Yuri Gadow is the founder of Teeboxer, technology helping golfers play more, owner of SenseData, a development firm for startups, and a technology advisor to MemoryLaneSouvenirs.com, real world experiences into online memories. He’s also a glider pilot, mountain biker, mountaineer, diver, and golfer.
Yuri has led and been a part of teams building products in tiny startups, small businesses and medium enterprises for everything from project management systems to financial analysis to drag and drop mobile app builders. For over a dozen years his focus has been on finding opportunities to help people and businesses accomplish more with less, but more focused technology.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on ways to increase the value Teeboxer provides around courses: both for golfers and for folks working for courses—think online tee inventory meets social media management.
What does your typical day look like?
I like to start my day around 0500 spending 30 to 60 reading the news and from then on I’m bouncing between Teeboxer and SenseData till my brain stops working about 2000. Rather than take weekends off, I usually mix recreation and recharging time into every day—for example, most days I spend several hours with my Yeti on single-track technical enough to require my complete attention, which is key to recharging.
3 trends that excite you?
First, that we’re seeing the beginnings of internet innovation that tries to improve peoples lives and time in meaningful ways rather than just add trendy things to do online that bring eyeballs to ads.
Second, a generation without a professional understanding of technology is growing up comfortable enough with it that they can directly contribute to making it better for non-techies.
Third, the trend of small computing devices designed for mobile operator scenarios becoming mainstream, ones that free me from the desk and its productivity killing triad of monitor-keyboard-mouse.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By alternating between modes of wild dreamer and “what’s the next thing, and next thing only, I need to do to get closer to that?” And, reminding myself every idea I have is also in a thousand other heads; the difference is who builds it best.
What inspires you?
Médecins Sans Frontières. TED talks. And spending time with anyone who makes a habit of falling down and picking themselves up again, and again.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
Wow, there are so many to choose from so I’ll just talk about the most recent lesson, which came from realizing I’d underestimated the connection between the media and people’s willingness to dig deeper into new products they already know about. I used to think of the media, insofar as it relates to marketing, as a way of getting products’ names in front of people, but I’m beginning to understand there’s a bigger link, one between how willing a person is to actually dig deep into a product and how much they respect the media in which they’ve seen that product referred to.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Look internationally for problems to solve. The various populations that’ll have money to spend on innovative products in the near future have different values and needs than last century’s source of revenue and some technology areas where there’s little interesting now will suddenly have big needs. Education, for example.
What do you read every day, and why?
I like to keep my daily reading really varied and non-technical to keep me grounded in the real world and without a single perspective so I rotate through The New York Times, the LA Times, Die Zeit, The Washington Post, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Der Spiegel, Al Jazeera, Scientific American, and the New Yorker.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
Steel My Soldiers’ Hearts. Most of the entrepreneurial/startup/flavor-of-the-week-biz-books say the say the same things in different ways. It’s good to get your head out our reality distortion zone and think about people in bad situations solving damned hard problems quickly where there just aren’t any good solutions at all.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
Apple. Because I can forget the stuff they make is there and who made it and get on with getting stuff done.
Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?
Turn it off and go get something done. But, if you must: Tim O’Reilly, Roger Ebert, and one good friend of yours. O’Reilly and Ebert are two of the very few who tweet things interesting to others rather than to their egos and your good friends are really the only people worth keeping up with that closely that you might not already.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it.
Car Talk. Every week. It’s beer for the soul.
What’s enabled you to build your ideas?
Simple technologies built outside committee. If all we had was JEE, .NET, and SOAP services, I’d be in a cubicle somewhere waiting for a white rabbit to follow. Lightweight stacks and the proliferation of simple web services have completely changed the field for entrepreneurs.
What do you like most about being an entrepreneur or business owner?
Feeling free to give a little of my time in the middle of the day, on the spur of the moment, to help someone else who’s stuck on a technology, or has a question about starting their crazy business idea, or just needs someone to bounce an idea off. And being able to decide that making people happy is not optional in what I do.