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Elevator Pitches: It’s Everyone’s Job

Pitch I'm not really one to write Startup advice, but there are a few topics that I feel rather strongly about and have found in my startup endeavors are actually helpful. 

Most of you reading this already knows what an "Elevator Pitch" is already, but for those outside of the marketing world your Elevator pitch is a short one or two sentence summary of what your product/service/organization does and what it's business strategy is.

Most people think that only your CEO, bizdev folks and marketing crew needs to have their elevator pitch down but that simply isn't the case, especially in the startup world.

In San Francisco there are tons of tech events people end up going to, some of them are hack-a-thons for developers and others are networking events.  If you work at a startup company, you'll eventually find yourself at one of these events and you will be asked "So where do you work? What does your company do?"

I've noticed most of the time, people end up asking me those questions just because they want to give me their elevator pitch and need a polite way to transition to conversation to their own company.  Either way, you're going to have to be able to sum up what your company does in as few words as possible and get the point across.  

Yeah, I'm looking at you developers and Q&A/Support staff.  I'm know all of this marketing speak hurts your brains and makes you want to gouge the eyes out of the startup douchebags who talk non-stop at you (usually about their product that is like Y for Z), but you're going to have to suck it up and toss out your elevator pitch.  It benefits your company and makes you look like you're more involved in your company than just the code or your realm of the code.

Elevator pitches can be really hard to come up with the more complicated your product or service is.  I couldn't imagine having to come up with an elevator pitch for Cassandra at marketing party to a bunch of folks who don't know what a distributed database is and why some one would use it. That being said, you have to make sure your elevator pitch is in simple plain English. A marketing guy's eyes are going to glaze over if you start talking about the Dynamo model or clustering and a programmer is going to decide they're done talking to you (marketing folk, I've got my eyes on you) about how their "value justification is a long-tail solution to cloud optimization for the content optimization for the BuyerSphere." Ew, I feel kind of dirty writing that sentence, but I digress.

I'm not saying that marketing folk aren't technically competent or developers have a short attention span…. but at a party you're one of a dozen people they've talked to and if you can't tell them something quickly and simply then you've lost your chance for a good elevator pitch. So do try to avoid too much technobabble or marketing buzzwords.  If you're super lucky, the person you talked to will remember your pitch and be able to repeat it to some one else. 



Get the f– out of here, really?

So I was browsing reddit and I saw this BoingBoing article 

and I was quite confused.  First I thought it was a kid’s book with an unfortunate title, then I realized it was a book intentionally created that way and now it’s apparently up on’s top seller’s list.  


What craziness is this!?  The book hasn’t even been published yet and this writer has to deal with overwhelming demand and attention because of piracy.  


Below is a full text article from The Bay Citizen about Bay Area writer Adam Mansbach’s unusual success heralds new headaches and opportunities for publishers:

Review: Blackberry Torch

Before writing this review, I want to thank the folks over at the AT&T Brand Ambassador program for including me as well as sending me the Blackberry Torch to review.  I've taken a good few weeks to dig into the Blackberry Torch (probably longer than anyone would like) and it's finally time for me to share my experiences in using this phone.

I also want to say that this is the first RIM OS phone I've ever used.  My smartphone experiences have been limited to the iPhone for quite some time, it was certainly both a refreshing but incredibly new experience to use a smartphone that was not an iDevice.  

I feel a bit silly in what I'm about to admit my favourite feature of the Blackberry Torch is, as it was nothing that was directly mentioned to me as a "cool feature" by the AT&T Brand Ambassador folks.  The things they were interested in my looking at was the predicative video, the social streams and other nifty little features like that. 

So what feature of the Blackberry did I find myself wanting so badly for iPhone? 

Security features - 10/10

I no longer feel that Blackberry is simply blowing it's own horn in regards to their devices being the "industry-leading security." It's no wonder that the Blackberry is the choice device for our President and his secret service.  

I was given the option of encrypting my data on the Blackberry, pretty much everything that I would store on the phone (ie: contacts, pictures, textual data, datacard contents and browsing history).  I was offered the choice between AES or triple DES and to be honest that's not nearly the end of the laundry list of security features that the Blackberry platform offers.  I was blown away, it actually made me wish I had brought a Blackberry to DefCon with me this year instead of my iPhone (which I pretty much had to leave off most of the time to avoid ending up on the Wall of Sheep). 

It was also nice for downloaded apps to be asked just how much access I wanted to give the application to my device.  Once you download an application, you're asked if you want to make that application a "trusted application status." Which essentially allows you to grant it full security permissions without being prompted or you can disallow this status and select more fine tuned authorizations for that particular application.  Anyhow, I'd seriously recommend (if you're a stickler for security) to take a real look over at Blackberry's security features:

Home Screen - 7/10

After I got over the "Somebody moved my cheese," part of playing with the Blackbbery Torch, I eventually grew to appreciate the home screen and the amount of screen real estate that I had.  I really liked that I has super fine control of what applications I wanted displayed or what I wanted hidden and some other nice OCD organizational things.  The iPhone really fucked this over for the large part until they added "folders" which aren't completely doing the trick.  I think that the Blackberry does a better job of organizing your applications.

Keyboard and Touchpad - 5/10

I have to say that I wasn't a fan in the least.  I felt that the physical keyboard was way too small and often didn't benefit me to use it.  This was even more so with the touch screen keyboard.  The only way that it felt sizable enough was in landscape mode, I also didn't like the way the numeric keys were displayed.  You might also chalk this up to an issue of my being an iPhone user, but I honestly don't feel that the Blackberry touch screen keyboard is intuitive enough.  I often use passwords that have letters, numbers, special characters and uppercase, the keyboard (both physical and touch screen keyboard) really was restrictive and while it's nice to be able to use better passwords on my device, it's almost worthless if typing the passwords is a pain. I did love the little touchpad for navigation.  It gave me the ability to fine tune navigate through my web browser where I have to zoom and hope for the best on my iPhone.

Camera and Video – 8/10

The Blackberry torch has a five-megapixel camera in it, that is far superior to the iPhone.  The UI for the software is relatively pleasant and simple to use.  The photos and videos that I shot in the day time were much better quality than anything that I had shot on my iPhone.  During the night though, it seemed that the images/video were slightly undersaturated.  All in all though, I like the camera and video better than for iPhone.  

Battery Life - 10/10

It's almost unfair of me to comment about the battery life, but it's incredible.  Of course comparing the battery life of any device to an iDevice is like comparing the speed between a snail and Maserati.  You just can't put the two in the same category.  I was able to do the same amount of usage on the Blackberry Torch that I do with my iPhone (web browsing, video taking, email, SMS and pictures) and still be able to make it more than 4 hours without charing.  

Social Streams and Messaging - 4/10

I'm sorry.  I wanted to love you, but I couldn't.  I didn't really like the unified messaging inbox.  I thought I would, but it soon became overflowed.  I really wanted to add all of my social streams in there, but because of the amounts of incoming information I receive it was just too much and I really couldn't find a way to simplify these things.  

Gaming - 3/10

As we all know, I spend four hours a day commuting.  I get to do more mobile gaming than any other type of gaming.  That's why I was really looking forward to test driving the Blackberry Torch for gaming.  First thing I did was download Sims 3, it was a game that I recognized already on iPhone.  I understand that the dev community for Blackberry games aren't really as large as they are for Android and iPhone, but the quality of games were pretty wretched.  More simplistic games (like match 3 games and card games) were okay, but anything more complicated than that really didn't have a good gameplay. 

Overall - 6/10

Overall I didn't come away hating the Blackberry Torch, I was blown away by the security features and encryption.  I enjoyed the look and feel of the device, though it certainly wasn't something that I could grab the device and intuit it's use right away.  I appreciate a great deal of the customization and usability options that the Blackberry operating system has allowed, but the IU wasn't nearly as snappy and responsive as I would've liked. 

Organization, security and the camera was certainly my favourite features and I think that the biggest stars of the Blackberry Torch.  

To Cooks Source Magazine: Plagiarism is never okay

I've had some recently situations where I have found my work plagiarized on another website, it feels horrible.  Nothing feels worse than some one stealing something you put work into and calling it their own.  It's become a very casually done thing here on the internet, but the last place I'd imagine it taking place in the print industry. 

Thanks to reddit, I found a story about a LiveJournal blogger who not only had a piece of her work plagiarized, but when she wrote to Cooks Source Magazine about it and made reasonable requests to fix the situation, they condescend her and tell her that she should essentially be thanking them for stealing her content for the free publicity. Here is what they had to say (emphasis is mine): 

Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was "my bad" indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.

But honestly Monica, the web is considered "public domain" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free!

There are so many things wrong with that response, I don't even know where to start.  First off, if you've been doing three decades of editorial work for the print industry and you don't know about copyright laws, you're doing it wrong.  I find it hard to believe that some one with this amount of "experience" has never once had to educate themselves on plagiarism issues.  Also, the web is NOT automatically considered fair use. Idiots. 

If you'd like to read more about what this LJ'er has to say, you can read her words here as well as her friend's retelling here


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I don't condone harassment in the least, however, should you be an individual who has a great interest in copyright law and would like to educate Cooks Source Magazine how plagiarism and copyright works, they've helpfully placed their contact information on their website. 

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