Sunday, March 4, 2018

A Peek into the Lives of Entrepreneurs during the Dot-Com Time Period

"" is a documentary about a startup. It totally was not metaphorically named. At first I was not too excited to watch it. The first ten minutes or so felt like any other documentary, introducing the subjects of the documentary, Tom Herman and Kaleil Tuzman, through observations of their everyday life. And then they started working...


Since the whole “dot com” boom and bust thing was happening at the same time of the shooting of this film, I figured that this company of theirs was going to be crazy successful. It started with an idea of paying for your parking tickets online. At this point I was still not very interested. Then they started growing, like almost exponentially. In a few months they went from about 8 employees, 70 employees, 120 employees, and then to over 200. Here they are worth millions. Drama was always present throughout their journey, and there were different things that resolved their issues; ups and downs. But when the drama escalated towards one hundred, I became interested, and I wanted to see what happened afterwards.

Overall, I enjoyed watching Tom, but mostly Kaleil, going about running a business. It was eye-opening; the business world really does seem as crazy as Andrew Fry describes it. To be honest, after watching this movie and seeing all the hardships and hearing all that business terminology, I was pretty discouraged, and I do not really want to start a business as much as I did on the first day of the course.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Final Guest: Shadrach White

Somehow... just somehow... I did not fall asleep this time around. Maybe it was the effects from the NAVSEA presentation that took place right before the talk, or maybe I happened to just not be drowsy coincidentally. Nonetheless, I managed to attentively listened to all of Shadrach's words at his visit. Shadrach White is the CEO and president of cloudPWR. His company's mission is "to simplify complex problems and help organizations adopt cloud based solutions" (from 

The most memorable point of his to me was the idea of bootstrapping. A bootstrap is when an individual starts his or her own company with minimal capital. In my opinion, this seems extremely efficient for building a business, but also extremely hard. The business either needs to be very inexpensive to run, or there needs to be a great initial amount of funds from personal finances or the company's finances. I feel like Shadrach was only able to bootstrap cloudPWR because he had founded and run many companies in the past, and most likely built up his own money and tons of experience from them, which to me is quite admirable. He had mentioned that his first business, which had to do with sports stuff, came out to be a valuable lesson to him. He spent more money than he received from investments. Then and there, he had learned all about finance. The more he did, the more experience and funds he acquired.

I also remember a question someone had asked Shadrach; it had to do with his exit strategy. Without hesitation, he gave a straight up answer of "one hundred million". If he can exit with that much, it would be a done deal. However, he mentioned that some things could change, and might end up staying even if the company's value reaches that amount, and thus set a new, higher exit goal.

If I must do a look-alike thing again, I'd say he reminds me of Matt from Big Brother season 19.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Dot-Com Bubble's Lifespan: From to Dot.Bomb

This whole "dot com" period from around 1992 to 2005 has to do with a revolution in the technological world; a crazy rise and fall of tech startups and websites. Basically, if you added a ".com" to the end of your business name, you were bound to make a fortune -- at least for a while.

All of these different technological organizations back then are best represented by a dinosaur race (credit goes to Andrew). Dinosaurs have ruled the earth, and were constantly competing against each other. During this period, some were dominantly leading in the race, and some got left behind and just collapsed. However, since they are figuratively dinosaurs, they all ultimately suffered from their inability to adapt to a new environment, the bursting of the bubble, and became instinct.

There were five stages during those few years:
1. Innocent Beginning (92-95)
2. Boom! (95-97)
3. Insanity!!! (97-00)
4. Bust!@#$%! (00-03)
5. Crawling Back (02-05)

During the first stage, guys like Prodigy, CompuServ, AOL, Genie, and Andrew's very own Free Range Media emerged, and acquired a good amount of success. Prodigy and CompuServ, each with over one million users at the time, were the leaders of the dinosaur race.

The second stage is where a lot more guys started showing up and were getting a lot more involved. Yahoo! was one of the dinosaurs that came from behind and managed to get in front at one point. Amazon was there too, although everyone believed that it would not survive at all. Quite a few more companies grew extremely fast as well.

At the third stage, public offerings and venture capitalists were the trend. AOL actually buys CompuServ, and passes Prodigy in the race. Yahoo! get at 5.7 billion dollars. Everything is just as it is named; insane.

Then everything crashes. Websites and companies are going bust here and there, and the stock market takes a dive down.

But this doesn't mean the tech world has ended. Some start rebounding, support is provided, and sites like MySpace and Facebook emerge.

I was not old enough to understand the weight it had when this all happened. I still don't completely understand even after a lecture on it. But I know the dot com boom to bust was an important event that impacted the somewhat technological life that I currently live.

Is John Brighter or Dimmer?

This question above is actually completely irrelevant. For some reason I just wanted to use his last name as a comparative adjective.

Anyway, John Dimmer visited as a guest speaker not too long ago. He is not the software developer guy, the marketing guy, nor the idea guy; he is the guy with the knowledge of the ins and outs of the financial stuff. He went to high school with Andrew Fry, and has worked with him in the past, and if I remember correctly, he managed the finances for Free Range Media.

One of the main points I took from his talk as the most memorable was the whole idea of exiting. Having and knowing an exit strategy for the business is a very valuable thing. By exit, I literally mean exiting the business but with some kind of gain, which includes selling the business to some other entity, or initial public offerings (IPO), or some other methods that I cannot recall at the moment. The exit strategy, more often than not, will change from time to time, depending on what situation the business is in. Honestly, if I were to ever successfully run a business, my goal would be to exit. I have always dreamed of making an insane amount of money at once, and pretty much retire very early. However, I know it would not be that simple.

Here were some other points mentioned in his talk:
Accounting is how you keep score -- I found this interesting due to the fact that both of my parents are accountants.
There was a time when there were twenty eight websites on the internet.
One must know how to read contracts.
He went on to Angel investing after retirement.
The more venture capital, the less ownership.
There are business plan competitions that awards funding.

After his visit, I realized that there was more to running a business than just knowing how to make the product or executing the service, or having negotiation skills; the financial aspect is a huge part of it.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Protection of Upsee's Intellectual Property

The name Upsee is derived from the term "up and coming", which refers to musical artists on the rise; more details are in an earlier blog post. But this isn't the point I am writing about. The point of this post is to describe how I will protect that name and anything else that belongs to Upsee.

This name and definitely an in-progress logo will be the first set of intellectual property I would start protecting, and I will do that by making them our trademarks. However I feel like that is something all businesses do anyway; kind of like a default, standard thing to do. Since Upsee is computer software, the actual code that makes up the website will be copyrighted...

... and that's it! We do not make inventions or anything, so patents are not needed. Also, I have not thought of any trade secrets that we might have, since everything is just code which is already has copyrights. Upsee is user driven, so literally all of the content on there will belong to and be created by those users. I am not entirely sure if we are supposed to be involved with their content in regards to intellectual property protection; I was thinking they would do that themselves, or perhaps we would have a built-in system that automatically protects them. 

I am slightly familiar with the idea of protecting intellectual property; I am definitely not an expert. But this is roughly how I would go about protecting my stuff.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Upsee's Mission and Vision

There are already so many music streaming services out there like Spotify, SoundCloud, and even YouTube, and Twitch is the prominent streaming website of today. A handful of Twitch streamers are indeed musicians, but, other than the already popular artists like deadmau5, I do not know of anyone who became popular because of streaming. Twitch is much more known for being the streaming hub for the gaming community, and the scale of its popularity and support is much bigger compared to the music streamers' side. I think it would be so awesome if music can reach that level. I mentioned that I have not heard of a popular music streamer from Twitch, so I want to give people the ability to become a popular "Upsee streamer"; like "YouTubers" or "SoundCloud rappers". I want to build the stage for music to be the main attraction for streaming and online community creation...

Our vision for Upsee is the thriving of online communities centered around the music of the world's artists, both the aspiring and the experienced.

Our mission to realize that vision is to enable all people to experience the world of music together through live streaming and media sharing in a digital environment.

We also want to support artists by providing a way for them to make money for themselves, which will in turn maintain a prosperous state for the communities that they have built. The artists and their viewers will always be getting something out of their mutual love for music.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Pricing the Product

After quite a while since the three business ideas post, I began to question whether or not any of my three initial business ideas were viable as an actual business. The questioning alone made me scrap all of it, so I came up with something more realistic in my realm; a website (and app). It is an online service for music that allows any user to upload, share, and live stream their musical works. Think of this as Twitch, YouTube, and SoundCloud (or anything else similar to these for that matter) all combined solely for the purpose of helping small time artists put themselves out there, or providing already relatively successful artists a way to make more money as a musical artist. I'll call it Upsee.

I basically want to use Twitch's model for the streamers, and really any other website's membership-upgrade model. For the upgrade price, I was thinking of putting it at $7.99 a month. Before I explain why, let me elaborate on what I envision:

Upgrade the membership to...
1. Remove ads (like every other website).
2. Gain the ability to download tracks to your offline account (like Spotify Premium).
3. Upload tracks faster (like SoundCloud Pro).
4. Use a free subscription to any one artist of your choice who is "partnered" with Upsee.*

*This goes back to the Twitch model. If a popular streamer applies for something called a partnership with Twitch and gets approved, they will be able to set and sell their own private subscriptions where stream viewers can pay these monthly subscriptions to the streamer and gain access to more of their content. Twitch takes a percentage of each single subscription, while the rest goes to the streamer.

Now back to Upsee. I priced it at around 8 dollars a month because 10 dollars is what I've found to be a common upgrade price among various websites like YouTube Red or Spotify Premium, and I want it to be cheaper than those guys. SoundCloud Pro is 7 dollars, but it does not include as much benefits as Upsee's upgrade, so I made it slightly higher than that.

As for the whole partnering thing, I was thinking of taking 50% of each subscription from partnered artists. Since they name their own price, that 50% will vary. Twitch does exactly this and is seemingly successful.

If you're wondering why I called it Upsee: I took the term "up and coming" as it pertains to musical artists, removed the "and", and abbreviated the "coming" to get UpC, which would look better as (and would be pronounced as) UP - see.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Brian has come Forth

Honestly, I took ass notes on the day Brian Forth came to speak; I usually can figure out what I mean to note when I write down a single word related to the subject, but this time around, I have no clue. But here is what I do remember:

Brian Forth is the founder and president of SiteCrafting, which is really described in its own name. They provide digital support to businesses or anyone else through building and designing websites. He started out as a 5th grade teacher. One day during his teaching time, the kids, with the help of teachers, were tasked with creating websites for whom I can't remember, and I believe I remember that seeing this moment was Brian's eye-opener for doing just that, but as a potential business. Seems to me that the business is quite successful.

The thing that stood out the most from what I took from the talk was the idea to never dismiss anyone. I find this advice to be something I should always keep in mind if I ever want to start my own thing. This can apply to both within the workplace or company, or outside the workplace like potential business partners and customers. Another thing I clearly remember was the WordPress template that he and SiteCrafting are working on, code named "Groot". Then Andrew Fry stepped in and talked about how common it is to use code names for projects, which was something I did not know until then

If I had to do the celebrity look-alike again, I'd say Brian reminds me of Varys from Game of Thrones. This is really mainly due to his current hairstyle.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Rob Coons has Spoken...

... and left me with an interesting perspective on the world of business.

Co-Founder and CEO of SCOUT Military Discounts, Rob Coons, was the guest speaker for today's class. I have never in my life seen a service like his. SCOUT Military Discounts, based on his description, is basically Groupon but for military and ex-military. I think it is a genius idea, and to hear that it was well received in Oregon, it makes me think that they'll do exceptionally well here in Washington (specifically in the city of Tacoma). With four hundred thousand discounts and sixty eight million service members thus far, I do not have any doubt.

My first thought during his talk was "wow, I'm looking at a CEO". Actually no that was my second thought. My real honest first thought was that he looked similar to a character named Lewis Wilson from The Punisher Netflix series, played by Daniel Webber, who just happens to be ex-military in the show (random thought, not important). But anyway, I felt I was in the presence of a guy who could potentially be a guy who can say "hello, I'm the CEO of SCOUT Military Discounts" and make anyone who hears it be like "whoa". He started the talk with advantages of being what he is now and what it takes to get there. One thing that I noticed showing up in multiple slides was to "listen to your users and customer", and I noted it to be very important. I also liked a quote from Charles Kettering that he provided: "A problem well stated is a problem half solved". The stories of his experiences with investors and customers were quite interesting as well. An investor trying to cheat you out; a customer giving the worst review possible; I always thought those things only happen in movies. His talk has definitely exposed more of business in real life.

Another thing that stood out was a list of four steps in starting a business (I do not have it word for word):

1. Decide what you want
2. Find your business at the intersection of skill, experience, and opportunity
3. Determine a plan
4. Execute

To me, it sounds reasonable. Do I think I can take all of this and go out a start a company right now? Nope. But after Rob's talk, I feel like I am a step higher to reaching that point. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Thoughts on Guest Speaker Erik Hanberg

Erik Hanberg walks into the room. The very first thought that popped into my mind was, "hey, I have a coat just like that".  Before his talk, he removes the coat and folds it neatly, and places it on the table. That's how you know he is a legitimate, successful entrepreneur.

Jokes aside, I thought that what he presented during the talk was what really lets you know that he's legit. The first thing that stood out to me was his graph of the two types of income, while he was talking about his experience working with a non-profit theater. It made perfect sense; hourly-paid people are on a linear spectrum of income, while people like actors, artists, entrepreneurs, etc. have a concave upwards curve. For the latter, the more ? the more money you make. I actually don't remember what it was, but it made sense at the time I was listening to it. What he was trying to say was that if he had owned that theater, he could make a lot more money and work a lot less. I thought of that idea to be so awesome. But I kind of figured that it isn't so easy to achieve that. I am not too business-inclined, and so the technical talk that followed kind of lost me. However I could tell it was actually as complicated as it sounded (at least for me).

Another thing I clearly remember was the one part of the title of the slides and what its meaning is; ship. Shipping basically means "getting it out". No matter what kind of product or service you are providing, you need a way to distribute it and actually make something out of your business. I totally agree. I have an acquaintance that happens to be a SoundCloud rapper (which refers to people who produce rap music for SoundCloud and usually do not or can't make a living off of it). I personally think the music is really good; the only problem is its exposure to the masses. Based on the tracks' stats, there isn't much activity. So if the music was more effectively advertised, or "shipped", perhaps they could make a living, maybe even more than a living.

The last segment of Erik's talk was about his books. I'm going to be completely honest; I think I was asleep for a lot of this. Although I was interested in how one might write something and make money from it. I really want to start writing and drawing graphic novels. What he talked about gave me an initial insight, and at the end of class, I submitted a question about how I could make money from writing, specifically the type of writing I want to do. I hope I get an answer.

Overall, I feel like Erik Hanberg's visit was worth every minute. I learned a good amount from his talk.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Three Ideas I Had in Mind for a Business

I thought of some ideas that correlates to what I personally want to experience in life. Let's just get right into it.

Parking Lot Parking Spot Monitor (PLPSM)

The first business idea that came to mind was some kind of system that could keep track of taken and free parking spots in a single lot. Here's how it might work:

The actual product is an entire system of sensors, each placed on a parking spot, connected to monitors that'll display all the available and unavailable parking spots and updates in real time. There could be a bunch of lights, each above a spot. The monitors could be actual screens or just a panel of lights and labels. Each floor would have their own monitor, displaying the layout and status of either just that floor or the entire lot. It could also be connected to the internet, and drivers could check the status of a specific lot on an app on their phone or on a website.

The business is selling this whole system to an entity that owns a parking lot, with the installation included. The price would vary depending on the size, location, difficulty of installation based on the architecture, and other things I can't really think of right now.

Personally, I really hate driving through 5 or more stories of parking only to find nowhere to park. I've always dreamed of a way to know if I can park in the lot for the day--before I waste gas trying to check every spot.

Random thought: I think the acronym would sound cool if pronounced "PLOP - sim", or just the letters PLPSM.

Arcade: Advanced Credit and Ticket System

Recently, I went to Round1 at the Southcenter Mall in Tukwila with my siblings. The arcade had a kiosk where you'd buy credits and load them into a game card. To play everything, you'd swipe the card instead of inserting coins. Tickets are digitally awarded to whichever card was swiped. I am pretty sure a lot of arcades do this now. However, I was thinking of upgrading this even further.

My idea is a whole new arcade where your phone is your card. You would download its app, register, and stay logged in upon entering the arcade. You can load credits into your account with a credit or debit card, and you could do it anywhere, anytime. This way, you don't have to stand in line to purchase credits, and not have to worry about misplacing a card. The machines would be able to read the app somehow; you could perhaps physically tap your phone if the phone is able to do that with other things, or hit an activation button in the app to play after a vicinity scan. Or to make it simpler, a QR code scan could work too. Tickets are rewarded and loaded into your account based on performance. You could think of it as replacing the previously mentioned game card with an app. Extra features like personal stats, arcade leader boards, and/or past people who you've played a game with could be a part of the app too.

Of course, it would probably also include the physical cards as well. Sometimes phones just don't work, and some people might not even have phone access at all. I'd want it to be as people-friendly to as much people as possible.

Basically, this idea is a way to make the arcade experience much more convenient. Although this might make it look like everyone is just on their phones all the time. 😐

Foot Dryer: Hand Dryer but for your Feet

Honestly I couldn't think of anything else.

So, you know about the motion sensor hand dryer in most modern bathrooms? It's that, but mobile, and for your feet. Instead of being mounted on a wall, it's a mobile object you place anywhere it can lay on. The best place is most likely the floor. It might be shaped differently, since it would need to dry the top and bottom of your feet; probably a horizontal notch to hover your feet in with the air blowing on all sides. In that case, while standing, it might be best to dry one foot at a time. Make sure to keep your balance. You could use it for drying your feet while exiting the shower, or the keep the sweat at bay while sitting down and doing something intense at a desk.

The business is basically just mass producing these and selling it to random stores or individual orders.

And those are my ideas. I want 15% if any of these are actually launched and successful.

A Peek into the Lives of Entrepreneurs during the Dot-Com Time Period

"" is a documentary about a startup. It totally was not metaphorically named. At first I was not too excited to watch i...