I just got back from a meeting with Indy Guha of Bain Capital Ventures. (Bain is also a “newbie” to the Silicon Valley area with new offices in Palo Alto and downtown San Francisco.) Indy and I had a great chat. He explained how Bain has its fingers in many pies around the world and through its affiliated companies. Bain has lots of experience and connections in many large industries with ownership in many big name businesses.
We chatted about PayrollHero, the direction we were taking it and about our plans for the near future. Sounds like Indy is going to swing by the PayrollHero house sometime soon to meet the rest of the team and see the product.
I emailed Robert Scoble a few months ago about meeting up with him while we were in San Francisco to chat about our journey and what we are up to with PayrollHero.com. His schedule is crazy and November 29th 2011 was the first spot he had available. So today, Mike Stephenson and I drove over to the new Rackspace offices in downtown San Francisco to meet with Robert.
Their new offices are really new. They were still setting things up when we got there and Robert was even attaching lights to the interview area that they dedicated to his program.
It was an interesting meeting, we chatted briefly before Robert turned the camera on, and then he went right into asking questions about PayrollHero and doing a live demo. Mike did a great job of showcasing the system, talking about where we are going and the market that we are in.
It was a great experience and I look forward to seeing the video. (sounds like it will be online in the next few days)
Note the signatures on the post – these are the people that he has interviewed thus far in this new location(L – R) Robert Scoble, Michael Stephenson, Stephen Jagger
Today’s Luxr session was fantastic. We had Eric Ries, the author of the best selling book The Lean Startup come by to have a fireside chat with us, moderated by Luxr co-founder Janice Fraser. It was a great session with Janice asking some very relevant questions that allowed Eric to explain his thoughts on the lean startup world. He told some great stories, including a funny one about his experience on Fox News.
Eric is a very sharp individual who has taken the tech community by storm with his lean startup concept and it was a pleasure meeting him again. (Mike and I met up with Eric a while back in Whistler, which indirectly lead us to Luxr and moving to San Francisco) As part of our bulk purchase of Eric’s book, we get 4 hours with him to chat about whatever we want. I look forward to having him over to the PayrollHero house and showing him in more detail what we are up to. Sounds like mid December we will have that opportunity.
Here are a few pictures from today:
(L – R) Piotr Banasik, Stephen Jagger, Eric Ries, Michael Stephenson, Adam Baechler
Eric Ries signing 1 of our 500 copies of The Lean Startup (watch this blog for book giveaway details)
Janice Fraser of Luxr and Eric Ries
I had the pleasure of meeting up with Joe Gebbia, the co-founder of AirBnB today at their San Francisco offices. Joe, was in the office on a Saturday of a long weekend, but made time for me so that I could pop by and get a tour of their operation as well as learn more about his experiences growing a startup in San Francisco as his learn more about their journey in launching AirBnB.
I have seen Joe speak twice, once was a few weeks ago at FailCon, the other was a few months ago at the Inman Connect Conference. Joe and his co-founder have a very cool story that involves creating a breakfast cereal to keep the cash flowing while they continued to revise the AirBnB business model.
It was great catching up with Joe and listening to his experiences. I look forward to watching their company continue their massive expansion.
Their meeting rooms are all modeled after some of the real rooms
at some of the AirBnB listings
A huge version of their breakfast cereal
Leah Busque was kind enough to make time to meet up with me today at the TaskRabbit.com offices in downtown San Francisco. Leah has a very cool business working on the simple premise of neighbours helping neighbours. TaskRabbit is an online marketplace, connecting people, to get everyday jobs and tasks done. Leah raised $6.85MM in financing from Shasta Ventures, Collaborative Fund, 500 Startups, Floodgate Fund, First Round Capital, and Baseline Ventures.
I dropped into their very green offices today to sit down and chat with Leah. We talked about what we are up to here at PayrollHero.com, our similar experiences being “new” to the Silicon Valley world and how TaskRabbit was planning for the future. Leah was kind enough to share her insights on fund raising, the need for mentors and advisors and how she was growing her business.
Three of the four PayrollHero team, who are currently living in San Francisco took off the other day for a 20 hour trip to Manila, PH to meet up with the PayrollHero team in Manila. They will be in Manila for 6 days, then coming back to San Francisco. It is a quick trip and is taking advantage of the break in the Luxr Residency for American Thanksgiving. (Canadian Thanksgiving was last month)
The idea of the trip is for Piotr Banasik, lead programmer at PayrollHero to meet with the 3 new team members that have joined the team while he has been in San Francisco. This will be the first opportunity for the whole development team to all be in the same office at the same time.
Mike Stephenson and Adam Baechler along with Piotr Banasik will be leading coaching sessions on some of the techniques that we have been learning at Luxr over the past few weeks.
Here are some of the pictures that Mike sent me today:
I had the opportunity to meet up with Rob Hayes at First Round Capital the other day. Rob has led investments in companies such as Mint.com (acquired by Intuit), HomeRun (acquired by Rearden Commerce), Uber, TaskRabbit, AppFog, Get Satisfaction, and DNAnexus.
I actually had the opportunity to see Rob speak when he was in Vancouver, BC for GrowConf a few months ago. Rob has a great style about him where he says exactly what he thinks, there is no guessing how he feels about something.
When we met, we chatted about PayrollHero and the direction we were going with it. It was a fantastic meeting, although quite quick (his assistant has him doing back to back 30 minute meetings all day it sounded like), where Rob asked some solid questions about our business and had some great insight into the business to business marketplace.
We met up with Ben Jacobs this morning of DCM. Ben was introduced to us by the guys at Taskus as they all grew up in the same neighbourhood in Los Angeles. Ben took us out to breakfast to chat further about what we are up to. It was very interesting to chat with Ben as he has lots of experience in the payroll world and overseas ventures. (Interesting note, Ben speaks Mandarin) Ben talked about how DCM works, where they like to invest (US / Asia) and what his thoughts were on PayrollHero and what we were doing. After breakfast we walked back over to the house to show Ben the “window” into the Manila office. (what is 50 Coffees?)
(L – R) Michael Stephenson, Ben Jacobs, Stephen Jagger
There are 4 companies attending the 10 week residency at Luxr.co. But before we get to them, what is the Luxr 10 week residency? “The 10-Week Residency is a design program for early-stage product teams. The program is radically low priced and tailored to serve lean, agile startups.” (complete details)
PayrollHero.com – Super Human Capital Management Software delivered via the cloud to browsers and mobile. Businesses whom seek to attract quality individuals to their workforce, must find new ways to interest them in their careers. PayrollHero.com helps businesses automate the tedious & repetitive functions of payroll administration, source deduction contributions, attendance recording and maintenance of their related banks, paystubs and annual reporting.
Lift.do – Tony Stubblebine and Jon Crosby have created an interesting new application for unlocking human potential through positive reinforcement.
Giggo.net – Giggo is changing how consumers connect with merchants and brands.
ScootDoodle.com – When you can’t be together in person, Scoot & Doodle offers a fun, new way for parents and kids to get together with friends and family online.
(L – R) The PayrollHero team: Piotr Banasik, Clark from CarbonFive,
Adam Baechler, Michael Stephenson, Stephen Jagger
When Eric Ries new book, The Lean Startup, was about the be launched, he put up 3 unique packages online. All were bulk book deals with some “extras” added in. We bought the single “Luxr Bonus Package” which included 500 copies of The Lean Startup, entrance to the Luxr program, 4 hours with Eric Ries and much much more. This purchase triggered our move to San Francisco, the return of some of our team from Manila and a laser focus on getting PayrollHero launched in North America by year end.
If you want a copy of The Lean Startup, drop your email address in here, we will be selecting a few and sending them free copies of the book in the coming weeks.
Here is what 500 copies looks like packed into a car: