I only recently became aware of EarthRoamer, mostly because my wife and I aren’t in the market for a super-upscale camper. EarthRoamers start in the $200k range and can top $500k. However, since we were visiting other camper manufacturers in the Denver area, we decided to stop in, and I’m glad we did.
We met with Mike, one of the owners of EarthRoamer. Although they’ve had a checkered past (Mike told me about a 2008 bankruptcy), the company appears to be in full swing right now. They’ve built almost 125 EarthRoamers in the past 10 years (that averages out to 1 per month) and there were a number of units in various stages of build with many units when we swung by.
Mike obviously cares a lot about his product — you’ll see that in the videos. He’s super knowledgable about all aspects of the build process, and the various design elements have a lot of thought put into them. Some nice touches were the cab pass-through that they custom-make, some bunk beds in the stretched version that were custom built, and a countertop extension that flips up from behind one of the seats.
EarthRoamers are built exclusively on a Ford chassis. EarthRoamer has a deal with Ford where the new vehicle warranty isn’t voided by the customization they do, and in fact it doesn’t start until your EarthRoamer is delivered to you, which is a very nice touch because typically the truck is purchased several week or months before the build is complete. Mike had great things to say about Ford’s newest diesel engine, which can get an incredible 11 to 12 MPG on huge 41? tires with a 17,000 pound vehicle.
If I weren't so passionate about the ways that mobile devices are changing the world, I'd be spending my time in one of the following three areas: Crypto currencies like Bitcoin, the commercialization of drones, and the rise of 3D printing.
Oh, time is so our enemy. Even a long-lived life only amounts to 750,000 hours or so. And as per my recent keynote at the 2013 Mobile Outlook on a "Framework for Stupid Ideas," one of my guiding principles is to "focus on focus" to maximize the value of each of those hours. Since mobile is my deepest passion, I'm not willing to dedicate the time to dive into any of these other things.
Another of my framework points is to play in a "space that matters." And these three spaces really, really matter -- that much will be obvious to everyone in the span of a few years. So I'm hoping that some other entrepreneur will be as passionate about one of these three spaces as I am about mobile. I figured I'd present a few highlights from each of them to showcase why they're such a big deal.
I just got a preview of a hot new coworking space that's brand new (literally weeks old) in downtown San Francisco. The address is 880 Harrison street. Here's a video I just did of the space.
If you're interested in leasing space here for your startup (or would like to do an event in this space or inquire about the Hacker Hostel), please leave a comment below and I'll introduce you to the people running it.
The space is going to be called "Startup House." It's three levels, with offices on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The lower level is a HUGE open space, where they're going to put co-working desks (and the rumor is, maybe some exotic cars sprinkled around -- you know, for character).
There's also a separate part behind the main building where the owners are considering putting a "Hacker Hostel" for out of town developers (or just those who need a place to crash). The embassy of New Zealand is going to be putting a launch pad space in the building. Thanks to Elias (the guy behind StartupBus) for showing me around the space
I recently got an email from a friend that said simply "I am getting too many e-mails. How do I organize them? Sometimes I need to research an answer, but then forget for whom it was and I totally forget about it as they get buried. How do you manage your e mails?"
Here's how I do it:
No software email client: I used to use an email client like Outlook or Thunderbird, but I found that by switching to a web interface for email I have much more control over it. I have multiple inbound email addresses -- two work addresses, a gmail address, an Apple email address, an alumni address, etc. I have all my mail forward into my personal email account, which is a Google Apps-hosted address. Here's what that looks like:
Using the web-based email interface also lets me leverage all sorts of great advanced stuff, like using Rapportive, Boomerang, and many other email tools that I rely on. Also, using the Google Apps interface for my email allows me to use Google's powerful "important and unread" feature which prioritizes emails from people I know or that Google otherwise thinks I should see first.
The recruiter business is broken -- at least in San Francisco. I get multiple calls each day from recruiters and they're all pitching the same "exceptional candidate" that's perfect for our company's needs. I always politely tell them to take me off their lists, but yesterday I had a recruiter refuse to do so. Then he sent me the email below, extorting me by saying he would take me off his list only if I'd look at his candidate. Below is how I responded to him. I cc'd a manager at his company, and Lowell Isom & Erica Jarmen at the National Association of Executive Recruiters.
If you're a recruiter and you're reading this, you need to re-think your approach. It's not working. And because of bad apples like the guy below, I won't use any recruiter.
If you're an entrepreneur looking to hire top talent, what I do recommend is AngelList's Job board. It's very, very good. And you cut the recruiters out completely, which is a nice bonus.
Here's the extortion letter I received, with my response at the top:
Yesterday a group of students from my alma mater, the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce, came to visit. They were spending a week in Silicon Valley as part of their spring break.
I've long privately urged McIntire to become more entrepreneur friendly. When I was a student at U.Va. in the late 90's, it was a very unfriendly place for entrepreneurs. It seems that things are finally changing, and the fact that these students were in California on spring break says a lot about their enthusiasm for tech startups. I've also written in the past about how high school students have seemed more receptive and responsive to becoming entrepreneurs than college students. It's almost like if one doesn't get introduced to the hunger to be an entrepreneur at young age, it becomes hard to impossible to stoke it later. But this trip made me feel like there's hope for helping people find a passion for entrepreneurship later in life. No matter what, though, I stressed to the students that came to visit that the passion had to come from within them. The best a school can do is support those that want it badly enough to try.
We spent an hour together, and I shared stories with them about how I paid for college by making UVa-branded Frisbees, and sold a card called the Hoos Savings Club Card. (It was way ahead of it's time -- basically an analog version of a daily deals service like Groupon). Here are some related pics:
I'd go around to shops in the Charlottesville area, get them to agree to provide discounts to students for the school year, print the discounts on the back of the card, and sell the card for $20 to students. For anyone in college today, it's a concept that would work just as well now as it did 15 years ago, and it's a great way to make $20k to $50k while you're in school, if you're willing to have a little bit of hustle.
After writing recently about what Elon Musk has been able to achieve, I've been thinking a lot about blockers that cause people and companies to fall short of their goals.
This assumes that those goals have been clearly defined. That's often the first problem. Getting everyone in a company on the same page to achieve the same macro objective is the first step in the process. A great litmus test for this is to randomly stop an employee in the hallway and ask them what business they think the company is in. The more varied the answers, the less this first crucial step has been achieved.
And personally, many of us are not working towards a macro goal, but rather, we're just trudging along, one day at a time. I often see people working towards secondary, more immediate objectives without having a clearly defined macro goal. So although it sounds obvious: To achieve success, one first has to define what success means. Have you set macro goals for your life? Mine, in prioritized order, are:
Welcome, Sebastian, to SETT, and hats off and kudos to Tynan, the creator of SETT, for creating a new blogging platform that will allow the communities of our three great blogs to explore and learn about each other.
Ever since Tynan first told me about SETT, I've been a fan. I always wanted my blog, DanielOdio.com, to be about more than just me sharing my thoughts with my readers. I wanted it to be a conversation we could all have together, so we could all learn from each other.
Now that Sebastian's blog is joining SETT, readers will have easy ways to pique their curiosities around the things we all write about and share thoughts and expertise with each other. And that's amazing.
Tynan's blog is about world travel, good habits, freedom and minimalism. I'd also add that it's about self optimization, and being proud of who you are, and what you accomplish -- and doing it in really fun ways.
My blog is a sanctuary for entrepreneurs to learn from each other. A place to learn about angel fundraising, about how to build yourself as a brand, how to get massive amounts of press for your startup, about why you should productize your expertise , a place to learn from startup mistakes and how to be uber efficient with a computer and much more.
I used to push production code -- back in '99 when I worked at GE, my buddy Jason taught me how to code, and I was fascinated by it. I spent much of the early 2000's building dynamically driven websites with mySQL back-ends for several startups, including an e-commerce website along with its back-end administration and inventory management system (screenshot below). We had to host the e-commercie site at a colo facility. That was way before AWS, or Stripe, or any of the technologies today that make something like that much easier today.
While it's been years since I've pushed any production code, that experience has left me with a deep appreciation for what engineers do. Most business people don't have that, and it hurts them in ways they don't even realize. As Paul Graham wrote in his essay "Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule," it's easy for managers to completely torpedo the productivity of the "makers" -- those who are actually building the business and really creating value.
It's for this reason that I really encourage managers to learn to code. It's even in our Socialize manifesto, point #1: "Every new hire has a 'Hello World' in at least one language."
The first thing that a manager will find is that coding is a lot harder than they imagined it would be. Most managers have an attitude like "Yeah I could code if I really wanted to, but I can add much more value by being a manager." That attitude is actually a smokescreen for an insecurity: If it's so easy for you to learn how to code, then let me see you do it. Because it's not easy. It's hard. And it's even harder to do it well.
Here are a few epic moto & mtn bike rides I've taken recently.
The thing I love about my BMW G650 Xchallenge bike is its incredible versatility. I was literally at Pismo Beach last weekend doing this on the bike:
Yeah, same bike! The only modification I made was putting MacGyver-style hose pieces on the back tire for additional traction in the sand: