Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Noah & Nev take some entrepreneur-ish questions

Noah & Neville answer answer some user questions such as:

-Carrying out an idea. Do you just jump right into every idea you have and start building it, or do research first?

-How do I know if a business can be profitable? Noah shows his quick-n-ghetto cost-analysis formula.

-Do I need venture capital or outside funding for my business?

-Building version 1-point-O of your idea before rolling out something fancy.

-How do you advertise a service (based on Noah’s experience at Mint.com)

-How to find the right customers that actually fork up lotsa money

-How long does it take to be profitable?

-AppSumo cost $60 to build….how did you do that?
(watch our Outsourcing video for that)

-Do you need partners to start a biz? How did AppSumo do it?

-A rapid-fire-re-cap of all the questions (at the end)

Gary Halbert’s Hamburger

There’s no better way to demonstrate this concept than it’s original form, so I won’t change it whatsoever.

But I wanted to further ingrain this concept in my head, so I physically wrote it out.

This is an excerpt from one of the Gary Halbert Letters I’m so very fond of.


Why I’m Not A Doctor

When a kid says, “I wanna be a doctor”, the process usually goes:

  • He graduates high school
  • Enters college and enrolls in some form of pre-med program
  • Goes through years of biology and other doctor-ish courses
  • Goes into the hibernation known as “studying for the MCAT”
  • Applies to medical school

Somewhere along that path 90% (actually I just pulled that statistic out of my ass)….but a LARGE percent of these “I wanna be doctors” never make it.

Most of them soon realize they either hate biology, they’re not smart or hardworking enough to score high on the MCAT…or that they don’t want to work so hard to be a doctor after all.

Unfortunately these realizations often come late in college…when they’ve already spent much of their college career attempting to be a doctor.

Well I’m Indian….which either means I’m destined to become a doctor or an engineer.  Both admiral….however as a high school student I couldn’t REALLY tell if I truly wanted to become one of these…simply not enough experience.

However, I was a fortunate little lad…my high school offered this class where you leave school for three hours every other day to shadow different types of doctors. This is nearly HALF the school day you get to dress up in scrubs and follow different doctors as they make their rounds.

This was a two year course…the first year being preparation, the second year actually following doctors.

The 2nd year came around, and it was SO COOL as a student being able to leave everyday in my car (we had special passes which let us freely walk around school).  We got to shadow an allergists, dentists, general practitioners, sports medicine doctors and a lot more.

By shadowing, I mean we followed them everywhere, including their rounds with patients.  Some places occasionally made us do bitch work (like organizing patient records)…but most places really made us feel we worked in the medical industry.

This was a REMARKABLE OPPORTUNITY for myself, because it made me realize something:

I DIDN’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT BEING A DOCTOR!!

I quickly found out I had the same amount of empathy for others as a crotchety old man.

Have you ever had a great doctor who takes lots of interest in your medical problem?  Yea…that WOULD NOT have been me.

While I enjoyed leaving school for this, I really detested the whole aura of being in a medical facility.  I never think, “I’d love to spend 12 hours a day in a place filled with a bunch of sick people!”  It’s just not my thaang.

95 year old man slowly dying a painful death in a hospital?  PUT THIS GUY OUT OF HIS MISERY! Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep him alive? What’s the end goal of that?

Sometimes I just didn’t understand what the point was.  If I ever became a doctor, I’d be more like Dr. Kevorkian.

I must admit certain specialties such as the allergist had it pretty decent: He had very normal hours, mostly healthy patients (with the exception of runny noses), a family-like community of patients and staff, and roughly $400,000/year in profit. He basically owned a business he could eventually sell.  That was neat….

However the monotony of this got to me.  He enjoyed what he did….but it’s not something I would want.  It simply didn’t interest me.

It was around this time I started getting very much into business and reading about business men whom I admired.  The way they made money was scalable….the way doctors made money was much like how the janitor made money: by the hour.

This did not appeal to me.

A doctor has a very likely chance of making a great living for the rest of their working lives….but a business person can either go broke, do as well, or make it REALLY big….without necessarily having to be present all the time.

THIS appealed to me!

Server Switching

I’ve been paying for web hosting in some form or the other for about 9 years now….and every time I have to transfer from one place to another it’s a bitch.

Correction…it’s actually kind of fun because I’m generally upgrading to something faster and better, but there’s usually all sorts of fun things that go wrong.

The previous server has been acting a little funky munky lately, so all my stuff has to move (to THIS server you’re looking at now)!

It kind of got me thinking about how funny my business is (plus a lot of you other web people):

EVERY DIME I MAKE, EVERY BUSINESS I HAVE, ALL STEMS FROM SOME FILES WHICH CAN ALL FIT ON A THUMB DRIVE.

HA!

How I Got Started In Entrepreneurship

Here’s an interesting story (well…I think it’s interesting because it’s about me) that might inspire some of the younger crowd.

As you may know, I’ve never had a real job before.  I’ve always started businesses that have been successful enough to sustain me and then some.  I’m not saying everyone should choose this route, but it IS pretty damn cool.

Like any result, there’s usually a story behind it, and mine started sometime in middle school when I had a mean peach-fuzz mustache growing and embarrassing gold-rimmed glasses  that took up my whole face.  In a nutshell I “accidentally” became a businessman by starting a CD making business.  I had a CD burner when most people didn’t, I knew about downloading MP3′s when most people didn’t….therefore I had a resources people wanted…and would pay to get.  I ended up making more money than I could stuff into the little change jar in my room.  You can read more detail here.

So some stupid kid stumbles on how to make some money….

I thought it was pretty cool, but never took it super seriously.  Back then my parents provided me with everything I ever wanted, so making money wasn’t top priority.

In high school I started getting more and more into computers.  I took programming classes and was even accepted to the first ever public school course funded by a private organization (or some crap like that). There was a Cisco certification course I worked hard to apply for, and I got in!  Only a select few students from our entire district got in….all day long we learned how to setup LAN, MAN and WAN networks, hack into routers, design more efficient networks, diagnose problems.  It was a FUN class and I was proud to be in it.  I was surrounded by smart people all day and had $40,000 worth of networking equipment at my disposal! I was Cisco Certified when I was a senior in high school…that was pretty cool back in the day.

However I think where my entrepreneurial spirit started grabbing roots was in my high school computer science classes.  We had normal class during the day, but AFTER SCHOOL we had a teacher who let us do whatever we want.

I used to stay after school almost every single day for various clubs, but me and some friends would always stay late as possible screwing around on the cool new computers (and fast internet) the school had just acquired.

We were CONSTANTLY looking for cool ways to make a buck….I mean nothing serious like building a business, more like simple get-rich-quick schemes. Back then a lot of companies offered you money for browsing the internet if you kept advertisements on your screen.  So with our programming skills we setup 30 different computers to constantly browse random webpages and collect money!  Was this allowed?  NO!  Did we care?  NO!  Did it teach us something…I think very much YES.  Although it was just screwing around, it kind of made computers and the internet “fun” for us….not just boring tools.

We also scoured penny stocks to try and buy and strike it rich “if ONLY the stock would go up to $1.00!”  We tried dozens of silly ideas.

We wrote programs that would make annoying sounds based on a timer…and loaded them on the library computers.  It was HILARIOUS to watch all the computers start making annoying beeps at once….the librarians would come over to see the commotion, then they would all stop!!  Stupid pranks, but they made us think creatively.

Our school used Novell to administer the computers, and I found out a way to login to the “unlimited access” profile which let you play games.  We setup a folder on the network with all sorts of cool games and would play them before class.  None of the other students could do it.

Through Novell and my Cisco class skills, we found out a bunch of other things about the school network and would frequently be called in by school officials to help with problems! I remember one school administrators baffled and nervous look when I simply logged into the administration without him giving me any password information!

Even though we could sneak in and out of the school computer system, we never did anything bad or malicious.  If one of our pranks (like the annoying library sounds) got too much…we stopped.  We were more interested in having access to something forbidden than actually DOING anything harmful.  Because of this we never got in trouble for anything, and it was actually good for school officials who could ask us computer questions at any time and have them fixed immediately without calling a tech guy and looking dumb.

In addition to all this I started making webpages for fun.  I remember registering Neville1.com (my FIRST domain name), and posting pictures of cars on it.  I would Photoshop pictures of cars to make them computer screen background wallpapers then share them online via Neville1.com.  I called the page “Neville’s Cool Car Archive” and it started getting lots of traffic.  It was enough traffic that all the free hosts I was on started kicking me off.  I’d have to PAY for hosting, and that wasn’t an option back then.  You see, at the time there was really no way to monetize the traffic….so I’d just pay money for hosting, and wouldn’t be able to easily make that money back from the users.  I wasn’t interested and pulled the plug.

Another unique experience I had was through my Parsi Zoroastrian (my religion) community we had some exceptionally successful people we knew.  With the help of my mom I got around to asking some of these people…“Ummm….so like….what do you do?” Basically that question was masking my true question of, “Why do you have so much more money than everyone else?”

….every single time the answer was they owned their own (successful) business.  I would inquire further.  What did they do? How did they do it? Who buys from them? How come people buy from you, not someone else?  Then I’d ask the clincher question: “Can I come see your business?”

Every single time the answer was yes.  They were all proud of what they did and were happy to show an inquisitive young person around.  I saw large ecommerce warehouses, housing tracts, large apartment buildings and various other projects these people ran.  They explained the ins and outs, the advantages and downsides….all sorts of valuable information I was lucky to have…but brazen enough to ask for.

This appealed to me.  I don’t know why, but I always thought what they did was so much “cooler” than what most other people did.

Thus started my journey into entrepreneurship.  It shakily started out as just messing around and inadvertently being creative…but after years of experimenting and trying things out, it started working pretty well.

Be curious…try things….don’t let people’s warnings stop you…..be creative and have an almost childlike curiosity about everything.