Monday, March 5, 2012

Highlight - an amazing little iPhone app

I just installed Highlight today after reading a post by Robert Scoble and wow -- what an amazing experience.  For those of you who don't know, Highlight is an iPhone app that alerts you to when people are nearby with whom you may enjoy an interesting conversation.  It detects your location, compares to others nearby, and checks to see how many mutual friends/interests you have.  It keeps a log of all relevant connections, and enables you to message them.

The power of this app is remarkable -- imagine reconnecting with people you haven't seen in years because they happen to walk nearby you.  If/when Highlight achieves critical mass, this will happen.  The good news is the Highlight has a virality model that's smart -- it leverages your existing Facebook graph, and has an "Invite All" button to get your friends using it.  There's a natural incentive for you to want to invite your friends because you want to know if they're around.  This "natural" virality has made Highlight explode in popularity in just a short period of time.

I had my first Highlight meeting today.  Someone who walked nearby and noticed me sent a message out of the blue asking to have coffee.  I had some spare time, and was curious, so I agreed to meet him at a nearby coffee shop in downtown San Francisco.  It turns out he was an entrepreneur too, from Montreal.  I had just spoken at a startup conference in Montreal and so there was an immediate connection.  He told me about his company -- he had grown it to $3.2m in revenue, was profitable, but didn't know how to raise money to fuel his growth.  He was looking for a new CEO too.

For fun, I connect entrepreneurs with each other (and to investors) and so I was more than happy to help him.  We're following up afterwards.  Thanks to Highlight, he may well be on his way to taking his company to the next level, and I made a new friend :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A need for entrepreneurial "Best Practices" and "Case Studies"

Over the past year I've become very curious about what makes startups succeed verses fail.  So I have started to informally interview entrepreneurs and document their case studies.  From these case studies, I believe we can extract best practices which are short (few paragraph) summary of a reusable lesson learned when starting a business.  This is similar to a design pattern in software engineering, which is a succinct, reusable solution to a commonly occurring problem in software design.  Since the startups are not necessarily about programming, I decided to use a less technical term.

I'd like any feedback from the community about whether you feel this experiment would be valuable.  Please reply with any thoughts.  You are the customers for this product, and so I'd like to hear from you.

Do you feel that you may have a story about your startup that's compelling? I'd be happy to work with you on the writeup.  Please email me (link available at or message me on twitter (@ed_roman).  I'd love to hear from you.