Meet the Team, Follow Progress and Enjoy the Ride

This blog is about the lives of a few entrepreneurs who are aiming to establish the next trend in social networking and the concept that will make it happen. Since our venture is all about connecting people together, we want to be involved and connected to you and we want you to be involved and connected to us. We'll be sharing with you: who we are, how we got started, how we’re doing and where we’re going...we're taking you along for the ride!!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Au Revoir Blogger and Merci

I started the Why Go Solo blog on Blogger in May, 2007 because I wanted a blog where I could track and tell the story of our journey. Nothing was going right with the technical development of Why Go Solo, so I turned to Blogger—it was easy, it was simple, it was free and it provided me with what I needed.

After five months, we are finally moving to a blog on our own domain, that was fully developed by our team and is still a work in progress. I can be a sentimental fool at times, and this is one of those times. In the last five months, I have poured my heart out on these pages and built great relationships with a few of my readers. I have grown, learned and found some amazing support.

The story will continue to unfold on the new blog…but it’s turning into a new chapter. I’m happy to be turning the chapter; however, I don’t want to lose or forget anything that has gotten me to where we are now. And by lose, I don’t mean lose the posts/data…I mean, the knowledge, the lessons, the beginning…the where I came from.

It’s been a great deal of pain thus far, and I say that with fondness, a smile on my face and a tear in my eyes. The new chapter starts with opening our doors for people to sign-up for their invites to the private beta and introducing more about Why Go Solo and the team behind it.

For all of you following the story, thank you. Continue to follow the story and participate in the story at the Official Why Go Solo Plugged In blog.

See you all in the new chapter.

…to be continued at our new home

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Remember Where you Came From

When I got selected for the Meritorious Commissioning Program, I was at the rank of Sergeant and all my friends congratulated me and said “Ann, remember where you came from.” Remember life as an enlisted Marine…remember what it was like, so you will be the type of Officer the Corps needs the most. That’s what they were saying and it’s what I did.

Six years later, when I left the Marine Corps, as a Captain, my Marines wished me luck and said “Ma’am, remember where you came from and that we’re always here.” They meant that there was nothing in the civilian sector that could or would stop a Marine, and that the Corps and its ethos are always part of me and who I am.

There is no boot camp to forge someone into an entrepreneur, but there are rights of passage and it is one tough road to undertake. However, as I continue my research on finding Angel Investors and funding…I’ve come to wonder if some of them have forgotten where they came from. (This would be making the assumption that the majority are former entrepreneurs themselves.)

I’ve visited quite a few Angel Investor sites again, in the last two days, and been getting some emails from other types of organizations interested in learning more about us, so that we can present at their next conference. What gets me are the price tags attached to these “opportunities” to present. I’m going to compile a list and post it in the next couple of days, but I wanted to get this post out.

Obviously, some of these folks have forgotten what it’s like to be a start-up entrepreneur. If I had a couple thousand dollars to over $10,000 laying around for every presentation that struck my fancy…I obviously wouldn’t need YOU in the first place. The little money we have is better spent on the things that create progress and get us closer to launching our product. Why spend it on potential opportunities to present to a room full of supposedly investors, that come with no guarantees?? I mean, come on…what is this all about?!!? Being an entrepreneur is about taking risks and chances, but not about being flat out dumb and careless with the few assets you do have.

Remember where you came from…it seems that some of these investors out there have forgotten that at some point in time, someone came along and they cut them their break. And that someone who cut them a break…got wealthier off of them in the process.

I do want to say a BIG THANK YOU to the entrepreneurs following this blog, who have been in our shoes not long ago, and are going out of their ways to try to help us. Erik, Ed and Alain your interest in us and support is much appreciated.

Meanwhile, I’ll ponder the age old question…what came first, the chicken or the egg. I mean, what came first…the entrepreneur or the investor? One cannot go on without the other.

I’m going to see the movie premier of The Call of the Entrepreneur tonight. I’m really looking forward to it. Best part is going to be being in a theater filled with other entrepreneurs and like minded individuals. We’re going to the VIP after party afterwards, and I can’t wait to chat it up, I’m sure I’ll have much to blog about!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Raising Money: A Headache and Motivation!?!?

Raising money is a seriously frustrating process and when I get frustrated I get a little “aggressive”. I’m at the point where I want to hit people over the head and slap some sense into them. Remember, I spent ten years in the Marine Corps; I have little tolerance for game playing, stupidity and ignorance.

Fund raising takes time and it’s definitely a pain staking process. Getting the introduction, getting past the red tape and working through all the scams and foolishness that’s out there is enough to drive you a little “postal”. Filling out online application after online application…you want me to describe the team, the concept, and the market in 250 words or less? Not, going to happen. We’ve submitted our business plan into so many different abyss, I’ve lost count. No one contacts you back, and most of the systems don’t even have confirmation emails that let you know your plan was received.

We’ve expanded and grown Why Go Solo so much now, that the business plan is actually completely outdated and I don’t have the slightest desire to update it. What’s the point. I’ve also grown paranoid about sharing Why Go Solo with investors…we’ve got too much to offer and by that I mean…actually having a business model. I need to worry as much about someone stealing our idea, as someone stealing our business model. Scratch that, I’m more worried about someone stealing the business model than the idea…not too many people could pull off the idea, without having a front man, that can bring a community together.

My Chief Technical Officer keeps reminding me that things will be very different once we have the beta…and I know that. It doesn’t hurt that we’re also planning on winning the Amazon Web Service Start-up Contest.

I guess I just need to let out some steam…

Bottom line is, I don’t understand investors and I hate it when I don’t understand something or someone. To understand them , I would have to talk to some, and to talk to some; they would need to show themselves. I realize I said I was ready to slap people around, but I promise to be nice. I’m particularly looking for Angel Investors. We need a couple hundred thousand dollars, to may be, a million. So VCs, are not who we’re looking for…and we’re definitely not looking for a six month due diligence period.

We’re on fire and we need some backing (btw, this isn’t an open solicitation, these are facts). We can move at a bootstrap pace…or we can turn up the heat a few notches. Anyone whose been reading this blog, should know I don’t mess around. This isn’t a start-up that might see the light of day…this is a start-up that’s going to turn into an Empire. We’re not just building a company here. Hence my frustrations…I read about all of these 'mom and pop' web 2.0 company getting funded, and it increases my WTF is up with investors factor. (I'm probably not helping my cause!!)

Someone basically came out and told me I need to move to NYC. I replied that we’re making being in DC work for us...However, I can’t help but have his comment feel like a thorn in my side. Is being in DC really holding us back? I know I never would have thought about or created Why Go Solo had I not been here, so who knows...

I need the right words and the right compelling way to get investors to give me 5 minutes of their time. I’ve always been turned off by cocky and arrogant claims. It used to really tick me off when I was in the Marine Corps, too. Some folks would make outrageous claims about what they (with their platoon) could do…and they never delivered. I never made claims and we always over delivered. I’ve never had anything to prove to anyone. We always did what we had to do for own gratification and to beat our own personal best. It’s about internal drive and motivation; vice outside sourced (fake) drive and motivation. It's about empowering people, and empowering an organization.

It’s the same with Why Go Solo. We have a kick ass team, that has nothing to prove…but everything to give to seeing what they’re made of and what they can accomplish. The drive is the vision and seeing it happen. The hunger and ambition is alive in each member of the team. Those who achieve greatness, are those who challenge, and push themselves, beyond who they are now, today. The gratification and satisfaction is about results and accomplishment, not praise or money. Don’t get me wrong…they’ll be plenty of that to go around at the end of the rainbow, but it’s that “We Did It” moment, that will be the ultimate moment of sweet success. That "We Did It" moment will only be truly known in those who have been there from the beginning...who took the risks, who bleed together, who wrote history.

Those who dream big, and embark on accomplishing things that are bigger than themselves, never wonder what life is all about.

When you have a team like that behind you…you know what you’ve got, and what you will achieve…there’s no need to get to the highest tree top to announce it. We’ll deliver. We’ll make it happen. Now, who is smart enough to take us on?!!?

My purpose in life this week is to get on the calendar of investors. November is our beta launch…I’m not waiting till then to get to talk to investors or get on their calendars. This is about being ahead of the game and keeping/building more momentum.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Beta Testers: Who Are They and How Do You Benefit??

If you are launching a Web 2.0 company…beta testers are your best friends for the first few weeks (may be months) of your official private beta (or alpha) launch.

Here are a few things (according to Ann) about beta testers.

They are very knowledgeable about the web, technology, social communities, bookmarking, blogging, tagging…and all that is the Web 2.0 and the latest happenings.

They seek and keep looking for the next best thing.

They DO NOT represent your target market

They all have Web ADD. I say this with kindness…I’m guilty of it too. Plus, it's what makes them good at what they do and who they are. They explore and test many sites.

The majority are very technically inclined (programmers and developers)

Some are business development types, marketing/PR types and some are just Web 2.0 users

They are all Web 2.0 fanatics. They all have lots of opinions, and for the most part; they all have some sort of platform (blog), from which, they share their opinions and input.

Many travel in pacts. You can increase the interaction and feedback you will get, if you allow them to invite the pack to come in with them.

I want to reiterate two points: Beta testers are NOT typical web users and they are NOT your target market. They are part of your market and some will stick around, but by the time your target market gets to your site…the beta testers will have moved on to something new. In their wake, the beta testers will leave you the following:

Honest and thorough feedback. It will probably vary from one extreme to the next. But, they will openly share their thoughts, so ensure you give them an easy platform to give you feedback. Be sure to interact with your beta testers…particularly if you are working on building any type of community.

They will thoroughly test your site. They will click through everything and find everything there is to know about your site and the features you offer.

Recommendations. Recommendations and Recommendations. They will tell you how to improve your site and features. (When considering the recommendations from beta testers, remember the level of skills and web knowledge they possess. Ask yourself if the recommendation makes sense for a basic web user.)

Your beta testers are your initial evangelists. Treat them well, welcome them and connect to them. They love what they do…they love getting first looks at new sites, communities or new features. They love to talk about and report what they find.

They’ll even write code…if you’re too slow to implement a feature that makes sense; they might simply do it for you.

Like I said, some beta testers will stick around and they might become your most powerful and loyal users. It all depends on what type of site you’re running.

A lot of sites are now starting out as private betas, which require invitations to get in. I know that on Pownce, private beta invites are exchanged in the pack of folks that are beta testers. You can also find your beta testers on

Sites like Mashable, Techcrunch, Webware and the few other good ones that report on the newest Web 2.0 company, site, application or widget are the source of choice for news for the beta testers. They follow what’s happening, and then; they work on getting in. They are not the front line of reporting, but they are a very close and knowledgeable second.

I know I’ll be brining on quite a few beta testers unto Why Go Solo once we have the private beta up, and I’m really happy to say that many of those beta testers have become friends; we’re already jumping unto the latest things together. It will be awesome to open the door to them to my own home, welcome them in and receive their assistance in strengthening our offerings.

I can’t emphasize this enough about developing and starting a Web 2.0 site/company…you MUST become part of what you are building in order to ensure greater success. If you don’t participate in or understand the web…how to you expect to be successful in it?

If you don’t belong to the web, respect the web, and understand it…don’t expect that to change over night. At least be smart enough to seek the people who can help you: The Beta Testers.

Friday, September 21, 2007

...More on the DC Web Start-up Situation

Back in mid-August (August 14) I wrote a blog entry about uniting the DC, MD and VA Technology Community, Entrepreneurs and Investors. It was called The Wheels are Turning Watch Out. Wrong title, since thus far, there’s been nothing to watch out for…granted, I’ve been a little busy with moving things along with Why Go Solo.

I immediately talked about the idea with quite a few people: Two of which, have blogged about is since then, and have said much of the exact same thing: Nick O’Neil on Webentrepreneur: Bringing the Valley to DC on September 8th, and Will Kern on 15 Meanings: Irons in the Fire on September 12, 2007.

I’m an action person. Talk is cheap, blogging works, but you have to take active steps. Personally I now think, we can't say that it’s because the press isn’t involved or it’s because the VCs and investors don’t participate in the community that DC is the way it is. It’s more along the lines that the entrepreneurs aren't quite yet, really aggressively seeking each other out, getting to know one another and joining to help/support each other. Who are all the DC, VA and MD web start-up entrepreneurs?!!?

I know I need to become more active with the related events, so I can find who my counterparts are…

One person who has taken some action forward is Justin Thorp by establishing as a place for everyone to become and stay informed. Ross Karchner has been very good at keeping a list of all the DC Tech events on his blog and the RSS feed is included on the Ning community. And Ralph Sklarew has been a big evangelist for the same thing. I started the DC Entrepreneur (Web 2.0) group on Ning to hopefully really get things moving in the right direction.

I want to thank Rebecca Carpenter at Razoo for leaving a comment on my previous blog post and I look forward to meeting her and the team at their Brewing Good Happy Hour event on the Sept. 27th and I’m sure many other folks would love to come out. This is part of supporting, encouraging and learning from each other. I have a passion for entrepreneurship, web 2.0 and making a difference in the world...shouldn’t be that hard to share and fulfill those passions!?!?

Still Out of the Local DC Web 2.0 Loop

How does this happen…I am invited to participate in helping out to test a private Alpha start-up in London, but I don’t know about Razoo until last night, and Mixx until this morning, when both are in the DC/VA area!?!?

The kicker is—I didn’t find out about either one of them through my networking in the DC and VA area. To make matters worst, in Razoo’s case, someone I know actually took part of developing the Facebook application for them, but never mentioned the site/organization.

This is frustrating. I’m obviously not networking enough in the area and not in the “know”, just yet. Or is the web 2.0 community in the DMV (DC, VA and MD) simply working in stealth mode, and not in a... "let’s really support each other mode"?

I came across Razoo from Vince who posted about Razoo on his blog Try Change.

Razoo is the Platform for Social Good. Razoo is a community united around making a positive difference in the world. Where passion leads to action, and a whole lot of collective good comes from individual contributions.
Razoo is definitely a community developed around creating and doing good. It’s a wonderful community for people who want to have a positive impact in the world, and for all the amazing people, who work and dedicate themselves to good causes.

The site is very well done, has an excellent purpose and I’m impressed with the back end development. I have more thoughts on that….but, will keep them for another post.

The news of Mixx came from…yep, Techcrunch. From Techcrunch’s post:

Mixx is a new social news site. To put it into context, it’s a sort of cross between Digg, LinkedIn and MyYahoo. In a nutshell, its a social network that lets you find and share news based on your interests and location.

One aspect of the service - each user has a customized Digg-like experience, effectively creating smaller niche versions of the popular social news site. That means niche publishers get to play, too. Today they are largely shut out of Digg. But popular stories from more obscure topics can get traffic traction through Mixx. Stories, video and photos can all be bookmarked.

Ironically, I read the post from Streamy, which is where I aggregate a lot of my RSS feeds now…and since I’m not on Mixx I can’t truly compare the two, but they sound similar. I submitted my email to take part of the Mixx private beta.

May be it’s just me…but you would think they (Mixx team, lead by Chris McGill, formerly the General Manager of Yahoo News and more recently the VP Strategy at USA Today) would reach to the DC Tech Community to test their private beta and get feedback. Or may be they did and I missed it, or they are planning on it, and I’m inserting foot in mouth right now.

Last night I went to Refresh DC’s monthly meeting where ClearSpring presented on Widgets. I didn’t attend the after party because I had (without thinking) scheduled a development team meeting at the same time. Perhaps, I missed the exciting passing of information because I wasn’t there.

Like I said…I shall pick up my networking around the area and find out what’s happening and figure out how to perhaps bring the community together a little more. No point in being so quiet and tight lip about our Web 2.0 companies within our own local community. It makes sense to support each other.

It’s obvious that there is, and starting to be, more and more Web 2.0 start-up activities going on around the area.

I've Been Living Under a Rock...

I don't know how I didn't know about Paul Potts...thank you to Brant Collins for sharing it on Pownce. It brought tears to my eyes...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

87 Million to May be Turn a Profit!?!?

Are you kidding me?? I’m about to rant and rave…this is hands down the worst stuff I can come across in the blogs I read. This post came courtesy of Venture Beat: Zillow gets $30M more for online real estate — despite credit crunch. That will be a grand total of 87 Million Dollars…and they are NOT a profitable company. To add insult to injury the article reports that Trulia and Terabitz both basically identical to pulled in 10 million dollars a piece in funding.

Someone, will you PLEASE explain the logic behind this insanity, to me?!? How can investors see a upcoming profit anytime soon!?!? Is another 30 million dollars really going to make a difference…they already have 100 programmers on staff and 155 employees. They’ve only been around for less than two years. What are they doing?? And why invest in identical companies?

The folks at have also proudly announced receiving a third round of funding on their blog. Personally, I would have kept it nice and quiet. I wouldn’t announce needing even more money and becoming “the most richly backed of the new era of “Web 2.0″ Internet companies.” I would rather become the Largest and Most Profitable Web 2.0 Internet company, Who Received the Least Funding in the History of Web 2.0 Companies…

Keep that headline handy…you’ll see it again, in less than two years.

I’m all fired up!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Proof of Concept

Of course I know Why Go Solo will be a huge hit and success…but I can’t help but feel really good when I prove the concept is built on a solid need. I spent a good deal of today at Panera Bread. I can’t say I was as productive as I would have liked to be, but since one small aspect of Why Go Solo is for places like Panera Bread—Every now and again, I like to hang out in those types of places to see how the implementation of Why Go Solo will work.

Anyway, this guy (Aaron) was sitting about 10 ft away from me and eventually we ended up striking a conversation. Since he was on the internet and I was on the internet; he opened the conversation by asking me if I had a MySpace page. After chocking back some “thoughts” (that are best not publicly shared) we began talking a little about social networks. Since Why Go Solo doesn’t exist yet, I sent him an invite to Pownce. Pownce won’t provide him the real services that are part of Why Go Solo, but he will be able to get back in touch with me (let me know next time he’s coming to Panera) and continue to communicate with me using Pownce.

He received a very warm welcome from my Pownce friends…which I know will only be intensified through Why Go Solo and the many like minded folks who will be our members.

We met in person/offline and will continue communication online…ahhhhhhhhhh, the possibilities of using a social network to actually HAVE a Social Life in REAL Life

Moments of Reflection Make the Vision Stronger

In the mist of everything that needs to get done, I’ve been finding myself in a time of deep reflection. It has been a few months since I’ve really stopped to think, reflect, meditate and make sense of all that has happened, what is happening and what the future holds. This type of reflecting extends pass the ToDo lists and necessary steps that are part of the start-up process.

This type of reflecting requires time to stop and observe. It requires a lot of quiet time, journaling, catching up on reading and peeking into where the world is and what it’s doing. It’s about plugging in to the vision, the passion and the purpose of our actions.

I haven’t talked much about this in the blog except for a few posts at the beginning, back in May and June…but, the fact is, I am a very spiritual person, and I trust and believe that; what we do in life, what we are passionate about and what we are gifted with, are all keys to lead us on our proper paths and purposes.

I never plan on these moments of reflection…they come and find me. It’s a beautiful time when I can easily weave a thread through everything that has happened, all the people I’ve met, and then with confidence, I can make predictions about the future. Many people have commented on how confidently and passionately I speak about Why Go Solo—It comes from these moments of refection, which allow me to get recharged and clear about the hows and whys. The hows and whys of the Vision. (Not to be confused with the business processes)

Visions are the fuel of all greatness in the world. However, some visions never get to see the light of day. I think the causes for a vision dying vary. But, I would venture to say, that the main reason a vision dies is because it hasn’t been fully developed and the real hows and whys haven’t been identified and tested. (A vision rooted in making a difference, creating a positive change in the world, and improving the human condition are the most powerful and easiest to continue to develop.)

A vision will eventually take on a life of it’s own and when it does, it guides you, it shows you the way and it opens doors for you. It fuels your desires and provides you with all the incentives you need to keep moving. However, we (the human race) have a funny way of getting lost even when we are on a set path. We put our heads down, get to work and we start focusing on meeting goals and milestones and this often causes us to lose focus and allows the vision to become secondary…and this causes the vision to slowly lose it’s strength.

On the other hand, if you spend some constant amount of time in continuing to develop and grow a vision it will continue to provide you with more splendid insights, opportunities and options. Sharing your vision is part of developing it. People will rally and get behind your vision. Your vision becomes this grand all powerful key to moving mountains and creating amazing synergy.

Truth of the matter is—not everyone is met to have the massive, huge visions. But, we all possess the ability to have our own visions for ourselves, and often times, those smaller visions end up fitting very nicely into the bigger visions of the people we meet.

So…I’m at the tail end of my moments of reflection. I have come to realize just how much the “failure”, or learning experiences, from the Coaching Agency have impacted me; how the struggles to date, with Why Go Solo, have had nothing to do with the struggles themselves, but have had everything to do with establishing a strong solid foundation for Why Go Solo, and I have come to see how certain things are destined to start interacting together. (A new HUGE piece might soon be added to Why Go Solo)

It’s so much easier to put one foot in front of the other when you truly trust and believe it’s all exactly as it needs to be. When you can see each events as a series of perfectly planned happenings.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Entering a New Stage with Multiple Fronts

The development of a start-up has many stages and although they might vary slightly from one start-up to another…I think, to some extent, they are basically the same. Of course this is my first start-up of this magnitude, and I’m not an expert, so I’m writing this post (like all my other posts) in laymen’s term.

Here is a little recap of what’s been going on to better lay the foundation to explain the new stage we’re entering into:

First Stage: Have an idea. I was blessed with an idea for a web start-up through having/seeing a huge need that is currently unmet.

Second Stage: Create a team. I shared the idea with a few people who had key abilities, experiences and assets in the hope to create a team that could develop and bring the concept to market. The concept became known as: Why Go Solo

Third Stage: Nail down who is in and who is out. The team solidified itself (two of us were left standing) and we proceed to get the business plan together

Fourth Stage: Write the business plan. Through writing the business plan, doing a lot of research, and talking to many people about Why Go Solo; the idea/concept grew and was furthered developed.

Fifth Stage: Raise money. Once we had a completed business plan it was time to raise funds. Through lots of researching, networking and hitting dead ends…we realized we needed more than just a business plan to raise funding.

Sixth Stage: Develop the “product”. This stage required finding and bringing together a development team. Without funding, this stage also required growing the overall team, which is truly a joy and pleasure.

Seventh Stage: Get the growing team up-to-date and working together. Establish procedures, terms, and development platforms.

Eight Stage: Begin development.

It’s odd to look at those stages simplified like that, because it does little to identify the many challenges, obstacles, victories, joys, pains and difficulties you encounter in each of the stages...

Anyway, this brings us to the Ninth Stage…and let me tell, Stage Nine is one complex stage.

Ninth Stage: Multi-task, Supervise and Grow

For Why Go Solo, Stage Nine has three main fronts and multiple sidebars.

Front #1 Development: The development process requires constant supervision and clarification. Each developer/programmer is working diligently on his or her own piece of the puzzle and each piece is being brought together to create a whole. The whole is a moving target that needs to be identified, clarified, solidified, and perfectionized constantly, so it is the extreme best it can be. This requires the efforts, coordination and participation of many people.

Front #2 Fund Raising: Since the product is being developed…the fund raising efforts are being re-initiated. This includes updating potential investors, reconnecting with past investment options and creating new investment routes and opportunities. This involves a lot of researching and networking.

Front # 3 Finding our Clients and Customers: It’s too late to start thinking about establishing contact with potential customers once your product is already to market. This needs to begin happening before your product hits the market. Since we have three types of clients and customers:

  • Individuals (This group is further broken down into three main markets)
  • Corporations
  • Partners/Advertisers

It’s even more crucial that we begin reaching out and building interest in who we are and what we are offering, ASAP. This involves creating a lot of materials and presentations. It also involves networking with an entirely different set of people…

Anyone overwhelmed yet!?!? Hope not…because we haven’t even addressed the side bars:

Sidebar #1 Production: We have a production side to our web start-up, therefore, we also need to buy equipment, test the product and begin production and create an inventory. This involves doing some additional research and finalizing some items and partnerships.

Sidebar #2 Board of Advisors: Time to focus on operating more like an established start-up and begin having regular meetings with our Board of Advisors…in preparation to working with our Board of Directors.

Sidebar #3 Legal Matters: “Protect our Six” We have been very good at seeking and following legal guidance and advice. Now, in Stage Nine we have a lot of new agreements, contracts, terms of services, etc. that we need to ensure we are creating and using. We also need to start submitting our patents.

Sidebar #4 Coaching Corner: I haven’t talked much about this—if at all, and I’m going to keep it that way for now. I’ll just say that it’s big item on the sidebar that includes creating and establishing another blog and podcast.

We entered the Ninth Stage within the last couple of days and this stage will go for about the next 8 weeks. Truth is…the pace is only going to continue to pick up in the next stages. These are the real fun times of the start-up process...these are the times things are happening and coming together.

Competitive Spirit: AWS Start-up Contest

We’ve decided to enter the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Start-up Contest. (Only thing that would stop us is an argument against it from our lawyer) One of our developer came across the contest and passed it along…of course, I got excited about it right away.

I play to win. I have a very competitive spirit and I love when it gets fired up. I also love the thought of having additional incentives that make me and the team work extra hard towards multiple solid tangibles.

Reap the rewards (Excerpt from Contest Page)

Prizes include $50,000 in cash, $50,000 credit toward Amazon Web Services, an investment offer from Amazon, and mentoring sessions from an Amazon Web Services Technical Expert. All five finalists will be included in various promotional activities and be featured at the invitation-only AWS Start-Up Challenge Awards Dinner.

This would be excellent exposure for Why Go Solo and it conveniently co-insides with our scheduled launch date. (Excerpt the Rules)

For each Finalist, Sponsor will produce, at its expense and at the Finalist's location, a professional video highlighting the Finalist's Business Proposition (the "Finalist Video"). The Finalist Videos will be posted online at in November 2007. The public will be permitted to view and vote on the Finalist Videos online at the contest website, but the votes will not determine the winner.

Final Round. The final round will take place in December 2007 in Seattle, WA at the Amazon corporate headquarters. Each Finalist must be present in person at the final round and must prepare, at the Finalist's expense, a 30-minute presentation and demo of its Business Proposition. The presentation and demo will be presented to the Amazon Judging Panel. Each presentation and demo will be followed by up to 30 minutes of Q&A by the Amazon Judging Panel.

Amazon Web Services

We have been discussing and already considering Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3 for the hosting and storage solution for Why Go Solo…so the contest helps us make our decision and allows us take advantage of some serious perks.

I’ll make the announcement to everyone once our application is submitted!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Million and Ten Things To Do

Okay, it’s not quite that bad, and by no means am I complaining, whining or bitching. As always, I am simply sharing with you what’s going on. What’s going on is some major action via Skype, Basecamp, our Wiki, Subversion, Gtalk and Yahoo IM; as we have begun development, and I still need to empty everything that is Why Go Solo out of my head and into some sort of comprehensive and usable format for the developers to build the right modules.

I had never really done any work on a Wiki before…so I’m learning a lot. Perhaps one day I can graduate and become a ‘Wiki Ninja’. But, I have a long way to go. The Wiki is the main place where I’m unloading and flushing out all the user stories and unfolding how I envision Why Go Solo to function and what it will accomplish. It’s hard for me to stay focus on the more granular settings for Why Go Solo. Each user stories has some other aspects and links to it, and that still only begins to unfold the full possibilities…so I get frustrated as I write the stories that I can’t say it all at once. Thankfully, I had created many of the wire frames already, and we have quite a few of the basic screen shots done as well. You know the expression…pictures are worth a thousand words.

While I’m going through this process, I can’t help but to wonder how the process unfolded for many of the other web 2.0 sites/communities that are already out there, right now. Makes me wonder how thought out some of the ideas were before they were implemented, since it took many of them a long time to have new features added. The entire process is rather fascinating to me and someday I hope to be able to compare notes with some others. (I’m also hoping to make our development team famous!!)

So far so good, but we’ll see as we go what creates hold ups, if anything at all.

We have decided to kill the investor site idea and hold out for the alpha version, but we will still launch the new blog, a sign-up for the beta site invites and a new temporary homepage. Hoping that will happen in the next two weeks.

We have posted a job listing on GoBig Network: Stellar Opportunity for RoR Developer. We would like to add at least one more part time developer to the team. We have lost two members since starting due to some of life’s surprises requiring much of their time. These things happen.

Anyone notice I’m using a lot more WE. I’m loving it.

I have also submitted our application for the Grubstake Breakfast, which is being held on October 23rd, 2007. We’re definitely hoping we get selected to present, since that would be great exposure to VCs and Angel Investors in the DC, MD and VA area that specialize in investing in our type of business.

With all the work I have been doing, and still need to do, I haven’t been as active on my usual networks (particularly Pownce and blog reading)…because I have to fight my usual web ADD habits and stay focused, so hopefully I’m not missing out on too much!! If I am, make sure to give me shout out.