Sunday, March 31, 2019

Are you a Playa?

On Thursday morning at 7:30 am we were out of dog food. And we were out of coffee. And we needed milk. So I made the run to the local store. On my way out of the store I saw this discarded gift card holder. It was on the sidewalk, just a few feet from a trash can. I picked it up to throw it away - and then I looked at it.  

What the hell is a Playa Bowl? 

So I put it in my pocket, and decided to Google 'em when I got home. Turns out that I must be the only person on the planet that did NOT know about Playa Bowls. Or Pineappleland.

The entrepreneurial journey of Robert Giuliani and Abby Taylor (founders) is well documented on their website. I filled out their "contact us" page, introducing myself. I said that their story would make a great video podcast for the I did not think that I would ever hear back from them. They probably get a million people filling out their online forms every day. That's OK, I had lots of things to keep me busy.

I heard back from their webmaster by 8:30 am. 

We shall record a podcast and blast it out to millions. It does not look like Robert and Abby need my help telling their amazing entrepreneurial story. But why would they turn it down? 

And now, here I am blogging about them

Tomorrow I will be recording a video podcast with Mike McDerment. Mike is the CEO and the co-founder of FreshBooks, the worlds #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parent's basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collecting billions of dollars. That's billions. 

Back in 2010, I was trying to get Mike to add "my stuff" to "his stuff" at FreshBooks. 

Here is what Mike said to me via an email:

Tom – I always get a boost out of hearing from you! So…these are great sales and marketing tools our customers can benefit from. That said, strategically we are focusing on things that add value to our billing and bookkeeping capabilities (i.e. leverage the kind of data we help folks manage, or bring new data in). Which is to say, I think these offerings are well suited to our customer base, but not so much our particular strategy for delivering value to them through our add-ons. Does that make sense? I hope so. Frankly, I would love to offer everything and the kitchen sink to our Customers – they need it all! But we also believe there is a four letter word in business…FOCUS! So…we’re trying to focus on offerings that directly add value to our service, or help extend that of another. Thanks for the well wishing! Again, hoping that makes sense. Also hoping things are well on your end! ~ Mike

So Mike let me down easy, and he took the time to tell me why. That was in 2010. And now, here we are doing a video podcast (tomorrow) that will reach millions of people. And we love FreshBooks more today than we did in 2010. Today, all FreshBooks clients can (indeed) use everything we have. We are (now) in a position to "deliver the goods" in high volume, with (as Mike says...) FOCUS. FreshBooks has become a value-added member benefit of the 

What business lessons come to mind when you read this blog? Persistence? Timing? Tenacity?

I never met Rob and Abby, but I feel like I already know them. I never met Mike (in person) but I feel like he is a friend. Because of technology, the world has changed many times since 2010. You never know when or where (or with who) your next big opportunity is going to appear. 

Sometimes the next big thing will take years to develop. Sometimes the next big thing is sitting a few feet away, on the ground, next to a trash can. 

In business, things can move very slowly, sometimes they can move very fast. No matter if you are a startup, or a mature business: always be ready, and always be persistent. But above all, always be nice. 

I'm pretty sure that all new members will be receiving Playa Bowls gift cards in the near future. I don't think Rob and Abby will mind a few million new customers, what do you think?   

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