With my startup kahub launching any day now, I figure it would be a good time to look back at the entire experience, what I’ve learned, and give any sage advice to any budding entrepreneurs out there. Am I even close to done with this whole startup thing? Not even close. Do I know everything? Hell no. But I figure it may be good to tell people of my experiences thus far.
When I first thought of the idea of kahub, I thought it would be a cool side project. Boy was I naive. Kahub quickly turned from a small little side project, to a pure obsession. Every hour of every day (and night for that matter), I was thinking about kahub, how to make it better, how to expand, etc. Kahub and I were engaged, soon to be married. Now, I really didn’t mind this. I actually kind of liked it. However, one thing that I still can’t stand, is that I can never use kahub as a average user. I am always a hyper-vigilant early adopter. Criticizing every pixel, every interaction, every action. I can never really enjoy my project, because I am always pre consumed with criticizing it. Do I think this makes for a better overall product? Yes. Does this do wonders for my health? Not so much. If you want to do a startup, you are going to have to marry your idea. If you are not prepared for this serious relationship, don’t do a startup!
I always liked meeting people, talking to people. I truly like people. So, co-founding a startup seemed like a good fit for me. What I didn’t realize is that half of my interactions with my developers, at the end at least, were arguments. When people see that you have an idea that could possibly really work, they take advantage of that. If you outsource, which I did, be prepared to deal with difficult people. If you’re not ready to be adamant and show tenacity in the face of ignorance, those “it would be so cool if” moments, and seemingly brilliant ideas, don’t do a startup! You have to learn to say no, a lot.
Would I do this entire experience again? Hell yes. Would I do it completely differently next time? Absolutely.
p.s. sign up for our beta www.kahub.com!
I’ve been playing around with the katango app for a while now, and I must say, it’s kind of creepy how accurate it is. For those of you that don’t know, katango is an app which intelligently groups your friends from Facebook as though you would group them in your mind. It’s deadly accurate, but what I still don’t understand is why it is an app. What they do on your iPhone is much more suitable for the web. It just seems like an app for the sake of being an app.
Earlier this week, the popular European music streaming service, Spotify, was launched in the United States. I really hate the phrase “[X] killer”, but if I were iTunes or
Grooveshark, I’d be shaking in my boots.
Let me just say before I start nitpicking, the service is excellent. Fast streaming, large library, great UI. Spotify is a great service, which, unlike many other services, from the start shows how valuable it is for a user, and that is vital.
There are however, a few problems that the service may face down the road. So I’ve created a wish list of what I believe Spotify needs to ultimately beat iTunes as the #1 music service:
Colin’s Spotify Wishlist:
- Smart Playlists
This one’s really a no-brainer. Creating playlists manually is a pain, if there was a way that Spotify could automagically create playlists for me, that would be great. For example, on iTunes, I have a “New Music” playlist, which has music I downloaded from the last month, and a “Bad Shit” playlist, which includes any song by Rebecca Black, Souljia Boy, Gucci Mane, or Wacca Flocka Flame.
- Better iTunes integration
Over the years, I have curated numerous playlists, filters, and the like in iTunes for the optimal experience for me. iTunes provides a file which describes these things in an XML format. If Spotify could find that file, and implement it, that would be the icing on the cake.
- More beautiful UI/UX
Now, don’t get me wrong. As it stands now the Spotify UI is beautiful in a minimalist way. However, theres a line between minimalism and just plain boringness. Spotify is leaning to the boring side a bit. One area where most Apple products shine is their UI, and by creating a more beautiful, engaging UI, listening to music would become more of an experience, and less of a passive act. Spotify should take note of this, and create a more engaging experience for the end user.
- Upload your own songs.
Right now, I’m paying $9.99/month for the premium service, and I really think it’s silly that I can’t upload my own music for me to play on any device, whenever I want it.
- More social
According to some reports, Spotify in the United States was supposed to be “Facebook Music”, but right now the only Facebook integration is a sidebar that shows which friends are already on the service. I find it to be janky and just slapped on. I really wish I was able to see a playlist called “What my Friends are Playing” or something, that would show which songs are popular amongst my friends, and see little profile pictures next to each song, to indicate which friends are listening to that song at that moment. Then, listening to music would not be a singular experience, but a more immersive one wherein you could actually listen to music with friends.
All in all, Spotify is an excellent service. However, to capture the momentum of iTunes, they’ll have to make a lot of changes to the service to make it viable competitor.
So I’ve been playing around with Google’s new social networking effort, Google+ for a while now, and I have to say, I am quite impressed. For Google, it seems like a very well thought out social network. And that really is the key there, “For Google”. The company
has had a long bumpy road when it has come to social networking, from privacy law suits, to just general confusion, the company has continually tried, and continually failed at social. Although, for Google, this is a good try at a social network, if any unknown startup would try and do exactly what Google+ is trying to do I can almost guarantee that they would fail for numerous reasons:
1. Google+ is confusing.
For the average non-techie user, the very idea of Google+ confuses them. For years we as a people have been conditioned in the Facebook model of synchronous friendship. The asynchronous model, that is kind of synchronous and kind of not, that Google adopts, although more closely mirrors human interaction, when put on paper is quite confusing. Circles, okay, I get that. But really, when it comes to sharing a piece of content, unless you really think about it, you don’t know where that content is going to. Who is in my “extended circles”? Who is in this “incoming” thing? It’s all far too complex. There have been many studies that show the more decisions a user has to make, the more their satisfaction using the product goes down. Don’t make me think!
2. Google+ is all chaff, no wheat.
Looking at my Google+ stream, all I see are pictures of people’s kids, stuff I’ve already seen before on Twitter, and stuff I saw yesterday on Google+. In all three of these cases, I really don’t care what it is, I don’t want to see it. Besides a few Tom Anderson (of myspace meme fame), nothing on Google+ seems to be compelling enough for me to look at it. When I first started using Google+, I commented on a Scoble post thinking that, oh, Google’s smart enough to realize that when a post has a deluge of activity, I probably don’t want to get an email every single time someone else comments on it. But no, my inbox was almost immediately filled with emails at a rate of more than one a second with replies like “haha agree”, and “you are so right!”. Again, I don’t care.
There was a great tweet the other day by Andy Levy of FOX News RedEye (@andylevy) which pretty much sums this up: “As far as I can tell, every post on Google+ is either something I already saw on Twitter or something about Google+.” Yes.
3. Google+ lacks real innovation.
Long gone are the days of creating a social network, simply to say “Hey Everybody look, I got one a those social networky things!”. To succeed, you must innovate. You have to think differently about a problem, and Google+ simply has not done this at all. Circles, Facebook friend lists. Public Profiles, Twitter and Facebook pages. Hangouts, Skype group video chat. Sparks, Google News/RSS/Twitter/paper.li/utopic/trap.it/etc.. Nothing here is something I would say “wow” to. It’s all meh.
Let’s also understand Google’s motivations here for creating Google+. It’s not to make “the web a more open and social place”. It’s a play to make Google social, not a social product made by Google. It’s two sides of the same coin. Theres a reason why Google+ is called what it is, it was not intended to be another product by Google that happens to be social, but rather a play for the world to see Google as social so that they can go back to doing what they are best at, search. And so, after 6 months when the vanity of Google+ wears off and we start seeing weather the product actually has a place in peoples lives, I strongly believe that many will realize that it doesn’t. And, quite frankly, shouldn’t. So, what do I think about Google+? Yawn.
Coquelicot Daaamn, I got some fancy french ass flowers genitals.
“Girl wait ‘til you see my 1990 NHL Supplemental Draft”
Doubting Thomas. Be honest, I have the best one.
And I’m really surprised by how half-baked it is. When you import from iTunes,
it doesn’t import your playlists, it only imports your playlists when the playlist’s almost finished uploading. When browsing around, you can’t filter or anything. You can’t sort by date added (which is really odd). You can only search and sort alphabetically, by time, artist, etc., but not date added…
Another thing that surprised me, no offline music storage. From their keynote at I/O, I was under the impression that I could “pin” or save songs locally, but nope, can’t do that.
Furthermore, they have this thing called “Auto playlists”, which in theory negates a lot of the aforementioned problems, but still you can’t create your own, you’re stuck with 3: “Thumbs Up” (Pandora-esque thumbs up), “Recently Added” (which is out of order), and
“Free Music” (You get some free songs as part of being part of Music Beta by actual artists, like Billboard top 100 artists).
A problem a lot of people have been having is the extraneously long upload time of songs. I get that this service was not the one that Google wanted to initially launch. However, I am surprised that a company with the clout that Google has was unable to come come to an agreement where Google just keeps one copy of a song, and serves it to everyone a la Rdio, which would make the whole “upload time” issue vanish.
One thing that is good about the Google Music Beta, is how it listens to your iTunes library, and automagically uploads the new songs that you buy. I really love this feature, and wish Amazon would implement it in their Cloud Player (if Amazon did this and made their interface a little prettier, it would be much more useful).
Another decent thing about Music Beta is their (albeit a bit drab) UI. It’s fast, slick and painfully easy to use.
In theory, Google Music is a great idea. As a person with multiple computers, across multiple platforms, it would be nice just have one unified jukebox. However, in execution, it’s far less than impressive.
If Google really wants to be my music provider, they’re gonna have to try a little harder than this.
I understand that this product is a Beta, but still, that’s no excuse for a obviously unfinished product. It dosen’t have to work perfectly, the user should be able to see where the service is going, and that’s not obvious with Google’s Music Beta.
Update: So after nearly 24 hours of uploading, I think it’s the final stretch. Almost home free. Then, just like that. Everything stops. No more uploading, no more new playlists. Did it upload all my songs like it was supposed to? No. 534 songs and some of my favorite playlists are yet to be uploaded, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to be uploaded. It’s just stalling…
I’ve been playing around with Google’s new Chrome OS for a while now, and, it is exactly what Google said it would be, a browser (well in the Pilot Program at least, a browser on horribly underpowered hardware). And, although that’s it’s major upside, it is also it’s major downfall. While everything is up to date with all of my Chrome browsers, which is marvelous, what Chrome OS still lacks is a use case for those of us who don’t do every single action on the web, which is most of us. The lack of local storage on the device makes using it extreamly impractical.
Innovative? Not really. While people are scrambling to get the operating system, what many don’t realize is it’s already available for download on any computer. In Chrome. Chrome OS is simply Chrome running on full screen. Whoo hoo.