Brian Ma's Blog (@zealoustiger)

Weekly insights from an Entreprenuer: To spend one year as a tiger is better than to live forever as sheep

Tag Archives: Startup

Startup: One month recap

It’s been one entire month since I took my first step so I thought it’d be a good time to recap my accomplishments: afterall, I did start this blog to document my crazy startup journey. I’ve worked more hours, learned more, and gotten more done then I’ve ever done in my LIFE. Productive time has shot through the roof. A typical day:

  • 7 hours sleep
  • 13 hours work
  • 1 hour blogging
  • 1 hour workout
  • 1.5 hour lunch + dinner
  • 0.5 hour logging into Warcraft and realizing it’s really not that fun anymore

What’s funny is that weekends are the same as every other day now – still 13 hours of work – which means a typical week is easily 60+ hours. I no longer work for the weekends. I work for fun. (And when work is fun, it’s not really work). :)

Alright, enough analysis. Here’s my list. Accomplishments in the past month:

  • Started a blog
  • Met more people then I’ve met in an entire year
  • Had catchup lunches with old old friends
  • Wrote my first 20 page business plan (much harder than I thought)
  • Learned a bunch of stuff about VCs, funding, taxes, incorporation, HR, etc – more stuff then I’d learn in my many years of college
  • Bought an iPhone AND a macbook.  $$ down the drain, but well worth it
  • FINALLY wrote some code – after going through code withdrawal since college
  • Declined more interviews/offers than I can count
  • Run 3 miles/day consistently (After starting out huffing and puffing after 3/4 of a mile) :)

So there you have it. One month in to a long, hard, but hopefully rewarding adventure.

“To spend one year as a tiger is better than to live forever as sheep”

Google Doodles

I’ve been trying to get my photoshop skillz up to snuff recently since I’ll soon be needing it soon to draw mockups of my startup.  I already talked a little bit about how amazing Google’s creative aura is here, but today I ran into this:

So cool.  Wish I could draw like that.

It is lonely being an Entreprenuer…

So I like to take some time everyday reading about how others have gone through it. Today, I was lucky enough to run into this great post from CuriousOffice comparing Entrepreneurs vs. arm chair quarterbacks. Here’ s a highlight: (But I encourage you to read the whole blog post, it’s concise and to the point)

But the arm chair quarterbacks will be the ones who get under your skin. They are drawing paychecks from a company somebody else started. They have never raised money against their own ideas. The have never put themselves out for others to put under the microscope. They will never be need to be judged against their true abilities because their faults are hidden within the infrastructure of something much larger than they are. So, entrepreneurs I hope you pat yourselves on the back today. You live and die on how you do. That earns you the right to say whatever the hell you want about things because now you don’t have to appear politically correct in meetings so you’ll get that holiday bonus or that promotion. You are not perfect and the armchair quarterbacks will be sure and remind you of that fact. But you have courage in spades because what you do is too scary for most people to try.

It’s been a hectic, but very fun three weeks of startup work, but oh Zillow, how I miss the ping pong, guitar hero, and super smart and great friends I have made there.

I just wish someday I’ll have earned that right to say “whatever the hell I want about things” too. But until then, gonna have to get back to work and find me some funding for my little startup.. .

Startup Studio: Extraordinary Entrepreneurs

Unemployment for me so far has meant – working out alot + fooling around with IPhone + startup stuff. In the interest of multitasking and making my time more efficient, I’ve managed to combine all those things into one.

Check out Startup Studio. As they put it, they’re about “Interviews with extraordinary entrepreneurs. Hear how they did it. Learn how you can too” Not bad huh? Now I can run while tuning in with my IPhone listening to startup stuff.

If anyone has any other great startup podcast/audio sites, let me know. I can’t believe there’s no good comprehensive site for these audio resources. Maybe I should do another startup in this space after I finish with my current endeavors.

Skillbit: Tragic startup ending

I’ve followed Skillbit pretty closely while they were still in development, so I’m sad to hear John Cook report that they’ve officially been dissolved.

For those of you that haven’t heard of Skillbit, it was an experiment to run and build a startup from initial conception and incubation, to actually building out the product and launching it as a live service in 54 hours. Craziness, yeah, but hey, that’s how super passionate and motivated startup junkies get their highs. :) Wish I could’ve been part of it. (This is their actual beta site which lets you see what they’ve accomplished in such short time and a good rundown from Kimm Viebrock on the weekend chaos)

Skillbit Logo

Tragic ending indeed – I hate it how some legal mumbo-jumbo can ruin a potentially great startup, but hey, I congratulate all the super bright people involved in it’s making. Must have been a great experience, and with so many smart people involved, I’m sure there will be more legendary stories to hear from this group.

I have a secret…

Two weeks of sweet and blood (no tears yet) and I’ve finally completed my first business plan. I had no idea it was going to be so hard.

So I’m now officially in “stealth mode”. :) Sounds cool huh? Let me know if you wanna know my secret plans to take over the world and I might leak something if I’m in a good mood or incredibly drunk.

Next stop – get funding. Looks like I should probably take a look at these guys that John Cook interviewed. Hot off the press! Great timing.

Ninja Stealth Mode

“Business is easy”

“Business is easy.”

Rich Barton, the big man at Zillow, said this once at an all company meeting… And it’s haunted me ever since. I can still remember where I was, what the weather was like, what pizza I was eating, and even what shirt Rich was wearing. I can replay it over and over in my mind – and I do. Everyday.

The past few weeks of trying to throw a business plan together have been hellish. Sure, I don’t have to wake up early to commute and go to work everyday and sit in an office, but I’ve been tracking my time and my “work” has easily extended to 12+ hours a day (which doesn’t count the time in the shower, eating, turning around in bed, etc while still thinking about the startup).

When you’re passionate about something – it engulfs you. It’s a good feeling, but at the same time its freakin’ scary. There’s no motivation better than the thought of everything riding on your shoulders.  If you fail, its your fault.  At least back at Zillow, I always had someone else to blame. (read: developers :) )

So yeah… two whole weeks, many many hours, and working through weekends on the business plan and where have I gotten? Not very far. There is so much stuff to learn and so much stuff to do. But hey, it’s fun. At least for now.

Sorry Rich, you’re wrong. Business is hard. Very hard.

$$$: Online Ad Spend


I’ve been doing a lot of market research lately for my startup. Any web entrepreneur is probably considering or has considered Ads as a viable business model. Google has made it super easy here. $9.99 Billion in ad revenues in 1H07. They must be doing something right. So what category/industries spend the most online? Here’s what I undercovered:

Categories that spend the MOST online:

  • Internet (51.2%)
  • Diet and Fitness (26.1%)
  • Computer Products (18.6%)
  • Financial Services (17.0%)
  • Education (14.2%)
  • Media (13.7%)

Categories that spend the LEAST online:

  • Home Furnishings (1.8%)
  • Personal Care Products (1.8%)
  • Retail Home & Building (1.7%)
  • Household Products (1.5%)
  • Apparel (1.4%)
  • Restaurants (0.9%)

The percentages read something like this: Diet and Fitness category advertisers spend an average of 26.1% of their 2006 total media budget on the Internet. So while this might not be a good indication of how much absolute $$ each category spends, it is a good indicator of how comfortable each of these industries are at spending money advertising online.

Maybe I should start a “LOSE FAT IN 30 DAYS” startup to capture that 26.1% Diet and Fitness category. :)