The best music of 2012

5 ינו

I'll first admit. The title is a bit misleading. You know, SEO and shit :). This post is about the best music I heard in 2012. 2012 is long gone (a week already!) but I still wanted to share with you people the music that rocked my world in the past year. It's not necessarily music that was created or released in 2012. Just good music I heard this year. You can hear everything in a playlist. So, without further ado, here it is:

Bill Fay – This World

One of the best albums of the year. Take the time to listen to all of it. I promise you won't be disappointed.

 

Of Monsters & Men – Mountain Sound

 

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Man On Fire

 

Alexander Ebert – Million Years

Alexander is the lead singer of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.

 

alt-J – Tessellate

 

City and Colour – The Grand Optimist

 

Shearwater – Home Life

This band really reminds me of Talk Talk (great band from the 80's). I'm sure they were influenced by them to some extent.

 

Flotation Toy Warning – Donald Pleasance

 

Daughter – Smother

 

Explosions in the Sky – Your Hand in Mine

 

Cherry Ghost – People help the people

 

The Lumineers – Scotland

 

R.E.M & Neil Young – Country Feedback

This one's from 1998 but I just found it this year and I think it's great.

 

John Martyn – Glory Box

This is also something I'm pretty ashamed to admit that I only found this year. I say it's better than the original. What do you say?

 

Sun Kil Moon – Tonight The Sky

One of my favorite bands ever that I finally got the chance to see live this year. Everything that Mark Kozelek ever touched is pure gold.

 

Daniela Spector – Hiroshima

Something in Hebrew for the end. The amazing Daniela Spector.

 

There are so many songs I wanted to add to the list but decided it's getting too long. Maybe I'll do a second part. 2012 was a really good music year. Let's hope 2013 will be even better.

Have a great 2013 and let me know what was your best music of 2012 by leaving a comment. Feel free to subscribe to my channel on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/user/gilsaaaaa. Thanks!

 

 

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2012 in review – great report on my blog by WordPress

31 דצמ

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Followups are key for success

6 נוב

As  always I'll start with the soundtrack to this post. You can read about why I add soundtrack to every post I write. This is this post's soundtrack:

A few days ago I followed up with a friend of mine (Eran Gilad, CEO of Tracx, a great tool for social media management). Just an arbitrary catching up. In his response he wrote something that hung in my head for a few days. He said "followups are key for success". And as much as it's an obvious thing to say I think that people are underestimating followups. Here I'll give a few tips on how to remind yourself to followup, after every meeting. Even if the meeting is not that important for you. You can never know. Always remember that you have to be nice to people and appreciate the time they spent to meet you. Exactly the way you expect people to treat you. People are busy and they are not sitting around waiting for you to have a meeting with them. And after a meeting you have to followup again and again to make sure that shit gets done the way you discussed in the meeting.

I won't go over on how to followup. There are tons of posts out there that tackle exactly that. I'll just share how do I remind myself to followup and catch up with people:

  1. Don't mark the reminder for the meeting as read

    If you're used to remind yourself about meetings with an email then don't mark this email as read until you send a followup email. Other reminders people use are SMSs or notifications on their Smartphone. The same can be applied to these reminders. Don't clear the reminder until you followed up  to every meeting you attend!

  2. Put the business card you got on your screen

    Silly, but it works. Sometimes, after a day full of back-to-back meetings, half of my screen is covered with business cards.
    It reminds me of how my parents browser looks like because they somehow installed too many toolbars and now they have a thin strip that actually shows the website content…

    Too mant toolbars

  3. Use a CRM

    Use a tool that will manage for you all your sales leads, investors, advisors and  generally all your contacts. While SalesForce is the leading CRM software out there I prefer something much simpler. I use Streak. Streak turns your Gmail into a CRM and it's doing it great. You can put your contacts in boxes such as Sales or BizDev and add reminders so you'll not forget to catch up with people. If you're using other CRM you can use Ecquire to capture contacts in your Gmail and send them to your CRM.

  4. Find out if people are reading your followup emails

    A great tool I love to use from time to time is Bananatag. Bananatag lets you know if people are opening your emails and if they clicked on links. This tool lets you know that your message arrived and was read by the people you send emails to. Sometimes email gets into people's spam folder and not a lot of people will check there for your email so a lot of times you'll have to make sure that people got your email. It also lets you know if people are interested in what you're offering. A lot of times it helped me figure out if I need to send another email or just get the message that the person is not interested.

  5. Every meeting should have action items

    Every meeting you make should have action items after it. For all the parties at the meeting. Without action items the meeting is a waste of time. And action items are the best way to remind you to followup. This is your motivator. You want the people in the meeting to execute on their action items because they're probably things that will help you. That's got to make you want to followup, summarize the meeting and let everybody know what their action items are. Add a reminder with Streak to followup again after a few days.

I'll be happy to hear if you have any other tips for following up and recommendations on tools that might help.

Some good music I heard lately

11 אוק

For sometime now I've been in a constant battle with myself whether to turn this blog to entirely about my entrepreneurial experiences or leave some music nuance to it. Finally I decided  that the both can co-exist. Shocking, I know. I'll have just music posts and in non music posts I'll add soundtrack. Let's see what will be the feedback :).

Well, this post is only music. I just wanted to share some really good stuff that I heard recently. Not a lot of text. Just music. No worries. I got it all on a playlist here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NF4H3e_q2k&list=PLWGFwoBp4qX7vi8bjZiX1wUmy8Vg-SEr4&feature=plpp_play_all

The Lumineers – Scotland

A band I got to know in the hardly strictly bluegrass festival that went down in SF. Great band and this is one of their best songs.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Man On Fire

Check out the video as well. Brilliant. And of course a great song.

Odawas – Alleluia

This one is a bit weird but amazing nonetheless.

Arcade Fire – Suburban War

The Middle East – Blood

A band I came across lately. I really recommend on listening to more songs from them.

Bon Iver – Holocene

Just went to their concert. It was really good. This song always makes me want to travel. Check out the video. You'll feel like that as well.

Thanks for listening. Let me know if you liked it and if not go hear Lady Gaga. I'm just kidding. If you didn't like it I'll love to hear about it. F**k the Accolades. Seek the Criticism.

Being in an accelerator program

6 אוג

I started this blog as a blog for music but since then it basically became a blog where I write about entrepreneurship and things related to the company I co-founded. But I want the things to connect somehow so I decided that from now on I'll add a soundtrack to the posts I write so that people can enjoy the music I love while reading. The soundtrack for today will be 2 songs of Pearl Jam which I recently saw live 2 nights in a row :).


We just crossed the mid-line in the accelerator program we're part of – IDC Elevator. I talked with a lot of people lately that asked me why should I go into an accelerator program. I'll try to answer some of the questions people ask me and some of the attitudes people come with, and answer them from my experience so far.

"Should I give up equity just for space?"

This means you don't understand what an accelerator can give you. Accelerator is much more than space. To keep this post short I won't count all the benefits other than space. For that you can probably use the accelerator's website and talk with graduates. I'll just say that I strongly believe that it will get your company funded much faster and more importantly (remember that funding is never your goal), it will get you to the market with your product much faster.
Another small thing about the space. This is not just a regular space. It's a space full with brilliant people that can help your startup at any stage.

"I don't need an accelerator because I know everything"

This is the I know everything approach. With this approach, you're right. You don't need an accelerator. Accelerator is a place where you need to come to open minded and learn from other people's experiences and failures. If you don't want to learn then this is not the place for you. You know what, entrepreneurship is not for you.

"I can raise money by myself"

I bet you can. The only problem is that most of the times funding is a long process and through that process one of the team members should be fully dedicated to raising money. In case you didn't get that, one of your team members, won't do almost anything other than dealing with the funding process. And think about it. You're starting a startup. Your team is probably 2-4 people. Can you allow yourself to lose 25%-50% of your work force? When you're in an accelerator money comes to you. And if you're good you'll get enough money to get you rolling. Always remember that when you're part of an accelerator your potential investors due diligence is almost done.

"I can reach any mentor I wish"

Like the money part, I bet you can. But how much time will it get you to reach the right people? When you're in an accelerator the right people come to you. It's just up to you to pick a few that can really help your business and maintain the relationship. Another thing to consider when you're sure you can reach everyone. These mentors are usually successful people and their time for help is very limited. Put yourself in their shoes. When they get a request for help from an accelerator, where they can help a few companies in almost the same time, or from you, who do you think they'll choose?

"My company is too far along"

If you raised $10M in a $100M evaluation you're probably right. But if you're an early/seed stage company or if you just have a prototype, an accelerator program can really help you get to the market fast. There's a huge difference between 2 guys working from home in their boxers (each one in his house, not together :)) to 2 guys working in a space with a lot of other great companies. In a space where experts come and go at a rate that you can't even track. And the most important thing in my opinion is that it makes your company real. Other people, usually really strong people, have an interest in your company. You have a network of people who know a thing or two about the entrepreneurial world that will do anything for your company to succeed. And believe me, this is a lot.

 

What's the bottom line then? I guess I'm biased but I'm in favour of entering such programs but I recommend to pick the suitable program for your company carefully. Not all the programs out there are equal and not all of them will get you accelerated. If you decided to go for an accelerator program (and get accepted) I suggest you read this great post from Tal Raviv.
And another suggestion is to hear a different opinion so go read this post.

I'll love to hear your thoughts so feel free to comment. Thanks for reading.

Software piracy – are we all thieves?

20 פבר

I'll start by saying yes. Most of us. But it's not really our fault.

First of all, for all you bleeding hearts out there, do you really want to tell me you never used a pirated copy of a software because paying 50$ for a single use seemed way too much? You never downloaded an MP3 of a song you really liked because you didn't want to pay for the whole CD? Downloaded the episode you missed of your favorite series? Or maybe just jail braked your iPhone/iPad/PS/Wii…? You probably see where I'm going with it. We've all been there. And yeah, this makes us thieves. While we're paying for anything that we can feel, somehow it looks OK for us to steal something that's virtual but maybe took much more time and effort to produce than the tangible goods we're used to buy.

I say it's not our fault. If you don't mind I'll focus on the software industry but it's the same in the music industry, movies industry, mobile apps, etc.

For years now software publishers have made everything they can to keep us away from paying them. Long registration forms, giving away our payment credentials to yet another publisher,  serial numbers, selecting the right version and it goes on and on. And, on top of that, the irrational price that has no proportion to how we're going to use the software. Why should I pay a backup utility 50$ when I'll probably use it once in a few months? It's not like I'm sitting all day long backing things up and then restoring them…

So, publishers saw that we just don't pay for their software however we do use it. This fact made them come to the amazing conclusion that we use illegal copies. And what did they do next? Started spending tones of money on the best copy protection, bullet proof, can't be pirated licensing. But guess what? That didn't work. So they started looking for other places to bring money from. From affiliate programs to toolbars to ads and what not. Making money from everything they can install on the user's machine except of their own software. The installed software became a channel for the user's machine.

Even though we're at the 21st century and SaaS is becoming really popular we still barely see software publishers that understood that to get users buying your products you need to be nice to them. We, at Licensario, offer a different approach. We think that software publishers should stop wasting resources to find new ways to say NO to users. Instead, we say, go ahead and say YES to your users. What do I mean by that? I started this post by saying that publishers made it really hard for us to pay. It's time to ease the process. Make it dead simple to pay. Be nice to your users. Offer them flexible payment plans. Offer subscriptions. Offer payments for usage (pay-per-use). Don't let your users go wandering in a website for the suitable version, do it in-app. License your features or at least make it simple for the user to understand what she's paying for. Use micro payments. And don't ask them for their credit card. Users should have one account for all software content – across platforms.

This model works. Guaranteed. Apple already proved it with their app store. SaaS has proven it.

We will not stop piracy. Neither do SOPA and PIPA. I wonder if anyone can. But it's definitely possible to raise the buy rate. If buy rates are higher in the gaming world where people are willing to pay for virtual goods such as swords or the best sheep in town why can't it be with software? Software publishers should treat their features as virtual goods and people will pay for them when they need them the most. Just give them the option and be kind. You'll be surprised on users' willingness to pay:

Public opinion strongly favors intellectual property (IP) rights: seven PC users in 10 support paying innovators for their creations to promote more technology advances.

I added a poll at the end. Maybe it will shed some more light of what makes it easier for people to pay for software, apps or any digital content. I'll appreciate if you'll answer it.

If you like this post I'll appreciate if you'll like or follow Licensario.

Startup life. The bad days. (*)

11 פבר

Entrepreneurs are dreamers. Of course there is money involved but mostly they dream about how they'll change the world. But sometimes reality strikes. And many times it strikes bad.

A few weeks ago we (at Licensario) had a crappy week.

Before that things were going really good for us. We felt like we were going in the right direction. We were dreamers. And then, one morning, you wake up into a storm. Reality strikes.

I wanted to write this post on that week but I'm glad I didn't. Things got back on track since then. We're starting our beta and there's a lot of interest from companies we haven't dream of talking with at this stage. I guess I wanted to write this blog to focus for a minute on the down side of things. I think that most of the stories we hear are of companies that succeeded which is great but there are more who didn't. And even those who succeeded had bad days.

So, how do you get past the bad days? The best thing in my opinion is to remember that failure is the path to success (I'm sure that an old smart man said it sometime… If not, I'm taking the copyrights on this one for myself :)). I don't have the statistics but I bet most of successful people failed a few times before they got to where they are. If you believe in what you're doing and you're sure your idea is a game changing one then give yourself a minute to be down and then get back on the horse. The market is not waiting for you to get over some bad news. I know that some people will read it and say that it's easier said than done. Well, bullshit I say. Sure, when you're down it seems like everyone around you is having fun, making a lot of money and on their way to success. Always remember, that's a load of crap. It's just like that when we have a girlfriend we're sure that all the women out there wants us. Yeah right. The fact you've got a girl beside you doesn't mean that you're not the same ugly dude. It's just a matter of perception. Remember, we're all human beings. We share the same fears.

You need to keep in mind that things change fast. Especially when you're running a startup company. It's an emotional rollercoaster and it goes fast. It's not a ride where you just sit back and relax. It's not a 9 to 5 ride. And it's definitely not a ride for people with a low breaking threshold. But, with that said, I'll recommend it to everyone who's thinking about taking the risk. Unless you're a big shoot in a company there's no other way for you to take critical decisions. A life changing decisions for your company. And that's the exciting part of the rollercoaster ride. You learn in a day more than you learn in a month in an office job. You learn about how to run a company, how to take an idea from the grounds up but the most important thing is that you learn about yourself.

You don't get used to bad news but you can definitely learn how to handle them better.

(*) The credit for the title goes to my partner, Igor Shapiro