Tom Ortega II

Posts Tagged ‘Business’

My Purpose in Life

In Life on January 8, 2013 at 10:57 am

The title should really be, “My Purpose in my Professional Life.” But that doesn’t flow as nicely or grab you buy the emotions, so I shrank it down to “My Purpose in Life.”

Some Background

If you’re lucky, you’re one of those people who’ve known exactly what your purpose in life was since high school or college. If you’re extremely lucky, you’ve known since you were a kid. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that way for me. I barely figured it out this morning, after a little more than 37 years of being me. That’s almost 20 years AFTER joining the workforce, where I was supposed to be executing upon that purpose.

For some, their purpose in life is wrapped up in a single goal or series of related goals. For example, “I want to be the best basketball player…on my team” then morphs to “…at my school” and then “…in the (W)NBA” and lastly “…of all time.” Now, for me, my purpose is not like that.

For me, my purpose in life is something that I’ve been hoping for to provide guidance. I like to do many things as evident in these two separate posts. A lot of different things make me happy. I have a ton of crazy ideas, and I get more ideas all the time. In fact, I just had a great new biz idea this morning. When the ideas hatch though, I invariably ask, “Will this make me happy? Will this be fulfilling for me in the long run?” Most of the time, I would answer, “I don’t know” because again, I didn’t know my purpose so how could I know if this would work towards it? Read the rest of this entry »

Features vs Products, Sell vs Grow, Corporations vs Startups

In Business on November 11, 2011 at 10:55 am

Let’s Talk Business

I talk about business with a lot of people. The concepts behind a business: the whys, the hows, the wheres and the whats. One thing that has always boggled my mind is exit strategies. Some companies are clearly built to be flipped (i.e. sold early on), while others are intended to be around for a long time.

In an interview with Dropbox CEO, it was brought to light that Steve Jobs wanted to buy the online storage company. Steve told them, “You don’t have a product, you have a feature.” Clearly, the team at Dropbox disagrees, but that got me thinking.

Build to Sell or Build to Grow?

Up until fairly recently, I didn’t understand people who built to flip. Yet, at 360Conferences, I really did want a bigger media company to buy us. I wasn’t building a company to flip, I just thought that while we were good at doing conferences, we’d be better applying our mentality inside a bigger media company with the resources to fund wild ideas we dreamt up. John was definitely more of the “I want to do 360 for life,” which is why I sold out my half to him.
Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Be Another Mobile Game Company

In Area 161 on October 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm

[This post is one I wrote on the Area 161 blog. I normally don’t cross post, but this one really resonates deep within me, so I’m sharing it here as well.]

What We Are

As we’re trying to get our first game out the door, I came to a realization. It was something that Smiley already knew and understood. I sorta understood it also, but semantically I was just a little bit off base. You see, this is how I saw ourselves:

An iOS game company pushing the boundaries of device interaction.

Which is cool and fine sounding. It pretty much explains what we’re thinking about the company – right now. It also covers what the company will be doing for the next few years. Then it hit me though, that really doesn’t explain us quite right. I thought about it and really, this is what we are:

A game company that leverages new ways of device interaction, which currently designs exclusively for iOS.

Note the subtle difference. They both say the same thing, but the latter is more closer to reality.
Read the rest of this entry »

You Can’t Plan a Business, You Can Only Show Up

In Business on June 16, 2011 at 12:48 pm

To date, I’ve had about a handful of entrepreneurial activities. Looking back, I realized something: You can’t plan a business.  I know that sounds pretty counter-intuitive, but I’ll be honest, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. At least for me.

Don't get stuck on Planning and never hit Implementing

Don't get stuck on Planning and never hit Implementation

Don’t believe me? Alright, well, let’s take a walk down memory lane and let’s survey the land to see what happened.  NOTE: I’ve had way more ideas than this, but these are the ones that I put more than a few days or weeks into.

Idea #1 – Restaurant Paging/Seating Software

I wrote a fat business plan. I did market analysis. I had a team in place and a product being built. Then I had a personal incident happen that left a bad taste in my mouth on the idea. Regardless though, I spent a few years on the idea and nothing happened. I had a great plan, but never had a product, not even a beta product. I almost became the software arm of one of my would-be competitors, though that fell through at the last-minute because they didn’t understand software.

Takeaway: You can have a great product idea, business plan and market analysis yet still not go to market with a product. In which case, what was the point of all the planning?

Read the rest of this entry »

Changes are afoot at 360Flex

In 360Conferences, 360Flex, Business, Community on October 19, 2007 at 7:04 am

First off, if you’ve gone to a 360Flex event or plan to someday, go answer this three question survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=yGMLUk_2f4IRYXqoobzijRuQ_3d_3d

The responses to that survey may fundamentally change the 360Flex Conference.

Business is so interesting. I didn’t graduate from Business School, so maybe they teach you a lot of this stuff there. However, I have read 200+ books on business in the 14+ years that I’ve been a part of the business community and very few books actually captured the essence of business life.

The beauty of business is it’s role. A business is there to serve it’s customers. Do a good job, you get to stick around. Do a bad job and you’re out. I think 360Conferences is doing a good job, but John and I are always looking for ways to improve. Over the past few days, some folks have made some remarks about the amount of money we spend on food at our conferences. They suggested that money would be better spent paying travel expenses for speakers rather than lining the hotel’s catering pocket.

John and I feel that food is a major part of the conference. We think it helps build the community. (You can find our full thoughts on our company blog.) Some of our customers have already stated they feel the same. If only there was a way to ask everyone else, to get a consensus. Well, guess what? There is. With the internet, a business can not only talk to all of its past and current customers, but also to all its future customers.

What John and I think is not important. We’re just facilitators for our customers: attendees, speakers and sponsors. If we’re wrong, then we must change. Just because we think something is cute or needed, doesn’t mean it is. Just because we think something is right, doesn’t mean it is. Our customers are the only ones that know what’s right. John and I are hear to make sure we do what’s right.

So far, we’ve had two conferences. With that, over $180,000 of our customers hard-earned cash has passed through our hands. 360 attendees came to eBay’s beautiful campus for 3 days. Another 360 spent 3 days with us in the Emerald City. Over 60 sessions have been given and countless knowledge has been shared. Many people have landed a “dream” Flex job or picked up some contracting work. Most importantly though, friendships have been made. Good times have been shared.

$180,000 may not seem like a lot of money to a big corporation. It’s a lot of money to me though. If it was $180, it would be a lot of money to me. Every dollar given in business is an honor that has to be earned. Each dollar comes with trust and deserves to be spent as wisely and efficiently as possible.

Now, if our customers decide to drop food for speaker fees, that’s fine. However, one person remarked after reading our cost breakdown post, “$80 per visitor per day for food? Wow, I must say I’m speechless. That must have been some orgy.” Now, I take great personal offense to that statement. To say that I would take our cutomers hard earned money and throw an “orgy” hurts. The reality is this: Each person was $59 dollars a day for breakfast, lunch and breaks. Plus, each water and or soda was an additional $5. Monday night BBQ was $25 per person. That is standard hotel pricing for food. “Why not use an outside caterer?” You can’t. “Why not order cheaper food?” That was darn near the cheapest. I wish hotels were cheaper, but they’re not. However, our customers said, “Move to one central location, like a hotel.” We did, and it was certainly not to have an “orgy”.

I stress over every dollar. John lets me handle the books. I let him handle me. I probably have the better deal. We are in debt from the last two shows. It’s only about $15K, but that’s $15K that we owe to the bank and we have to make good on it. This is why it’s important to us to get profitable. Unlike other conferences, we don’t have a corporate backing. No one writes off our losses as marketing for their training business, product business or consulting business. We’re just 2 developers looking to grow the community. Hopefully, we can continue to grow it for many years to come.

So once again, if you’ve gone to a 360Flex event or plan to someday, go answer this three question survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=yGMLUk_2f4IRYXqoobzijRuQ_3d_3d

It’s only 3 questions to you, but it’s worth quiet a bit more to me.

Thanks,

Tom

P.S. The live results of the survey can be found here:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/sr.aspx?sm=vYl0EBqFwQOrWCuur46_2bDfittExkiV1oYuHuVUgA6k8_3d

P.P.S

If you blog, please post the survey and/or the results link on your blog too.  We need as much feed back as necessary.