Fast-Track Your Startup Dreams By Joining A Successful One

successfail

Learning From Failure Might be a Tad Overrated

By now, we’ve all heard a lot about how important it is to fail, how we need to start failing immediately – in a sense so we can find about what NOT to do the fastest way possible.

Of course, we’ve all seen this happen, so I’m not about to debate its veracity.

There might be an alternative though.

Instead of learning from failure, why not learn from success? Instead of concentrating on what NOT to do, why not focus on WHAT to do?

How can you do this as someone who wants to develop his own startup?

One way is to go join a successful one.

My Chikka Days

When I think about it now, my five-year stint in Chikka really fast-tracked my own startup career. I didn’t exactly realize it then, but it did. 
chikka
I remember the first few weeks I was in Chikka, and coming from 2 very “corporate” companies, it was quite the culture shock. No manager rooms. First-name basis with everyone. A disdain for anything “formal.” (I believe their term for it was “Ponstan.” Long story)

I loved it! It was certainly very different from what I was used to – and I found myself gravitating towards it.

The more time I spent in Chikka, the more interesting things I soaked up. I noticed how then-CEO Dennis Mendiola and then-COO Chito Bustamante worked. Dennis worked on products and strategy. He would do off-the-wall stuff like ask waiters for their opinion on a product during formal meetings. He would leave the execution to Chito – and boy, did he execute. I remember one director describe Chito’s execution style as suave. Chito had a way of getting things done.

As a company, I remember hitting deadlines I never thought we’d hit. We just sort of willed things to happen.

I remember the little traditions. Lechon during a founder’s birthday. Top ten lists during events.

I remember dreaming big.

I actually started conceptualizing STORM at the same time that I was interviewing for Chikka. In retrospect, I think this was awfully good timing. It was the best of both worlds – I was starting my startup part-time while learning from a very good one full-time.

The Advantages of Joining a Startup (specifically if your ultimate goal is to put one up)

1) Learning First-Hand

arn

I can read, say, Disciplined Entrepreneurship and learn all about startup execution. I can memorize the whole thing and still, it could never compare to seeing first-hand how Chito pushed Chikka in executing strategy. Seeing that day-to-day, seeing what it takes – was truly an eye-opening experience. I carried all these lesson with me in developing my own firms.

One caveat here – following this logic, you have to choose a successful one. The whole point is to learn WHAT to do before doing it yourself. This only happens if you join a startup with some degree of success. This can be a bit tricky. Joining a startup which is too early in the game might not give you the “winning” lessons you are seeking. On the other hand, joining a fairly seasoned one might not give you “startup” lessons anymore.

2) Supportive Founders (mostly)

One thing with founders of startups – a good chunk of them will be passionate proponents of entrepreneurship.

So if you ask them, “hey can I do a startup on the side while I work with you fulltime?”

As long as it isn’t a competing product and it doesn’t interfere with your job, I’m guessing a fair number will actually be supportive. This is very different from a number of bigger corporations whom I know frown upon part-time work.

3) Less Risk

less riskThis is a biggie. By definition, a successful startup can probably afford to give you a competitive/semi-competitive salary (in contrast, for a number of startups, salary might not even be a given).

The most common risk in joining a startup is that you sacrifice immediate practical considerations (salary, benefits, position) for future glory. In those first few months/years in running a startup the most important factor is your learning curve(the essence of lean startup thinking). How fast do you learn what the right things are (the right market, the right product, the right strategy).

By joining a startup, you essentially can have your cake and eat it as well: you get to learn loads without necessarily sacrificing practicality.

4) Internal Social Proof

For me, THIS was probably the biggie.

As a startup founder, what I constantly wrangled with was doubt.

Will this even work? Is what I’m doing stupid? Is this worth all the trouble?

Being in Chikka really helped in convincing me that hey, not only is it possible to develop a successful startup (especially back in the mid-2000’s when the startup ecosystem isn’t what it is now), but it is actually quite possible to build one which scales.

That psychological edge can sometimes be all the difference.

Just Touch the Water

ripple

It still amazes me how so many of the largest companies in world started out as some crazy idea in someone’s head.

Then, these individuals began talking about it with another person. Perhaps Larry invited Sergey over for a coffee chat, perhaps Steve started an argument with Woz, Hewlett started brainstorming with Packard, Procter meets with Gamble for the first time, and so on.

As the idea is shared, it separates itself from one individual and takes on a life of its own.

Now, two or more people get excited about it.

More talks are scheduled. More energy is generated. Perhaps more people involved.

Then things get actually tried out.

Soon, papers get signed and boom, a company is borne!

This is a very, very familiar process for me…an idea surfaces between 2 or 3 people, excitement is generated, more meetings are arranged, research is done, things get moving, and soon, papers are signed.

Most startups are borne out of momentum. (sustaining it is an entirely different art)

But that first step is something I know is a barrier for some people.

You have to release your idea into the wild.

I know for a lot of people this is a very natural thing, but I also know that for a lot of people, this can be a very unnatural thing, like the shy kid getting ready to be called for orals.

It’s your idea after all, and to share it is to open yourself up to all sorts of imagined criticism and scorn.

If you have an idea though, an idea which you feel very strongly about, (the one which keeps you up at night) you CANNOT just let it remain stagnant in your head. You’re not doing anyone any favors, certainly not yourself.

You have to overcome.

TALK to people about it. What do your friends think? What do experts think? Heck, what do strangers think?

Go to startup events and talk about it. Talk to entrepreneurs in your field about it (entreps are mostly a helpful bunch)

I’d like to suggest JGL’s monthly open coffee 🙂

If you want to make any sort of ripple, you can’t be afraid of touching the water.

6 Tips to Ensure Your Idea is BIG Enough

Don’t fall into the trap of the small idea. Here are 6 tips on how to avoid doing so.

pill

1) Pick a painkiller

I touched on this a bit in a recent post. A painkiller is something someone very urgently needs. He would be willing to pay for it NOW if you could make the pain go away.

On the other hand, a vitamin is a nice-to-have.

Ask potential customers if your idea is a painkiller or a vitamin.

CHOOSE to go after painkillers. (no matter how sexy an idea the vitamin is, you’re bound to have better success with the painkiller)

Clipart Illustration of a Group Of Businessmen In Colorful Shirts, Carrying Briefcases And Holding Their Resumes Up At A Job Interview

2) Don’t stop with founder credentials

“Hey I like travel! I really could use an app which could tell me where all the best restos and resorts are when I visit a province. And I know you can do killer Android apps. Why don’t we make a Android-based, travel-app?”

For all the talk on lean startup, there are still a lot of entrepreneurs who KNOW about the lean startup model, but still, for some reason, refuse to incorporate even some of its more rudimentary principles. (namely, doing the necessary work to validate before building)

Don’t make your founder credentials the core of your startup (“I love traveling and know about it, he’s an Android apps man, we can make this work, baby!”).

Rather, let SOLVING THE PROBLEM be your core.

What is the problem? Why is it a problem? Who are the people who have this problem? What are the nuances? 

Startups are all about solutions. Solutions are all about problems. Dive deep into the problem set before deciding on anything.

monopolies

3) Look to monopolies or things that just have never improved

Banking. Farming. Education(!). Medicine. Government.

Solve systemic problems in these areas and I guarantee startup success.

I think sometimes – a lot of times –  people take these problems for granted, thinking, “this will never be solved” or “It always be like this.”

So not a lot of people even try.

Big problems? Not a lot of people trying to solve it?

That’s opportunity.

For instance, in HR, compensation and benefits is often regarded as a “boring” category. When we were doing our customer research with STORM as we were starting, we saw why. Everyone had the same “core” benefits – leaves, life insurance, and health insurance. As in EVERYONE had the same thing. And because of a rule called “diminution of benefits” companies couldn’t really change things. People were stuck. Benefits weren’t being used as a competitive advantage for a lot of firms.

We saw this as an opportunity to solve a problem not a lot of people were looking at.

Look around. There are a lot of problems people are taking for granted. Choose one you are interested in and GO DEEP.

(note: this won’t be easy, and in the case of going after monopolies, they do fight back)

dirty

4) Accept that you have to get your hands dirty to identify big ideas

I think one of the reasons why some people just go ahead and ignore lean startup methodologies is that it’s just plain hard.

Customer validation, for example, is harder than it sounds. You have to zero in on a customer segment. Then you have to identify who they are exactly, get their contact details. You have to book interviews with a lot them. They can blow you off. They can completely ignore you. This takes a lot of time and a lot of effort.

From this standpoint,  it’s so much easier to fall into the trap of just going with your original idea and building it immediately.

Do the work. It’s worth it. 

thinkbig

5) Don’t be afraid to think BIGGER

Quick, what’s your startup idea?

IMMEDIATELY ask – how can it be bigger?

Sometimes we can let our original designs limit the potential of an idea.

How can our idea be BIGGER? How can this be sold to a larger market? How can this go global?

Don’t be afraid to dream.

Think of the Social Network. It took Sean Parker to show Zuckerberg his idea could be so much more than a college network.

On that note, don’t be afraid to LOOK for your Sean Parker as well. Ask around – how can this idea be bigger, better? Don’t rely on one person’s (yours) opinion.

glimpse

6) Build for the Future

We live in a world of incredible change, where revolutions now happen on an annual basis.

All the devices you are holding now – your laptop, your tablet, your phone – will be obsolete in 2-3 years. By that time, you might be wearing an iWatch or a rocking Google Glasses.

How will your company hold up in this sort of climate in 2-3 years? Will it grow and evolve with how technology and society are growing and evolving? Will it be considered a dinosaur?

If you are building for the present market, your potential is already capped. Plus you are in danger of being disrupted.

Instead, build for the future. Learn to LOOK for trends, read them correctly (tricky), and build accordingly.

And I think you have to be two steps ahead already.

For example, if you’re building something based on “smartphone prices dropping” or “Filipinos buying increasingly online” then you might be a tad late – there are a number of firms already capitalizing on this. (Witness the number of local online stores sprouting the last few years – while some of them ALREADY are profitable now, that profitability will pale in comparison to what they will earn in a few years riding the trend.)

So look for NEWER trends you can capitalize on.

(Will this post especially resonate with someone you know? Please go and share!)

July 2013 Open Coffee Postscript

JGL's July Open Coffee
JGL’s July Open Coffee

There was a moment during the actual pitching proper last Saturday’s Open Coffee event that I looked at Matt and AR of JGL and said, “I love this…I love it!”

It was one of the many times when someone in the audience had the the RIGHT contact or the RIGHT information and then just generously offers it to the pitcher who needs it.

This encapsulates the whole point of Juan Great Leap: collaboration and learning. The JGL Open Coffee format pushes this to another level: there is no “sage on the stage” or a central source of information. It’s just entrepreneurs and entrepreneur-minded people helping one another out.

As usual, last Saturday was very, very different from every other Open Coffee event we’ve had. The pitches were very varied.

Mano Abello got the “first pitch” honors and started the ball rolling.

mano abello

Animator/entrepreneur Dennis Sebastian shows off his awesome animation short and asks for collaboration on marketing original Filipino content:

dennis Sebastian

In a very peculiar sequence of events, we then get three people pitch different travel-related ideas back-to-back-to-back.

tim
Tim’s second Open Coffee pitch
gerard cruz
17-year old Gerard Cruz making his travel app pitch
matt lapid
JGL’s very own Matt Lapid pitching his tourist video idea

Then, we get our very first 4-people pitch when the folks at Minda-Now! make their pitch and collect feedback for their awesome idea/advocacy.

Minda-NOW
Wasn’t sure here at first if we would give them 2 minutes as a group or two minutes each. Ended up doing one minute each.

Next we had dessert entrepreneur Christian elicit a lot of feedback from fellow-restauranteurs in the audience.

christian
note to future food entreps: bring samples 🙂

In another back-to-back, Florence and Barney close the pitching proper by pitching their social enterprises

Florence of Route 63, a travel-related social enterprise
Florence of Route 63, a travel-related social enterprise
Barney pitches his learning-based social enterprise, TEAM
Barney pitches his learning-based social enterprise, TEAM

Finally, we had Zar Castro of talk about the awesome 47 East site.

zar

 

Here’s one interesting observation from last Saturday: It’s becoming a family affair!

Take a look at this pic.

family affair

That’s THREE father and son pairs in Open Coffee. I think this is very interesting and stems from two factors. One, I think there’s a felt need for entrepreneurial parents to expose their children to entrepreneurship and startups. A big number of entrepreneurs I know feel that our traditional learning institutions don’t exactly give the right “real world” exposure to entrepreneurship and startups. So parents feel that they need to strongly “supplement” their children’s learning.

The other factor is that there are more and more young people getting interested in startups. The three teenagers here weren’t dragged in kicking and screaming. They WANTED to go. (In fact, one of them pitched) In fact, maybe a fifth of the people who went to this one were students. That’s awesome.

I’m ALREADY excited for the next one.

Why TURBO is (surprisingly) the most entrepreneurial movie you’ll see in years

The most entrepreneurial animated film you’ll ever see!

I watched TURBO last night with my family. The wifey liked it. The kids LOVED it. 

Unbeknownst to them, I was loving it a little more than I probably should. Why?

Turbo is easily the greatest entrepreneurial animated movie I have ever seen!!! 

(now that’s a sentence I’d never, ever thought about writing in this blog)

At the risk of spoiling the movie by detailing how exactly it achieved this, let me just enumerate several entrepreneurial themes that I managed to observe in the movie.

There were SO many. 

To wit (when you do watch the movie, do see if you can tick some of these off – most are pretty obvious):

A “crazy” one dreaming of a big thing

The desire to leave the corporate assembly line

Unsupportive family/friends

Failing many times before succeeding

Raising money

Pitching to investors

How traction makes raising money easier

Virality and how mobile enables it

The value of PR

The value of key partners and alliances

Being the underdog

Racing with the big boys

Leveraging on agility when racing with the big boys

Not giving up

How “good enough” isn’t good enough

The rewards of entrepreneurship

The movie was fun and enjoyable enough by itself. Viewed through entrepreneurial lens, it becomes something much more.

See it soon and tell me what you think!

Dare To Pitch Postscript

group pic

Last Saturday, Juan Great Leap and Hybridigm held Dare To Pitch at the STORM headquarters in Ortigas Center. It was a pitching forum where we invited startups to pitch to VC’s.

No winners, no prizes.

We just wanted deserving entrepreneurs to have a venue where they could pitch to institutional investors. At best, they could get funded, at worst, they WILL get valuable experience, feedback, and contacts.

The event was actually a non-public post-event, where ready attendees of the pitching seminar Pitchcraft could volunteer to do an ACTUAL pitch. There were a few audience slots which we opened up to the JGL subscriber base (there are benefits of becoming a subscriber!),  which were gobbled up quickly.

We then invited veteran VC’s Dan Pagulayan, Managing Director of Angeon Advisors, and Nix Nolledo, renowned local tech investor, to hear the pitches and give feedback.

Strict 5 minutes per pitch.

Pitching startups include: NDFY, Doxcheck, Geek Speak, Rumarocket, Realty Check, Wegen, Matchdrobe, Hack Blitz, Gerry Cruz of Angage, and entrepreneur Alex Calero.

Alex Calero does a demo of his gaming concept

I thought there were generally awesome ideas behind each pitch – most pitches endeavored to solve real problems. VC Dan Pagulayan told me he’d want to further talk to 8 out of the 10 pitches presented, and that he’s really excited with the number of quality pitches presented.

Just some further observations on the event:

1) Value in witnessing pitches

As a very opinionated person, it was tough for me to JUST listen to the proceedings, but I gotta say, I learned a whole lot. Each pitch was basically an attempt to solve a specific problem in a specific area in our world: from OPM, recruitment, turbine engines, to geek couture, it was a thrill for me not only to learn about these different pockets from the pitchers, but also listening in on what the VC panel had to say. Horizon-stretching. 

2) We need to practice with the time limit

7 out of the 10 people who pitched had to be cut off at the 5 minute mark. This for me indicates some lack of practice time. Pitchers have to maximize their airtime. In particular, what usually was part of what is cut is the ACTUAL money pitch: how much the startup needs, where it will go, and what’s in it for the investor. (I think these have to be conveyed quickly at the start)

3) Underlining go-to market strategy

Only a couple of pitches actually explained EXACTLY how the money they were trying to raise would be used in penetrating the market. I’ve seen this in particular with very technical founders who dive into the product, and sometimes miss pointing out how the startup would begin making money, and it intends to scale. For any investor, this is probably THE most crucial part – how exactly is this person going to make my money back?

4) Younger people are getting in on it

Current Ateneo student Red Bermejo pitching
Current Ateneo student Red Bermejo pitching

I’ve seen this trend in our JGL open coffee sessions (do sign up now!), where more and more students pitch and participate. 3 of the 10 pitches were given by current students. I think this is an awesome, awesome development, and I hope it continues to trend up.

Glen Macadaeg of NDFY
Glen Macadaeg of NDFY
Lara Santico of Realty Check
Lara Santico of Realty Check

The Absolutely Crucial Art of Defending Your Dream Time

defending

Do you want to know what’s truly important to you?

There’s really no need for further philosophical / existential analysis.

Here’s a surefire way to know.

Take a look at your calendar for the past month. Take a look at the number of hours you spend on certain tasks.

Where you spend your time will show you an objective view as to what you truly find important.

Do you spend countless hours working overtime? How much time do you spend with your family? Do you spend a lot of time pampering yourself? Video games? TV?

Your calendar says a whole lot about you. 

calendar

In our community, we are encouraged to “defend our prayer time.” That we should spend 15-30 minutes, at a specific time of the day, praying and being with God. We know this will be challenged by the temptation to sleep, watch TV, work, or a hundred other things, which is why we have to vigorously defend the time. Because God is important.

I can’t help but think this also applies to following our career dreams as well. We need to designate a certain time of day. Even just 15-30 minutes a day(for those of us will fulltime jobs which we already know don’t and won’t fulfill us). Because our dreams are important.

I recently talked to someone asking me for advice on how to do a startup part-time. He had an interesting B2B idea which I thought had some potential. I told him it IS possible to start things part-time, but that he would have to work hard and render disciplined, daily effort. I told him we can talk from time to time so I can check up on him. He kept on saying the right things – I want to follow my dreams, I want to pursue what I love, I will do what it takes.

But then when it was time to share with me what research he should’ve garnered, or which potential partners he’s now talked to, he chokes. He says he just too busy.

I would have believed it too, had he avoided adding me in FB, where his reactions to Game of Thrones and the NBA playoffs pop up in my feed.

An NBA game is around 2 1/2 hours. Initial internet research on possible competition can take a mere 30 minutes of smart Googling. Coffee with a potential partner usually takes an hour.

In the time he took to watch ONE basketball game, he could have interviewed two candidates and made the research.

NBA > Dreams.

It sounds funny and simplistic, but if we take a look at our calendars, I’m sure we would also see dozens of “misalignments” between what we SAY are important to us and where we ACTUALLY spend our time.

If your family is important to you, did you sacrifice time from other stuff to be with them?

If your dreams are important to you, how much time a day do you spend working on it?

Just a mere 30 minutes a day of deliberate work on your dream can yield tremendous results.

When I was starting STORM out in 2005, I had a fulltime job and I was pursuing a master’s degree. I had really wanted to do a “business” though, (the term “startup” wasn’t quite popular yet) so I really resolved to find some time. I still remember spending a few minutes every weekday researching on flexible benefit competition, polishing my powerpoint deck, and “profiling” potential partners (I remember having a list of people with their strengths and backgrounds). Sunday mornings (otherwise known as corporate veg-out time) would be sacrificed for morning coffee with potential co-founders. I would drive out to the Starbucks nearest to the homes of my potential partners.

After months of doing this, I finally found partners who were willing to take the leap with me. Then, the project started taking a life on its own. There was momentum (so crucial). Excited, I started finding more and more time to work on my dream. Weekend coffee transformed into weekend planning with my partners. Soon, we would be putting up our share of the money, get SEC-registered, and start. By no means was it smooth sailing after, but I never looked back. Three years after, I took my fated full-time leap.

Is your dream worth sacrificing for and pursuing?

If it is, then take your calendar and start making changes.

Put your time where your mouth is.

(do you know anyone who would especially resonate with this post? be a blessing and share! Sometimes we need to encourage people to take leaps! – Peter)

Do you really need Near Death to finally begin living life?

flatline

A few months ago a friend of mine told me about her recent life-changing plane trip

It was the stuff of nightmares. The plane she was riding in was becoming unstable. So much so that they actually released the gas masks and were given instructions to brace themselves. She thought that was it for her.

Fortunately, no crisis happened.

A different crisis though, was slowly swelling within her.

After her horrendous ordeal, she began questioning everything.

Why still be in corporate if she’s not happy? Why wasn’t she spending as much time with her kids? What did she REALLY want to do? What is her purpose?

She is now in the process of changing her life. Aligning it.

We know stories like this. Of people suddenly sobering up in the face of some near-fatal accident or sickness.

We read about them. We watch movies and TV shows about them.

Yes, we get inspired by them, but how many of us actually ACT accordingly?

I think most of us are caught in the illusion that we have time.

But we don’t really know for sure, do we?

It’s not just because death can visit our doors anytime, but also because time marches methodically. Unrelenting. Unfeeling.

You can continue saying, “I”ll do it this year,” and soon get to realize a whole decade just passed.

It seems only like a year ago that I graduated from college, not the actual 16.

Do we really need a near-death experience to jar us into truly living?

masksPerhaps you can simulate one.

Close your eyes. Use your imagination.

Imagine the gas masks were getting dropped on YOUR trip. Your plane is about to crash.

You are about to die.

Now ask yourself two questions:

1. What do you regret not having done? 

2. Are these the same things you are spending most of your time on now? 

Ponder. Consider. Pray.

Then, act.

How I’m Picking Up The Pieces and Re-Launching Them As Startups. Anyone interested in being founders?

Pick-up-Sticks

Around 3 years ago, STORM was in a rut.

We made a sellable product in Flexible Benefits. We were so excited that people were ACTUALLY BUYING our product that we…

…made OTHER products instead of concentrating and building on our winner.

I blame my entrepreneurial craziness for this one. Wrote about this a bit for homegrown.ph – on the serial temptation

Soon, we had more products than we had people! While each idea was an innovative one and made a BIT of money for us, what we mostly produced was a boatload of mediocrity. Instead of making one GREAT thing – we did a number of  inspired but UNDEVELOPED products.

So channeling our inner Steve Jobs, we killed all our horses except for the biggest one, the one which put us on the map – flexible benefits.

It’s been a great decision.

My STORM business partner Paolo and I made a little experiment though. Among the dropped products, we decided to pursue the next-most promising (and profitable) one, and spin it off into a startup.

Wary of committing the same mistakes again, Pao and I swore we won’t be involved operationally in this new one. So we then looked for TWO MORE co-founders for the would-be firm: a Pitcher CEO and a DOM (Borrowing Maoi’s awesome definitions).  Pao and I would only continue to be involved on a board level.

A few months after?

Strata.ph was launched. What Strata wants to do is to disrupt the way companies manage their people through an online platform which manages competencies.

Within the first few months of operations, it has already managed to secure lucrative b2b contracts. Using the standard of “How much time does it take for the startup to make its first million,” this, by far has been the most successful startup I’ve been involved in.

How has Strata.ph done this?

Here’s why it worked:

1) Fulltime founders

Really quite crucial. Self-explanatory.

2) Sharing the STORM marketing database

Storm and Strata have the same target market.

So instead of Strata calling clients on the phone and asking:

Good afternoon! I’m _____ from Strata. We sell an online competencies platform. May we talk to your HR Director? (pause to listen)

Uhm, no he isn’t expecting my call. 

Hello? Hello?!

We can instead call clients on the phone and ask:

Uy, Jun how are you? How are the kids and their first days in school?” (pause to listen)

Sounds good! Kamusta naman ang flexible benefits ninyo? (pause to listen)

I’m glad to hear that! Tawagan mo lang ako kung magkaroon kayo ng problema ha.”

Dude, do you remember that sister company I told you about? The one doing an online competency framework? Would you have some time this week to meet with them?

This is a BIGGIE.

3) The board knows the market and the business – from a startup perspective

Pao and I are members of the Strata board. Who better to help the CEO and COO of new HR technology startup than another CEO/COO pair who run a successful one?

HR

So where does this all point towards?

I’m now looking at the remaining dropped STORM product lines with a glint in my eye.

Does anyone want to help me put them up?

There are 3 HR ideas I want to pursue and build startups above. 

Here’s who I need (it should be pretty obvious if you’ve read the above):

1) I need people who can commit FULLTIME or if you’re working fulltime, someone who is SERIOUSLY considering a fulltime leap.

2A) The first idea has something to do with training and development. I need 2 people for this one. I need a pitching CEO, and a STATISTICIAN – someone who loves numbers and analysis.

2B) The second idea has something to do with recruitment. For this I might need 2 people as well people. A pitching CEO (ideally someone with recruitment background),  a tech guy who knows how to build web products.

2C) The third idea is an OD consulting play. It ALREADY has a pitching CEO, I would need a partner for him – preferably a someone with an OD background.

3) I need people who will LEAD and be accountable. I need entrepreneurs.

These people I’m looking for will really be STARTUP FOUNDERS. I will not be involved directly in operations, so it’s up to you to build the company.

If you’re interested, send me a line at peter@juangreatleap.com. Do attach a CV and a cover letter as to why you think you’d be a great fit.

Want to take a leap? Send me that email now!

On the New Storm Office, the Infamous Orange Chair, and Why You Can Do It!

STORM transferred to its newest office a few weeks ago.

I love it!

It’s brightly lit, incredibly functional, spaceous, and comfortable to work in. There are no “manager” rooms. There are whiteboards and wallboards everywhere, and multiple spaces for different kinds of meetings.

Pictures below!

The main reception area
The main reception area
main hallway
Our main hallway
tech and QA
Tech and QA work area
The pantry
The pantry
main conference room
Conference Room
marketing/sales/hr working area
marketing/sales/hr working area

Looking closely, you would also see rather peculiar items in the office:

Like this old restaurant-style chair…

Steel restaurant chair
Try spending 8 hours working on this steel chair

And of course, our infamous “orange chair.”

The infamous, one-armrest orange chair
No, you wouldn’t want to see this in a high-resolution picture. Yep, its THAT grimy.

These “artifacts” belonged to the very first Storm office – the one-bedroom condo where I lived.  The bedroom became my house – everything else was transformed into the office.

(how I wish my old hard drive didn’t crash so I could’ve shown some pictures here)

I always joke around the office that we have to throw these chairs away, that I would designate them as prizes in our Christmas raffle for the poor soul who would end up “winning” it.

That restaurant chair there was donated by a friend of ours who closed down a restaurant. Nope, those chairs don’t have ANY bend on them. They are as uncomfortable as you can imagine.

That orange chair was the only comfortable chair we had. It was also a donation from someone who already had it retired in their home stock room. (Of course we still had to sit on the hard chairs – this comfy chair went to our first employee – our programmer) (Hi Angela =)

Truth is, I would want these items around for as long as they would hold up. They’re continual reminders of our journey. It’s a reminder of what we went through and who we are. Of how incredible Blessed we are. Actually, this is what I feel when I walk around the office. It’s not “wow, we have a nice office,” rather, it’s “wow, we’re pretty blessed!”

You see, back then, we had nothing.

We had no experience in running a firm, no mentors, no “donations” from any relatives, no MBA’s, no high QPI’s, no funding, no fancy methodology, no automatic clients referred by a powerful relative. We just had 2 things going for us: an idea we believed in (flexible benefits), and a powerful desire to see it through.

Then we just leapt and committed.

This is partly what fuels my passion in telling you to do the same: I really believe you can do it. Perhaps all you need might be a little push. Hopefully, this can be your push. Trust me, you don’t need any of the above-mentioned stuff. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.

Don’t wait. Leap.

(Do visit us at 602 Centerpoint Building, Julia Vargas cor Garnet Streets, Ortigas Center! And if you have anyone in mind who might especially appreciate this post or will find it useful, do click those buttons and share!)