Fred Rocha – Co-founder of Memeoirs

[quote style=”boxed”]Focus. The variables that you have to get right are as many as the distractions out there.[/quote]

Fred is a curious mind with a background in telecommunications engineering that has shifted towards product and design. He co-founded Memeoirs, and is currently focusing on getting more people to keep their memories in book form. Hit him up on Twitter.

Where did the idea for Memeoirs come from?

I met my co-founders while we were still in university and the desire to build something innovative using our technical skills brought us together. We kept in touch mostly using email while settling back into our home countries. (I’m Portuguese.) These juicy exchanges quickly became priceless to us, and a joy to read, so we thought “Hey, let’s make a book with these emails!” Because we all were tech oriented and were itching to start something together we decided instead to make a machine anyone could use to turn their emails into a book.

The first Memeoirs prototypes we printed thus contained our long-winded rants on life, culture, technology, our families, and loved ones – thoughts and feelings both intimate and pervasive.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Shower, breakfast. Tram to the office. Stand up meeting when everyone arrives. Talk to customers. Tackle most challenging tasks (I’m a morning person). Take a break, read, tap into the zeitgeist or research topic I’m working on. More actionables. Lunch with colleagues. More actionables. Take a break, catch some sun. Drop on a call with remote co-worker, partner, potential connection. More actionables. Talk to customers. Reply to emails (last task, brain already thinking about dinner).

There, now you pretty much know everything about my existence.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I kill them. If they return later on, I kill them again. If they insist on coming back feed them into our Up Next list on Trello. There are millions of them, but only the strong survive.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The open web. It’s a revolutionary concept in so many ways. Being able to mashup and utilize data and services from all over the internet into novel products is just fantastic. Memeoirs does that by plugging conversations on social media and email into books, but anyone can (using IFTTT is a great start) plug their twitter to their google calendar, their RSS feed to their Android notifications. It would be wonderful if companies would embrace this mantra, collaborate, drop proprietary formats and define standards together.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Lately I’ve been experimenting with labeling tasks according to their scope. Splitting them between core, central activities to my role as COO, and more lateral ones that still need to be done, but are more of a walk in the park. Execute the former during office hours, fully focused (eg, set up a PR campaign together with our partner agency) and the latter on trains and weekends (eg, writing beautiful words for the web).

This is a surprisingly powerful separation, and I am already harvesting the results.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I never took a job I wasn’t excited about. After becoming an engineer I worked for one year developing machine vision algorithms, and then quitted when I realized I wasn’t going to be happy doing it. Since then I only jumped on those projects that really moved me. I was also lucky enough to always have top-notch bosses, who not only taught me a lot, but also were very kind and generous with me. Building Memeoirs from scratch has been an incredible adventure, and the ultimate be-your-own-boss-with-those-that-matter job.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Integrate marketing and discoverability into our product. We had many good ideas when we started, but we overlooked the Get The Word Out part of the product. Build it and they (will not) come.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Focus. The variables that you have to get right are as many as the distractions out there. The startup world is full of distractions, waste and ­-BS- vanity metrics. It’s easy to see yourself as a rock star because your mobile app is featured for some minutes on the homepage of Hacker News, and you see a spike. But that’s not a business. You need to focus and make sure everything is extraordinary in your startup: the team, the product, the runway (your company’s liquidity), the messaging, the product-market fit, the growth strategy, the infrastructure, the customer support, the business relationships. The list goes on.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Affiliate marketing. It seems like a prosaic thing, but since we are a very final customer-focused product it really makes a difference if we get featured on respectable channels and that drives quality traffic. Since we’ve started having sponsored content on blogs (they get a cut from each sale) the stream of quality leads has been steady. Recommended for B2C companies.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

We got refused by both YC and Seedcamp. But we got into Startup Chile and TechPeaks, and received a USD 300k$ investment since then, so all good.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A notification dashboard, a truly useful browser homepage.The idea would be to create an API that would become the standard for handling notifications. In the future every aspiring webapp would integrate with this app. This way their users could conveniently choose between plain old email standalone notifications, or having notifications show on this app + being delivered on a clean, simplified daily digest. One email to rule them all.

People need peace of mind to focus on real work, and we’re using so much stuff these days it’s hard to keep track.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I was once the singer and frontman of a metal band. I’ll spare your ears and not link to our oldschool myspace page.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Wow, this a huge list. I have recently written a post on the management tools we use at Memeoirs; Trello, HelpScout, HipChat,, Mixpanel, MailChimp, Google Drive. I have been loving jolting stuff down across platforms with Quip. Really well executed note taking app. Wunderlist for lists, and Foursquare for exploring new places. I’m also an old Twitter-er.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

37 signals’ “Getting Real”. That book got me going when we were starting, and there are a lot of no-frill, get shit done juicy tips in there.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Here fisherman/lists/cream/members)’s a comprehensive and ever-growing list. I wouldn’t be able to pick anyone in particular, but having them all in a feed is incredibly powerful.


Fred Rocha on Twitter: @john_fisherman