[quote style=”boxed”]I launch them in IdeasWatch, team-build in the Startup Bootstrappers G+ Community, and get people talking. If people want to keep things at texting level, I drop them; I firmly believe that if people really want to partner with you, they’ll find a way to talk with you.[/quote]
Founder of emerging social media tool sites. Bootstrapping innovation with distributed lean startup development teams. I do project management, user experience, PR, marketing and community development.
What are you working on right now?
Where did the idea for RiteTag come from?
The idea for RiteTag came from the big earthquake in Japan, two and a half years ago. The TV was worthless for unbiased news while Twitter was great – but people sharing great information clearly did not know what the “right” hashtags to use. They were multi-tagging and did not know which tags were most-followed for the earthquake and aftershocks, or for the tsunami (tidal wave) or the nuclear reactors that were on fire. I realized that while everyone knows what they are talking about in their own terms a PR and marketing boon would be a productivity tool that would lead them to hashtags from topics. It took us months to also figure out that we needed to give RiteTaggers evidence to judge the likelihood of “reaching beyond their followers,” and then help them share to multiple social networks, all custom-tagged for those networks. We are still building out RiteTag and beyond tracking the results that each tag brings users, we will be offering multi-scheduling and more social networks to share to from RiteTag.
How do you make money?
We are still perfecting a complex prototype, and the MVP comes soon after this. Alas, proving the value in using hashtags is no small matter, so it is taking us more than 18 months to begin working on our first stab at making money with RiteTag.
What does your typical day look like?
I rise at 4 a.m., walk two hours, and on the computer, I check emails, then Google plus notifications, and play catch-up. Living in Japan, I straddle time zones, so there is always catch-up to be done. Then, there are early morning meetings with my counterparts in North America, articles and business planning to write during the day, and meetings by Google plus video call or Skype with my people in the UK and Europe, late in my day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I launch them in IdeasWatch, team-build in the Startup Bootstrappers G+ Community, and get people talking. If people want to keep things at texting level, I drop them; I firmly believe that if people really want to partner with you, they’ll find a way to talk with you. I have little tolerance for excuses in this regard.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Video conferencing is more interesting than big data, for me. I see stark contrasts between the features that tools offer, and think that more than ever before we’re going to collaborate on wire-framing, concierge customer testing, and debugging in complex video calls.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I bar tended for two weeks, and my back still hurts from it (25 years later). The less they pay you, the worse you’ll be paid – and treated.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would be a child actor. Make money and connections early, be free to do what you want, be free of the need to earn money as soon as possible.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I test assumptions, and discard convictions when I find their basis shaky.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Like many, I feel, and I realize that this stance is “disruptive,” but we learn more from our successes than our failures. I have failed with two small businesses that both meant more to me than the numerous positions I have held in Japanese and American companies. All I learned from failing in those jobs was that while my creativity is at its highest when working with people, I am really not cut out to be someone who works for people.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’ll give this away: TrueTit.com – the full description is here: http://www.ideaswatch.com/startup-idea/truetitcom So far, nine people are watching the idea to see what happens with it.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would change caps on income taxes and all the loopholes that allow the filthy-rich to hide their loot. There are just too many people suffering for every greedy shark.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I lost half my body weight by walking and my own diet, and I’ve kept it off for over five years. No pills, no surgery, no coach, and I went from 165.5 to 73.9 kilos, and am weight-stable at about 83 kilos.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
I use Google Plus hangouts (AKA video calls) for meetings, workshops with users of our sites and more. I am in IdeasWatch daily to see what could be the next great thing or get a glimmer of a sense of how my fellow Ideators think. I am active with my blog for the people who come to see me in my own house.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries will save startup founders wasted time and frustrations-galore.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Follow Jason Ball @good_people to learn how to network better.
Follow Mark Schaefer @markwschaefer for opinionated but usually valid and fresh thoughts on what we could do better in social media.
Follow Robert Fransgaard @fransgaard for a mix of user experience design with design inspiration at large.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laughed pretty hard last night, in a Hangout, when someone insisting on pressurizing and “vaping” his Jaegermeister.
Who is your hero?
Dino Dogan is my hero, for bootstrapping Triberr into existence and profitability with scant little attention from major media and without investors. To this day I keep his ideas in mind as I, too, resist taking “dumb money” – from investors that don’t want to spend the time to learn where you are going with a project, and wont do much of anything to actually help you push further. I’ll wait for the smart money; it will come from those who truly see the light in what my guys are building.
How can you not be ashamed on not monetizing RiteTag – with several iterations of your prototype and 18 months of development behind it?
As Steve Blank says, “every startup is different. The rules don’t always apply.” I don’t believe in shipping a broken thing for money and then mending fences later. I would rather get people using something that half works, get their thoughts and complete the thing enough until I am fairly sure that my team is not going to burn bridges with our users when we take first payments.
What do you want to be doing after RiteTag and/or a couple other productivity tools you launch become immensely successful, and you become rich and can do whatever you want with your life?
I want to be doing what I do now: bootstrap into existence social media tools that connect people more efficiently and team up with smart young people who have not only ability, but focus and the hunger needed to follow through.
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