Sunday, February 5, 2012

m&ms #7: Never give up!


Do you know what it means to lose love? If you can’t love your partner anymore? It is just not going to work between the two of you! Well, I once felt the same way with an idea I was developing, I just felt so far away, we did not click any more :), I forced it back then! Yet it did fail.
“Don’t lose passion for what you are doing, love your idea, love your work, and don’t lose hope”.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

m&ms #6: So much to do, so little time!

As the founder of my startup, I was doing almost everything. Coming up with an idea, analyzing it, defining the product around the idea, discussing it and collecting feedback, developing requirements, finding the right technology to built it, bringing in team members to help build it, designing it, designing the UX, implementing the idea, developing the business model and …
“As a founder, you will end up doing a lot of things! One way to do it is to bring experts on board, and another way to do it is you, regardless, there is a lot to be done! I can’t understand how a founder can find time to sleep, or go on trip while building his startup, especially in the first few years”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

uh-oh to ta-da Moments, Marshmallow Challenge!

The challenge is pretty simple, and interesting. People are distributed into teams of four. In eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.

What is so interesting about this challenge is the observations Tom Wujec presented in his Ted talk(http://bit.ly/rKOoBX) : recent kindergarten graduates score better than business students. Why? Because business students are trained to find the single right plan and then execute on it. Kids just do it, fail, learn what works, and then adapt. Sounds familiar, right? It is the same as Fail-Fast-Fail-Often or Fail Fast, Succeed Sooner!

What is also interesting is the diversity of the team and how executive admin affected CEO’s achievements because they know the process and know how to facilitate.

See also how incentives affected low skilled teams:

I recall another exercise was given at a scrum master training course, where the instructor James Coplien (http://amzn.to/skE2Ov & http://linkd.in/u6IQLT) divided the students into two teams, one with a project manager role and another one with an engineering role. He asked everybody to choose two in his/her mind from the team. He then explained the problem to the teams: each one should stand exactly one meter away from the two he/she chose. He asked the project managers team to come up with a plan on how to do that, and asked the other team (engineers) to just do it. Project managers spent the whole time trying desperately to come up with a plan, and they failed (I was among them :D), while the other team did it in no time.

A number of lessons learned from these observations

  • Do things fast, learn what works and what won’t work, then iterate
  • Teams should collaborate and work together very quickly
  • Team members should have the skills to be able to take on complex activities / tasks
  • Self organization
  • Diversity of the team is important (cross functional team as we call it in Scrum)

This is applicable in almost everything entrepreneurs do! This also applies to software development even in an established business, and almost everywhere else. Here are some examples from my personal experience:

  • Scrum
    • Build software systems iteratively! Don’t over design, eliminate waste (learn), and release smaller, yet shippable parts of the system each sprint.
    • Instead of spending months designing the system, bring in your senior team members, architects, DBA’s, and whoever is needed. Ask them to come up with an abstract implementation within two weeks to what the system should look like. Working code is delivered instead of documents! Enough design is made instead of long months designing something that will not see its way to implementation (most of the time).
  • Product Management
    • Instead of building the perfect product in isolation, build a smaller version of your product, yet with enough features, and go out there, get real feedback, and then iterate again!
    • Deliver smaller amount of features each time you iterate, keep going back and forth with your users, always listen, and always iterate with better experience / features.
  • Entrepreneurs
    • Instead of living alone with your brilliant idea, talk about it with people that you trust! In worst cases, you will find out that there is a similar product out there! Fail Fast.
    • Get your product out there as fast as possible, and then iterate.
  • Software Engineers
    • Instead of implementing the complete feature at once, take the iterative approach (such as in TDD - I’m not with TDD, just an example). Write a smaller code that compiles and works with the other part of the system, and then iterate.
    • Continuous integration - keep integrating part of the system with the system, that will enable you to discover bugs and problems early in the development.

With this approach, I do believe that you will lose fear (perfection), keep failing until you do it, and very fast. You, and your team should work in harmony to achieve that. Failing is an opportunity to learn, and one step to your success.

Links

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/en//id/837
http://marshmallowchallenge.com/Welcome.html
http://www.feld.com/wp/archives/2009/04/the-best-entrepreneurs-know-how-to-fail-fast.html
http://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2011/08/31/fail-fast-fail-often-fail-by-design/
http://marshmallowchallenge.com/Instructions.html

Friday, November 11, 2011

m&ms #5: Somebody for sure can do it!

I was struggling in raising a fund for one of my early startups, and I wasn’t able to pull the trigger! The team was good and the technology was there. However, I wasn’t able to do it! I was focusing on the wrong side! Or maybe I was right in focusing on technology and getting the product out there, however, this is part of the execution, and far from being all of it!
"Learn how to execute! Everybody can, and the simplest way to do it, if you know you can’t do it, bring on board someone who can do it! Simple ;)”

Saturday, November 5, 2011

m&ms #4: Stolen Idea? Time to move on...

I was super excited about an idea, yet I kept it to myself. I was afraid that someone would steal it :), so naive you say? :D. I’ve been through a number of startups now, and I’ve learned that if anyone can execute on the idea better than I do, then let him/her have it :). This is not the lesson I’m trying to share with you, however, you should talk to people and get feedback. I’ve disclosed nearly every idea I have, well almost. I have a bunch of other ideas, however, one of them was stolen by a company in Jordan, and another one was proposed to a team of developers to be built here in Palestine by one of my angel investors! Did that hurt me? Not at all, actually it made me feel good. Knowing that people are trying to steal my ideas means that I have a good ideas, worth being stolen :D.
“Circle of trust, every entrepreneur should have one, where he/she can bounce ideas, get rapid and quick feedback, especially from people in the field”

Friday, November 4, 2011

m&ms #3 You have to see it to believe it...

Joining G.ho.st in 2005 helped a lot to understand the other side of the equation. It is not just technology, actually the easiest part is the technology, well most of the time. Working with great entrepreneurs, and witnessing the whole process was so educational, and feeling it as we go was just above expectations! This is something you can’t read it in books. Working with other engineers and business professionals was a tremendous addition to my knowledge, experience, and most of all, the way I think.
“Don’t live in your own island, go out there, work with other entrepreneurs, learn from them, and when you are ready, do your thing.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011

m&ms #2: Dealing With Problems and Challenges

Years after, and during my work with outsourcing companies, I’ve been exposed to a lot of problems and challenges, both in the customers needs and in the way we build software to address it. Exposure to problems and challenges pushed me to build another project. We spent some real money on this, but we were super slow, and Yahoo announced its acquisition of a company that is doing almost the same of what we are building, so we gave up months after the announcement.
“Go as fast as possible to the market, but don’t compromise on values! You should learn where to draw the line. Good enough, not bad, and not perfect, just good enough.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

m&ms # 1 : There’s always a first time for everything :)


Here is my short story, it started a long time ago, early after my graduation in 2000. First lesson, there was something in my genes that pushed me to start working on a startup back then. Entrepreneurship was zero back then, yet I started working on a number of projects. I can’t claim that any of them have grown to be considered as a startup, but tries counts :).
“There must be something in the genes that influence us to go after our dreams”

Making Mistakes - m&ms

Making mistakes is the best thing you can do. “The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake - you can’t learn anything from being perfect.”~ Adam Osborne.

m&ms is a series of posts, where I share, by each, a single personal mistake I did. I used the name m&ms because I love m&m’s, delicious, too many flavors with so many different colors to choose from. For me, the joy of facing challenges, making mistakes, solving them, and learning is almost the same as enjoying m&m’s :). This is m&ms #0.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Qais not delivering a feature :)











This was after releases X. As you can imagine, Qais did not deliver all required features, as a result, he spent some time up there! iChalky is a very nice iPhone application, using the build-in accelerometer, you can mess up with peoples lives, exactly the way i did to Qais. Even my 2.5 years old son loved it (I don't want to say what he did to Qais).

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ichalky/id289890666?mt=8

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My LifeStory @ Timevel

LifeStory is a list of events, very spacial ones that were captured by photos somewhere on the planet. You don't create a LifeStory, it is just there as a result of your collaboration using Timevel's new social dimensions.



This is not a slide show, neither a list of photos. It is a LifeStory, generated as a result of my collaboration and socialization on Timevel, and it is pretty social and cool. I login to Timevel using my Facebook credentials, no registration process needed, and there I'm standing in a Time Machine :-).

In Timevel I can really (but not literary ;-)) travel over time, travel to locations where I used to hangout, study, live or even visited, and experience being there for the second time.

The experience of Time Travel is provided thorough photos added by other users, and who knows, you might see your self in the past. If you do, please tag your self in that photo, process may take sometime as the owner of the photo should approve your tag, but once approved, you are there my friend. Not just that, you become a part of a moment, people and things tagged in that specific photo in LifeStory. So I hope you will find a photo of you with a celebrity, that might be worth money!

LifeStory is dynamic, meaning as you add more photos, tags, and comments to Timevel, it will be reflected there, and you might become famous with more than 1000 in your LifeStory.

Here is another interesting LifeStory for Jerusalem

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

iRun, Bringing health and knowledge in one workout!





"i" in iRun stands for Information, and the iRun all together describes the fact that you can earn information and gain knowledge as well as health while running, simply by using nike+, iPod, and audible.

iRun is not a trade mark or a new trend, it is just a very simple description of the process of running and gaining knowledge at the same time. 

Social workouts is a social enabled workout! It seems everything is becoming social enabled nowadays! Nike+iPod sport kit helps you achieve just that. A small device, integrated with iPod (or watch), will record the distance and pace of walk and run. Then using spacial software or iTunes to sync that data with NikePlus user account, which in turn processes and presents it to the user as achievements using colors, bars and charts, and save it online for the user to use, challenge and then socialize and collaborate around them.



My workouts for a number of days, showing my accomplishment and my workout records. I'm orange now, meaning that i reached the second level. I can share this information, and use it to analyze my overall training.




Collectively, nikeplus users ran around 313,734,370 kilometers as recorded on nikeplus.com, and it's increasing each second. 

iPod and the nike+ application installed on your iPod touch for example, allow you to pick which playlist you want to listen to while running. For me, I use the watch and leave the iPod unattached so I can easily shut it down or change the songs or playlist while not pausing or restarting the workout. 

Audible added a new dimension to this, now user can listen to books and other audio content while running. During the last period, I completed around three books while running. Running records, sharing the running experience with others, and listening to books was, in my opinion, worth sharing, and an extraordinary experience. For busy people such as myself, people with a very limited time to read books, this is really an amazing opportunity for them to maintain a good shape, health and at the same time read (listen) more. 

Audible specializes in spoken experience, providing digital audio editions of books, newspapers and magazines, original programming and TV and radio subscription. These are a wide range of options to consider while you are running. 

iRun introduces a new parameter to running experience that is worth tracking and sharing. Instead of just recording which tracks or playlist the user is listening to while running, they can now also track and share which book they are listening to. Users can also start competing on the number of chapters they completed in addition to the number of km they ran. 

Not all audio content is perfect for such experience, however, most of them are at least the ones picked by audible. Users can also share and argue about which books or audio content is better for running than others.