The Fisherman: You’re Already Home

Last night I had the pleasure of presenting to the DC Lean Startup Circle community.  The theme was around the hidden costs of following the Lean startup methodology, and I closed with an abridged, slightly mangled version of this parable about a fisherman in Mexico.  As a make-good I’m posting the complete version below.

The point I was making is that in life there’s often a tendency to size up how you rate versus something else: another person, company, or lofty goal.  This is exacerbated in a startup, and particularly for practicians of Lean, where close monitoring of metrics, A/B testing and constant challenging of assumptions are key tenets.  It can be often grueling work towards what seem like moving targets.  But if we’re passionate about what we’re doing right now, that won’t matter.  We’ll still be making progress, but we’ll enjoy the journey.  LIke the fisherman, we’ll “already be home” (a phrase inspired by a similarly named Jay-Z track).  Here’s the story:

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them. “Not very long,” answered the Mexican. “But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American. The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family. The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?” “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs … I have a full life.” The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. “And after that?” asked the Mexican. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.” “How long would that take?” asked the Mexican. “Twenty, perhaps 25 years,” replied the American. “And after that?” the Mexican asked. “Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!” “Millions? Really? And after that?” “After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”

 

 

 

So Much Things to Say (about why we’ve been quiet)

It’s been WAAAY too long since we’ve posted here – but all for good reasons.  We’ve been busy working behind the scenes, and for better or for worse we’re generally more focused on DOING than TALKING about it (which isn’t the best PR strategy I must admit – but I’m getting better :).

Bob Marley

Bob Marley photo thx to The Independent UK / Getty Images

Becky and I have both been travelling on and off over the past several weeks.  Just this month I went to London for World Travel Market and met with my partner par excellence Pierre Alzon in Paris.  After just a few days at HQ in Washington, DC I flew off to Scottsdale, Arizona for the Phocuswright Conference where we introduced TripTuner to the heavy hitters of the online travel industry.  Add in some travel to see family and a few days of skiing in Vail, Colorado over Thanksgiving here in the US and it makes for a busy month.

Since our last post we’ve also received a ton of new fans from some great press in The New York Times, Business Insider, The Kim Komando Show (which is huge…who knew?), an Italian blog and even from a Danish magazine.  ALSO we’ve also put a few new wrinkles into the TripTuner based on feedback from our users: larger photos, a regional filter so you can find new destinations within a certain region (our default setting: ANYWHERE, of course) and a cool map view that will adjust to your regional settings as well.

All of which means we have a ton of work to do amid the end of the year rush, so I thought it would be appropriate to ease things up a bit with a Bob Marley-inspired title to this post.  But then, you already knew that.  Thanks for hangin’ with us, there’s more to come soon (or “soon come” as they say in Jamaica).  Stay tuned!

Rollin’ with The R: Yahoo’s Loss is Our Gain

Saw a TechCrunch post last Tuesday on how Marissa Mayer, the recently-appointed CEO of Yahoo has decided to allow the removal of “The R”- their registered trademark symbol – from their logo.  I guess that’s one way to leave your mark (so to speak) on a company but to be honest I hadn’t really noticed it either way.  It’s one of those ubiquitous symbols that you take for granted and don’t notice until you really look at it.

Now while a large established company like Yahoo can rest assured that it’s trademark is safe, a young startup trying to establish an identity in an industry filled with big players is another matter.  As it turned out, that same day I got a text from my wife about a big package from the US Patent & Trademark Office.  Our trademark had been registered!

 

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Not a huge deal, I know.  Like any young company we’ve got a laser focus on what really matters – growing our bottom line – but it was really great to see.  I guess that in the topsy-turvy world of entrepreneurship it’s one of those rare outcomes where you feel like you had some measure of control over a well-defined process (the antithesis of startup life, really).  At any rate, we’ll take your R, Ms. Mayer.  And we’ll roll with it.

Supping Your Way through Seattle

 

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Gorgeous Seattle photo by Milkovi

TripTuner reached a key company milestone last week when we exhibited at our first trade show in Seattle. What a wonderful place to “have” to visit when most of the country is breaking heat records. We were greeted with perfect 75 degree and sunny weather — just what Seattle’s Convention & Visitors Bureau ordered. We were so taken by our visit that we have decided to feature the city as this week’s #WhereToGoWednesday locale.

We were in town for the Destination Marketing Association International’s 2012 annual convention. Although the convention kept us busy most of the day and into the night, we still managed to delve into some of the city’s flourishing food scene. You might want to check out some of these spots the next time you are planning a trip to the Emerald City.

The event’s opening night celebration took place on the waterfront at Bell Harbor. Located just up the waterfront from foodie Mecca Pike Place Market, Bell Harbor offers stunning views of Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains, and the Seattle Skyline. Against this backdrop we were treated to some of the state’s top culinary and viticultural delights. Here are a few standouts:

Dusted Valley Vintners
This Walla Walla winery was the most memorable for us among the many excellent options at the event. The Syrah was smooth and flavorful with a silky finish and the Rosé was perfect for a warm Seattle evening — very similar to a Côtes de Provence. As the Dusted Valley owners say, “The first two glasses are for your health, the second two are for ours.” Let’s just say that the owners should be feeling pretty healthy these days. (Although the winery is located in eastern Washington, they do have a tasting room about 30 minutes northeast of downtown Seattle that would be worth a visit.)

El Gaucho
After treating our palates to an array of fine cheeses and slurping away at the oyster bar, we were looking for something a little more substantive. The tender and juicy steak from Seattle’s El Gaucho fit the bill. Serving 28-day dry-aged Niman Ranch Angus Beef, El Gaucho prepares its steaks on a one-of-a-kind charcoal grill in an open-exhibition style kitchen. Whatever the process, the outcome is pure delicioso. We were tempted to stop by their downtown Seattle restaurant another evening to sit outside on the waterfront deck and take advantage of the perfect weather, but simply ran out of time.

Theo Chocolate
This swoon-inducing chocolate is made by the first organic, fair trade, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the United States. Theo’s growers earn a living wage, the factory is powered by green energy sources, and packing and printing methods are sustainable. Most importantly however, the chocolate is divine. The factory, located on Phinney Avenue in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, is open for public tours daily. In addition to learning all about how chocolate is made, you get plenty of tasting opportunities.
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Bienvenue Pierre Alzon à TripTuner!

It’s well after 6pm in DC, which means it’s officially July 14th – Bastille Day – in France and we could not think of a better way for us to celebrate it announce a major coup.  Pierre Alzon, the founding père of internet travel in France has joined TripTuner as Partner and Managing Director for Europe, based in Paris’ vaunted “Silicon Sentier“.Pierre Alzon

You can find more about Pierre here but suffice it to say that we’re so happy we feel like we could conquer a fortress!  Please join us in welcoming him on board and feel free to leave a message for him in the comments here or on our Facebook page.

Vive la (TripTuner) France!

To continue with our Francophone frenzy we’re announcing the launch of our French site at www.TripTuner.fr.  Like our US site, it’s a beta but you’ll be seeing many new destinations suited to that market plus a long list of new features we’ll be rolling out over the next few months.

French Press

Finally, to round out our of Bastille Day bash we’re gonna give you an opportunity to brush up on your French with this article on Pierre and our recent launch in France.

Merci beaucoup for all the love and support you’ve shown for TripTuner.  We’ve come a long way in our first 7 months and are happy to have you with us as we grow. A bientôt and #staytuned!

TripTuner’s New Contributing Editor

We interrupt our regularly scheduled #WheretoGoWednesday blog post to introduce the newest member of the TripTuner team. Becky Youman is joining us as both a Contributing Editor and our newly-minted Social Media Sensei. We’ll let her take the rest of the introduction from here…

Every time I plan a trip I feel the excitement and anticipation of new discovery, but at the same time I sometimes experience slight paralysis when considering the deluge of information and opinions about potential destinations. That is why I so appreciate the elegance of TripTuner. All I have to do is adjust the sliders and instantly I’ve got personalized recommendations. How cool is that?

Having played around with TripTuner for the last few months, I can say that its guidance is right on the mark. When, for example, Torres del Paine comes up as one of my top Mountain Adventure locales, I can vouch that it’s a majestic nature-lovers playground. Having co-written a guidebook on Chile and spent a couple of years traveling the country, I can go even further to say that Torres del Paine is one of my all time favorite outdoor adventure spots — I have seen flocks of wild parakeets soaring over massive glaciers, shared pisco with travelers from around the world, and felt the accomplishment of completing the physically-challenging circuito around the park. That gives me great confidence that Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, another of TripTuner’s suggested destinations for me, should be at the top of my list.

While I certainly love the outdoors, I am not all nature all the time. This girl also jones for some urban escapes. Having belted out horribly off-tune songs in a karaoke booth in Hong Kong and watched the sunrise after a night of tapas and Cava in Barcelona — two of my TripTuner recommended cities — I can’t wait to visit some of the others that come up when I adjust the sliders.
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Just Back from London

Tower Bridge, London

Tower Bridge at night, viewed from a Thames River boat.

Just back from London and the World Travel Market with our Editor at Large (and New York Times Bestselling Author) Franz Wisner. Had an enjoyable and productive week introducing TripTuner to a select group of old colleagues and prospective partners alike. Year in and out, this event often delivers as much benefit from the chance encounters as with scheduled meetings. Only time will tell, but it seems we made a good impression, receiving many compliments on creating an exciting, engaging new way to help travelers find places in tune with their tastes. While there wasn’t much time for exploring, we did manage to take in a few sights en route to evening events and dinners: going through the Thames river locks; floating beneath a spectacularly lit Tower Bridge; strolling past an illuminated Big Ben and Parliament before viewing the city from the top of Millbank Tower. We checked out the freshly renovated Four Seasons Park Lane as well as the new Aloft hotel–thumbs up on both. After a pleasant dinner at Kentner’s in Soho (tasty French-brasserie fare and Champagne bar in a hip but accessible townhouse atmosphere) we had a chilled vodka martini nightcap at Duke’s Bar— the place where local lore says Ian Fleming conjured 007’s famous “shaken, not stirred” preference. All in all a successful quick trip, and we didn’t really notice the fact that we hadn’t seen the sun for 4 days. But hey, that’s London!

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CALLING ALL SAINTS: 7 WAYS TO BE AN ANGEL

It’s All Saints Day. A holiday in many countries. In Spain, they call it a puente. A way to “bridge” two weekends together and take a trip. But I’m working. You too? Well, we can still think about where we’d like to go. So go ahead and dream about Punta Cana, Paris or Polignano a Mare – I’ll be working hard today on making TripTuner a better place for you to discover that perfect destination match for your next trip.

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Thanks to rittyrats for the photo.

And for those of you (us?) who were a bit too scary on Halloween, here are 7 paths to redemption. How you can be an angel and help me help you travel better:

1) JOIN – from $9.95/month, you get our expert help whenever you need it all year long: fast answers, insider tips and booking assistance. Plus full access to premium features.

2) SIGN UP – we offer a free test drive to give you a taste.

3) TRY IT – just for kicks, search for a destination and tell me: does it work for you?

4) INVITE A FRIEND – when they join as a premium member, you get $20.

5) LIKE US – like our Facebook page. First 100 get a special thank you gift.

6) FOLLOW US – on Twitter.

7) PARTICIPATE – do you have a favorite place we should feature? Amazing photos? Let me know (comment below).

In keeping with the theme I suppose I could add “become an angel investor” here. Makes total sense for a young startup like ours. We’re not actively looking for investors, but I do enjoy sharing my vision for the company so let us know in comments if you’d like to learn more. Or just follow this blog. Stay tuned.

 

When Your Startup Launch Feels Like Jumping Off a Cliff

Posted by Founder Tedd Evers on the day of TripTuner‘s launch.

Starting a company in the midst of the greatest recession since the Great Depression is a daunting task.  You’re diving into the relative unknown – like jumping off a cliff.  Not a very positive analogy, I know.  And a bit cliché.  But what the heck, I wanted to find some way to include this video in a post.

From a distance, the jump looks very doable – as does a startup business.  Then, with each step upward you strain a bit.  You begin to feel just a little bit of apprehension.  But you keep on.  You put the building blocks of a business plan together.  And then you reach the last step, the point of no return.  The jumping off point.  You’ve done the research – others have made this jump before – but there’s still doubt.  It could be low tide.  The business opportunity might not be so large after all.  The water may not be as deep as you think.  But you have this vision propelling you.  The seeking of a thrill, however short, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with confronting one’s fears and doubts directly, of persisting in spite of it all.

Then the moment of truth arrives and there is only one way to break through the lump forming in your throat.  You must act, quickly.  Otherwise if you linger too long, you will find a rapid stream of reasons why you should not do it.  Doubt will settle in, and you will forego a chance to pursue your dreams.  So even if you have the best laid business plans, in the end what’s needed is a bit of craziness with a heap of confidence and an unwavering belief in your vision.  It’s the only way you can take that last step, and plunge into the exhilarating realm of uncertainty – or in this case, the waters of the Fiordo di Furore, on Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

While the potential rewards of business success are great, in this case I was happy to earn the admiration of my daughter (who’s excited scream you’ll hear midway through my jump).  Thanks for listening and welcome on board what is sure to be a refreshing plunge into new experiences.  Triptuner.com is now live.  Here we go!