What Can You Change for the Better Today?

Posted on Categories Business, Life, Technology

The recent passing of Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple caused a lot of stir in the tech community. Mr. Jobs has been a large influence on developers, business owners and people in general.

He has been an influence on me in two specific ways:

1.) Never settle for what people say can not be done
2.) Incorporate great design into everything

If you have never seen this, its Mr Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. The dots connect a lot more when you look backwards, and it applies even more in this video Continue reading What Can You Change for the Better Today?

How Amazon Manages Their Complex Internal Technology Team

Posted on Categories Business, Startup, Technology

Amazon is an interesting company for many reasons. From a technology perspective, they are very forward thinking. From Amazon.com bookstore, to the kindle book reader to the amazon cloud (for the non-techies, this is a place for developers to build their applications on and share with the world)

Werner Vogels (CTO of Amazon) gives a 30 min talk on Amazons growth story and how they organize their teams and think of various problems.

I found this very relevant to me and the stage of my company where I am building out my team and making various decisions on the technologies that we use.

Werner Vogels: Amazon and the Lean Cloud from HackFwd on Vimeo.

Three Tips For Simple Email Relationship Building

Posted on Categories Business

This post is geared to those that feel they can improve on their professional email relationship building skills.

If you need a favor and can’t think of someone right away to help you (or won’t help) – you can improve your (email) relationship building skills.

Tip #1 – Reply Back.

If you email (or Facebook message, text, etc) someone you have not talked to in a long time asking a question or a favor and they reply back – send an email back thanking them. Even if they could not help you. If they took the time to read, think if they can help you or not, you need to thank them for trying.

If you don’t, it makes it very clear that you don’t really care about that persons time, and you are only after your own needs. No one wants to be friends with or do business with a selfish person. It is a sure way to burn that bridge.

Tip #2 – No one knows who you are.

The person reading your email has no idea how you speak or how smart & creative you are or that you just donated $1 million to orphans right before you sent this email. The only way they can judge you is by the spelling, grammar and content in your email, so use proper english. Spelling mistakes happen, and do your best to avoid these (very easy with all the spell checkers built into every email system) but please don’t use acronyms like thnkyu or pls. Even if you are replying on your iPhone, take the time to write properly.

Tip#3 – The military have it right when it comes to addressing people.

Know your place. If you are younger, don’t call the other person buddy. If this is your second email to the person ever, don’t shorten their name from Richard to Dick. This does not mean your email has to be dry and boring like a robot wrote it, but understand that just because you like people calling you buddy and like your name shortened, others might not. If gravity, light and even time itself can be relative – then so can personal preferences. Take some tips from the military ranking structure and have a little formality when you address people.

For the first 10 emails until you know each other, stay formal. Even if you do know the person and have met, still stay formal unless you have built a personal relationship. When in doubt, keep it formal.

Did You Know There Are Only 4 Types of Business Models on the Web?

Posted on Categories Business, Startup

Just four. When I first hear that, I thought whoa, that seems like a very small amount. Here they are:

1. Monetized through advertising (I.e. get paid from advertisers when people click on the ads on your page, or when you show ads on your page)
2. Transaction Models (charging a fee for a transaction i.e. API Calls or credit card processing fees)
3. Premium, User-Paid services (i.e. monthly fees for a product or service)
4. E-commerce (selling tangible merchandise online)

When we first started viafoura (known then as WhoTheMan) we tried the first business model (advertising). To be a great advertising business, you need great content and lots of traffic. But we were not good at creating content, nor good at driving traffic. We could have learned this, but the founders (Jesse and I) were naturally very good at building great products and selling it, which is why we pivoted to creating viafoura and thus fell into the the third business model: user paid services.

What do you think, are there other core business models online? Comment below:

Investors: Your Next Investment Should Have an Athlete as A Founder

Posted on Categories Business, Sports, Startup

When I think back to when I first started doing taekwondo at the age of 13 and reflect on how I trained, I am truly amazed at the similarities between running a startup and being a competitive athlete (I was on the Canadian National Taekwondo team from 2003-2007).

There are a lot of transferable skills that I took from my athletic career to my business career. I will list a few and give some specific examples on how they effected me. Before I do, I want to make a sport/business words translation legend:

Sport Word
Training Partner
Team Mate
Business Word
Business or Product
Business Owner
You Got Funded
$1 M in revenues
$10 M in revenues
$100 M+ in revenues

Continue reading Investors: Your Next Investment Should Have an Athlete as A Founder

The Worst Cover Letter I’ve Seen – and How to Fix it.

Posted on Categories Business, Startup, TechnologyTags , , ,

I have been trying to hire a team of 10 in the next 5 months which means that I have seen a fair amount of resumes and cover letters. There is one that stood out from the rest. It made me laugh, then sad for a bit, and then laugh again. I will highlight what was wrong with this persons approach and then identify why it was wrong, and what I was actually looking for.

This person actually applied twice (I will call her Kim). Once in 2010, and again in 2011. The position in 2010 was for a web developer, and in 2011 it was for a system admin (two completely different jobs). The resume was exactly the same and the cover letter as also exactly the same. That was problem number 1.

Continue reading The Worst Cover Letter I’ve Seen – and How to Fix it.

Three Tips on How to Hire a Developer

Posted on Categories Business, StartupTags , ,

I have read a lot about how to hire a great developer (programmer, engineer whatever you like to call them) because I have to hire some. And when I need to do something new, I usually do a lot of reading on it first.

There are lots of theories, tools, methods, and events you can attend to hire them. This is a funny article on the subject of hiring a great developer.

I would like to summarize my readings into three tips to bring on really great developers:

Continue reading Three Tips on How to Hire a Developer

Hello Internets

Posted on Categories Business, Sports, Startup, Technology, User ExperienceTags ,

Hello Internets!

This is my first post on my new wordpress platform. I plan to write at minimum weekly on various things that are happening in my life in the world of startups, business, taekwondo and other interesting things. I promise I will try to add as much value to my content as possible. I also want to use this blog as a mental history of the things I have been through in my life.

So welcome, and enjoy.

Ali Ghafour – Age 31