Archive for the ‘grocio’ category

“Hiring” Technologist/Exec for Grocio.

January 2, 2008

My startup, Grocio, needs a brilliant technologist itching to create a business around their own cool code/architecture. Is this you? (Employee #2 if that means anything to you)

First, and probably most importantly, you must have pride of ownership (your fingerprints are going to be all over this);
You must be an implementor (not a visionary… a Get Things Done type is called for at this stage);
You must be a coder first and a SysAdmin second (not a .Net type… needing someone more of the XAMP sort. If Prototype and Scriptaculous are more than buzzwords to you… run, do not walk);
You must have scalable architecture chops (distributed computing or parrallel processing, MySQL replication and security);
Perfectionists need not apply as we will be learning lots of lessons and iterating quickly.

I definitely want to talk with you! email me at gerald at grocio dot com or phone/sms me (918) 813-9745 or ichat at geraldb28@mac.com. I’m twittering at geraldb28 and a bit of background is available at LinkedIn. Short of it is I’m an ambitious fellow looking to build a new business with other equally ambitious cool people (locally or remotely for the right people).

You may already have a nice paying gig right now. The person to fill this slot is going to be a cause driven individual as opposed to a cash driven one. A personable leader. The rewards of the job, for the immediate future, are going to be an equity position in the company and a perch on the ground floor of something lots of people will find a use for in their day to day lifestyle (provided we execute well and anticipate and correct for change appropriately). I’ll offer to be 1,000% honest with you the whole distance, a good listener, friend and mentor/student. Even though this isn’t a partnership you’ll be center stage making really cool things happen at what I hope will be the very early days of a fun and profitable ride.

I’m hoping the right person is one or two degrees away. Just give me a shout. No NDA’s required. And you can expect absolute discretion and full disclosure.

Raising Capital On “Wall Tweet”

November 21, 2007

I tweeted prematurely the other night that Grocio‘s down to the final $73 in the account. There’s actually a bit more than that. So, the answer is effectively the same as then only a bit deferred… it’s time to raise significant amounts of capital (~$900K). It’s put up or shut up time.

I’d love to get some serious pitching action going. (ANY pitching opportunities will be gratefully accepted. I’ll happily pitch to Calacanis’ dog for that matter. Or Milan! I’m not at all picky and would welcome the practice and feedback.)

Why couldn’t Grocio pull off a Limited Private Offering to friends on Twitter, Contacts on LinkedIn, etc? We coined it “Wall Tweet” btw. There are regulations that need to be followed. Considerations, etc. Not the least of which are the “qualified investor” and the “advertising” restrictions. So, let it be known, I’m campaigning as of right now to raise the maximum allowable and am pulling together the PPM, et al. If I don’t know you yet… let’s get the formalities out of the way.

If I do not already know you or have you as a LinkedIn contact or Twitter follower… Probably will have to sit this one out. Otherwise, interested parties please contact me at my Grocio email address or ichat me at geraldb28@mac.com or phone me at +1 918 813-9745 (I’ll be in Dubai Dec. 1 -7.  Would love to talk before then.)

Here goes.

Gotta Know You. NOW.

November 17, 2007

Grocio’s going to have an announcement soon. It’s importanté that I “know” you ahead of that time. Can’t say more until the moment’s right and that moment is within days.
Do yourself a favor. Do Grocio a favor and (preferably) contact me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.

Would You Do It For Free? Pt 3

November 8, 2007

I was an art director in a previous life. An “ad man”. Fortunately was lured away early in my career to become a technologist. But, not before developing a real appreciation for the career track I was previously on. It was an easy decision and here’s how it went down:

Art direction is a wonderful creative outlet as well as one of the funnest ways to slowly starve. My wife’s an art director. I’m not going to rain on that parade too much. A lot of my contacts at LinkedIn are art directors or in the ad game. I constantly held myself up in their shadow and came up short in the talent department. On the technical aptitude scale… I had it in spades. Mind you, this was 1989. The LaserWriter was hot. LocalTalk networking was just coming of age. PageMaker was still king of the heap and Illustrator 87, or whatever it was, was tearing it up. I knew this stuff inside out. I drew to it like a long lost love. And, it loved me back.

My art director friends were hiring me to set up their networks and file servers, teach them applications and do the really hard production tasks no respectable IIfx should ever have had to shoulder. There it was. I found my thing. Something I knew I would be passionate about until my dying breath.

I remember a conversation with Grandpa Dave (you know, the blind, really great ham radio operator I’ve blogged about recently…) and he asked me one day during a visit if I really loved doing what I was doing as much as it came across. “Without a doubt,” I told him and he asked me…

“Would you do it for free?”

Damned great question. I thought about it while he dialed in some Canadian buddy of his (still hear that CQ, CQ bit when I think of him). The more I thought, the more I realized: Yes. Yes, I would do it for free and said so.

Grandpa must have known I had taken his question with full consideration. He told me, “Good. Never worry about your career choices so long as you love what you’re doing. If you love it the money will come.” You’ve heard that before. And I’ve heard it too, a million times since. But Grandpa took it a couple sentences further and they’ve made all the difference. “There will be a day when the money’s low and that fire in your belly is all you’ve got to get you through. Hunker down and keep that one little ember alive. You get past that and all kinds of good things will happen. Find ways to make ends meet. Don’t lose your dreams.”

My little Mac consultancy hit a low shortly after that. “Low” is the positive spin. It was lower than a snakes belly. Value Added Resellers (VARs) came along shortly after and a lot of my business went their direction. I kept my cool and maintained a living. And, by that, I mean – the rent and utilities were paid and the car payment was mostly up to date. Mostly. There was nothing in the savings or checking and 401-K was a long, lost memory of the workaday world. Then the fateful day arrived. Three of my corporate accounts called within a week of one another and served 90-days notice. I was going to be putting Grandpa Dave’s wisdom to practice. I asked one of them if this was a final notice or if there was something extreme they’d entertain. “Like what?” I said I’d get back with them early next week if that wasn’t too late. To my happy surprise I found the two other accounts were also open to alternatives. [LESSON: In business, “no” does not necessarily mean “absolutely no”.]

Enter the fork in the road. An ad agency in Dallas had been in contact. They were looking for someone to come and head things up on the technology side of life. I had to investigate it. Flew down. Interviewed well and had an offer in hand. Even accepted. Then the euphoria wore off. This isn’t what I really wanted. This was an easy out. So, I called them back and declined.

First and last time I ever did that. Never again. I headed down the wrong fork. Took a U-Turn and headed down the path my heart wanted to follow all along. My pitch to the accounts early that next week was this. I’d work their accounts six months for free. No charge. In return I was asking for a two year contract with minimums and a modest cure for early termination. The contact had the teeth of a butterfly.

Of course they said yes. I was thrilled to have pulled the bacon out of the fire. It would be the only thing I’d eat for the next six months. But, it also landed me square in Apple’s sights as well as the regional MicroAge franchise. Those three accounts were going to be Apple SMB accounts until I pulled a Crazy Ivan on them. A few months later I found myself working for Apple and living a dream life for nearly three wonderful years.

I was fully prepared to live up to my obligation and charge nothing for six months. I’m told the passion for the platform and the fire in my belly (as well as the agressive negotiations) convinced the folks at Apple I was just crazy enough to draw the call up to the Big Show.

Fast forward almost twenty years later. I’m pursuing my next big adventure with Grocio. Would I do it for free? Absolutely. I believe in it like nothing else before it (even Apple and that’s saying a lot). In a lot of ways it reminds me of Apple – wildly ambitious, focused and driven off some internal machinery I don’t yet fully appreciate. I just know it’s what I have to be doing. Even if it means doing it for free.

I’m In It For The Long Haul, Pt 2

November 8, 2007

Continuing on the motives behind my little startup, Grocio… John O’Connor was first to ask, although I’m certain others had to have at least wondered… “Do you see this a a flip? Or, are you in it for the long haul?”

Answer: Long haul. Most definitely.

We talked a fair bit about management, business plan (not so much), founder’s equity, capital required (of course), IP and revenue models (at length). On management one of the hardest realizations during the long march to this point has been to admit I may not always be the right person to head up the company. For whatever reason, health, management style, phase of the company, industry connections… Coming to terms with that has been like coming to terms with mortality. Slow realization that sooner or later it will happen. Now I simply shrug and think how little hand-wringing I waste thinking about dying (that’s why I have life insurance and keep my affairs in order). Why waste any time worrying about if I lead my own company? Do I believe in it or not? If the answer had ever come back as anything other than a resounding “yes” I would be forced to concede that I had no business being on the payroll (which brings us to Pt 3).

I’m In It For The Challenge, Pt 1

November 8, 2007

I’ve fielded some great questions about Grocio since February. But the one question and one comment that keep playing in my head came from John O’Connor here in Tulsa and John Battelle. Mr. O’Connor asked, “Why this? Why now?” And, Mr. Battelle’s observation some moons ago was. “Wow, that sounds hard as hell.” GROCIO is my little startup and is all about the grocery space online.

Mr. Battelle’s right. It is going to be hard. That’s a significant part of the challenge to me. Doing something that hasn’t been tackled before because of the size and complexity of the problem. (I would have loved to have been working on the moon shot.) Let me tee this up somewhat close to properly:35,000 or so grocers in the U.S. with somewhere in the neighborhood of 170,000 UPCs in their stock registry. They don’t carry that much inventory at any given time, obviously. But, still, it’s important to know what’s on their list of possibles.

35K x 170K = 5,950,000,000 cells in a spreadsheet (if you’re thinking of this in cell-like format). Almost 6 Trillion entries. Let’s say each of those entries averaged 2Kb in size. 12 Trillion Kb comes out to 12 Petabytes.

All of a sudden your talking huge data churn on massive data sets. After all – all of those prices could (potentially) change daily. They won’t. But they could. Factor in historicals for trending (ala FareCast) plus compressed backups and you have one big monster on your hands. And we’ve only discussed storage issues. Which, by the way, remind me of the seismic data sets my buddies work with all day long. No biggie.

The thing about all of this is the business model. THAT is what really turns me on. The intellectual property aspect. How to make revenues scale. How to build a massively transactional site. Hiring great people. Attracting the right funding sources. Learning new stuff. Every. Single. Day. Gotta love that.

I’m totally in it for the challenge.

Miss 100% Of The Shots You Don’t Take

August 10, 2007

The above is maybe correctly or incorrectly attributed to Wayne Gretsky. I’ve loved this quote since the first time I heard it and it’s absolutely, undisputedly – true.

The reason for me even bringing it up is Marc Andreessen’s posting on Age, Creativity, Productivity and Prolific Contribution (most definitely a worthwhile read). It comes down to shots on goal. The more shots you take, the more goals you could make over the course of a career (no guarantees, but it holds water). Let’s say you’re a crack shot up against a crack goalie, though. Well, ok, the equation changes a bit maybe. But, let’s look at the more likely situation where you’re just persistent as hell at whatever it is you’re doing (music, startups, investing, basketball, hockey). The more attempts you make: the more likely you are to rack up a lot of successes.

Think of Barry Bonds (sorry…). Think he’d have the home run record if he’d never swung the bat? Nope. Think how many strike outs he has. It’s probably a LOT! Maybe less than some. But I bet the number’s big. So what! No one’s going to remember him for the strike outs. (maybe noone will remember him for the HR record either)

Point is… age is probably NOT the big issue here. Sure, the younger you are and the longer your career… the more opportunities you’re likely to attempt to rise to the occasion. For those of us later bloomers, it’s about getting up out of the comfort zone and doing something, LOTS of something and piling up the tallest stack of success we’re capable of.  That’s my true north with GROCIO. What’s yours?

Hey Buddy… Help My Startup Eh?

July 30, 2007

Watched a fun couple of videos of Vidoop: another startup also here in Tulsa. Their’s is an online security angle. Pretty cool stuff.

Grocio Unlike Vidoop, GROCIO’s in one of those seams I’m working my ass to get out of. Those who diet will know this as a “plateau”. To get from here onto the riser toward the next milestone you gotta work your ASS off. Yeah, that’s where GROCIO is right now. There’s a big puddle of ass on the floor of the garage right now… That’s how hard I’ve been working this thing. Fun. No complaints. Good, healthy, hard work. (Thank you sir, may I have another! kind of fun.)

For those of you wondering just what the hell GROCIO is… Think comparison grocery shopping for the whole checkout basket (not just a can of soup). The whole enchilada. Combine that with context sensitive coupons (after all, like Google, you’ve told us what you’re looking for)… and you have our business model. Way short of an easy task. A fair bit of heavy lifting involved, yada yada.

More than anything we need to get the cashflow going and our prospective investors reinvigorated. Here’s how you can help:

If you use coupons please consider bookmarking and using THIS LINK. It doesn’t cost you a thing. It could save you a good deal of money at the checkout counter (it has in our household). Or, simply copy THIS LINK ( http://print.coupons.com/alink.asp?go=12756jt0010 ) and bookmark it. If you share it with friends and family do so knowing your helping a startup… well, startup. GROCIO sees revenue only on redemption of the printed coupons. Again, it doesn’t cost you a thing. And, could very well help us illustrate some important metrics back to the investors who don’t quite “get it”. Transactions they understand. Helping us rack up some numbers will help the investors get over their hangups on the business model.

If you don’t use coupons… hey, no problems there. I can’t make horses drink water they don’t want. Also want to be mindful I don’t “AmWay” you, as Mr. Scoble so nicely puts it. But, this is the business I want to go into. I’m not going to be shy about it. Maybe you know someone who DOES use coupons. Passing along the link above will still help us get to where we need to be. Which at the end of the day will be a mighty cool place. One where people can find the least expensive checkout basket + a heap of relevant coupons they no longer have to clip themselves.

Save money. Save time.

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POLL: Grocery Coupons? Yes? No?

July 11, 2007

Met with VC last week. Among other things they were curious to know how many people use coupons at the grocery checkout. So, how about it? Do you? If not, why not? (A few leading suppositions… inconvenience, time, not worthwhile…) If so, source? Newspaper, online?

Your answers will help GROCIO get its seed round of funding. So, my thanks to you in advance.

POLL: Do You Shop With A Grocery List?

June 26, 2007

Michelle and I a stingy. REALLY stingy. I’m the guy picking up the stray penny off the parking lot. She’s the coupon cutter upper. We make lists for the grocery store and stick to them.

Most people I see in grocery stores who have more than the express lane will allow have shopping LISTS.

Do YOU use a grocery list?

Just curious…