Monday, July 2, 2012

Unreasonable: Week 2

You may have seen my post from last week. It was pretty intense, but a great start to the six-week Unreasonable Institute - which brings together 22 entrepreneurs from around the world.

The lesson from my first week was: we don’t know what hard is. As American entrepreneurs, we have adversity, but others have overcome many more obstacles. Read about my roommate Sheik and his entrepreneurial journey. You won't complain as much about how hard it is to start a business.

The second week’s schedule lightened up a bit and we were given much more time to catch up on work. I have to admit I fell way behind, and as the lead developer for our startup, that meant our release schedule was quite delayed.

Although, we managed to launch a relatively stable “full-text-search”, which allows people to type free form *exactly* what they’re looking for within a given area. This works for every zip code in the United States!

It’s experimental at this point, and we’re working hard to make it better and better over time. But for now, it has all the power of Google-based searches (it’s the same technology) and you can search for multiple words. For example, if you type in government housing in the search, you’ll see results that show listings with both government AND housing. Yes, Bertha’s pretty smart like that. But she’s not perfect, so stay tuned and we promise it’ll keep getting better as we learn more about you!

The rhythm of the house is starting to stabilize. On most days we have visitors that include experienced entrepreneurs, “impact” investors and representatives from more institutional capital partners. 

The most valuable connections are the meetings you just don’t expect to happen. I was up late one night working on our full-text-search release and it was almost one o’clock in the morning. A mentor, apparently, couldn’t sleep and sat down in the common area and we chatted for about a half-hour or so. He had several years of experience with startups, and we talked about some of our theories on being able to predict future activities based on historical data. It was an unexpected conversation and it was awesome to talk with someone that really gets the power of what we’re trying to accomplish.

That conversation triggered another one and you never know where things lead, but the real lesson is this: it doesn’t matter.

Lesson From Week Two

Be real with people. Don’t calculate whether or not you think a conversation here or there can help you. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have that kind of control. Don’t flatter yourself.

We live in a world that is so random. When I started Aunt Bertha I came from a world where I felt I could control my performance and the outcome. With hard work, I could carefully orchestrate a symphony - and my ideas would get enacted. Many times it worked. Sometimes it didn’t.

But when I learned to try and stop orchestrating - and be real - I’ve been quite surprised and amused about what has happened.

At the Unreasonable Institute we’re teamed up with all sorts of people: some are hot-shot investors. Some mentors are just starting out themselves - maybe just a few years ahead of where we are. The lesson is that when you meet people you don't know who: will be receptive, will be willing to help, or will even care enough to actually listen. So if you can’t control that, why play the game?

Don’t play the game. Be real. Trust that if you are real, things will work out.

And most certainly they always do. Stay tuned for next week’s post to see what I mean.

Week 1 | Week 3

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