Three’s Company

I’ve been thinking in terms of 3 a lot lately. For instance, my dream company right now would consist of the following 3 people:

1 Programmer
1 Designer
1 Businessman/Programmer (me)

My current plan of action consists of releasing the following 3 products:

  1. One small “Appetizer” application that I will build and design myself. This will be a good transition step for me and allow me to crank something out relatively quickly and start getting my name out in the technosphere. I’m hoping this will help me generate buzz as well as open a few new doors and aid me in my networking efforts.
  2. A slightly larger scale application that I will build, but outsource for the design. Hopefully I will find someone with similar goals and aspirations and we can team up on future endeavors as well.
  3. And a large scale application that I may form a partnership with the designer from app. above on, or someone else, or go it alone.

It’s only 3 more months until my 30th birthday!!! Which means I’ve lived 1/3rd of my life already, if I’m lucky :).

And, of course, there’s a 3 day holiday weekend coming up! I will probably spend it working, although considering taking it off and enjoying with family.

Did I mention its now 3 o’clock on the 30th?

“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”

Some inspirational quotes from Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computers. These are from a Commencement address he gave awhile back. I stumbled upon the transcript and it is definately worth the read.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Three Words

Video of Roller F****** Coaster

I’ve always said that even if I’m my own boss someday…I’ll still bitch about my boss. Well, I’m not quite my own boss yet, but here goes…I’m a slave driver from hell damnit! I started to watch a little TV last night, and “woop-ah”, I whipped the remote right out of my hands. I wasn’t too happy about that one. I’ve threatened to go on strike against myself at least a dozen times this week.

“That’s it! It’s a walk out! I can’t work under these conditions!”

I’m starting to think Zack might suffer from multiple personality disorder. But on a serious note, I wanted to let you guys know that this blog is definitely not going to be sunny-side up all the time. This is a true story of my journey, which means good times along with the utter crap. So, let’s dig into that a bit, shall we? It’s tough right now because I have a couple important deadlines that I want to meet this week. So, I’m really pushing myself to have my prototype complete and a web-commercial for this blog finished by Monday. Meanwhile, I’m having a hard time staying focused and can’t seem to fully commit myself to my current idea. I’ve found a couple similar ideas out there and it’s building some serious self-doubt. I need to regain my focus and kick that doubt to the curb, but that’s easier said than done sometimes.

There are days when I’m extremely optimistic about what I’m doing, and others I’m thoroughly depressed. Such is life I guess! It does suck though when you think you’ve come up with a truly original idea that you’re passionate about and someone beats you to it. I can’t stand being unoriginal and this is proving to be a huge obstacle for me. However, it’s one I will overcome. I keep reminding myself that there are good things that can come from being second or third or whatever and I can still be the first one to do it best. I can analyze the competition and market in order to differentiate and better satisfy my target. I can change the product into something that meets similar needs in a whole new and exciting way (which I plan to do). And as long as I stay on task and push forward, I can make this thing happen. No brainstorming new unrelated ideas! No over analyzing and perfecting every little detail! No more excuses! Just take action and get it done!

This is not the most fun rollercoaster I’ve ever been on, but it is one of the most important! I hope I don’t fall off.

Gearing Up For Battle!

Zack with Ax

Well, I did some more extensive research on existing products and after much digging I came across one that is similar to mine. I couldn’t believe my eyes and I’m not sure why. I mean, as usual, every time I think I’m being original there’s at least a billion others brewing up the same thing. Anyways, my first reaction, was “%@#$’n *@#$ motherless $%&*@#$ of a #@$%@#@ – maybe I should choose one of my other ideas from the pile”. Then I realized that once again, I was weaseling out of an idea. So, I slapped myself out of it and fought back the resistance. “Nothing is over! Nothing! You just don’t turn it off!” – First Blood.

In my preliminary research I found products that were semi-similar to mine but still pretty distant. This one is much closer to a head-2-head battle. Mine is still plenty differentiated and clearly better :), but to a lesser extent. After further testing and review of this unnamed persons unnamed application, I found it doesn’t do many of the core functions mine will. While his is ok at doing some of what I’m going for, mine will be AWESOME at doing all of it! While his is convoluted and buggy, mine will be lean, sexy, easy and fun to use. It will embrace all that is Web 2.0, I will be sure to keep it as simple and clear as possible, and you’re gonna love it!

So, all this means is I now have an enemy and it’s time to go to war! This is actually a good thing, because it gives me focus. I now have a bizzaro-Zack to differentiate against and better fit the needs of the market.

Sometimes the best way to know what your app should be is to know what it shouldn’t be. Figure out your app’s enemy and you’ll shine a light on where you need to go.

Getting Real by 37signals

I made a list of the pros and cons of his application and am now ready to draw up my prototype. Hopefully, that will be done today and I can move on to copy-writing it and getting it ready for the designer to take over. Who I still have to select and hire by the way.

It’s all work and no play for me :).

Whats in a name?

Howdy folks! Some of you might be wondering about what exactly my business is going to entail, so let me give you a little more insight. I’ve alluded to starting a business that will basically encompass what I’m doing with this web app as well as future endeavors. In addition to building my own web apps as ideas come along, I will build apps and provide consulting for clients as needed, and possibly some web hosting and video development as well. Rather than storing all my eggs in one basket, I’d like to do some exploring and venture out into other web-related areas as opportunities present themselves. That being said, I don’t plan on spreading myself too thin and getting over diversified in the process. I will stay focused on aligning the business with my competitive advantages to deliver a quality product. In case you’re wondering, I don’t have a business plan written up yet. Basically, the web app is going to be my guinea pig in this business experiment. I am completely focused on my product and getting it to market. Then I can analyze the results and build my business plan based on what I learned along the way.

Right now, I am looking into registering a name for this new business and it’s proving to be much more difficult than I anticipated. The names are easy to come up with (floodgates are open), but much harder to settle on. Everywhere I look now is a potential business name: Stapler Systems, Coffee-Mug Technologies, Fingers Typing on Keyboard Solutions. I actually went as far as to look in my refrigerator and cupboards. Misty walked in and saw me standing in the kitchen with the fridge door wide open and a notepad in hand. It went a little something like this…

Misty: “Uh…whatcha doin there?”
Zack: “Isn’t it obvious? I’m looking for a business name.”
Misty: “Why do I even ask anymore?”
Zack: “How long has this been in here???”

Maybe it’s my inner-perfectionist taking over, but I would like my business name to be something meaningful and unique. This is my stories title after all, and the welcome mat to my business. My story is about building friendly, efficient, high tech systems that help people perform better in their day to day lives. My title needs to be symbolic, easy to remember, and creative. With so many possibilities, it’s hard to pick one and run with it. This process has got me analyzing my past, hobbies, software, favorite movies, books, foods, animals, vegetation, cars, cities, streets, colors, and everything in between. Hence, I am now officially late on one of my first milestones: “Name the Business”. Not Cool! Hmmm…Cool Systems, LLC? That’s not bad.

My next puzzle to solve is whether to build a Sole Proprietorship or a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Any advice? I’m leaning towards sole because it’s less costly and time consuming to set up. However I like the limited liability, unlimited owners, and increased growth potential aspects of LLC’s. I will have to do a little more research on this before I reach a decision. That will have to wait though, as I want to spend the weekend drawing up my initial prototype of the web app.

Off to work I go…

Baby Steps

I now have my project layed out in Base Camp, which if you’ve never used, is a very user friendly web app from the guys at 37 Signals. Here are my milestones…

December 20th is my target launch date. I would also like to get a private beta version out by my birthday, November 28th, when I will be 30 years old. My god…where has the time gone? I better get a move on! Setting up milestones has helped me analyze what needs to happen and has made the process that much more real and exciting. I now have direction and deadlines to keep me in line. However, I am definitely a newbie at managing a commercial web app project, so if you’re laughing right now…I assure you, I don’t get it. Please comment and fill me in.

So now all the pieces are layed out before me and the process is much less overwhelming and complex. At this point, I just have to “Baby step to four o’clock [December 20th]”. (What About Bob)

The End of The Beginning

So, where am I at with this thing? Well, I set up this blog for starters. And, I think that’s as far as I’m willing to go. I’m scared to death.

The End!

Actually, it’s moving along quite nicely. My “homework schedule” is now posted in the home “office”.

I feel like I’m back at college. One of the hardest thing has been cutting out TV, but I think I’ll be alright once the shakes subside. Oh crap, the SEASON FINALE of Hell’s Kitchen is on! Where’s the remote? This is not a drill people! To be continued…

Alright, where was I? Oh right, let me fill you in on what I’ve done as far as setting up this blog and beginning the marketing process. This blog serves as a marketing tool for my business, so let me briefly talk about how I set it up. First of all, it is a WordPress blog that I installed on my web server at home. Something Ventured is a title that I felt nicely embodied what it is I am doing. As always though, whenever I think I’m being original, there’s a million people out there thinking the same thing. When I tried to register the name at GoDaddy I discovered there’s already a “” out there.

As I did a little more investigating, there are tons of sites out there using this phrase. Go figure. I’m unique and original just like everybody else, right? So I tried a few others and finally settled on someventure. I think it works, what do you think? It’s all in how you read it. If you have a half-full glass, it’s “wow, that’s SOME venture you got there!”. If your glass is half empty, it’s “neh, that’s just some venture, who cares”. Or maybe you happen to be drinking a quadruple shot latte or mixed drink and it’s “hey man…some [people] venture…think about it?”. However you read it, it’s a done deal, and I am now officially financially invested in this puppy. A whopping $9.20 too!

Now, the next order of business is how to market my marketing tool. For starters, I setup an RSS News Feed (top right, if you haven’t already subscribed) to run through the all powerful FeedBurner, so I can monitor usage and enhance/promote the feed. I then setup an account with Google Analytics to help me measure traffic to this site. And the first wave of marketing is underway. The search engines are probably crawling as we speak, as I submitted the domain to Open Directory, Google, Yahoo, and other free directories. I linked to it from a few others sites that I own as well as blog search engines Technorati, Weblogs, and BlogSearchEngine. It’s been added to my list of links and I’m hoping others will follow suit (wink). If you use Technorati and want to add this blog to your profile, I added a link in my sidebar just for you.

So, my plan from here is to start participating more in other peoples blogs and get the word out that way. I am also considering posting links in MySpace and other social networking sites. And if you’ve ever heard of the game SecondLife – I may do some advertising there as well. I’ll keep you updated on how my marketing efforts are paying off and new tools I find along the way. If you have any good tips, please comment.


My lovely and talented girlfriend Misty helped me out with the logo. Although she’ll probably never help me again because I was such a pain in the process, right Misty? Misty? Huh, that’s odd, there’s just a note where all her stuff used to be?

Zack’s American Idea

I have been brainstorming ideas off and on for the passed 3 years or so, and have been very close to following through on more than one occasion. Just never quite made the leap. My problem is, I’m my own biggest critic and the master at talking myself out of the follow through. For me, brainstorming a new idea is a lot like riding a roller coaster. I’ll think of a great new tool and I’ll be damned if it isn’t the best idea ever, it will completely revolutionize the web and…aaaaaAAAAAAHHHHHHHhhhhh…you know, on second thought, it’s really not all that unique and great when you think about it, there’s already something fairly similar out there, I should probably pass on this one, but wait a second here, what if I did this, or what about this idea, now this one will definitely revolutionize the web. And up and down we go…wee.

Whenever I start getting close to the line and ready to hop over and take action, I stop myself and toss up a wall: “where do you think you’re going pal?” Suddenly new ideas start popping up and before you know it I’m back on the ride. I know the process so well that I barely trust my own brain anymore. I have to cross-examine: “excuse me brain, but are you telling me this because it’s a good idea, or because, in fact, you just want to escape the current idea and stay in brain storm mode where it’s safe? Answer the question!”. It’s not good when you can’t trust your own brain…can lead to serious migraines!

Anyways, it’s time to silence my inner critic and take action. Over a month ago, I managed to compile a top 10 list of my ideas and in the spirit of all the contest shows on TV these days, I came up with…Zack’s American Idea. Pretty clever name, no? So each week (couple times a week really) I eliminated one of my ideas and sent it home crying to it’s momma. Which, in reality, is me, so that was a bit awkward. I based my elimination decisions on factors like: quality of existing products, market size, complexity, profit potential, usefulness, my passion level, etc.

Now there is only one left. The winner! And this one really will revolutionize the web (audience laughs). What? Seriously folks, I am passionate and excited about this one and can’t wait to show it to you. I think it will prove to be a very useful tool for alot of people. If nothing else, I’ll use it.

Great Wide Open

Hello and welcome to Something Ventured! My name is Zack and this is my personal blog all about starting a professional business. I’m currently 29 years old (this is subject to change), I reside in Portland, Oregon, and I build web apps for a living. This consists of driving to work every day at 6:30am and sitting in a cube until 5pm. I then drive home, watch a little TV, go to bed, and wake up and do it all over again. Quite the rock star life I’m living, eh? Well, that’s about to change. I’m going to take a big risk and roll the dice. I am going to try my hand at being a Web Entrepreneur and start a business. My first ever attempt and I am going to do it all live, right here. This blog will bear witness to all my accomplishments and shortcomings along the way. Good, bad, ugly…I’ll share it all!

Building a web app is my first order of business and the primary focus of this blog. In the process, I aim to be as transparent and informative as humanly possible, without giving away my idea. I started this blog to keep a journal of my efforts, share my journey with the world, and hopefully inspire and motivate those of you in the same boat to take the leap along with me. It’s time to come up with an enthusiastic response to that lingering question: what the heck am I doing with my life? This blog gives me a live audience and provides that much more motivation to follow through and do it right. Make no mistake…there will be mistakes along the way (which I’ll share for your viewing pleasure). I hope this will attract both those anxious to learn the process, like me, as well as those who have been there and can offer advice. If nothing else, I want this to be a good learning experience. If you have good venture tips/tricks/stories, please share.

So now that you know the purpose of this puppy, let me just briefly tell you how I got to this point. After college graduation and living on my parent’s couch for several months searching/begging for work, I finally found a job. And now that I have it, I wonder why I wanted it. It’s now apparent to me that I should have been brainstorming web apps on that couch instead of sending off resumes. But, that’s not how it went down. It’s been around four years now and I’m gradually making my way up the old ladder, although I’m pretty sure it just leads to more ladders. Maybe what I need to be doing is digging holes. This is starting to sound a lot like the game LoadRunner (classic computer game). Anyways, the excitement of being in the real world with a college education and shiny new job has worn off. I am realizing that if I’m not careful I could wind up spending my life in a cubicle, only to retire and upgrade to a nice, roomy coffin. It’s time for me to slap myself out of it and wake up. I need to unplug myself from the Matrix, walk off the set of the Truman Show, wake up the day after Groundhogs Day, make somebody an offer they can’t refuse…something. At very least I need to watch less movies. Seriously though, it’s time for me to make my own way and be my own boss. Any of this sound familiar? Good, then you are definitely in the right place!

Why not step over that line with me? For those of you who already have – congratulations, maybe you can offer us some guidance on our journey. For those of you who are happy where you’re at – congratulations, kick back and enjoy the ride. As for the rest of ya’s – I say it’s time to take a risk. You know the old proverb: nothing ventured, nothing gained? Welp, I reckon it’s time to venture out and find us something. Let’s roll!