Tag Archives: Brad Feld

Jedi Max

What happens when a community rallies together to help a stranger?  This summer I witnessed something that totally blew my mind and warmed my heart.

Last May Brad Feld decided he was going to raise money on GiveForward for someone he didn’t know, a 17-year-old named Justin who was battling stage 4 testicular cancer.  I asked the Startups and Burritos community to support Brad’s efforts by sending Justin virtual hugs to his GiveForward page.  The outpouring of support was nothing short of amazing. You all sent hundreds of virtual hugs and gave Justin a critical boost during the most difficult of times.  If you have 4 minutes, stop what you’re doing and watch this video that shows how you all helped change a life. It gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.

Now, Brad’s at it again. He’s running the Detroit Marathon on October 21st and has chosen another person on GiveForward to help.  His name is Jedi Max. Max is eight-years-old and LOVES Star Wars.  When he grows up, he wants to be a pizza chef.  (yeah, I know, Jedi-Pizza Chef = most awesome job EVER!).

Max also happens to have a very aggressive form of brain cancer called Glioblastoma Multiforming.  But Max is the toughest Jedi fighter/pizza chef in the galaxy so he’s obviously going to beat this.  That said, even the strongest Jedi-pizza chefs can use some extra help.  If you feel like doing something awesome today,  I encourage you to go to his GiveForward page and leave him a HUG to let him know he’s going to kick cancer’s butt.

May the Force be with Max!

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Hug it Forward: 1000 Hugs for Justin

17 years ago, my dad passed away from cancer. He had stage 4 colon cancer and only lived 11 months after diagnosis. Today is his birthday and in honor of my dad, I’m asking everyone to give forward to another person fighting stage 4 cancer, Justin Salcedo.  My goal is to inspire 1000 “hugs” for Justin by the end of the day today, May 9th, 2012.
Please take a minute read more about this amazing young man on Brad Feld’s blog with whom GiveForward has partnered for this project.  Once you’ve taken a minute or two to read Brad’s blog post, here’s how you can help.
Go to Justin’s GiveForward page and do the following:
(1) leave a “hug” for Justin (doesn’t cost anything; only takes 30 seconds).
(2) Include at the end of your comment the following hashtag “#1000Hugs4Justin”
(3) Email this to any person you’ve ever know who has been touched by cancer.  Post this on your Facebook wall, share it on Twitter and encourage others to keep hugging forward until we reach 1000 hugs.
I’m not asking anyone to donate money but if we can get 1000 people to leave hugs on Justin’s page by the end of the day, it could change the world for this young man and give him the emotional boost he needs to beat the crap out of this stupid cancer!
We’ve got 15 hours.  I realize this is going to take a monumental effort, but I know we can do this.  I just gave my hug.  999 to go.  Ready. Set. Hug!
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UPDATE:  We didn’t get to 1000 but we did over 100 hugs for Justin on the first day.  Thanks to everyone for hugging.
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Why Good Customer Service is More Important than Technology

Highlighters: the king of all office supplies and the key to financial success!!

Brad Feld posted a blog last week called Start with Customer Experience where he quotes Steve Jobs who says “you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards for the technology.”  I couldn’t agree more with this philosophy.

When we first started GiveForward, our technology was absolutely terrible.  In fact, during our final round interview for Excelerate Labs, Sam Yagan, one of the Excelerate founders, told us that GiveForward was not just the shittiest website he had seen during the Excelerate application process, but in fact “the shittiest website [he] had ever seen.”   Yeah, ever.   As in the entire universe, which I’d like to remind everyone is a vast place and includes this clip art-inspired 1996 gem from White Castle.  Yet, despite the technological shortcomings with our website, by the time we were doing the interview we had already processed over $2 million in transactions.  Clearly we were doing something right — it was our out-of-this-world customer service.

The logic of starting first with the customer experience and working backwards for the technology is especially true for startups who are bootstrapping their operation like we were at the time.  Think about it — when you are bootstrapping, you have no budget to advertise.  The only way people are going to learn about your company is through word-of-mouth.  But word-of-mouth isn’t a marketing strategy.  It’s the result of a strategy. I think that’s an important concept for young startups to recognize.

So the question is, how do you get people spread the word about your company?   There are generally only two things that will compel someone to talk about your company. You either have a phenomenal product or you have phenomenal customer service.

If you have limited resources, focus on the customer service before you focus on the product. In the very early stages, it’s inevitable that your product is going to suck. Don’t worry about it. Everyone’s product sucks at the beginning.  Instead, overcompensate for your sucky product by creating a culture of out-of-this-world customer service from day one.  Hustle your butt off, be open and honest with your customers, and do the little things to WOW them at every opportunity.   If you’re bootstrapping, it’s going to take a long time until you have the right technology pieces in play to provide your users with a great product.  In the mean time, make customer service a cornerstone of your business.

Over time, continue to listen to your customers and keep iterating your product so that it sucks a little less each day.  Ultimately when the quality of your product catches up to the quality of your customer service, you’ll be in a great place.

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