Thursday, April 17, 2008

Talking heads

I'm not the CEO of a household-name consumer electronics gotta-have-it device company, yet. So I spend a lot of time drinking a lot of decaf (and the occasional half-caf) with a lot of other CEO wannabes in a lot of our fair city's coffee shops. There's at least two on every block, and very few are Starbucks.

Some people call this networking. Some call them meetings. As in your cell phone rings while you're showing your fellow wannabe the latest widget on your web site, and you answer it with, "Can I call you back? I'm in a meeting."

I calls it like I sees it -- my daily or twice daily or even three times a day constitutional.

Often these get-togethers are a dud. You know everyone in the room, you've heard their story a dozen times, you've opened your contact database to them on more than one occasion.

But sometimes you hit pay dirt.

Boulder Open Coffee Club meets every other Tuesday at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. (half-caf definitely in order) at a fine establishment called The Cup.

I didn't recognize him at first, because it's probably been a year since we've talked. But he came up to me after all the newbies had introduced themselves and the "cocktail party" segment of the club began. I didn't even recognize his name, but that's not surprising given the mid-life syndrome more and more of us succumb to every day, CRS (can't remember shit).

But once he mentioned his former company's name -- a local consumer electronics firm that has hit the big time -- it all fell into place. "You are somebody I really need to talk to," I cried. "I'm so glad you recognized me."

He gave me his new card with his new 411, and I promised to set up a coffee meeting pronto.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

First conference call

3D Radio had its first official conference call with a potential client today. One of the big names we've been trying to get to notice us for months.

After a series of introductory emails our potential business partner asked to set a date to talk. Then they wanted to know what number to call to reach us.

Like many startups we all have day jobs and we all work virtually. Mike and I both work at home, but our offices are on different floors of the house, and it's pretty amazing how little we interact during the day. Neither of us ever enjoyed office comradery anyway. Our colleague Jim works at his home office in Denver.

And like most startups we don't have cash to spare on fancy telecom setups. So I told our contact I'd figure out a conference bridge and let him know the details. It wasn't hard to find and sign up. Before the big day four of us gave it a try, and, despite an obviously low on the VoIP QoS totem pole connection, it worked.

So I forwarded our bridge number to Big Name Company and crossed my fingers.

All in all it went pretty well. The biggest problem was Jim didn't call in on time because the time zone difference confused him. (I don't know why since we're in the same time zone ...)

We went through our deck with our contact, and I discovered right away I really gotta put page numbers on it. A good learning experience.

Of course, because we're the founders Mike and I were enthusiastic as hell. And because they are the potential spenders, the folks on the other end of the freebie conference bridge were subdued (but maybe they just sounded that way because of the less-than-clear connection).

"Well, would you use it?" I asked. "Oh, I'm kind of lukewarm," was the ho-hum response. "Besides, I'm just the go-between. I was told to find out more about 3D Radio."

We hope the guy or gal further up the chain of command is a few degrees hotter than the scouting party.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Best writing advice, ever

Seth Godin says it all.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

When the phone finally rings

Or your email gets a reply. You start to feel more like an entrepreneur and less like a telemarketer.

We've been reaching out to potential partners for what seems like an eternity. OK, it's only been about six months, but without positive responses that time seems endless.

But in the last week suddenly we've gotten people on the phone rather their voicemail greetings. Those we've left messages for have called back. Our emails aren't languishing in cyberspace -- the recipient has written back asking for more.

The outcome isn't business, yet, but several conference calls are scheduled for upcoming weeks.

Maybe the stars are coming into alignment for 3D Radio. The sun is in Aries after all, so we maybe we're just feeling more bullish (even if the market isn't).

But more likely is we're getting better at pitching. I know I'm spending more time putting together initial packages and trying to make that deck more interesting, interactive and funny. I'm not taking the gatekeepers' attempts to keep us out like insurmountable obstacles.

Persistence, timing, confidence -- who knows how to explain our breakthrough.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

All in a day's work

It's 4:30 p.m. Do you know where your work day went?

Not much of it wound up being spent on promoting 3D Radio, I'm afraid.

Two health-care-related appointments took up a good part of the day. It wasn't only dealing with the actual practitioners -- X-ray tech, physical therapist, massage therapist (truly therapeutic, painful, and covered by insurance) -- that ate up my day. Paperwork, transportation, errands along the way, stop-and-chats, nature and coffee breaks. Before I knew it it was 3, but I'm finally back home with my hand in a bowl of popcorn staring at my to-do list and about to get down to business . . .

. . . when the phone rings. Someone to help with a login problem I had been having with the Boulder TechBootstrap wiki. She walked me through the issue, which didn't help. Then as she futzed with the admin controls, I multitasked by opening the file at the top of my to-do list to clean it up. Many interruptions to try this, check the inbox for a new password, etc. No way to concentrate.

Eventually we resolved one issue only to discover it was an Internet Explorer bug. The workaround -- login with Firefox. OK. I'll do that later, after I get some work done.

Back to editing the file and writing captions for the artwork so I can get the package to the publisher. I'm just about to attach everything to an email . . .

. . . when the phone rings. Someone I've been playing phone tag with is ready to set a date for a meeting. We try to agree to a time, but of course he's in the car without his calendar handy so we set a tentative time, which will require more phone tag to set in stone.

So what am I doing? Am I checking off anything else on that dang to-do list? No, this is the fruit of today's endeavors . . .

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My blog is dead, long live my blog

Someone finally commented on my blog, or so an email told me.

When I logged on to my web site, it was gone. Dead, deceased -- nothing left but a few error messages saying the problem was on line 204 of some godforsaken file I didn't write and had no idea how to find and fix.

This was the outcome of the fancy schmancy blog software recommended by my web host. I had gone to the trouble of downloading the program (going the "act locally, blog globally" approach), configuring the damn thing, uploading a few graphics and actually getting around to write a couple of entries.

A call to my web host, which normally has excellent customer service, didn't help. See, they don't support the software you download to your site, even though they make it super easy to do so by having a link right in your cpanel. "You'll have to ask your web master to clean that up, ma'am," was all he said.

Of course, I'm the web master. But I'm not real techie, I just play one for the sake of 3D Radio. So I've decided to go the SaaS route and let Blogger worry about such things rather than trying to fake any knowledge of coding.

If you want to know more about 3D Radio, our technology that will revolutionize your radio listening check it out at