If you follow me on twitter, facebook, or this blog, you’re aware that I’ve been peppering the interwebs with news of my new startup, datesocial. This week at AskMen, I talked about some of the perceived roadblocks to starting a business, and hopefully motivated some people with ideas to get up off their asses and actually execute them. A snippet:
You don’t need (much) money
The biggest barrier to entry in the startup world is the perception of cost, and at one time that was a very real barrier. If you wanted to open a store, you needed retail space and product to sell. If you wanted to manufacture something, you needed materials and equipment. Thanks to the internet, that cost barrier has morphed into more of a cost speed bump, especially if you’re looking to provide a service rather than a good of some kind. Datesocial’s landing page is hosted by launchrock, a free service for startups. Customers will register and pay for events through eventbrite, which is free to use and allows you to pass on its (incredibly modest) service fees to your customers. Facebook and Twitter are where we’ve done most of our marketing, and those are, of course, free. I’ve paid for a domain name, a logo design, some business cards and a few traffic pushes on fiverr. Our gross investment at this point is right around $100. That’s a weekend’s worth of dinner and drinks. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you read about tech startups raising millions of dollars in funding, but if you’re willing to hack it at the start, you simply don’t need that.
I ended the article by saying I could go on for another 2,000 words, and that wasn’t an exaggeration. One thought that I did want to share, however, is the notion of technology and the role it plays in the startup world. Everyone, so it seems, wants to create a “tech startup”, a new app, a new website, etc. It’s all you read about at Valleywag, TechCrunch and whatnot, and it’s very easy to get caught up in the idea that a new business has to be cutting edge or rely on some kind of new technology. It doesn’t. The core concept of a business is finding a void with your consumers and then filling that void. You can do that by offering something that no one’s ever seen before, or you can take an existing model that’s broken and perfect it. It’s very rarely a tech problem.
When my wife and I were conceiving datesocial, our first thought was “Oh shit, we need a website and neither of us know how to design or build one.” We built a landing page at launchrock, but we were still focused on tech, tech, tech. We were building a startup, so we assumed it had to be a “tech startup.” It didn’t, and it isn’t. I had an epiphany when I was talking with my friend Ryan Melogy, co-founder of faithstreet. He said something to the effect of “Dude, you’re essentially trying to throw a party. Your first step is throwing that party and getting the word out.” That’s when it kind of clicked. Datesocial isn’t a tech company. In fact, it’s the opposite of a tech company. It’s real life, it’s on the ground, and it’s about interacting with real people and helping them interact with each other. Sure, we rely on tech to facilitate things, but it’s a vehicle, not the core concept. That’s why I don’t understand sites like Grouper, who purports to match people based on some kind of algorithm that examines their facebook data. It sounds like a cool science project, but I believe in people’s ability to do their own matchmaking. When you start a company that claims to connect people using something as detached as a computer program, you’re either way too deep in the weeds or unwilling to get out there and mix with your customers.
If you have an idea for a business, provided it’s not an actual tech product, tech should not be your first concern. Your first priority should be creating a prototype and testing it. There are so, so many free or cheap tech products out there that will get you where you need to be, or at least get you to where you can launch a beta product. You can (and should) hack it at the start. Why sink thousands of dollars into a web designer and developer when there are sites like facebook, twitter, and eventbrite that can serve essentially the same purpose (and make it easier to tap into social media to boot)? Unless you’re running a true “tech startup”, it’s not a tech problem. It’s an execution problem, or a motivation problem.
Read the full article at AskMen
The other week, my wife and I were having outdoor drinks at a local restaurant, and the bar next door was hosting some kind of speed dating event. It looked lame as hell, but it also seemed like it was serving its purpose: against all odds, scores of singles were awkwardly meeting other singles. We half-jokingly said that we could come up with something better. Well, now we are: introducing datesocial, a fun, casual way to meet people in the Washington, DC area.
The problem with speed dating is that it’s awkward as hell. You’re lined up shoulder to shoulder, and you have, what, 4 minutes tops to make an impression on someone (and vice versa)? If you don’t hit it off, you’re stuck with that one person for what feels like an eternity. If you do hit it off, when the bell rings and everyone plays musical chairs, you’re forced to watch and listen while a new guy or gal hits on the object of your desire. No thank you. Online dating is even worse. If your profile sucks, you could be Ryan Gosling and not get any hits. Even if your profile game is solid, with so many people it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack made exclusively of needles. Datesocial is here to fix all that. Our official blurb:
No awkward speed dating, and no online profiles. Datesocial brings groups of guys and girls together to make meeting people fun and laid back, the way it should be.
At datesocial events, 20 guys and 20 girls are split into groups of four each. Register with up to three friends, or come stag (we’ll make sure you have a group). Each group of guys spends about 12 minutes talking to each group of girls – long enough to make an impression, but not so long as to make things awkward. At the end, turn in your card with up to 5 people you’d like to see again. If there’s a mutual match, we’ll re-introduce you via email within 24 hours.
Right now we’re working with bars in the DC area to secure fun venues and awesome drink specials. Enter your email address now at datesocial.co, and you’ll be among the first to know when we launch with our first event.
Unlike dating sites or quasi-dating services like Grouper, we don’t have the audacity to say that an algorithm can predict who you’ll hit it off with. Instead, we believe that people know themselves well enough to choose their own matches. If you find a match, great! If not, chances are you made some new friends, business contacts, etc. There’s always next time.
Right now we’re building a list of interested people prior to our first event. The best way you can help is a) sign up at http://www.datesocial.co if you’re in the DC area. There’s no cost or account to create, it’s just a mailing list for when we launch. b) share us with your friends. We’re on twitter and facebook, so follow us, give us a like, and share, share, share!
There’s nothing else like this out there, so we’re doing something big. We hope everyone’s as excited as we are.
If I were a betting man, I would wager that Taylor Swift, the nation’s favorite 22 year old bubblegum-country crooner, has more attention cast on her love life than literally any other celebrity. This is for a couple of reasons, one of which being her choice of men, but the other is more simple – she asks for it. Demands it, even.
Taylor has a much-publicized habit of writing songs about her relationships; more specifically, her breakups. Not only is she not shy about it, but it’s almost a point of pride for her, as though having a pop song that vaguely references how shitty of a boyfriend you were is a penance worse than death. I’ve read interviews where she speaks to the effect of “if we go out and you’re a jerk to me, it’s not my fault if you wind up in a song”. Oh no Taylor, anything but a saccharine pseudo-country jam about how mean I am! Let’s look at a sample of some of these blacklisting lyrics. These are taken from her song “Dear John”, presumably written about her stint with the much older and so-notoriously-douchey-you-should-have-known-better John Mayer:
Dear John, I see it all now it was wrong
Don’t you think nineteen’s too young
To be played by your dark, twisted games
When I loved you so, I should’ve known.
That’s pretty much the whole song, her trying to paint him as an asshole for apparently taking advantage of a then-19 year old Taylor’s naiveté. And sure, I guess you could read into it that way and think “man, that John Mayer guy sure is an asshole”. The problem is that literally anyone who follows the news or music has known that for the better part of a decade. He’s many things, including a talented musician, but a “settle down type of guy” isn’t one of them. What Swift doesn’t understand, as she walks around feeling smug and vindicated through the magic of song, is that all I see in those lyrics is an anecdote about how John Mayer, being the sweet bro that he is, successfully nailed and bailed on a gullible 19 year old super star. If I were him, every time I heard that song I would think “goddamn right I did”. He’s not pathetic for doing what he did; she’s pathetic for whining to the world about it in the standard pop verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus format.
Other than the John Mayer fiasco and some time spent playing a beard for the obviously gay Jake Gyllenhaal, Taylor tends to date men closer to her own age, most recently high school junior Connor Kennedy and now 18 year old One Direction member Harry Styles. You might wonder why as teenage boys are usually at the bottom of every woman over the age of 16’s dating list. Sure, the Kennedy name is an alluring one (if you’re here via a time warp from the 1980’s), and I’m sure Styles is charming enough, but Swift is pretty, blond, and built like a model – she could ostensibly have a go with any man she wanted. If you’re a more astute reader you’re thinking “Wait, those guys aren’t her age at all. She’s 22.” You’d be correct, kind of.
The reason she dates the guys she dates, and really the reason for everything she does, is that Taylor Swift is neither capable of nor allowed to be anything other than a perpetually 16 year old girl. Her first album, released in 2006, was a runaway hit, and because she writes her own songs her financial gains were massive. It figures then that that was the precise moment when her real-life experiences and personal development were allowed to stop, and why wouldn’t it? As gifted a songwriter as she is, she’s incapable of writing about anything other than high school puppy love, because that’s all she knows. That works out well for her from a business perspective, because that’s all her audience wants to hear. Ask any girl in her mid-20’s about her favorite T-Swift songs, and while preferences vary, one constant is that no grown woman points to any tracks from her latest album. That’s because the songs they do like, the songs that still resonate with them, were released years ago, when they teenagers themselves and related to the material. Throw in 9-5 jobs, mature relationships, and adult woes, and suddenly lyrics about sneaking out your bedroom window or going against your father’s wishes don’t really hit home. If Swift wants to continue her success, she must remain a 16 year old girl, because those are the only people buying her music.
If she wants to find love, she’ll have to grow into it, and that will be hard for her. Partly because no one wants her to, but also because that would require work, risk, and uncertainty on her part. If my options were continued financial success or forcing myself to grow as a person, I’d probably stick to boinking teenage boys too. Never stop being you, Taylor.
Are you a guy who uses the services of an online dating site to land chicks? Are you a cheap bastard who uses the free ones, like OKCupid? Are you an idiot who approaches women with the subtlety of a muscle car that’s missing its catalytic converter? If so, you may soon be featured on my latest interview subject’s website, A(n)nals of Online Dating. Whenever someone sends a message that’s creepy, of the canned “PUA” variety, or both, not only does Satan touch himself a little and start clearing space, but there’s a good chance it’ll end up here. I spoke with the proprietor about why guys can’t get through their heads the idea that talking about their genitals is not an effective romantic strategy.
IL: Any theories as to why that is? I mean, in my experience, it’s the men who have to do most of the blind initial messaging, so maybe it’s a law-of-averages thing — with so many messages, some are bound to be creepy.
OB: I think it probably is part a law-of-averages thing and part a cultural thing. Despite increased gender equality, it’s still expected that men do the asking out and the leading when it comes to dating. So men pick who they want to date, and women either accept or reject. And online that’s magnified because you have so many people to choose from and none of the visual cues that help you to differentiate between creeps and not-creeps in the real world.
So you have a lot of guys who are trying really hard to set themselves apart and end up coming off as really weird or creepy, like guys who use pickup-artist techniques online. And then you have guys who say or do things online that they would never do face-to-face, because it would be too awkward— like initiating a conversation with “I would love to put my tongue in your ass.”
I’ll say this much, you have to appreciate the guy who casually tosses out an offer to put his tongue in a girl’s ass as his official online handshake. Is it efficient? Not at all, but he’s casting a wide net. Next time you’re talking to a friend or coworker who’s a little too pleased with himself and whose breath smells a little “off”, congratulations, because you’re looking at proof of concept personified.
Celebrities are well-known for being among the most intelligent and politically acute members of society. Why, if we didn’t have Lindsay Lohan to help guide our voting conscience, where would we be? Thankfully, Kelly Clarkson’s here to further enlighten us. Via Pegasus News:
During the European leg of her tour, the singer toldThe Daily Star: “I’ve been reading online about the debates and I’m probably going to vote for Obama again, even though I’m a Republican at heart.”
Kelly added: “I can’t support Romney’s policies as I have a lot of gay friends and I don’t think it’s fair they can’t get married. I’m not a hardcore feminist but we can’t be going back to the ’50s.”
To be clear, this doesn’t bother me because of the gay thing. Ignoring the fact that “I have a lot of gay friends” is the 21st-century equivalent of “I’m not racist, I have friends who are black”, I think everyone these days have loved ones who are gay, be they friends, family, or their own gay significant other. Gays marrying has no bearing whatsoever on the legitimacy of my own marriage, so what’s it to me if they get married? No, the first thing about this that bothers me is the fundamental lack of understanding of what the fuck exactly it is the president does. Is, or even can, Mitt Romney going to take office and forever deny our gay friends they ability to marry? No, he cannot. No president can. Is Barack Obama, if reelected, able to magically wave his hands and grant marital privileges to all? Again, no. It is, at this juncture, a states rights issue, just like every other marriage-related issue. The only involvement the president could have is with DOMA, either signing it into law or vetoing it’s passage should it ever get to that. And if that does happen, don’t blame/thank the president. Blame/thank the fucking legislature.
The second infuriating thing about this is that it’s another case of a public figure who’s wealthy enough to have the luxury of voting entirely on the basis of social issues. People love to say “I can’t afford to be a liberal”, but that’s almost criminally off-base. There are plenty of people on the right who are well-off enough to base their voting decisions on what Jesus thinks a woman should be allowed to do with her vagina. In either case, I can’t hate on the person’s success. But I don’t have a job and am way more interested in the fiscal issues, so I would appreciate at least an attempt at having some perspective. I understand that most of your fanbase is liberal because they’re young/conservative because they’re religious, but before you shoot off your fat mouth maybe try to give your decisions the same consideration the rest of us do.
Let’s put an end to universal suffrage. Deny celebrities the right to vote.