Santa Clarita Startup uses Kickstarter to Raise Funding – In the News!

Last month SCV Startup Meetup held another informative and useful event centered on the topic of using Kickstarter as a source of funding. The speaker was my friend and fellow entrepreneur,Voldi Way. He capably and, in an entertaining way, shared his experience in raising money for a new project in the works at WayForward Technologies – a local game development company where he is the founder/CEO.

The event got coverage in the Santa Clarita’s local paper, the Signal in an article written by Paula Whidden.

I was happy to offer my observations, which showed up as several quotes in the article. Although I learned a lot, and it is great to see “locals do good stuff,” limitations on the types of projects that can be funded this way most likely excludes Kickstarter funding as an option for Zejoop. The possibility deserves further investigation, but it would like be an atypical campaign.

Here are some more of my thoughts on this event:

  • it was great to hear how Voldi had applied a Kickstarter campaign to his own long established and successful company
  • I was able to ask very specific questions that might help me in my business. I got answers that I could not have gotten by just reading another article online
  • Being part of the SCV startup community is fantastic. Attending this Meetup means more than simply hearing a good presentation – it’s an opportunity to interact with other entrepreneurs and share ideas and lessons learned. Seeing what Voldi went through, and hearing his answers to questions from the group is just like getting a head start if I ever use Kickstarter myself
  • One important take-away was the value of a Kickstarter project trying to create relationships with other on-going projects and then cross-promoting. By mentioning and linking to other projects, both companies benefit from wider exposure and access to new audiences.
  • Interesting fact: the success of a 30 day Kickstarter campaign can be predicted based on its performance in the first four hours after it goes live
That’s all for now – it was a great event and it is always encouraging to be around like-minded people who taking control of their futures by being engaged in the process of building a business from nothing but an idea!
(PS – check out the picture in the article – it’d be hard to miss a certain sparsely-populated “dome” attached to a person proudly wearing his University of Maryland hoodie – that’d be yours truly!)


Zejoop is Going to Grand Prix Sacramento!


What is that, you ask, quizzically – “Grand Prix Sacramento?”

Well it is tournament for the collectible card game, Magic: the Gathering, which is property of Wizards of the Coast, a Hasbro subsidiary. The date is approaching fast, January 17th through 19th, in Sacramento, California, of course.

Maybe you didn’t see this coming but, I happen to be an enthusiast of the game – I am also the best Magic player on the planet – just ask my Magic friends!

As it turns out the Zejoop mission, and mantra, “casual event planning,” and “fun with friends” are highly applicable to the coordination of casual Magic gaming among friends! Go figure; what a coincidence – right?

So, I am going there, and I will be promoting Zejoop for Magic, in addition to participating in the tournament itself!

Check out Zejoop for all your casual event planning needs!

I’m practically overwhelmed, immersed in preparations for the event – little things like testing the application myself, coordinating BETA test among the small cadre of tester/friends I’ve been lucky to engage in the project (thanks guys – Glenn Cuevas and Dave Gerhardt!), and finally – wait for it – I am making customs tokens to distribute at the tournament.

The topic of tokens would be hard to explain to those not familiar with the game, but think of it like this – “promotional business cards, that are useful in the game experience.” Wait, I guess that wasn’t as hard as I thought. Well, now you know.

Here is a teaser of the the printer’s proof – an excerpt; always leave them wanting more, I am told.

looking good, eh?

Just an excerpt – more to come – stand by for followup!

I have several friends to thank/acknowledge, but I will do a right and proper job with that very soon, when I get a chance. For now, however, I do want to call your attention to the blue “Elemental” in the bottom center – that is the beautiful work of my friend, and fine artist, Steve Nakamura – gorgeous work on short notice, with an impossible deadline, all to get it prepped and to the printer in time – but more on that later.

Part of the sexiness you don’t see on this proof is that design on the card-back (lower left corner) includes a QR code. So at the Grand Prix, players can scan, and be directed right to Zejoop where there is a special landing page just for this event! Like I said – sexy – that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

OK, back to work…

Zejoop delivers Value!

The founder of both Blogger and Twitter, Ev Williams has some great insights to share about providing value on the internet, as captured in Ryan Tates’ blog post at

In a culture of startup enterprise where all too often ideas seem to be generated by “pick a word randomly from list A, and then list B, put them together and that’s your company,” seemingly clever (by chance) or even (silly, by design) concepts can sounds better than the more practical or even mundane sounding ventures. But does that proposal have a real value proposition – does it serve a real need, however mundane? Many times, not.

The essay I’ve referenced offers a more fundamental view; one that gives hope for the prospects for startups that target more every-days needs. The article is short a one, and I encourage you to read it for its merit, but I wanted to call attention to it for its relevance to the formulation of Zejoop as a value delivering brand. (Zejoop Wins SCV Startup Weekend!)

The most important quote is this:  “Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time…Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.” In my thinking this relates to Zejoop because, as a casual event planner, it does not scream “drop-dead-sexy” on casual observation. It does however address a human desire – to have fun with friends – and uses technology to fulfill its purpose. Although it seems mundane, it is useful and will provide value. Several distinguishing features will increase the likelihood that users will in fact be able to have fun with friends more easily and with fewer frustrations.

Zejoop solves real problems – problems that people encounter when they try to plan their activities using email. Real-time status, and auto-cancel if desired conditions are not met, are both features that deliver value.

Sounds good? Why not try it? Visit Zejoop and start planning now!

Zejoop solves real problems.

Use sunscreen and sunglasses to have fun in the Sun – use to have fun with your friends!

Zejoop: from the “to do” list

As the daylight hours shorten it is time to think about what is next for Zejoop. It is not enough to declare that the application is in Beta test; must lean to the future and turn this thing into a business. There are many options for the startup – solicit family and friends, get angel seed funding, bootstrap forever, go straight to series A funding with venture capital, or incubate! The only one of these that has a deadline (that I know of) happens to be the incubate option. So, let the egg drop; hopefully there is some soft straw to soften the fall, and, luck prevailing there’ll be a heat lamp to help this thing hatch! and the drive to incubation

On second thought maybe this should have been a bed of straw, an egg, and a heat lamp… oh well

I will be applying to other incubators, but this post is about starting this process by submitting to Y-combinator, which is arguably the top of the heap, volume, and success-ratio-wise. I found this great article on Venture Beat, how to write a winning application to Y-combinator. In the meantime, if you are in my network and you know any YC Alums, please let me know – Y-combinator promotes a culture of “pay-it-forward” so an introduction might be helpful. You know anyone?

Deadline for the Y-combinator application is October 21; I’ll keep you posted! UPDATE: I’ve met the deadline and submitted one week early – one of the more interesting question was “what non-computer system have you hacked to your advantage?” – I answered it this way –> King Rat Hat Hack


Zejoop Dives in! – Parties at Be Great Fest 2013!

I heard about Be Great Partners and their Fall 2013 Be Great Fest from a friend, and I made a last minute decision to join the party last Tuesday night, September 17th, 2013. Boy, am I glad I did – it was great! They chose a world-class venue in the Pacific Design Center. Throw in an open bar (countered with a $20 Uber, ride home safe credit – good move!), great DJ, and Wolfgang Puck catering and what’s not to like? To commemorate Zejoop’s attendance I took an artsy selfie in the lobby (nice turn of the phrase, eh?)

Zejoop has fun at Be Great Fest! and the Be Great Fest – an artsy selfie in the lobby!

The party also showcased many of the startups already in the Be Great Partners family – from “real convenience, true comfort” underwear ( to aerial drones ( – there was a lot of fantastic energy, talent and accomplishment on display!

Last but not least, I’ll have to say the hosts themselves were great. I introduced myself to Lin Miao, Managing Partner, and we had a great five minute talk – not bad for a crowded, energy-filled room – conversation competing with the DJ. That got me an introduction to Startup Ambassador Emily Alfstad with whom I also had a great conversation.

With the great impressions and take-away I got from the event I’m wondering if Be Great Partners and Zejoop might be a good match. With Zejoop just entering BETA test, the time is right – gotta start thinkin’ bout these things!

First Full Round Trip!

Last Monday represented an exciting milestone for Zejoop; the first full round trip of a meeting that was planned and held using Zejoop while in Beta test. Here is the celebratory snapshot, taken with me (big-head) and Erick Arndt (big-smile and sunglasses) of SCV Startup fame:

Great things are happening in the Santa Clarita Valley startup scene. With the growth of our startup community and culture it is not a matter of if, but when, one of our budding startups hits it big! I’m putting my money on it being Zejoop, but, isn’t that, after all, the very definition of “bootstrapping?”

Happenings at Zejoop!

Zejoop has exciting news! One month to the day after winning SCV Startup Weekend #1, on November 7th, Zejoop will have its first venture capital meeting with Clearstone Venture Partners in Santa Monica.

Having this meeting constitutes a portion of the prize that accrued to Zejoop after winning the competition in early October. Since the event much preparation has taken place, including speed reading of a number of tech startup reference books, meeting with startup mentors, coaches and advisors, and completion of a draft of the 10 page pitch deck.

Although the deck itself is far from complete it is a necessary prerequisite to the beginning of conversation with any potential investors, be it at the angel or the VC level.

I wish I could tell you more, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy. Well, that was an exaggeration; by “sworn to secrecy” I actually meant that “I don’t know what to expect” – this is all new to me. That notwithstanding, I have a great team and I am forming an agenda for the meeting that will represent Zejoop and the team well, and if things work out, nothing would make me happier than to get a follow-on meeting with Clearstone. That would be a major accomplishment, and that is the goal Team Zejoop is targeting!

Check back for updates! For question or comments, contact me via:


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