The freelance economy: What drives high-quality freelancers and clients

Dec 12 2011

In the last sprint, we decided to focus our need-finding on the freelance economy. We are starting with the problem of lead generation — i.e., helping freelancers find new, high-quality clients — and we are focusing on 2 verticals: professional services (lawyers and accountants specifically) and creative services (designers and photographers specifically). We have been thinking hard about how to incentivize the right behaviors to create a virtuous cycle of referrals for freelancers from their peers.  Continue Reading »

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Team growth

Dec 03 2011

In this post, I’ll discuss key insights our team internalized as we managed to balance different team member working styles.

The details around our different team working styles aren’t critical, but the central issue was differing ideas about how we should spend our working hours during the first year of our startup’s operations. Our pre-team conversations revolved heavily around long-term vision, and we also should have spent more time discussing key work style differences that are relevant at the beginning of a startup’s life — during the first 3 months, 6 months, 12 months. While honoring each of our work style differences was a little challenging at the outset, we have since found a good balance in managing our differences while maintaining high productivity and effectiveness — and there are some key lessons for me that grew out of these conversations that may be helpful for other entrepreneurs.

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Food / retail trends

Nov 25 2011

In this post, I’ll discuss the trends our team found in small business food and retail during our second 3-week need-finding sprint.  Continue Reading »

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Freelancers deep dive

Nov 19 2011

We spent our time during this sprint learning much about the world of sole proprietors and freelancers, as well as zooming out on broader trends in food services and retail. We also learned how to better manage different team member working styles and developed a stronger team bond as a result. Since we have many learnings to share, I’ll divide reflections about this sprint into three separate posts:

1. Sole proprietorship pain points + trends

2. Food service + retail trends

3. Insights on different work styles and strengthening team bonds

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Macro forces + Key pain points + Top insights

Oct 30 2011

We’re currently moving in 3-week sprints, which culminate every third Friday in a community-wide design review where we receive feedback from other entrepreneurs, design thinkers, and investors.  Continue Reading »

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Oct 26 2011

For the past half year, I blogged about startup life as a way to capture insights and knowledge I learned in the process of searching for co-founders. Now, after all the searching, talking, reading, and writing, I have finally taken the plunge. I recently co-founded a new startup with two wonderful co-founders, Timnit Gebru (on leave from the Stanford doctoral program in EE) and Eli Woolery (a product designer from the Stanford product design program). We are venture-backed by Innovation Endeavors through the Runway Program[1], and are supported by the firm’s community and advisors.

I wanted to share some thoughts about our team formation process, and important questions we asked along the way that may be helpful reference to other entrepreneurs ready to take the plunge and looking to form teams.

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Observations on social experience design

Aug 20 2011

In my last post, I wrote about core strengths and weaknesses in the social experience design of Grub With Us, a new Y Combinator-backed social dining service that recently closed a very notable round of angel funding.

I argued that the nuance and judgment involved in human curation of social experiences is hard to “algorithmize,” and that the next big breakthrough for the social web will, I think, be in figuring out how to cultivate and facilitate the creation and development of “strong ties.” A social dining service that helps you meet new people by bringing interesting strangers together is a great start. But what I want as a user is a service that provides greater structure to social interactions in a way that facilitates stronger relationship development.  Continue Reading »

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Grub With Us and the problem of social experience design

Jul 18 2011

A couple posts back, I wrote about the importance of experience design, and shared some thoughts on elements and examples that define good experience design. I’ve been thinking over the past few weeks about a startup that has gotten a lot of the important aspects of social experience design right (with investor backing to prove it), and about some of the experience design difficulties I still see in their product.  Continue Reading »

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Good tech blogs

Jun 26 2011

Building off my post several weeks back on inspiring video / audio talks on entrepreneurship and startups, I thought I’d share the list of blogs of entrepreneurs I regularly follow (this does not include news sites, discussion forums, etc). The writings and insights shared by these entrepreneurs have provided a lot of learning and inspiration to me, so I wanted to share them with others as well. As before, if there are other great blogs you know about that I missed here, please do let me know by mentioning them in the comments section below — I would definitely love to hear any feedback! icon smile  Continue Reading »

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Three types of design: experience, interaction, visual (2 of 2)

Jun 19 2011

Last time, I identified 3 dimensions that contribute to good product design, focusing in particular on elements and examples of good experience design, which at its core is about facilitating memorable emotional user experiences. The most successful products understand this deeply. Today, I focus on the other 2 prongs critical to good product design: interaction design + visual design.  Continue Reading »

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