bignoggins

1

After months of labor and several complications along the way, I’m proud to announce that Yahoo and I have had a successful delivery. Both the baby and mother are healthy.

The new Yahoo Fantasy app has been completely redesigned, and of course the biggest new feature is live and mock drafts directly from your tablet or smartphone. Personally, I think it’s better than DraftMonster in every way. We’ve pulled in my code and added a lot of nice touches that we think users will love.

Big props to Ron, Bruce, Brett, Vahe, Nate, Allen, Chris, Gene, Bart, Tesline, Ed 1, Ed 2, Aaron, Sam, Blaub and Shane for working their tails off to get this thing shipped.

So if you’re at work and want to blow off some steam grab it for iOS or Android now and get drafting.

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t Lose.
@bignoggins

6

After many years as a free agent, I’d like to officially announce that Yahoo! has picked me up off waivers. I’m excited to join a team of all-stars to take fantasy sports to the next level. I’ve been playing Yahoo! Fantasy  since high school, and have wanted to work here since college, so this is really a dream come true for me.

At Bignoggins, I’ve always been driven to provide the best possible mobile fantasy experience. For years, players have used Fantasy Monster and Draft Monster to dominate their fantasy leagues. The great news is that the technology driving those apps will be integrated into Yahoo’s own offerings. So you’ll be able to enjoy all the features you’ve grown to love, such as mock and live drafts from your mobile device. I predict office pools will be taken to a new level this season as many discover the joys of drafting behind corporate firewalls.

If you want to check out what we’re cooking up this season, sign up for Yahoo! Fantasy football today. Also, if you’re a talented technologist and want to help us take online sports to the next level, we’re hiring!

I’d like to thank the Yahoo! team (Marissa, Adam, Zach, Jason, Steven, Brian) for giving me this amazing opportunity. The best thing about joining Yahoo! Sports is the opportunity to contend for a championship each and every season. As an entrepreneur, what could be better?

Finally, I’d like to thank my family (Adrienne, John, Lina, Tiger & Phil) for all their support. I couldn’t have done it without you guys.

Game On,
@bignoggins

1

Over a year ago, my friends Roberto, Charlena and I started a meetup for entrepreneurs at South Bay Church. Our idea was simple: connecting entrepreneurs together in community so we could learn from each other. The group centered around business discussions, book studies, and guest speakers who talked about their trials and tribulations running a startup. We had mild expectations, but the concept took off faster than we thought.

Over the past year, some of our meetings had over 100 attendees. It’s becoming clear that we need to take this to the next level, and provide something valuable to the startup community. As we brainstormed, we came to the realization that one of the most important traits in an entrepreneur is leadership. There is only so far you can go on your own, at some point you will need to sell others on your vision. Interestingly, that’s something that is rarely talked about in the tech sphere. Everything you read is about valuations, or financing, or building great products. But how about building great people and great organizations?

Well, not anymore. I’m proud to announce that our group is going to be putting on our very first conference: ELEO. The elevator pitch for ELEO is simple: it’s leadership for entrepreneurs. How do you get people to follow your vision that may be years ahead of its time? How do lead by example and persevere through adversity? What’s the character of an entrepreneur that is worth following? Those are questions we plan to tackle at ELEO.

To help us, we’ve gotten some great speakers lined up. Bobby Gruenewald and Terry Storch founded the YouVersion Bible App, which is one of the most downloaded apps in the history of the app store. It’s closing in on 100 million downloads! Chase Adam is the CEO of Watsi, one of the most innovative new YC startups and the first non-profit they’ve ever funded. Victor Ho is the CEO of FiveStars, another YC company that’s raised $15 million in funding. He was also recently named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list. Lastly there’s yours truly, who is by far the most unremarkable of the bunch. I think I’m there for racial diversity =)

Anyway, the best thing about the conference is that it’s absolutely FREE. Register today at eleoconference.com. Don’t wait long, because tickets are going fast!

Best,
@bignoggins

1

For the past 3 years, my wife and I have been attending South Bay Church in San Jose. We love it. I especially like the young, entrepreneurial feel of the church. Whatever your preconceptions of church, I guarantee you South Bay is very different. It sounds weird to say, but it feels more like a startup than a church.

I was in a men’s group at South Bay Church that went through the book Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. The book is about true manhood, and the main thesis is that manhood is passed down from father to son. However, as imperfect humans beings, our father’s usually do a bad job at this, if they are even present at all.

Last night, a group of us from the group went to see Man of Steel. Now, due to the themes of the book, Braveheart is brought up as a perfect companion film. However, after seeing Man of Steel, I think Braveheart has been supplanted. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Man of Steel is a better movie by any stretch of the imagination. Braveheart is one of the greatest movies of all time. But, Man of Steel does a great job bringing out the fatherhood themes in the Superman mythology, and it tracks very closely with Wild at Heart.

** SPOILER ALERT **

This comes across in several ways in the film.One of the main themes Eldredge talks about is “the wound”. Basically, when a boy grows into a man, he has one overriding question: Do I have what it takes? This question manifests itself in many ways: girls, athletics, popularity, academics, manly things. The wound is the dagger that cuts to the heart of every boy when he is told he doesn’t measure up, that he doesn’t have what it takes. It could be an absent, abusive, or neglectful father. But it doesn’t have to be. Even the best intentioned fathers can leave wounds.

In Man of Steel, the wound is clear. “Clark, you can’t let the world know who you really are,” says Jonathan Kent, Clark’s earthly father. Jonathan is overprotective, and as a result Clark is a shell of his real self. This is made evident in his first battle with Zod’s forces. One of Zod’s lieutenants tells Clark that he fights without confidence. Even though Clark has enormous powers, he doesn’t know how to maximize his abilities. This is epitomized in the heart wrenching scene where Clark is forced to watch his own father die because Jonathan refused to let Clark reveal his powers.

Contrast Clark’s earthly father Jonathan with his “heavenly father” Jor-El. Unlike Jonathan, Jor-El always intended for Clark to step into the fullness of what he was made to be. If you’ve seen the trailers, it’s clear that Clark is special, even by Kryptonian standards. While the majority of Kryptonians are artificially birthed, Clark is the first natural birth in centuries. Instead of following what society predestines us to be, Clark has the potential to break the mold and forge his own path. Jor-El knew this, and the first encounter between Clark and his heavenly father is riveting. First, Jor-El gives Clark his true name. Readers of Wild at Heart will find this familiar. Throughout the bible, our heavenly father reveals the true name to many heroes of the faith. Jacob becomes Israel. Saul becomes Paul. Abram becomes Abraham. The list goes on. Jor-El not only reveals Clark’s true name and purpose, but his meaning. The symbol of the House of El stands for hope. Not just hope for Krypton, but hope for humanity.

Once Clark is armed with this knowledge from his father, he literally comes alive and becomes a different person. He is born again in a sense, with a clear understanding of his mission and purpose. Even though Jor-El is actually dead, his spirit lives on and guides Clark in his journey. The spiritual parallels are uncanny. In Wild at Heart, Eldgredge says that to receive healing for the wound, we must let ourselves be fathered by God, our heavenly father. When we open ourselves to that possibility, God gives us a new name, which represents the purpose and calling He designed for us. It’s almost as if Man of Steel was written by Eldgredge himself.

After Eldgredge talks about our new name and purpose, he talks about the enemy. In the biblical sense, that enemy is threefold: Satan, ourselves and the world. In Man of Steel, all three come into play. The “Satan” character is clearly Emperor Zod, a villain with evil intentions for humanity. But Clark has other enemies as well. One of his biggest enemies is himself, or more accurately, the version of himself that resulted from his wound. A shell of his true self, his “fleshly” self is beset with guilt, doubt and frustration. So much so that he literally spends much of the first half of the movie in hiding, a nomad wandering the Earth with no roots and no sense of self worth. He is bullied and terrorized by men much weaker than he is, afraid of showing his strength. Clark’s third enemy is the world, the geopolitical system that fears his strength. This is represented by General Swanwick, who spends much of the movie trying to find and contain Clark. In the final battle scenes, Swanwick’s forces literally fire on Superman as much as Zod.

By the end of the movie Superman conquers all three enemies. He defeats Zod by overpowering him. He defeats his own demons through the help of Jor-El and Lois Lane. And he defeats the world through being in the world but not of the world.

Finally, as Clark steps into his calling, he becomes part of the greater story. The final chapter in Wild at Heart talks about our story being part of the greater story, which is the Redemption of Mankind. Similarly, Man of Steel ends with Clark’s story being part of the greater story of humanity’s redemption and salvation. It couldn’t be summarized any clearer than by the seminal quote from the trailers, spoken in the voice of Jor-El.

"You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will stumble, they will fall. But you will help them, you will guide them, you will give them hope. That’s what this symbol means. Hope."

1

Like most engineers, I’m not a fan of meetings. But not for the reason you’d think. 

The things is…well this is slightly embarrassing to admit, but I have a small bladder. I went to the bathroom 6 times the first time I saw Titanic. When I worked for Lockheed, we had a ton of meetings. Status meetings, warroom meetings, staff meetings, training meetings, standup meetings, sit down meetings, lie down and meditate meetings. Every meeting you could think of, we had. We even had meetings to plan meetings.

See when you have a small bladder, meetings become a hassle because you have to plan your bathroom trips very carefully! Sure you can slip out and use the bathroom, but if that becomes a regular habit people will think you are engaged in some sort of corporate espionage.

So here’s the breakdown. Anything under 30 minutes is fine. I can hold it. For the most part. 30-60 minutes and I’ve got to plan. I need to make sure there is at least a small break after the last meeting so I can relieve myself. If you have too many of these meetings during the day, it can become quite stressful! Meetings that last longer than 60 minutes, all bets are off. At that point I have to start planning my liquid intake. 

Reason #1221 I love being an entrepreneur. No more planning bathroom breaks around meetings!

2

The Silicon Valley startup playbook is fairly straightforward. Quit your job. Live on ramen noodles. Work day and night on your product while raising seed/VC money.

For me, this approach was a nonstarter. As a man with a family to support, quitting my job and eating Ramen for 6 months is a fast path to divorce court. But I really wanted to start my own company, so I needed options.

Around this time, I discovered @dhh’s talk at Startup School. Contrary to valley convention, he actually advocated charging money for your product. Ingenious! After digging further, I found out that there is an entire subculture in tech known as “bootstrapped” companies. Some are fairly large such as this one and this one. Instead of taking funding and growing quickly, a bootstrapped company keeps costs low and grows slowly.

So, it was settled. Instead of starting with a bang, my dream of becoming an entrepreneur would start small. I bought a Macbook Pro and an iPod touch, and started the long journey of creating a sustainable and profitable tech company.

Along the way, I’ve added my own wrinkles to dhh’s teachings. For lack of a better term, I’ve called it “moochstrapping”. If bootstrapping is meant to keep costs as low as possible, moochstrapping takes it to the next level by shamelessly mooching whenever possible.

Here are some ways I’ve moochstrapped my startup.

1. Food

For many valley engineers, free meals are a given. Not worrying about food frees you up to think about more important things, like cat videos. Who says the free food has to stop when you do your own startup? Assuming you weren’t a total jerk, you at least have a few friends you can call for the occasional meal. Healthy food costs a lot of money, and your body will eventually break down with too much ramen noodles. So do yourself a favor and mooch food from your BigCo friends! I’ve been to the Google cafeterias at least 50 times. But why stop at Google? Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and many well funded startups also offer free food! I’ve had entire weeks eating from tech company cafeterias.

2. Coffee

Many a engineer is fueled by a good cup of morning joe. Unfortunately, it’s  an expensive habit. At $3.60 for a grande latte at Starbucks per day, you would have to spend $936/yr to replace the expresso bar in your company’s microkitchen. Good lord! That’s an entry level Macbook Air! What’s the solution? Well, you could make your own coffee. But that takes time. And time is money! My solution was the Starbucks refill hack. It’s a little known fact, but Starbucks will in fact refill your coffee in the afternoon if you bring your cup from the morning…FOR FREE. If you are Chinese, you see where I’m going with this. I figured, why not keep the cup as long as I can? There’s no hard and fast rule that you need to bring the cup from that same morning, right? The astute among you will note that Starbucks cups are made of cardboard, and thus do not last forever. And you would be correct. In fact, I’ve measured the lifespan of a Starbucks to-go cup at between 40 and 50 uses before the structural integrity of the cup makes storing hot liquids dangerous.

3. Wi-Fi / Electricity

When you’re making $250K/yr at Google, you don’t think much about your electric bill. When you’re moochstrapping, you can estimate your light bill to the cent! And don’t get me started on internet costs in the Valley! Thankfully, wi-fi and electricity are some of the easiest things to mooch! Along with the usual suspects, here are some suggestions of places to mooch: cafes, public libraries, religious institutions, tech companies, co-working spaces (all they require is a “donation” haha…suckers), neighboring backyards (most have outdoor plugs).

"Great!" You say. "How do I get started moochstrapping?" I’m glad you ask. Not everyone is cut out to be a moochstrapper. But then again, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. You’ve gotta think outside the box, baby!

That said, here are some tips to start you on the right (wrong?) track.

1. Be shameless

Shame is for losers. To get ahead in the moochstrapping game, you’ve got to have no shame whatsoever. Thankfully for me, I’ve never had any shame to get rid of! As a moochstrapper, you will have to admit embarrassing facts like “No officer, I was not breaking into my neighbors house. I just needed to use his wi-fi to push my code.” So get over it! Life is short, who cares what other people think? You’ve got a company to build! A world to change! A few puzzled glances from Starbucks employees never hurt anyone.

2. Be selfless

This may seem counterintuitive to the seemingly selfish nature of moochstrapping, but I assure you it’s not. I’m a win-win kind of guy. I would never mooch from my friend’s dinner table, that’s coming out of his own pocket! But enjoying a lunch at his Fortune 500 company’s free cafeteria? What’s selfish about that? You get free food, your friend gets the pleasure of your company, and BigCo gets cool points from the entrepreneurial crowd. Win all around! Still skeptical? This is a recent conversation with a friend at Google:

J: Hey B, I’m on campus. Wanna do lunch?

B: Lol, what? Ok sure where you wanna go?

J: You know what, let’s make it easy for you. I know you’re busy so let’s just eat at one of the Google cafeterias. I don’t want to take up too much of your time.

BOOM. It’s that simple. See what I did there? Let’s break it down, shall we?

  1. I was already on-campus. Most tech companies have free wi-fi for guests, so you can actually mooch their wi-fi without being signed in. There are also plugs in most lobbies, so as long as security doesn’t get suspicious you can actually work from the lobby of most tech company buildings. Should have added that to my list of mooching spots. In any case, make it harder for your friend to say no by already being there before making the ask!
  2. I positioned my mooching as doing him a favor. By reminding him that the Google cafeteria existed so that he wouldn’t have to drive elsewhere to meet me for lunch, it made it hard for him to say no.
  3. I was bold! It’s a fine line between bold and brash, and everyone needs to figure out a way to tip-toe that line effectively. But note that my friend B was pleasantly surprised I was already on campus, versus being mildly annoyed. At least, that’s what I tell myself at night.

Moochstrapping is great because it forces you to be creative. As a moochstrapped entrepreneur, you are operating under a set of constraints. While many dislike operating under constraints, I believe that entrepreneurs must embrace it. Human creativity is maximized when we are forced to make decisions under constraints. No money? No network? No investors? No programming skills? No worries! The moochstrapped entrepreneur laughs in the face of obstacles and mooches on!

Mooch On,
@bignoggins

I’ve wanted to start a personal blog for some time, but never really knew what to write about. A good friend advised me to just be myself and tell my story, so I’ve decided to blog about my journey as an entrepreneur. I’m certainly no expert in startups or technology, so the best I can offer is what little wisdom I’ve gleaned from my own missteps.

If that’s interesting to you, then great! Otherwise, it’ll just be a collection of anecdotes for the future me to look back upon and laugh at.

Here are some of the other things that interest me that I’ll likely be blogging about: technology, software development, entrepreneurship, leadership, sports, fantasy sports, and faith. I know it’s quite a disparate list, but I’ll try my best to keep it fresh, insightful and entertaining. So feel free to follow!

Keepin’ it one hundred,
@bignoggins