Best Product Nominee: The Dirty Diaper

Best Product Nominee: The Dirty Diaper
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I love great products.

Not just tech products, either. Game of Thrones is a great product, which is why I feel the need to blab on and on about it until I nauseate those who haven’t gotten hooked yet.

With summer approaching, I feel the need to share with you another truly great product: the Dirty Diaper.  The Dirty Diaper is the result of roasting a marshmallow with chocolate shoved into it.  Done correctly, you are treated to a toasted marshmallow with hot melted chocolate inside.  Think new-and-improved cousin to the s’more, sans graham cracker.

I can’t take credit for this revolutionary dessert.

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To Protect Legitimate Interests, Seattle Should Cap All Forms of Innovation Immediately

To Protect Legitimate Interests, Seattle Should Cap All Forms of Innovation Immediately
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In a 9-0 decision Monday, the Seattle City Council voted to cap the number of UberX, Sidecar and Lyft drivers on our streets — to protect the legitimate interests of taxi companies and the revenue they create for our city.

So, I thought we should come up with 10 other important limits that we as a city can and should place on new technology-based business models. Here they are:

To protect the legitimate interests of the U.S. Postal Service and keep the price of stamps reasonable for our citizens, the City should … Continue reading

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Part Two

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Sequels are rarely better than the original. But there are exceptions. Being a sucker for happy endings, I liked Rocky II more than the Oscar-winning original. Speaking of great sequels, I was back at West Mercer Elementary this morning for Career Day, meeting with third, fourth and fifth graders and listening to their startup ideas.

My session was entitled “Your Billion-Dollar Idea.” Like last year, I explained what a venture capitalist does, laid out the criteria we use to make investments (team, product, market, business model and timing) and gave each student the opportunity to pitch

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A “Breaking Bad” Guide to Entrepreneurship

A “Breaking Bad” Guide to Entrepreneurship
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I just binge-watched all six seasons of Breaking Bad. If you haven’t downloaded the AMC show (but plan to soon), prepare yourself for experiencing someone else’s mid-life crisis, with healthy doses of terminal illness, murder, infidelity and drug-dealing thrown in to keep it interesting. Spending time with chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin Walter White, his family and the surrounding characters is exhausting and engrossing at the same time. The characters (and Walt especially) are more complex than any you have spent time with on the TV screen.

Instead of reviewing the show, as others have done far better than I could, I

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Pole Dancing and Self-Censorship

Pole Dancing and Self-Censorship
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“You better check yo self before you wreck yo self.” –Ice Cube, “Check Yo Self”

I was snooping through my son’s middle school yearbook recently when I came across a disturbing inscription from a fellow classmate.  This preteen had taken up an entire page to draw a schematic of a strip club, replete with a stick figure woman doing a pole dance and another stick figure woman giving a lap dance to a stick figure man.  How do I know that he intended it to be a lap dance?  Mercifully, he handwrote “lap dance” with an arrow pointing to the stick

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Walk With Me

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“Sitting is the smoking of our generation.” –Nilofer Merchant, Harvard Business Review

Can you help me with an experiment?  I want to have more walking meetings.

I have two reasons for this goal. First, I think meetings where we talk while walking are more effective. Steve Jobs (and now Mark Zuckerberg) are famous for taking long walks to interview employees or discuss key strategic initiatives.  For some reason, moving stimulates more creativity and easier dialogue.  My best recent meetings with entrepreneurs have been on walks around the Pioneer Square area.

Second, sitting in meetings all day is killing

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My February Resolution

My February Resolution
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“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.” –Jack Handey, Saturday Night Live

I was scheduled to have foot surgery last Friday morning.  As I was both reading my emails on my iPhone and helping my wife Shannon with the kids’ school lunches that morning, I popped a bite of cheese and salami into my mouth.  A minute later I realized I had broken the cardinal rule of no food or drink eight hours before surgery.  My surgery had to be rescheduled, and

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Calling All Engineers: Why So Serious?

Calling All Engineers: Why So Serious?
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“Why so serious?” –The Joker in Batman Returns

If you are fortunate enough to be building software for a living, do us this small favor: Put a little more personality into your products.

The best products pay deference to their creators. They’re functional, but they also can be fun at times, whimsical, punchy, interesting, sexy and surprising. Done well, they mimic the best parts of the personality of the teams that created them.

The classic example of adding personality to a product is Google’s homepage. Is there a more

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Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

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I spent this morning at the Career Day of my youngest kids’ elementary school (West Mercer) with about 30 third, fourth, and fifth graders.  My session was entitled “Your $100,000,000 Idea.”  My goal was to explain what a venture capitalist does, lay out the criteria we use to make investments (team, product, market, business model and timing), and give each student the opportunity to pitch a new business concept. I told the students that each group would pick a winning idea, and I would publish the winners here.

To my surprise, the ideas the students came up with were incredibly

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Interview with the Great Wizard of Moz, Rand Fishkin

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No one has been more supportive of StarkRavingVC.com than Rand Fishkin, the SEOmoz CEO who has more Twitter followers than the populations of the capital cities of Alaska, Maryland and Vermont (combined).  When I started blogging, Rand Fishkin wrote a post about the 14 ideas he wanted me to write about in my blog.  We decided it might be fun to hit them all in a video interview format.  It’s no Skyfall, but I think Rand does an excellent job of posing the questions that entrepreneurs really want to ask VCs. Let me know what you think.

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