[quote style=”boxed”]I would do less. I think we started out with too many features on LiveMinutes. During our first year, we actually removed more features than we added. I would start with less.[/quote]
Alex Dufetel is passionate about startups, tech, and more; specifically product & UI design. He co-founded LiveMinutes, a service that makes your everyday meetings awesome, launched in 2011. Previously, Alex launched BlueTeach, a live-learning community in 2009.
When he’s not on photoshop, coding, or tweeting the last enhancement made to LiveMinutes, he’s most often riding his mountain bike, running or cooking!
What are you working on right now?
2013 is starting out super busy! Besides transitioning the team from France to the US, we’re working on a new version of LiveMinutes. We’re basically rethinking everything from the ground up. Some of these changes will be visible very soon, while others will be released in the upcoming months. We’re also growing the team, which is very exciting – it’s awesome to hire and work with new passionate people.
Where did the idea for LiveMinutes come from?
When our team initially formed (before launching LiveMinutes), we wanted to create realtime tools in the education space. We knew a great deal of teaching would start being done online and in realtime, but the tools to do so either lacked collaboration features, (ie. Skype is really only audio and video) or were usability nightmares (Webex, seriously?).
We then realized that we could provide a better solution to the even greater problem of everyday meetings. Most of us meet up to several times a day with remote team mates or clients. We meet over the phone or Skype, and the vast majority of times we’re discussing documents over the phone. Because we’re all looking at separate versions of files, we lose time and don’t collaborate efficiently. We also lose track of decisions made. Those are the core problems LiveMinutes solves.
How do you make money?
We don’t for the moment – LiveMinutes is fully free. We will monetize a premium version in the future.
What does your typical day look like?
We’re a product oriented team. In an extreme, obsessive, quasi-cult-like manner. I really spend most my time working on the product: doing specs for new ideas, improving the UI/UX, implementing new features or improving existing ones with developers, etc. Because a great part of the team works remotely, I spend a great deal of time working with them via LiveMinutes. We eat our own dog food!
How do you bring ideas to life?
The first step is choosing which ideas to bring to life. We have new ideas all the time and unfortunately, we can only work on a few. I’m actually usually the guy who says no… I make features fight hard before they get implemented.
When we decide to implement a feature, the next step is really to find it’s most minimalistic implementation possible. That’s the hard part. Making something simple is really tough. Iteration helps a lot here. There’s no use working for months on a feature before releasing it, you’ll learn way more and improve it much faster by doing quick releases, letting users mess around with it, and iterating.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Enterprise software consumerization. (ie : making productivity and business software cool and enchanting)
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My first job (internship) was in the banking industry. I worked on structuring debt packages for LBOs. At the time the bubble was about to burst and most of the deals we worked on have now pretty much imploded.
I learned a lot, but I also felt like no one was really concerned about what they did. As long as money came in no one really cared about whether the deals made sense.
It’s during that internship I decided to become an entrepreneur. I wanted to work on something that I really believed in.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would do less. I think we started out with too many features on LiveMinutes. During our first year, we actually removed more features than we added. I would start with less.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Taking hits and getting back up when I fall down. Entrepreneurship is about taking risks and trying stuff, and this means you’re sometimes going to fail. Succeeding on your first try is the exception, not the rule. It’s all about learning from your mistakes and iterating.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In my first startup, I spent nearly a year working on a project without hardly talking to anyone about it. When I finally launched, the product was a fiasco. Had I confronted my idea more often, released earlier, proceeded by trial and error, I would have avoided losing so much time – and maybe even turned my initial idea into something successful.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Home delivery of goods by RC helicopters. Okay, not very realistic, but how cool would that be 😉 ?
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
It strikes me that despite all the advances of science on one hand and the advances of communication media on the other, there is still so much obscurantism, whether coming from religions, ideologies, superstitions… etc. That’s one thing I would change. Education is certainly a key.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I was born on Feb 20th.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Evernote : can’t live without it. Using it right now to type this.
Dropbox : get my files on every device – don’t worry about losing stuff
Spotifyspot : unlimited music streaming and discovery for 10$ a month – a bargain.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Social Atom by Mark Buchanan.
A must read. It’s a fascinating insight on what fuels human decision-making.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
The TV show The Big Bang Theory cracks me up.
Who is your hero, and why?
Ironman. “Tony Stark is the complete playboy who also happens to be an engineering genius.” (IMDB) Seriously, what else could a guy want ?
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