It was the Spring of 2010 when I first stumbled on the concept of Game Mechanics. This idea that you could apply the “rules” that makes games like Monopoly so much fun to real world activities was fascinating. I decided to “gamify” restaurants for a couple reasons. First, I love to eat and drink at restaurants, maybe a little too much. Second, the “buy 10 get 1 free” punch card programs had been around since the stone age and are, well, kinda boring.
I wanted to make a restaurant game that was not only fun but dead simple, no checkins or scanning QR codes. Wouldn’t it be cool if all you had to do was what you already do, pay your bill with a debit or credit card? It took the early Mogl team of Jeff Federman, Jarrod Cuzens and about 7 others a little over a year to build the first Mogl prototype complete with credit card tracking and a game based around competing with other patrons to win monthly cash jackpots based on how much cash-back you earned. Mogl was born on March 20th 2011.
1 month after we launched I went on the Summit Series cruise, one of the most inspirational weekends of my life. While on the cruise
The head of an entrepreneur is a lonely place. Am I smart enough? Do I work hard enough? Is my idea right? Do I have what it takes? How do I stack up against other entrepreneurs? Do I have the best team? Are we better than the competition? What will this all look like in a year from now? What if I fail?
Failure looms over us every day, no matter how big or small the company. It talks to us inside our head, constantly questioning our ability to succeed. We don’t know the future. We don’t know what the competition is doing behind closed doors. We don’t know what our employees are really thinking or investors for that matter.
There is no KNOW in the entrepreneur game, there is only FAITH. It’s the religion of “I”.
A benefit of being an internet entrepreneur is you know the hot companies before most because you eat, sleep and breath the internet, more than any investment banker and even more than VC’s so investing in the next hot company through secondmarket and other firms like it are a great way to make money on the side while you build your company.
I just got my Kindle Fire last week. Then I ordered 3 more, one for my roommates birthday and one for each of my parents. At $199 this is a sexy no brainier and it’s already the #1 selling product on Amazon and has been since launch 6 weeks ago. Unfortunately they don’t release their numbers but those numbers are going to be big.
The real magic behind the Fire is how seamless it is to buy digital movies, books, magazines, music and apps. I spent over $30 within the first hour
If you’re wondering why the men of MojoPages look so creepy it’s because of Movember. Movember is a fairly new movement to help cure men’s cancer by having men grow mustaches in the month of November. 1 in 2 men will get cancer in their life yet there is very little money raised every year to fight it. Movember is doing for men’s cancer what Susan G. Komen does for women’s cancer.
The concept is simple, grow a mustache and people will ask why you are rocking a creepy mustache, therefore raising awareness and money for cancer. Simple yet effective. They raised $40M last year and are on track for over $60M this year. With the money raised last year they identified 24 different kinds of prostate cancer and how aggressive each is. Which is a critical step to helping develop medication to keep men alive and eventually to find a cure.Here’s a link to donate, today is the last day http://us.movember.com/mospace/1108438/
Today Google is rolling out a new search result design (see screen shot below) that puts business listings from it’s Google Places, formerly Google Maps, above almost all other search results when consumers perform a local search like Dentist in San Diego, or San Francisco Plumber. Google Places is a local business directory competing with Yelp.com, YellowPages.com, MojoPages.com and a dozen or so other business directories. In this bold move Google Places takes over 70% - 100% of the results you’ll see when you do a local search. There are still links to Yelp and others but they are buried at the bottom of the Places listings and most consumers won’t notice them. Is this a good move for consumers? Or should Google show a smaller set of listings from Google Places and show links to other directories on a more even basis?
Google has been systematically taking over more and more of the real-estate on local search results.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.– Theodore Roosevelt
A few words on The Kelsey Conference (a must attend for anyone in the Local Search space) as well as game mechanics.
Game Mechanics is hot right now because companies like Foursquare.com and Groupons.com are experiencing insane growth rates and valuations because of it. But game mechanics have been having dramatic impacts on industries for decades, even going back to 1979 when Texas International Airlines created the first Frequent Flyer game and it was so successful every other airline was forced to adapt or die. There is almost no industry that can’t be changed in this same way as long as a company in the industry properly deploys game mechanics. Over the next decade we’ll see game mechanics become ubiquitous amongst companies. Consumers will migrate in droves to companies who properly deploy game mechanics because doing business with them is more fun, rewarding and even addictive.
So what are game mechanics?
Definition: A series of rules and functions that tap into our primal response patterns to drive a desired behavior.
Laymans Definition: Creating a game that grows your business.
Below are the four elements that Groupon, foursquare, frequent flyer programs and just about any other successful game all have in common. In addition I’ve included three nice-to-haves.
Thanks to the advent of video on the web content creation is getting more and more niche. One of those niches is entrepreneurship. Videos are popping up all over the web that have incredible insights from some of the best, most successful entrepreneurs in the world.
The tipping point for me was getting setup so I could watch it on my big screen TV from the comfort of my couch. To my surprise it’s super easy to hookup your laptop to your TV, it took me less than 15 minutes and cost me less than $100. Here’s a link to connect your laptop to your TV and here’s a mouse that will work on your couch.
Here are some of my favorites websites with videos for Entrepreneurs:
- TWIST (this week in start-ups) - Probably my favorite, Jason Calacanis does 2 hour interviews with top entrepreneurs, venture capitalist and business experts focused around educating and motivating start-ups. The site is hard to navigate through older episodes, but their are some gems hidden in there.
- Mixergy - Similar to this week in start-ups but the interviews are 1 hour and the video quality is poor (just two people on web cams talking back and forth) but the content is golden.
- Entrepreneur.com - Interviews with some of best and brightest entrepreneurs
- Stanford - Presentations and interviews with entrepreneurs well organized and each video is separated by topic so you can quickly get the content you want.
Ever since I saw that magical picture hanging on my cabin wall at summer camp in junior high I’ve had a dream to surf a big wave. The picture was of Laird Hamilton surfing a huge wave which looked unbelievable. I remember telling my cabin mates it was probably computer generated because no one could survive falling on a wave that big. Well clearly I was wrong and as I got older I realized people around the world were surfing huge waves and not only surviving but enjoying some of the most amazing experiences nature has to offer.
About three years ago I decided to make my dream a reality and set a goal to surf a 30 foot wave before I die. The only problem is I’d been running companies for the last 7 years, I was out of shape and hardly surfed a dozen times a year. Most people who brave huge waves are in incredibly good shape and have worked their way up to surfing big waves through 1000’s of hours in the water. I was getting into something way out of my skill level and fitness level and it happened to have a severe consequence attached, death.
It’s Friday the 13th, so here are my 13 rules for success.
Never give up. In my career I have missed payrolls, been behind on payments for every one of my credit cards and, at one point, had amassed more than $12,000 in overdraft fees at $20 each. Looking back I can see that these were all stepping stones for me to achieve financial independence. It’s tempting to quit when your financial situation is looking bleak, but as Thomas Edison said “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
I spent the weekend at Michael Robertson's Ranch. He is one of San Diego's most successful Internet entrepreneurs. He sold MP3.com for over $350M, he also started Lindows (Linux based windows), MP3Tunes.com (cloud based music) and Gizmo5 (voip). There are rumors floating around that Michael sold the domain name MP3.com for $350M, got lucky and never built a great company. That is, well, just a rumor.
What people don’t know unless they get a chance to talk to Michael is he built a great company, one that was exploding in organic traffic and revenue before it was purchased. We all know that to generate explosive organic traffic and revenue you need a lot more than just a great domain name.
I started my training today to surf a 30 foot wave. It’s one of my “do before I die” goals. With my current shape I probably couldn’t survive a 20 foot wave hold down but hopefully in the next three months I’ll be ready. The wave I’m chasing down is in Todos Santos, an island off the coast of Ensenada. If the waves don’t kill me the Mexican drug cartel might. Wish me luck. Here are some photos from last season, I’m the wimp on the jetski taking the pictures.
I just finished reading the book “Referral of a lifetime" by Tim Templeton and Ken Blanchard. It’s a quick and easy read to help you systematize your networking efforts. I love systems, they set you free, so I’m a fan of this book. The concept is basic, cold calls don’t work well and are painful, referrals are much more effective at helping you achieve success. The good news is you don’t have to smooze at tons of awkward networking events to make this happen. To generate referrals you need to keep in touch consistently, personally and systematically with the people you already know (which is most likely 200 or more according to statistics).
Send out an email to all the people in your database letting them know that you are committed to keeping in better touch and if there is anything you can do for them “just let me know”
Plan your calendar in advance for keeping in touch throughout the year. If you don’t have someone at your company who can manage the fulfillment of this system you can outsource this to a mail-house. Example: