Wednesday, May 23, 2012

This Week In Startups--Steve Chen of ScreenDate

On This Week in Startups, Steve Chen ( joined the show to discuss his angel investments and some of the challenges restauranteurs face today (Steve owns 5A5 Steak Lounge). Steve also gave us a sneak-peak at his new venture, ScreenDate (

Catch the whole episode here:

Or, you can jump right to some of the highlights:
       • 14 minutes in: Steve explains how he knew he wanted to invest in Space Monkey. Watch:
       • 24 minutes in: What was it about Alltuition that Steve fell in love with? Watch:
       • 30 minutes in: Great features vs. great design--which trumps the other? Watch:

To spread the word about this engaging episode, just tweet this: "On #TWiST, Steve Chen joined the show to discuss his angel investments & shared a sneak-peak of his new venture, ScreenDate."

Coming up on Friday, May 25, an historic TWiST first will be taking place: the battle of the meetups! See three companies from Sweden go head-to-head with three from South Africa in a battle for international startup supremacy! Be sure to tune in at a special early time of 12pm PT time, right here:

Thanks for your viewership and support!
Carolyn, TWiST Producer

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Steve Chen of ScreenDate - TWiST #259

1:00-2:45 Today we have another serial entrepreneur turned angel investor, Steve Chen.
2:45-3:15 Welcome Steve. How did we first meet?
3:15-7:00 Thank you to Squarespace for supporting the show! Everyone thank @Squarespace!
7:00-9:00 What happened with GoPlanIt?
9:00-10:00 How did the business do after launch?
10:00-12:00 Has starting a company become easier in recent years?
12:00-14:00 How many companies have you invested in to date?
14:00-19:45 Steve details why he knew that Space Monkey would be a fit as an investment.
19:45-21:00 Tyler: What was the hardest part about investing in Space Monkey? What hesitations did you have?
21:00-21:45 I don’t think Drew cares and I’ll tell you why: I’m not going to leave Dropbox.
21:45-24:00 Huge thanks to our friends at Trada for their support! Everyone thank @Trada!
24:00-26:00 Let’s talk about Alltuition: what did you love about them?
26:00-28:00 How much do you think the startup world today is driven by UX?
28:00-30:30 Looking at the design site Behance.
30:30-32:30 If you look at a company with great design but with few features, do you bet on it?
32:30-39:00 How did you become a restauranteur?
39:00-41:30 What’s the impact of early adopters in the restaurant business?
41:30-44:00 Steve discusses what he likes about Tyler’s company, Skweal.
44:00-47:00 Why do restaurant owners feel hostility toward Yelp?
47:00-50:00 Does a business have to pay a fee to be a part of OpenTable?
50:00-54:00 Can you buy traffic to OpenTable?
54:00-56:00 How would a digital menu work?
56:00-58:30 Is the perception that, if you have a loyalty program, you’re a failing restaurant?
58:30-01:00:30 Insight from Tyler: It’s like a used wedding ring.
01:00:30-01:04:30 What is the most unreasonable customer situation that you’ve ever had to endure?
01:04:30-01:09:00 Jason shares his best restaurant trick for clearing out a table from his dad.
01:09:00-01:12:00 Steve tells Jason about his new project, ScreenDate.
01:12:00-01:14:00 Is there a mobile component?
01:14:00-01:16:45 So does the algorithm work like page rank?
01:16:45-01:20:30 So this forces people to be realistic?
01:20:30-01:26:00 Insight from Tyler: It’s like British postage stamps?
01:26:00-01:27:45 Tyler shares an anecdote about a run in with a tall women.
01:27:45-01:30:00 Everyone check out And be sure to eat at 5A5 Steak Lounge when you’re in San Francisco. Thanks Steve. We’ll see you all next time.
01:30:45-01:31:00 Insight from Tyler: It’s like patenting a nuclear weapon.


Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Today on This Week in Startups: @everlane !!!

Today, on This Week in Startups, Jason was joined by Everlane ( co-founder Michael Preysman ( to unpack the luxury e-tailer's success thus far. Everlane is an online-only clothing and accessories shop that cuts out the middleman in order to offer high-quality tees, sweatshirts and more for as much as 90% off traditional retail pricing.

If your interest is piqued, be sure to tune in at 1pm PT here: We'll also be in the chats on our live channels on ( and Ustream (, and we'd love to hear your feedback and discussion.

Today's episode is made possible with the help of our incredible sponsors Walker Corporate Law ( and Trada (! Be sure to thank @ScottEdWalker and @Trada for sponsoring @TWiStartups!

Later, This Week in Web Design ( with host Jose Caballer is live at 2:30pm. Tune in and watch us work!

And, if you're not subscribed to our shows in iTunes, they're only a click away.

TWiST audio on iTunes:
TWiST video on iTunes:
Web Design audio on iTunes:
Web Design video on iTunes:

Thanks for watching!
Carolyn, TWiST Producer

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Education Startup Seeks Managing/Executive Editor

Anyone out there interesting changing the world, or at least trying to put a dent in it? :-) 
best @jason

Education Startup Seeks Managing/Executive Editor

Hey, I'm the founder and CEO of a startup named Mahalo. My name is Jason Calacanis.

I've built some solid brand in the past, like Engadget, Silicon Alley Reporter, TechCrunch50, LAUNCH, Cinematical, Open Angel Forum and TVSquad. You might have heard of one or two of them. Or not. They're kind of niche products.

Anyway, we're a venture-backed startup with really cool offices in Culver City. Our mission is to help people "learn anything," and we do that by providing courses primarily in the form of apps on iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

Additionally we publish our content on YouTube, the web and Apple's iBook platform.

Here's our “Learn Guitar” iBook, which has been getting amazing reviews:

It's also available as an app for iPhone, iPad and Android:

And you can see this course on the web:

Finally, here's a video on YouTube where our guitar instructor, Jen Trani, teaches you how to play an A minor chord:

Yes, the same course available in five different place. Someday we'll probably have these courses on Samsung, Apple and Sony TVs. Right about now you're probably saying, "Wow, this is a really neat idea: Mahalo makes awesome courses available everywhere, and they only charge a couple of bucks for the app while providing it free with advertising. Genius!"

Yes, it's a good idea, and it's working. But we're just getting started.  

In the past six months alone we've had 950,000+ downloads of our apps and 200M views on YouTube. In fact, we've probably broken 1M app downloads while you were reading this.

The big opportunities right now are mobile, social, education and video. We're three of those four, and we're going to try to figure out the "social" part of education next year.

Our courses have grown from "7s and 8s" on my internal scoring system to "9s and 10s." This awesome leap has occurred thanks to a really hard-working team that regularly puts in 50- and 60-hour weeks.

We have an awesome team right now. Just smart, creative and fun people who really bring it every day. We have no bozos at the company. Zero.

We've become absurdly obsessed with quality, and in the last month, Apple has featured our products three times—without us asking. They just did it. We think that means we're ready to scale our business and make many, many more courses.

Right now I'm the CEO of the company, and I'm running all of the product department (both features of apps and the content within them). I could really use the help of a  managing/executive editor type (to use a magazine term). This will allow me to focus more on CEO-type activities.

So, I'm looking for a hard-working, passionate individual who can manage and improve the following functions:

a) managing a team of 15 internal writers, producers, video editors and group leaders, as well as 25 freelancers.
b) managing the production process from start to finish. This means idea generation, casting, pre-production, shooting, post-production and product release.  
c) researching what courses we should produce next.
d) maintaining our "8 or better" rule, and over the coming months, helping to develop a "9 or better" benchmark.
e) hiring awesome video editors, writers and producers—most of which will have under five years of experience and need to be developed.

From my perspective, getting featured in the App Store and having almost a million downloads in four months means we're doing something right. We're ready for your talents!

I recently wrote an article on the subject of excellence, and I think it would be a good idea to read it if you're thinking of working with me:

Since what we're doing is a new product (interactive video books) for a new medium (tablets and smartphones), there is little chance you'll have five years experience making "interactive vooks." Well, maybe if you worked for Voyager back in the 1990s, but I think there are about 12 people who worked there and most are retired. Who knows, maybe you worked on the Blender or LAUNCH interactive CD-ROMs.

The proverbial "ideal candidate" for this job is someone who has managed a team of 15 creatives producing dozens of products a year. Those products might have been magazines, books or DVDs.

You should have a superhuman ability to tell the difference between a good and great product.

You should be able to communicate exactly what would make a product that's an eight, nine or 10—and lead a team to execute your advice.

You should know what makes one photo brilliant and another. Why one illustration is instructive and another is banal. Why one blurb is clever and another is trying too hard. Why one video is brilliantly entertaining and another is cheesy.

Bottom line: you should want to do great work with a great team—no matter the cost.

If you want to change the world, innovate, make a dent in the universe, get rich and build a huge company, email me. Worst case scenario we die trying!


Send a cover letter, resume and what you think of the Apps listed above. Thoughts on where education, mobile and content are going are awesome as well.

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Four more free apps from Mahalo!

Dave Goldberg of @surveymonkey on @TWISTartups #twist

Today, on This Week in Startups, Jason sat down with long-time friend, fellow angel investor and SurveyMonkey ( CEO Dave Goldberg ( Dave began working in digital music before that concept even existed and had some words of wisdom to share about launching in an uncharted space, being too early to market and persevering when nobody understands your idea. Oh, and did we mention that he’s also married to a pretty awesome woman in tech?

Watch the full interview here: 

Or, you can jump straight to some highlights:
       • 33 minutes in: Dave's path to SurveyMonkey. Watch:
       • 55 minutes in: Why companies need Gen X and Gen Y. Watch:
       • 1 hour, 5 minutes in: Dave's wife, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and her influence. Watch:

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Friday, April 13, 2012

This Week in Startups @ 1PM w/ @traversdavid @_davidcarter

Today, on This Week in Startups, news roundtable panelists David Travers (, partner at the VC firm Rustic Canyon (, and David Carter (, a co-founder of the accelerator Amplify LA (, will join the program to offer their insight and analysis on some of the most buzzed about topics in tech news this week, including:

1. Facebook Buys Instagram for $1B
2. Apple Hits a $600B Market Cap
3. … And then Gets Slapped with an Anti-Trust Lawsuit
4. Google+ Debuts Revamped Navigation
5. Ex-Gowalla Employees Join Instagram Instead of Facebook, Get Acquired by Facebook
6. Yammer Makes its First Acquisition: OneDrum
7. Are Google and Amazon Eyeing Travelzoo?
8. Facebook Opens Up Access to User Data
9. Sony Launches Android-Powered Smart-Watch
10. Microsoft Buys Part of Netscape

Check out our Ranker page to read more and vote up your favorite story:

At 1pm PT, join us to watch and discuss in the chat right here: We'll also be in the chats on our live channels on ( and Ustream (, and we'd love to hear your feedback and discussion.

Today's episode is made possible with the help of our incredible sponsors Walker Corporate Law ( and GoToMeeting (! Be sure to thank @ScottEdWalker and @GoToMeeting for sponsoring @TWiStartups!

And, if you're not subscribed to our shows in iTunes, they're only a click away.

TWiST audio on iTunes:
TWiST video on iTunes:

Thanks for watching!
Carolyn, TWiST Producer

[Just hit 'reply' to reach our whole team.] 

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Learn Pilates App iPhone & iPad free today!

Learn Pilates App iPhone & iPad free today! please help us get to the top 10! 

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Friday, April 6, 2012

Support This Week in Startup by clicking our @amazon banner!


You can support This Week in Startups by clicking on this banner at before you buy anything at!

Seriously, producing independent media aint cheap--and clicking up here before
buying your next flatpanel or shirts will really add up! 

Thanks so much for considering it, @jason 

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Mahalo's first iBook hits #1 in iBook store in 72 hours!

Mahalo's first iBook is #1 in the iBook store for *paid* Arts &
Entertainment! Mahalo is  producing world-class educational content at
distruptive prices. We are Zynga for education.

This is a message from the MailScanner E-Mail Virus Protection Service
The original e-mail attachment "Mahalo_s first.jpg"
is on the list of unacceptable attachments for this site and has been
replaced by this warning message.

Due to limitations placed on us by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers
Act 2000, we were unable to keep a copy of the original attachment.

At Fri Apr 6 10:00:25 2012 the virus scanner said:
Very long filenames are good signs of attacks against Microsoft e-mail packages (Mahalo_s first.jpg)

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Naval of AngelList on This Week in Startups

what a guest!

-2:00 Hi everyone, we're excited to have Naval Ravikant, the co-founder of AngelList, with us on the program today.
2:00-3:00 How many people have raised money on AngelList?
3:00-4:45 When did the first A round get done on AngelList?
4:45-6:15 So you think moderate success is the hard part?
6:15-8:45 What's an actual, true overnight success?
8:45-11:45 What do you think when you hear a story of someone like OMGPOP?
11:45-12:15 Would AngelList have worked ten years ago? What were your prior attempts?
12:15-14:30 How do you respond to the critique that weak companies are getting funded and there are too many startups?
14:30-17:00 Thank you to LiquidWeb for supporting TWiST! Show you appreciate them backing independent media by tweeting thanks to @LiquidWeb!
17:00-19:15 So, when a lot of people follow a company but they don't close the round, how does the entrepreneur take that?
19:15-20:00 So people are raising money from folks like Dave McClure?
20:00-23:00 As an angel, what should I be doing? Should I join a VC firm?
23:00-25:00 There are people who call themselves broker and will help you make deals. Is this normal?
25:00-27:30 How do you respond to VCs who have tried to paint you in a negative light? What are the criticisms?
27:30-31:00 So Obama's jobs act passed this week. What impact do you think that will have?
31:00-34:30 I saw that Democrats were fighting this citing fears that people will get scammed. Is that a valid concern?
34:30-35:30 If you could raise a million dollars every year, you could essentially fund a Facebook-like company within a few years.
35:30-37:00 Is there a bubble in the angel space?
37:00-41:45 Thank you to Walker Corporate Law for their support! Thank them @ScottEdWalker!
41:45-43:30 So how does the stock market affect things?
43:30-43:45 Do you think you're creating more angel investors?
45:45-48:30 What do you think the impact of the Facebook IPO will be?
48:30-50:00 Do you think Kickstarter is going to start taking equity?
50:00-55:00 Aside from disrupting the space and helping entrepreneurs, what is AngelList in the business of?
55:00-56:00 If you force CEOs to take ownership of recruiting instead of outsourcing it, you get better results.
56:00-58:00 What's your advice for someone who wants to put a company on the site?
58:00-59:30 How big is your team now?
59:30-1:03:00 What's your goal in life now?
1:03:00-1:05:00 Is being a billionaire a goal for you?
1:05:00-1:06:45 Do you know what the SEC thinks of AngelList?
1:06:45-1:10:15 Have you had any bad experiences with VCs? What's the worst story you've ever heard about a VC interaction?
1:10:15-1:12:30 What do you think of the space we're in now? What does the future hold?
1:12:30-1:13:15 Naval, this conversation has been so amazing. Thank you so much for coming on the program. We'll see you all next time!

Support This Week in Startups and independent media by joining the TWiST Producer Program at!

Multilingual? Translate this episode of TWiST into another language and email the transcript to

Keep up with the latest from our sister company, LAUNCH:

LAUNCH Education & Kids, June 12 and 13

LAUNCH Festival Wrap-up: Winners, Investments and More

Where Over $1M in LAUNCH Festival Prize Money is Going

LAUNCH Festival 2012 Winners

Who Launched at the 2012 LAUNCH Festival

Jason: @jason
Naval: @naval
Walker Corporate Law: @scottedwalker
LiquidWeb: @liquidweb

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

LAUNCH Angel Dinner, March 6th in San Francsico

On Monday, March 6th Naval Ravikant (co-founder of AngelList) and I are hosting a dinner for the ~40 startups launching at the LAUNCH Festival and a couple of dozens investors.

If you're an angel investor or VC and you want to come to this event you should email me. 

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

How we filled our iOS App to free and hit the top 10 in 24 hours (chart)

How we filled our iOS App to free and hit the top 10 in 24 hours (chart)

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Thursday, February 16, 2012

More pinterest spam Fw: Arianna Huffington is following you on Pinterest

Did Arianna really follow my boards?

Did she actually click follow, or is pinterest lying spam and she just uploaded her friends list and lied to me?

Why doesn't pinterest have 1-click unsubscribe? Oh yeah, they're spammers.

Isn't it illegal to do bogus marketing like this without unsubscribe and your aaddress and phone number at the bottom?

From: Pinterest <>
Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2012 17:04:15 -0000
Subject: Arianna Huffington is following you on Pinterest

Hi Jason,

Arianna Huffington started following all of your pinboards. Follow Arianna back.

Happy Pinning!

- Ben and the Pinterest Team


Change your email preferences. • Invite your friends to Pinterest.

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Paul Bragiel of i/o ventures on This Week in Startups

awesome episode... 

On This Week in Startups, Jason was joined by i/o ventures ( partner Paul Bragiel ( Paul--accompanied by his formidable beard--gave us a lot of insight into the selection process for the i/o program, the companies he's proud to have mentored and the state of startups in the Valley (hint: Paul says no bubble!).

If you missed the live show, never fear:

Or, you can jump straight to some of the best moments:
       • 17 minutes in: Are good companies still applying to accelerators? Watch:
       • 21 minutes in: i/o's approach to the incubator model. Watch:
       • 37 minutes in: Is MVP always the right decision? Watch:

To spread the word about this insightful episode, just tweet this: "Meet the man behind the beard: Paul Bragiel of @io talks mentors, funding & why he can’t stay away from the startup game"

Coming up this Friday, Feb. 17, we're jetting (virtually) around the globe for the first-ever TWiST Berlin meetup! Don't miss all the pitching action live at 1pm PT. Watch and unpack the startups with us in the chat here:

We couldn't bring you episodes like today's without our incredible sponsors GoToMeeting ( and MailChimp ( Show them you appreciate their support by thanking them @GoToMeeting and @MailChimp.

Thanks for your viewership and support!
Carolyn, TWiST Producer

[Just hit 'reply' to reach our whole team.]

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Subscribe to iTunes audio:
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TWiST #232 Paul Bragiel of i/o ventures

0:00-2:00 Today we have Paul Bragiel, managing director of the accelerator i/o ventures with us.
2:00-2:45 Your accelerator is actually a physical location that people work out of, right?
2:45-5:00 Thank you so much to MailChimp for their support. Everyone thank @mailchimp!
5:00-6:00 Do you send email updates about i/o ventures?
6:00-7:45 What is the mission of i/o ventures and how is it different from Y Combinator?
7:45-9:00 What’s the story? Do you shampoo that beard?
9:00-10:00 Who are the other people working in your office?
10:00-10:30 How many people have graduated?
10:30-11:30 How much do the companies get and how much equity do you take?
11:30-12:00 Is blatantly ripping off someone’s idea the worst thing in the world?
12:00-13:45 Jason reveals a story about meeting with a successful investor in Germany at the DLD Conference who warned him about the Samwer brothers.
13:45-16:00 What’s the difference between stealing artistically and ripping something off?
16:00-17:00 Who’s to blame for enabling pieces of garbage like them?
17:00-19:00 So after two classes, do you feel like the quality is going down?
19:00-20:15 How much more did it cost to start a company ten years ago?
20:15-20:30 Have there been any lawsuits over the mandatory beard rule in your program?
20:30-21:45 Where does the money come from that you invest in the companies?
21:45-24:15 How much of what you provide for companies is coaching versus teaching skills?
24:15-26:30 Thank you to GoToMeeting for their support! Everyone thank @gotomeeting!
28:00-31:00 Take me through the process of when you’re reading an application, what are you thinking? What’s the first thing you look for?
31:00-32:45 What’s next, after you’ve looked at the person?
32:45-34:30 You don’t need the money, so why are you doing this?
34:30-37:30 How many of the people you accept every year are established in the Valley or are most people new to the area?
37:30-40:30 Is it possible to build a big company with a minimal viable product?
40:30-42:45 What was the best idea from Web 1.0 that didn’t make it?
42:45-45:15 What are some companies that have graduated that you’re most proud of?
45:15-46:45 Is there an angel bubble right now?
46:45-48:30 Is your advice to companies to raise as much money as possible out of the gate or only to take what you need?
48:30-49:00 What did Lefora do?
49:00-50:30 What do you think are the key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs?
50:30-51:00 You have literally hundreds of applications to go through, don’t you?
51:00-51:30 What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you?
51:30-52:30 You’ve got an amazing mentor list.
52:30-54:00 And you’re going to give a slot to a company from the LAUNCH Festival, right?
54:30-56:00 Paul announces that i/o ventures is about to do the first seed fund in sub-Saharan Africa.
56:00-56:30 What’s the new definition of samwer?
56:30-57:00 Paul, you’ve been an amazing guest and I think you’re doing great work. I wish you continued success. Thank you to GoToMeeting and MailChimp and we’ll see you next time.

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups