Category Archives: being the boss

Parenting is not about stuff

Like every man, I remember my first time … I had some high hopes. You see, my wife was really pregnant, and I really liked stuff … so this should have been fun for us, but it just wasn’t. In fact, it was actually kinda stressful. Our first visit to Isis Maternity just wasn’t all that soothing and educational zen that I expected to walk into.

So the big news yesterday was just how fast Isis had shutdown. The Twitterverse was shocked and awed. There were some great articles trying make sense of it all. The arm-chair quarterbacks have been out in force but as someone who has two kids and two flamed out businesses to my name, I was amazed they was ever even IN business. Here’s why:

There’s a hole in the bucket dear Liza, dear Liza.

You better capture some MAJOR cash from your customers if they only have half a gestation cycle to give it to you. The first five months you’re just not buying stuff. The second five, you’re starting to read about all the crap you (think) you need to pull off this parenting thing. And then there are baby showers and all the other random gifts. We did it all and had many generous and willing co-conspirator, but by the time we had the second one …

Having a baby is not Nascar.

While having a baby is a really repetitive thing ((sleep, feed, poop) X every day until 1 year), it’s not Nascar. You don’t go straight, then left, then straight, then left a whole bunch of times and then pit for new tires. Babies are soft and cuddly, they really don’t wear stuff out (except disposable diapers, which I’m pretty sure they didn’t sell). So once you have it, you use it, and then use it again, but when you’re done, it’s not like those Nascar tires with 1000 left turns on them. The things you bought from them (for list price, ie: a lotta money) are like books. You didn’t read the words off the pages, they still work and can be read by the next mommy and daddy. So you give it to someone else who will use them, love them, and then pass them along. Boom another customer for them gone or maybe like us, they roll for $40 in parts and then never come back.

But people will always be having babies …

Likely true, but their market wasn’t everyone having a baby, it was rich people having a baby. The store was stocked with nice to haves. Sure, we bought that $40 worth of pieces parts for our (hand-me-down) breast pump, but babies were making it before Isis and they will survive now in the post-Isis wasteland that we now inhabit.

But Content is King!

And man, that is where they killed it. They created (and emailed) great content. And seeing as how this is my jam, I was impressed by how well they did this. But, I’m left wondering as I sit in my nice armchair and toss short passes over the middle, what role content actually played in their death. I disagree that content is not king. I’d counter that content is kidney. Content is a vital organ that your business really needs in order to live a happy, prosperous life. Can you live with out it? Sure, but you’ll need dialysis (re: tossing tons of money after customer acquisition, etc) to do so. And it’ll stunt your growth and it will define how and where you live your life (ie: no 4 day camping trips in the woods).

I wonder if for Isis, their great content was not king or kidney, but life support. Their business obviously could not survive on it’s on, and in fact was kept alive long after it should have died.

Having a few failures under my belt, I am incredibly empathetic to the folks who gave years (and cash) to try and make Isis succeed. That said, I’m more impressed by the way they just shut off the lights and dropped the mic, rather than fighting any longer. It’s really hard to stop fighting and give up, but there are so many other, different fights that need to be fought. Hopefully their next ventures will be greeted with more success and provide even more great content.

Don’t be an idiot with your email address

Setting up email is pretty much one of the first outward facing things that a startup does.  You need to own your company identity, and folks need to associate you, your product, your everything, with that identity.  This often happens first via email.

So let’s say your name is Bob Fundergrass, you’re a founder, and your startup’s domain is  If I can’t email you at, you’re an idiot and you are doing it wrong.  I don’t care if you really use, or some other variation, but your first name, what people actually call you, better work.  If it doesn’t, you’re an idiot.

Please don’t make this mistake.  You’re a founder, claim that first name and own it.  Sure, maybe down the road you’ll have 30,000 employees and need a really stodgy, strict format, but right now, you need to make it as easy as possible for everyone and anyone to email you.  Your first name @ your domain is the easiest way to do this.

You have enough things stacked against you already, please don’t add bounced or black-holed emails to the list.

PS: An easy way to do this if you use Google Docs is to set up a Group and name it and set the Group email address as your “easy” address.  Then just set your main account as the owner and select “Also allow anyone on the Internet to post messages.”  Bingo.  You’ll capture those emails and be able to reply from your preferred address.

Who do I ask for a sick day?

For the last couple of years, I’ve been the lucky recipient of migraines.  They suck, but I’ve learned to better manage them thanks to some fancy (and spendy) prescription drugs and the ability to take a sick day and NOT look at this bloody computer.  Well, I felt a headache coming on last night, but ignored it and went to bed.  When I awoke, there it was, right where I’d left it.   A not so quick drive down to our first investor’s house (Mom & Dad) to drop off our beast and it was full on raging and had turned the corner to a Migraine.

So who do I ask for a sick day?  I’m my boss.  Everything that doesn’t get done by me today, pushes my life, our company,  our future one day into the future.  Who knows what that one day will cost us.  I hope nothing, but the fear of failure in me says it could be everything, so work, work, work.  Thankfully today wasn’t a total loss.  I was able to squeeze in some time, and more importantly make some progress one the meds did their thing.  Usually I’d lounge away the rest of the day, for fear of a relapse, but I didn’t today. My jerky boss made me work.