Amazon goes Green

I spotted a neat “sun jar” in one of Amazon’s always relevant marketing emails promoting Energy Saving week this morning. To my surprise when I clicked through, not only was there an Energy Saving week, but a full-blown Amazon Green initative:

Amazon is now offering green products, green guides, eco-packaging products (Apple features prominitely).

This is twice in one week that I look at Amazon and think “Wow, that’s a great company.”

Good job Amazon. (And thanks for sending C.K. a new Kindle, no questions asked as well. I’m switching to Kindle reader over iBooks because of that gesture alone)

Gowalla – building a business model

I spotted today that Gowalla is innovating on the business model front:

Companies (or anyone really) can get a custom stamp for their spot (vs a generic coffee cup, etc), plus the spot gets special promotion inside Gowalla. Prices vary, but a spot tomorrow in Austin is only $150. But, if you want to promote your spot for next August in San Francisco, it’ll cost you a little over $1,000.

I’m thinking these could make great Christmas presents. Find out more and get your own badge here.

Visit the Valley

Greetings from California! This is the third post in my Thoughts on Entrepreneurship series.

If you’re not based in the Valley, you need to get here as fast as you possibly can. No, really.

If you haven’t seen, smelled and tasted what the Bay Area is like, you have no idea what I’m saying- and you won’t until you do. The density of connections, and the ability to Get Things Done is amazing. Buy a ticket, spend a week networking and you’ll leave a new man (or woman). But don’t stop there, once you’ve been (you’ll see what I mean), you need to plan on visiting at LEAST quarterly for 1 week; 2 weeks if you can afford it.

I bumped into Andy McLoughlin, co-founder of Huddle at an event on Sand Hill Road earlier this year. I was delighted to learn Huddle had raised $10M from Matrix Partners and had recently re-located to the Bay Area from London. Huddle, if you don’t know them, are becoming a great European success story- they had really good local investors initially (Eden), and thought big.  Plus, they even established and ran what is one of the most successful entrepreneur events in London- DrinkTank– which in a way created their own epicenter and network around the company. Andy was giving a talk on what it means to be an entrepreneur in Europe, and making the transition to the US. He practices what he preaches, and he’s a believer in the Church of Silicon Valley.

I’m a believer as well. Make plans to make your first pilgrimage- go Visit the Valley…

Think Bigger

Now that you’re inspired to Be like Jack– you need to start thinking LARGE.

Jack was fortunate to have top-bill investors, why shouldn’t you. Jeff Bezos and Fred Wilson were early investors- find the equivalent wherever you are. Great investors can open many doors for you- they can also provide mission critical advice. They also don’t flip out if things don’t go perfectly – remember, Twitter only announced a revenue model in the last 6 months… they’ve now raised north of $100M date from solid investors. Do the same if at all possible. Also, since you’re raising a lot of money, hire the *BEST* people you can. People that are smarter, faster and better paid than you. It’s been said before, but A teams attract other A players. B teams attract B players… if your idea is great, you’ll be able to raise good money and attract top talent. This is a very important part of growing your business.

Also, location matters. Find the hottest spot you possibly can to build your business. The density of connections in the Valley are well documented, but there are other hot spots if you can’t launch there. And if you can’t launch there, you seriously need to Visit the Valley (next post). New York is developing as a great hub now, London is doing very well over in Shoreditch (check out Techhub)- you significantly increase your chances of success by being in the best location you can… Yes, the world is flat, but talent tends to live where it’s happening. Get there if you’re not there already.

A great London example of raising big amounts of money, scaling quickly and seeing a good exit is Playfish. They raised $17M (big money) from Index and Accel (great investors), then sold the company to Electronic Arts within 18 months for $400M. If don’t think you can do this, you might want to re-think what you’re doing…

You need to Think as Big as you can.