Once Again, a Y Combinator Application

After two days of marathon video production, and enduring the shock of hearing “the draft application you thought you saved, and which only needed some minor cleanup was lost and is irrecoverable” I’ve once again submitted to a Y Combinator session, this time Winter 2016.

Here’s the proof:

every shot you don't take is a miss!

Video production you ask? Well, simply put the application requires [1] a short ‘founder-intro-video’ and [2] I created a ‘demo’ video to give an overview of Zejoop features and give a walk-through of a typical event planning example.

Stay tuned; notices for interviews in November will go out on the 28th of this month – exciting!

Wanna see what all the fuss is about? Check out the new landing page, create an account, and start planning! It’s fun and easy!

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

Please help get the word out, and share on social media using the widgets!

Jumping in the Deep End!

Marketing! A survey! Won’t this be fun?

Please help answer some questions about a possible “powered by Zejoop” spin-off. Click the Big Blue Button, and let the answers Fly!

Please Take a Moment to Answer this Short Survey!

Wasn’t that easy? Now Please Share with your Gamer Friends Using the Sharing Widgets at bottom – Twitter, Facebook, etc., …you know the drill! Thanks!

Thanks for participating! It’ll be fun, and I will appreciate your input and thoughts; thanks!

Michael LaRue, Founder & CEO, Zejoop (Patent Applied For)

PS… if you are so inclined, check out Zejoop by clicking the button below (after account creation you will be immediately presented with planning option for your gaming session)

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

Please help get the word out, and share on social media using the widgets

Thank You Zejoop Day 1 Adopters!

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

Day One of the Zejoop Growth Campaign is over, and it was a great success in terms of expectations and goals. I want to thank all the early adopters who expressed an interet in Zejoop and created an account.

As an independent operator, so to speak, I can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciate your response to my call to action. Breaking though the noise of our modern life is challenging, so I sincerely thanks you all!

Occupying the Zejoop Booth at Grand Prix San Jose!

Zejoop Founder says thanks to all Day One early adopters!

Having created an account I invite and encourage you to start using Zejoop to plan your casual events with your friends. The Zejoop software is now poised to evolve in response to your feedback. Perhaps there is a planning template you can envision that would support activities most relevant to you. Please let me know if that is case. Chances are such a new template would be useful to others, and something that Zejoop can readily create for your use.

Again, thank you very much! As you start to use Zejoop, please direct feedback, bug reports and feature suggestions to the address available under the ‘contact’ tab above.

Michael LaRue, Founder & CEO, Zejoop (Patent Applied For)

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

PS… please help get the word out, and share on social media using the widgets below; every little bit helps! Thank you!

Ready, Set, Go – Let’s Use Zejoop!

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

Today marks the beginning of Phase I of a campaign to actively acquire new users for Zejoop. If you haven’t done so already would you take this opportunity to create an account and start using Zejoop. To get to this level of readiness feels like a great achievement, but all the same, Zejoop will only fulfill it purpose and mission in the hands of users; users who will not only benefit from the unique offering of its ‘criteria-based confirmation or cancellation’ feature, but who also themselves have the chance to actually shape the future on Zejoop in the form of feedback, bug reports and feature suggestions.

Are you an early adopter? Do you have an adventurous spirit? Might you be willing to help a friend realize his dream of building a successful business from scratch? This is a foray in the modern frontier of tech-based entrepreneurship – early adopters can take this trip alongside a developer like myself – does this prospect interest you? If so please setup an account, and start planning by clicking one of the orange buttons! Start now, and enjoy the benefits of a simpler and hassle-free way of planning your fun – your Fun with Friends, facilitated by Zejoop!

Thank you very much! Please direct feedback, bug reports and feature suggestions to the address available under the ‘contact’ tab above.

Michael LaRue, Founder & CEO, Zejoop (Patent Applied For)

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

PS… please help get the word out, and share on social media using the widgets below; every little bit helps! Thank you!

Zejoop Rocked Grand Prix San Jose – a WHOLE trip RECAP!

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

Zejoop traveled, first to Grand Prix San Jose, and then to Las Vegas, and what a trip it was! It’s taken a while to post this recap, because that’s how fun and productive it was, and also an indicator of how busy I’ve been, both during, and since.

The trip itself was broken into three legs:

  1. the Grand Prix itself, from Friday to late Sunday (for the purpose of market research, promoting Zejoop, and meeting/interacting with Magic players insofar as they are a potential target audience for the Zejoop service)

    Talkin' about solving problems related to organizing gaming sessions for Magic players!

    Zejoop had lots of opportunity to meet with Magic players, and make new friends!

  2. …a stay with a longtime friend, Tom, at his house in San Jose proper (a chance to visit with a friend and his family, and to possibly network in the Silicon Valley tech startup community, because, after all, that’s what Zejoop is, a tech startup! Yay!)
  3.  …and finally a side-trip to Las Vegas, primarily to see Jack White live at the Brooklyn Bowl
this image courtesy of his website, and I'm using it here because they made it available, having discouraged from using phones and/or cameras to "as filters to interfere with our enjoyment of the live music" - that's what they said!

Zejoop.com had a blast at Jack White, LIVE at the Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas!

As for a post-game analysis of the trip, here are some COMMENTS and TAKEAWAYS, broken down by ‘leg’ as described above:

  • …regarding the event itself, I will call it a rousing success! My thanks to Channel Fireball and Cascade Games LLC for being outstanding hosts to me. All my objectives, and more, were met. I got to talk to a lot of players and hear them describe the problems they have, if any, in organizing gaming sessions among their friends. I made meaningful contact with many people who shared their thoughts and impressions. Was able to give out a lot of business cards to enable future conversation if that’s in the cards (ha ha – do you see what I did there?). Most importantly I met a number of people who gave directly relevant feedback as to their potential use of Zejoop, and offered their email addresses for future contact along those lines. Throughout the two days, I got a number of great suggestions for additional features; some of these were really great – almost good enough, to justify the expense of the trip on the merit of these ideas. PS… that’s what trips like this are for; to glean just such type of feedback! SUCCESS! Finally, among the many people I met, a small subset were actually fully engaged participants in the startup scene in Silicon Valley who were willing to stay in touch. Their sentiment in seems was in the form of a like-mindedness, able to relate to what Zejoop was up to. Making contacts like this, again, was almost worth the price of admission alone. The life of a startup entrepreneur, and certainly as a single-founder entity, can be solitary at times and anything that can serve to expand the network, especially with coverage into Silicon Valley can be particularly valuable.
  • My visit with Tom, what can I saw. Being true and current friends with someone you met in the third is a precious life gift, and we had a great time. Got to watch the second half of the Super Bowl with him. I will say he has a odd way with the DVR, and the prevailing concept that “for this show alone, that the commercials are intended to be PART and PARCEL of the show” seemed moot to him – we FF’d through them, but that is OK. Also as a consequence. at some point we heard in the neighborhood, the inevitable sounds of a victory celebration on front porches. The outcome was already known to most, yet somehow, our revelation as to the winner was to be probably at least 20 minutes in the future. I had another objective before leaving town – I wanted to find one or more meetups to go to in or around Silicon Valley. I will give myself a score of ‘D minus’ on that one; even though I did find one great happy-hour/mixer to attend, I misread the invitation, and I got there a full 24 hours early. Too bad – that was my one shot, and I was to leave Tuesday afternoon – the hobnobbing would have to be postponed until my next trip northwards. Oh well; my bad.
  • …FINALLY – Jack White in Las Vegas! Wow! What a show – he is quite a musician, and an outstanding showman to boot. The Brooklyn Bowl was a great venue, and I got a great meal there beforehand – blackened catfish, mashed potatoes and and a vegetable plate. Below the food, is a selfie of me with some nice people I met, who were cool and shared their table with me.IMG_20150204_203616_880IMG_20150204_203659_349

 

Well, there you have it; a slightly long-winded summary of a very eventful trip. A trip that included business, old friends, new friends, great food, and great music – thanks for the great music Jack!

Much work lies ahead for Zejoop; there are no guarantees – the business of staring a startup is rarely better than a long-shot at best – but, at the heart of the matter, it sure beats moving data around in an Excel Spreadsheet, or copy-pasting within Word as a thin excuse for what passes as “work” in modern defense contracting. There’s never been a better time for me to be at the helm of my own ship – a ship I’ve built, and one I’m ready to sail as far as she’ll take me!

Because I appreciate your time as an audience, reading this, I will end with a paraphrase of Jack White’s own show-ending salutation (inserting my own name, as you’ll see, where appropriate):

“…thank you, you’ve been incredible, and I’ve been Michael LaRue”

Zejoop is Going to GP San Jose – T minus 2 days

Check it out! How cool is this? Zejoop is on the MAP! Here is a snippet of the Grand Prix San Jose venue floor-plan for the event:

Zejoop on the GP San Jose Floorplan 2015-01-28 12:16:11Props to Jon of ChannelFireball! From what I can tell this location is the perfect spot Zejoop; I’m very happy. I mean, seriously – this is basically right on the 50 yard line (prime seating for football, amIright?). Also between the main stage and the concession stand. Should be perfect. I don’t know exactly what the ‘mystery box, 20×20 ft² area’ is, but hey – mysterious green boxes can be cool, right?

This snippet is only about one fifth of the entire map, and clearly Zejoop is the smallest booth of all vendors – a solitary 8 foot table. Surrounded by giants as it were, with many other vendors taking up 6 to 8 of those same 8 foot tables. Gotta start somewhere!

It’s going to be a great event; see you there!

Zejoop is Going to GP San Jose – T minus 7 days

It must be said that today is a monumental day for Zejoop – one week away from Grand Prix San Jose, and I’ve posted essentially complete, fully functioning prototype of the Zejoop software. In a quirky turn of numerario-logical fate the version just posted is ‘zejoop.200’ – I couldn’t have planned it better had a tried!

(teaser – at the end of this post I’m going to ask a favor of you; are you up to it?)

Minor things do remain though. In my last post I ambitiously asserted that the SSL problem would have been solved by now. Still waiting on that – I have the certificate and keys ready to go. Unfortunately, I’ve had a setback with the complexity of installing

Zejoop is Becoming a Brand

Zejoop is on its way to “Becoming a Brand!”

Amazons command line interface, which is required for me to interact with my deployed instance and upload/install the certificate. Looks like I’ll be calling Amazon tech support tonight. Also, I plan to plant some Google analytics magic beans into the mix: does that make sense to you? No, sorry – I am kind of going all ‘stream-of-conscience’ on you – sorry.

Tomorrow will be kind of busy too. Print shop, Staples… if I’m lucky I’ll afford myself a break to swim. Maybe I’ll have some coffee? Sure why not – coffee.

I suppose that’s enough of an update for now. I will reiterate though – very exciting times for Zejoop!

Oh, that favor I mentioned… one last thing; would you please? From your Facebook account, search for the Zejoop page, as categorized under ‘software,’ and ‘LIKE’ the page? That’d be cool! Thanks!

Zejoop is Going to GP San Jose! – T minus 13 days

Zejoop is excited to be going to Grand Prix San Jose! The chance to interact with as many as 2,500 gamers, and to introduce a product like Zejoop to help solve the problems encountered in planning gaming sessions is AWESOME!

It is especially exciting because most recently several technical and re-hosting “opportunities” emerged and required immediate attention and resolution. I am happy to report those items have been successfully dealt with. Specifically, and firstly, this blog itself needed to be re-hosted; thanks to BlueHost and their excellent tech support, this Zejoop blog is up and running again, now better than ever! Secondly, the company providing Zejoop’s platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud hosting discontinued its service. This drove me to seek a different solution on short notice and forced me to become much more of an IT/admin type of guy than I ever thought possible. After some research it turns out the Elastic Beanstalk service as offered by Amazon Web Services was the perfect solution! Although more powerful, and while still presenting a “PaaS-y” approach, its power also requires more low level control. Hence, yet another hat to wear – that of the IT/admin guy. Regardless, the transition is complete, and between the BlueHost/Amazon complement of services, Zejoop is well supported for growth!

The future is bright, and it all starts at Grand Prix San Jose!

Come visit the booth at the event, and learn what Zejoop has to offer to help you get together with your friends, have fun, and game!

Zejoop is Going to GP San Jose!

PLAN YOUR GAME

Want to plan a draft with your friends? How about a game of Commander? Take the hassle out of coordinating with you friends for gaming… that’s what Zejoop is for!

Visit the Zejoop booth at Grand Prix San Jose – See what it’s all about!

Explore Zejoop! Have Fun with your Friends!

www.Zejoop.com

Learning about Product Marketing from the Google Ventures Library

                   

Stumbled upon a great video on the topic of startup marketing that was posted in the Google Ventures library – delivered by Adam Gross who is Co-Founder and CEO at cloudconnect.com, and has been involved throughout his career at personify, salesforce.com, and Dropbox.

This is timely information for Zejoop, at this critical point in its tech startup evolution.

(Google Ventures is a seed round, or early investor for new startups – looks like a great program, with quite a few free resources – definitely worth looking into. However their  model seems to be “don’t call us, we’ll call you”, as in, you don’t apply, but you somehow otherwise “get yourself noticed.” That seems a little mysterious, and somewhat “fraught” (with peril?) but it is also interesting, and adds to the allure!)

screenshot from the presentation given by Adam Gross

Good information on Marketing – food for thought regarding the positioning of Zejoop

All of this is of critical importance to Zejoop as it tries to find its way though and past its development and beta test phases.

The entire video will be worth revisiting again later, but a few points stood out for immediate application.

The first of which were his comments on product positioning on the x-y axes of “strategic” (increasing horizontally from left to right) and “emotive” (increases vertically from bottom to top). Clearly a company like Apple is high on both scales but the the question has to be addressed early, even for a startup like Zejoop; how does it get from wherever it starts – “low” on both counts – to “high” on both? Unless the importance of this trajectory is comprehended, and that it demands a plan which is well formulated and then followed, what is the likelihood of success? Without a goal, how will you ever know you’ve arrived?

Another key idea was that of creating a industry transitional narrative – where is Zejoop going and how will it make a difference in the landscape?

The third idea which made an impression was how he described “differentiation.” To me that means asking and answering “what makes Zejoop different?” Of course this is pretty basic, but the way he articulated the point was very helpful. He told an anecdote of a friend who was at TiVo and he asked, regarding the product itself, why is it that the “pause” button is the biggest of all the buttons? – answer “that is what makes TiVo different than just TV” – the ability to pause and resume playback off a live stream. Timely story to hear as this is just the type of thing I need to tackle for Zejoop. After all there are any number of options for people to do their casual event planning. What makes Zejoop different and how can I emphasize that within the product? The good news is that a couple of good ideas have occurred to me as I’ve thought this over – but that my friends, will be a separate post!

Finally the video highlighted the importance of thinking about strategic partnerships. Clearly there are big players who have already fielded many aspects of event planning. Rather that thinking about how to take them on, head-on, why not discover the minimum viable enhancement that Zejoop can provide rather than duplicate an entire infrastructure that already exists? Oh, and by the way, an entire infrastructure developed by an army of highly skilled develops employed by big-tech? Sounds like folly, right? Better late than never, and this part of the presentation gave me a few good ideas to do just that.

That’s all for now, but I wanted to capture these thoughts while they were fresh in mind, at the risk of losing them by not doing so immediately. More to follow as I turn ideas into actions.