Since 2009, I have spent a lot of time on YouTube (Orabrush and Poo~Pourri are the most notable YouTube marketing campaigns I helped launch) and I really love a lot of YouTube content. I know many top YouTubers personally and really like the people behind the content. Many of these great people grew up with different experiences than me or my kids and so they have a different value-set about language and content. There are so many YouTube videos that I would just remove one cleavage shot, one f-bomb, or one other clip in order to share with my young kids. There are a lot of really talented people on YouTube that I want to share, but I refrain to avoid introducing language and content that young minds really don’t need to think about.

In 2011, when YouTube launched their javascript embed API, I started toying with ideas to build something cool on YouTube.

About July of last year (2012), my brothers and I were in the office talking and  they said how much they’d love to have a streaming service that would skip/mute content the way some DVD players were outfitted over the last 10 years. None of us buy DVDs anymore and there is no solution for our streaming content. At that moment, a light bulb went off in my head, “hey, I could build that on YouTube’s API and Google Play opens up Hollywood’s library for a streaming service!” I decided to see if I could get the concept working at nights. Within a month we had a very rudimentary prototype and my brothers were tagging my favorite movies. Even in its early state, I loved the product.

A year later, after endless hours of legal research, programming, business plans, and prepping a way more robust product, my brothers and I launched VidAngel, family FILTERS for Movies and YouTube. What I am most excited about is that VidAngel will allow anyone to filter a web video from their own home. They don’t have to wait for us to do it, they and the community can do it themselves and share it with others, for FREE (we pay people to help us tag the Hollywood content and we charge for that, but free YouTube content is free). This is the service I’ve wanted for the last 4 years and now I’m so excited to make it a reality. I’m also excited for all the people and resources that are turning up to help us in this massive effort to clean up YouTube and Hollywood for families (thanks to ABC4 for covering us on TV the first day of our presale campaign – my handsome brothers are pictured in their interview).

Imagine the serendipity I felt when Google launched Chromecast a few months back and I overnighted the device to my door. I was elated to learn that, with some work, we could take VidAngel to the HDTV.

VidAngel is a massive undertaking; we’re one week into this and we’re barely getting started. Many thanks to those who have joined us early in this effort. Let’s make streaming video family-friendly!

Returned at 1:30am this morning from San Francisco and the True Ventures founders camp, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Especially dinner with Abinash, Ben, Toni, Dave, and Zach.

I love being around entrepreneurs because they have an insatiable desire to learn. Otherwise, they cannot succeed. The market has a way of humbling you and making you constantly strive to learn. I love this environment.

State of the Valley

John Callahan opened the camp and talked about the state of the startup world in Silicon Valley. He said that there is a lot of seed capital, but very little B and C round capital. It’s going to be a tight time for seed startups for the next 12 months. (Note: if you’re struggling to find talent, make lots of connections with the startups because stats say that 60 percent of them will become available in 6-12 months)

Interestingly, in 2011, we introduced ourselves with a small handful of companies (maybe 4-7, I can’t remember). This year, there were 39 new companies! That reflects both the growth of True Ventures and the state of the seed market. Only the hotest companies are going onto B and C right now.

True Ventures has invested over 100 million in the last 12 months and the companies have created over 500 new jobs :)

Finally, one of my favorite take-aways from the camp was a session by Sean Ellis (from Qualaroo) on how to determine if you’re ready to scale. Or, better said, how to get ready to scale. Sean has a post called the Start-up pyramid that is a high-level version of his session.

Qualaroo – Sean Ellis

1. Understand the must-have experience (MHX)
2. Macro optimization of conversions/engagement
3. Micro optimization of lifetime value/engagement
Desire – Friction = Conversion Rate


  • combos of hooks and promise
  • address conversion issues
  • front load aha moments


Who loves it?
How do they use?
Why do they love it?
How do they share it?
How do they find you?
Questions for developing promise (email survey)
  • What is the primary benefit that you have received? (multiple choice – is step 2)
  • Why was the benefit important? (open ended survey)
Balance the higher chosen benefit with the one that is chosen most from those who are most disappointed if they didn’t have the product.
e.g. Drowning in email? Find things faster with Zimny.
Question for developing hook…
1. Open ended
2. Multiple choice
3. Disappointment levels, Cohortly, Qualaroo are all tools that can help in this process.
Identify Aha moment and frontload it (like Pandora and asking for your artist before account creation)
  • User testing (live or online)
  • Query to correlate action to long-term engagement
  • Survey with activity filter
Default on macro, then segment
Micro all about segment of individual
Individual targeting
Context and timing essential
Personalize on individual user needs: Enhance then Harvest
Other tools
LeanPlum does A/B for iOS
Apptentive helps for love or hate app. Reviews for love and support for hate.
Channel building much easier when…
  1. Product/Market Fit
  2. Optimize Conversions
  3. Optimize Macro/Micro Engagement
  4. Maximize LTV

Net Promoter Score – big brands? A mistake for startups, he thinks. He invests in the NPS companies that are not overpriced.

I lost my kindle during the summer and found it a few weeks back in my couch. I had sat on it and I’m sure that the pressure is what damaged it.

Today, after hearing all the Kindle announcements, I thought to call Amazon and see if I was still on warranty. I called them at 12:59pm and by 1:02pm I was off the phone with a tracking number, my replacement Kindle on the way.

With that kind of customer service, I’m reminded of friends who’ve tried to replace their iPhone screen with Apple (same service with iPad). Nothing but complaints.

Now that people weigh Kindle Fire against the Apple iPad, customer service will increasingly become part of the war. And right now, Amazon is definitely winning that battle.

From Harvard Professor, a compilation of the best resources for entrepreneurs.

This new genome project is worth following: Startup Genome.

While trying to archive some corporate governance documents a few weeks back, I thought to myself, surely some enterprising company or individual will create a way to scan directly to Google Docs.

I love programmers. To my joy, OfficeDrop has a solution. They’ve integrated shared folders so that you can choose where the documents are filed as you’re scanning. You can also rename them. Apparently, they OCR them and make them into searchable pdfs, but Google Docs doesn’t yet add that information to the Google Docs index.

Unfortunately, it’s not scanning my lettersized page properly on our Canon MF5750. I’ve submitted a support request and I’m hopeful that between this post and my support request, I’ll come to a solution quickly.


Great article from fast company on the Standford – ditching the cubicles and going for project based work spaces. The’s grand opening was today. Thanks to Mike Levinthal’s help on Orabrush, Jeffrey and I met William Burnett in their open conference room a few weeks ago and Professor Bernard Roth gave us a tour of their building. The kinds of projects they’re working on were fascinating (pumps for under $20 to change a community for example).

The students we interviewed to help us with product design were all extremely high caliber people and product designers. Very difficult choice.

Dave Kelly, who’s a schoolmate of Mike’s, also gave us a tour of IDEO. The culture of those organizations really opened our eyes to an incredible way to set up offices. I loved how they hung their bicycles from the ceilings (sounds like the tree houses we built as kids). Thanks to Kathleen (Dave’s assistant) for helping set the interviews up for us!

We’d like to recreate something similar at the Provo Town Square or some other place with character for Orabrush. If you know of any places in the area that we could do something creative with, we’d love to know.

Last week when I was on my way back from a game of pickup ball at Declo High School, I noticed the stark contrast between the fancy new school versus the Junior High and Elementary School buildings beside it. They appeared to come from entirely different worlds. The old schools had been pieced together, one building at a time (each probably a decade apart), as the student body and needs grew. There were four unique sections to the old high school that also served the junior high.

Old Declo High School Main Entrance

Old Declo High School Gymn and View of Building

It was striking to see the uncoordinated sections of the buildings next to that modern high school. Strangely, during a time when I think a lot about living within ones means, the old schools, which represented self-control and restraint in spending, had a disciplined beauty to them, while the new school carried the baggage of America’s current pain and burden of high debt.

New Declo High School Building Funded by Multi-million Dollar Municipal Bond

I remember when I was a teenager the months of debate over the multi-million dollar school bonds to rebuild the area’s schools that were way out of date. As I had participated in alternative schools (home school and AHA) in my later years rather than public schools, I argued against the debts (and taxes) that would be placed on all of our properties, regardless of whether we use the state-of-the-art, expensive new buildings.

This morning I read an article about municipalities and cities going bankrupt due to too much debt. Others are borrowing against the future to keep up with payments, trying to avoid bankruptcy. It seems that American credit card habits spilled over into municipal governance and now it’s time to pay the price. I wonder how well my community is bearing the weight of the school bonds. Feeling the weight today, would we have chosen to take on the debt 15 years ago? Or would we have chosen a more conservative approach like that of past generations’ school expansion?

I have asked students how the schools are doing and apparently there has been enough growth in the community to easily fill the new schools. I hope that this growth is offsetting any losses in tax revenues due to unemployment rates for our community.

I know I have some regrets about the way I handled debts in my own businesses. What’s done is done. Hopefully we’ll all learn to be more wise the next time around.

My son has become interested in business at a very young age (he’s 6 right now) and I would like to introduce him to inspiring stories of young entrepreneurs to give him ideas.

A little background. My son, of his own accord, has successfully sold his jokes by giving 1 for free and charging a $1 for more. He set up a toy sale out by the driveway at 5. He asks questions about the difference between Walmart’s and Apple’s margins. He hires his sisters (with his Halloween candy) to do work for him to make more money. This is a greater level of interest than his Dad for his age.

I want to encourage his interests in business and need some help.

We recently read of James C. Penny (founder of J.C. Penny) who set up a watermelon stand near the fairgrounds (his Dad scolded him for taking advantage of those within the fairgrounds who paid for selling permits). We read of Orville Wright and when he partnered with his 8-year-old sister to collect scrap iron from the neighbors and sell it to the junk yard (they had a bully attach them when they took the metal to the yard). Great stories.

This morning it occurred to me that if we could read together inspiring stories of young entrepreneurs, then it would give us both ideas.

Particularly, he wants to sell something this year for a project and has discovered from his toy sale (that only earned him $0.25 because he did it on a country road with little traffic) that he needs to find something he can sell and a place with more people to sell it. He needs ideas.

So, what are your favorite child entrepreneurial stories that my son and I can share together?
– Something a famous entrepreneur did when s/he was a child (famous examples).
– Something someone close to you has done that was interesting (non-famous examples).
– Stories you’ve heard as alternatives to the lemonade or toy stand (perhaps ideas that could work for a boy who lives in the country).
– Any children who’ve created very successful enterprises.

Please answer on LinkedIn, via a trackback from a post on your blog or in the comments. We’ll both be grateful!

Thank you Robin for letting me know that the Audible folder supports Mp3 files. Thank you Paul for the great place to find FREE Mp3 audio books.

I dream of the day when Kindle is opened up for developers and someone creates an application that combines text-to-speech, Audio books and the actual text. What a killer application for teaching my children to read. I know the technical difficulties of syncing the actor’s voice with the actual text. But one can dream :)

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