something done of that project with a dangerously close deadline. Day after day. Not much time for creative work then…

Then you decide to start your own business and suddenly your “daily” world turns upside down.

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Starting Entrepreneurs: How to keep your momentum going

Usually, ideas, if not nourished, end up crippling and dying. Even the most interesting and visionary. Without momentum, ideas that once had grown and developed in our head into the “next Google” end up loosing their vivid color and fall into oblivion. For startups, momentum lives and breathes in Silicon Valley, but for many of us, California is a bit out of hand… So you have to look for “momentum” in other places…

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