Maxing out your Dropbox referrals (how I got 16GB for less than $10)

September 22, 2011

A friend of mine a while back shared a cool little hack with me.  How to max out your bonus space on Dropbox by using Adwords.  (Note: I am on the 50GB plan, where you can max out and additional 16GB by having 32 friends sign up and install Dropbox.)

Sign into your Google Adwords account and create a new campaign.

  • First select the countries, I went with all, but took out China and a couple other ones – honestly I don’t think this made much of a difference.
  • For languages I chose: English, French, Japanese, German and Spanish.
  • Select all Networks and all Devices.
  • Your budget should max out at $20/day (you won’t need to run this campaign for more than 1-2 days).

  • For the keywords, I ran with the following list: dropbox, free online storage, online backup free, online backup, online backup data, and dropbox space:

  • I maxed out all CPC at $.05.  As you can see above the average CPC was actually $.03.
  • I ran two different ad copies which you can see below.  I focused on the word ‘free’ and the ’2.25GBs’ that one would get with signing up.

This campaign ran for roughly one and a half days and ended up costing a whopping $9.80.  So this now gets me an extra 16GB for life for less than $10, I’ll take it!  Check out the data below.  You’ll see that actually a lot more people signed up, but not everyone made it through the process of installing and getting Dropbox up.

Proof of the pudding:





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How to find companies to work for (2/3)

July 22, 2011

Alright, so you’ve got your deciding factors down.  What next?  Well you need to figure out what companies fit your deciding factors.  For starters you should be reading some tech blogs or participating in communities that discuss some of these companies.  Places like Techcrunch, AllThingsD, VentureBeat, Hacker News, etc etc.  They tend to highlight companies receiving funding, launching new products or changing direction.  It’s here that you will be able to find a good anchor company to start your search with.

Let’s say for example that you’re interested in companies that deal with online backup of your data.  You came across an awesome company called BackBlaze after seeing an article in Techcrunch on how they’re able to build storage pods on the cheap.  Sounds pretty neat, maybe I should explore this online backup niche a bit further.  Where to start?

  • Related searches in Google – Simplest way to find similar companies to your anchor company.  All you have to do is type out “” and Google will bring back other websites (companies) that look similar to your original search.  Go ahead and try it out.  At the time that I performed this search I was able to see the results below.  I was able to find out that Mozy, Carbonite, ElephantDrive, IDrive and JungleDisk are all competitors.  That’s only the top of the list too, but it’s another five companies that you can take a look at and see if they fit your deciding factors.

  • Crunchbase – Pull the company info up in Crunchbase.  If you pull up BackBlaze in Crunchbase you’ll able to again see a list of competitors, any funding received, and any Techcrunch articles that were written about the company.  Going through the articles and the list allows you to see that Crash Plan and Sugar Sync are competitors as well, two new companies to consider now!  Plus the additional press allows you to learn more about the company itself. (note: Crunchbase data is crowdsourced and may not always be up to date or accurate)
  • Linkedin – Pull up the company’s profile.  Then click on ‘Check out insightful statistics about [company name] employees’.  Scroll down and you’ll see a section titled ‘People who looked at [company name] also viewed’.  Just below it you’ll ten companies that other people were looking at in relation to the company in the profile.  This is interesting signaling because those companies share something similar.  Maybe employees are moving from one to another, maybe they are competitors, or maybe they are companies that do a lot of business together.  This section will definitely broaden your horizon.  It’ll also help you if you’re trying to find a lead into the company, a close connection or an alum of your school.
  • Quora - The wisdom of the crowd is always helpful.  Search through questions and see if you can find some that are discussing who the competitors are for company x or why one service is better than another.  Don’t see a question?  Ask one yourself.
Those are four good starting points for finding a company you would want to work for.  The last part of landing an awesome business development role is how to be properly prepared for the interview.

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How to get a business development job in Silicon Valley or San Francisco (1/3)

February 15, 2011

So you want to work as a biz dev guy/gal in a startup in the Bay Area?  I know how you feel.  When I moved here in January of 2010, I was relentless in trying to find a BD role in a startup and along the way figured out what I thought was a good path to finding and then landing a great BD role.  Over the last few months, I have had numerous conversations with folks that are actively looking for such roles around here.  The conversation started to repeat itself which then lead me to write this post.  Before you start reading this, please understand that there are no shortcuts with getting a job you desire.  Nurturing the right relationships, growing your knowledge in a domain and most importantly being hard working with a strong ethical base will always lead you to the right places.

Before I get into my breakdown, I want you to first understand that this is all about getting what you want.  This process is about finding a great company where you fit and can grow.  This is not about just getting another job.  This is about working with a great team around a product that you can sell in your sleep.  This is the type of job where you would stop at nothing to push the product on to your friends and family while simultaneously recruiting some of them to come work with you.  For these reasons, effort and time are necessary.

The first step of the process is trying to understand what the profile of this future company will look like.  Remember, if you don’t know where you’re going, all roads will eventually lead you there.  This is a crucial first step.  It’ll help you in conversation with people who are trying to help you by saying that you’re looking to be the second or third business development team member in a B2B startup that has 20-50 employees and is profitable.

This first step is what I refer to as the Deciding Factors.  There are four deciding factors that I used when looking for a BD role and they are the same four that I suggest for others as well (in no particular order):

  1. Vertical
  2. Size
  3. ‘The’ Role
  4. Funding Stage

1) Vertical.  What are you interested in?  Are you looking to be involved in the gaming industry?  Advertising?  Enterprise software?  This initial starting point will help you eliminate the majority of companies that are hiring.  There are basically two ways to go about this decision.  Either it is a direct relation to your previous experience, e.g. Oracle sales guy looking to move into a small enterprise software startup.  Or it can be a move into an area that you are very passionate about, e.g. you’re a musician on the side and have the chops to get into Pandora.  The latter is of course tougher than the former, but the goal is to be in a role where your passion is, so it is definitely worth the pursuit.

2) Size.  When I say size here, I’m referring to number of employees.  Some people are only interested in startups with less than 20 employees.  Whereas, others are more comfortable in a company that has a business model and is scaling it, so that may be closer to 100 or so employees.  The smaller the startup, the more visible and impacting your work will be.  Chances are that you will have to be significantly more creative in the types of deals you will need to do as there may not be a model for getting them done.  When the size grows it becomes more important to know who your customers and relationships are and executing more within the given space.  Knowing where your strengths lie here can dictate the size of the company you will want to take a look at.

3) ‘The’ Role.  What kind of role are you interested in?  Are you looking to run business development at a startup?  Do you have some experience, but would be prefer to be the second or third team member in?  It’s important to understand this as even though a company may fit into your vertical and size, they may just not be hiring for the type of role you could potentially fit in.  Generally speaking there are VP level roles, manager level roles and entry level roles.  This of course varies from company to company.  Know your experience, know where you fit and go after it.

4) Funding Stage.  This one can be optional.  Depending on your personal risk tolerance, the stage of funding will have an affect on your compensation package.  A team (1-5 employees) that is bootstrapped or only raised a small friends and family round, will not be able to pay you a ‘market’ salary.  If this is a concern of yours, you need evaluate what stage you can fit into.  There is a good chance you may want to wait until they receive Series A funding so that they can come closer to what you are looking to get paid.  The funding stage can be correlated to the size of the company, but that is not the rule.  Usually, angel funded and bootstrapped businesses will have less than 10 employees.  Series A funded companies will tend to have 10+ employees.  All funding stages past that point will usually correlate to more employees as a lot of venture capital financing is tied to building headcount.  Understand though that there are plenty of companies that break this rule.  Companies that grew slowly and are highly profitable with a small headcount may easily be able to pay you a market salary even though they have only eight employees.

The goal here is to walk away with a clear identification of what you are looking for.  Example:

“I am looking for a manager-level business development role at a social gaming company with 20-50 employees.”

Repeat this line over and over.  When talking to people about finding a new role for yourself, quickly get to the point of exactly what you are looking for.  It helps to have examples, so definitely throw out some companies that are on your list.  Which will bring me to part two next, finding companies that will fit into your list.  Part three will focus on interview execution and standing out.

Stick around and let me know your thoughts on the process!

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Cutting the fat: doing one thing well

December 30, 2010

Prior to Gmail, I used a host of different products: Yahoo!Mail, Hotmail, Prism mail from Georgia Tech and of course the client behemoth in the room, Outlook.  Now, for the record, Outlook does pretty much everything you would want it to do, but that is where the problem starts.  You see, attempting to solve a lot of problems at once and be the answer for everyone means that inevitably you do a lot of things without doing any one thing well.  Take a look at a screenshot of Outlook:

It’s not just email here.  There’s a calendar, a to-do list (with lots of functionality), a search function, contacts, multiple ways to classify emails, etc etc.  Right around the time I started to transition from college to the real world, I had to figure out what client to use.  I distinctively remember opening up Outlook and trying to configure it for my use.  I realized after about four error messages that this was not going to work for me.  All I needed was to send and receive email.  In came Gmail.  Simple and light:

I didn’t need for Gmail to do anything else besides send and receive email.  I started to use it and quickly fell in love!  Of course, I saw it’s limitations almost instantaneously, but I actually appreciated them because I knew somewhere deep inside Google, employees were frantically worried about making the experience of sending and receiving email easier.  Over time Google did something brilliant, they allowed other developers/companies to build products on top of Gmail.  Google realizes that there many developers out there that would love to focus on doing one thing well and they will inherently solve a lot of the problems that we entail with email.  Their excitement and focus on a niche problem can create products that anyone would use.  Let me show you some examples of what my Inbox is running today:

  • CloudMagic – Super fast search for Gmail!  I send and receive a couple hundred emails per day.  The ability to quickly locate a contact’s info, previous conversations, or docs that were sent makes this app incredibly handy.  (There is also some irony that I am using a non-Google application to search through a Google product – isn’t search their bread & butter?)  The search bar is minimalistic and appears in the top right of my gmail:

  • Rapportive – When I receive an email from someone I do not intimately know, I want a quick glance about who they are.  Rapportive made this incredible tool that shows you and links you to all the different social networks the person emailing you is a part of.  Best of all, it replaces the Google ads to the right of the opened email:

  • Unsubscribe – Hands down the winner in doing one thing well!  Who else would build a business solely focused on getting you off all of those email lists that you never even subscribed too!  Beautiful button that allows you to one-click to get off any email list, no more having to search for the buried links at the bottom of the email:

As long as everyone sticks to doing one thing well, then I will have the best email, search, social information, and unsubscribing experience that is available!

Until then, keep focusing on doing one thing well!

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Primary and Secondary Education Methods

June 11, 2010

Your experience, as mine, with primary and secondary education was probably fairly straight forward.  It was traditional in the sense of you showed up to school sat through five or six classes and then went home to do homework.  My high school schedule was slightly different in the fact that we had A and B days.  On A days we had four classes and on B days we had the other four.  Recently I have been thinking that maybe there are some radical (they may not seem radical to you) ways to change up the education system.

One example that sticks in my head is learning by intense submersion into one course for say four weeks.  That means for an entire month you do nothing, but study US history or biology or advanced calculus.  Your mind eats, sleeps and breathes this topic.  Instead of having to come home as a student and do homework for multiple classes which have no inherent overlap of ways to study for them (studying for calculus vs. history is very different) you focus solely on one topic.  In my opinion this may help the attention and focusing problems current generations have with constantly jumping around (and yes I know TV and computers are primarily at fault for this).  Maybe at the end of every other month you have a daily review of the previous month’s topic.

What about the topics themselves?  Outside of the compulsory subjects, I was not taught practice life skills in high school.  Maybe there should be entire weeks devoted to certain life skills: budgeting, job searching, professional interaction techniques and even asking questions more effectively.

Did you go through a different education process growing up?  How helpful do you think it was?

Looking back, what one or two subjects do you wish were covered in your school that weren’t covered at the time?

Posted in Life1 Comment

Facebook as a Platform for Your Small Business

May 25, 2010

Yesterday I watched a fascinating Ignite talk about how ineffective meetings are and why a 22 minute meeting is the way to go.  At the end of the presentation the woman presenting gave everyone the url of her website,  I wanted to learn more, so I pulled it up.  To my surprise, the url took me to her facebook fan page, not her website, well sort of.  I quickly realized this was her website.

It hit me almost immediately, why would anyone providing a basic service bother with having a full blown website?  Through this fan page I was able to get all the information I needed:

  • Contact info (email, phone)
  • About us (mission, overview, etc)
  • Location (Address)
  • Photos of recent presentations
  • Events surrounding 22minute meeting practice
  • Discussion board
  • Other fans, including a special section if any of my friends were fans

I thought about all the recent requests that I got for fan pages from my friends who are starting new business.  These business included a yoga studio for special needs kids, a videography company, an organic fertilizer business, and a make-up service business.  Some of them have their own websites as well, while others do not.  Do they really need their own website?  Why not buy a great URL and then re-direct your traffic to your facebook fan page?  Think of all the benefits that come along with when you’re getting started:

  • No need to learn how to build websites and write code
  • Get out all of your info in one fell swoop
  • Interact with your fans and customers (marketing)
  • Sell product directly from your fan page
  • Search Engine Optimization (facebook results are always one of the top 3 on Google)
  • Events you are putting, including full blown guest lists

I’m sure there are other additions you can make to the page as well to bring in neat services like slideshare, getsatisfaction, etc.  Think about it from the consumer side as well, as soon as I come across something new, I can instantly see if one of my friends is a fan and reach out to them about the service.  This is powerful interaction!  If facebook could build in the type of search power you get from Google and the email platform of Gmail, I would never leave the site.  Think about that.  What are your thoughts?

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When Passion Takes Over

April 15, 2010

When I was growing up I regularly encountered the following phrase, “Think before you speak/act.”  This phrase was generally used in the form of a question directed at me.  My head would lower, my lip would quiver and I would utter something along the lines of, “but I did.”  I am sure my Mom used it quite regularly with me, but for some reason I have vivid images in my head of my Dad asking the question and then repeating it back in a directed phrase.

You can imagine I only heard this phrase when I did something pretty dumb.  When I think back to most of those situations, they all have one thing in common.  Passion took over…or to be more accurate, the negative side of passion took over, emotion.  I have always been and always will be a passionate individual.  No matter how hard I tried I could never hold in my excitement.  When something negative would happen you can imagine my passion, well, emotion would take over.  My Dad saw this as a big weakness of mine, he focused a lot of my life lessons on it.  I needed it and I know I learned enough to be able to control the negative side of it.  On the positive side, I always let my passion take over.  It is tough to sit next to someone getting excited about a product, tool, or experience without getting excited yourself.

This lesson has proved to me to be a simple extension into the world of entrepreneurship and startups.  Whenever you speak about your product, your idea, or your experience, let passion take over!  If you think of a great idea, get on the phone and immediately call someone to give you some feedback.  It will probably fail 9 out of 10 times, but at some point you will strike a chord.  However, if someone goes wrong and LOTS of things will go wrong!  Do not move an inch without thinking the situation through.  Having your emotions take over can be a nightmare for all parties involved.  I have learned to quickly write down what’s bothering me in my tasks list and deal with it the next day.  Generally speaking when I get some sleep and get back to work, I rarely find myself that upset over the incident.  I am able to reflect on it properly and deal with it in a rational manner.  Makes life a lot easier!

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Georgia Tech Entrepreneurs

March 30, 2010

As a graduate of Georgia Tech, I have fond memories of the school.  Since I have graduated I have spent many Saturdays back on campus for football or at game watching parties.  As much as I love the bond created by Georgia Tech sports, I love the bond created by innovators of Georgia Tech even more!  There is great pride in finding an entrepreneur, an executive, an astronaut or a professor who is a Ramblin Wreck!

So in keeping with my obsession of startups and the entrepreneurial endeavor it seems natural to blend Georgia Tech into it.  In the coming weeks we will be putting together the first event focused on getting Georgia Tech alums in a room together to learn, network and help each other out on our entrepreneurial endeavor.  GT has some absolutely brilliant minds who are working on or with interesting startups, its time, at least within the Bay Area that we started having cohesive conversation with one another.  I put together a quick survey to get some quick input of what people are looking for.  So if you are a GT Bay Area alum, please fill it out or shoot me an email to firstname [AT] lastname {DOT} org.  Would love to get as many people together as we can!

Hopefully we can learn and grow ourselves as we grow the standing of Georgia Tech in the general community!  As my buddy Rafael says, its good to have a chip on your shoulder!

Oh and if you have some suggestions for what this group should be called, I’m all for it!  I keep hearing GTpreneurs in my head, but we could definitely use some input.

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Moving to San Francisco

March 24, 2010

Roughly eight weeks ago I made a drastic change in my life.  I grabbed whatever could fit into my car, packed it all in and made the three-day drive to San Francisco!  You may wonder what would cause an irrational move such as this, but its actually quite simple.  San Francisco and the Valley in general is the epicenter of entrepreneurial activity.  Although it goes without saying that plenty of startups get built outside of this part of the world, there is just flat out more activity here.  As an individual who cherishes and thrives in environments where there is a lot to be learned from others, I am extremely ecstatic to be out here.

My first few weeks here have proved to be nothing short of amazing.  The community is incredibly friendly and willing to help.  I have had countless lunches, coffees, and drinks with entrepreneurs, executives and others involved in the scene.  They have graciously pointed me to other folks who are willing to help, given me ideas on things to see and do and most importantly gave me their undivided attention.  I realize I am in a honeymoon phase with the city and the startup community here, but I am hoping it stays this way for a while :)

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Fresh Start

March 22, 2010

Sometimes you need to scrap what you were doing before and start over.  So here I am on a new blog!  I transferred over the old content as well, but I’m loving the WordPress platform, just awesome!

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