The 72-hour bus ride for wannabe startup founders

StartupBus

I really enjoyed a recent 5-part series of Gimlet’s Startup podcast which covered StartupBus, a “hackathon on wheels, where a bunch of strangers come together to launch companies in one week, all while on a bus.”

They covered some cool projects (that are now real businesses), and you got to hear the teams debate the merits of their ideas in real-time.

Some of the businesses that launched on StartupBus:

  • Daisy, a digital service that helps you deal with funeral logistics.
  • Phishly, a service that helps businesses fight malicious email hacks.
  • DropIn Pedals, which makes an “adapter that transforms clipless pedals into flat pedals for easy use with casual shoes.” (Note: This company doesn’t have a web presence so who knows what’s going on with this project).

Listen to the series (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) then check out my list of my podcast recommendations.

Image courtesy Flickr/Julia Buchner. Used under Creative Commons.

When your product solves the right problems, your content can too

Fixing problems with U-LocksI recently started listening to the Track Changes podcast, from guy-I’ve-followed-on-Twitter-forever Paul Ford and his business-partner-and-guy-I-don’t-know, Rich Ziade. The podcast is a way for them to promote their agency (Postlight) while getting to know people they admire.

They usually interview someone in the media/tech/software space or talk among themselves on a topic of mutual appreciation (i.e. software designed with empathy—or disgust (i.e. LinkedIn).

I really enjoyed the recent episode with Medium’s product manager, Michael Sippey.

His three questions he reminds product managers (and himself) about resonated with me:

1. What problem are we solving?
2. Who are we solving it for?
3. How are we going to measure success?

Michael elaborates:

Everything else, like how are we going to solve the problem, how are we going to bring it to market, what are the needs that it has from a feature perspective or a speed perspective, or where should the button go or how should it look or how should the brand work — that is a team exercise. […] Because if you can set that context and you give the context to the team, the team will produce much better results.

Michael’s framework aligns perfectly with an effective content marketing strategy. Successful content finds the overlap between:

1. Your prospect’s problems and desires
2. The parts of those problems your product solves

When you can identify and empathize with those problems, and point out the ways in which your product actually makes them better, you have a winning combination of content that helps and converts.

I’ll write more about this soon. But for now, check out the podcast episode.

For more podcasts I listen to, check out my recent list of suggestions.

Unsolicited podcast recommendations

Radio tower

I’ve been writing about podcasts on this blog since 2010! But I don’t think I ever shared what podcasts I actually listen to. So here’s my unsolicited list of podcasts I currently listen to. None of the podcasts are obscure, but I think it’s an eclectic mix.

I’m breaking down the list into regular listens (I pretty much listen to every single episode) and occasional plays. All links go to their respective Overcast page.

Regular listens

  • Reply All
    • Great show “about the internet,” but always with a compelling human-interest angle. They’ve done a lot of shows related to phone scams lately.
  • All Song Considered
    • I find a new band to love in every episode.
  • Heavyweight
    • This is the new show from Jonathan Goldstein, who used to host Wiretap. This show is amazing. The last episode reunited a biker who got hit by a car, and the driver of the car.
  • Intelligence Squared US
    • Debate show in the Oxford style. Good for flexing those arguing muscles.
  • Left, Right & Center
    • Weekly political discussion/debate. Don’t think I’ve missed an episode of this podcast in 10+ years.
  • On the Media
    • The name says it all, doesn’t it?
  • Startup
    • Show about people trying to start something new.

Occasional plays

Music podcasts

These podcasts post one song/weekday. Great way to find new artists to follow. They’re also great for road trips. Just make a new playlist with a few songs, podcast, few more songs, etc.

What did I miss?

What it’s like for black people to rent/host on Airbnb

This was such an interesting story.

Quirtina Crittenden was struggling to get a room on Airbnb. She would send a request to a host. Wait. And then get declined.

So she ran her own experiment—she shortened her name to just “Tina” and changed her photo to a picture of a landscape.

“Ever since I changed my name and my photo, I’ve never had any issues on Airbnb,” Crittenden said.

#AirbnbWhileBlack: How Hidden Bias Shapes The Sharing Economy {npr’s hidden brain}

Why do we follow the news?

I think I follow the news for two reasons.

1: The lofty reason people like telling themselves. “It makes me a more informed citizen” and so “I can vote smarter.” As pointed out in this great podcast episode about it from Freakonomics, Why do we really follow the news?, it doesn’t really affect my life one way or the other if I know certain facts. As journalist Mitchell Stephens said:

I think very little of the news actually today is of practical value. For one thing, we don’t live in a society that has all that many threats encroaching upon us. You know, most of us live pretty safe lives. And most of us know where to find food in the supermarket. Most of us know where to look for romance, where to live our social lives. So I think a lot of the functions that news used to perform way back when in hunter-gatherer times, in preliterate societies, it’s no longer performing regularly. Yet our itch to be aware, to know what’s going on around us, remains.

2: For the story. As economist Matthew Gentzkow touched put it:

There’s a lot of research in psychology about the importance of telling stories and building narratives for people. People like to look at their own lives as a story. They like to see kind of the arc of the challenges that they overcame and define themselves as a character in that story. And to me that makes a lot of sense of why we care so much about news, because if what I’m thinking about all the time is my own life story and my own role in it, then you know, what’s happening in the world around me is the context that that story’s happening in.

So there ya go. Give it a listen.