In May we got some very exciting news, we had been accepted into Techstars Austin. Given that Techstars has a lower acceptance rate than Harvard we were incredibly honored, packed our bags, and headed to Austin for the three month program. Our plan, like most companies going through the program was to return to Los Angeles at the end of the summer but after our first couple of months in Austin we realized this might just be the perfect place to move our startup.

Fast-forward to present day and we have now officially moved ourselves and our company to Austin. I never thought in a million years I would live in Texas (no offense to Texas!) and I quickly learned that many of the stereotypes I had heard about Texas were pretty far from the truth. It’s weird how assumptions work and I’ve already dealt with comments from friends with things like “so do you love country music now?” or “how many guns do you own?” which for anyone who has been to Austin knows really isn’t in the ethos of this city.

Still there are pro’s and cons of living here so I thought now that we’ve been here for about six months now would be a good time to share them. I’m a positive guy so I’ll start with the pros.

Three things I love about living in Austin:

  1. The startup community is amazing – we’ve traveled between LA, SF and NYC quite a bit over the last two years and have had a great chance to really dive into all of these communities. Austin has an incredibly inspiring and vibrant startup community and the one thing that stuck out right-away is how much everyone in the community wants to help everyone else. We felt welcomed from day one and are proud to be friends with some truly amazing people who have helped us and many other startups immensely.
  2. The music scene is the best of the best – I absolutely love live music and Austin has been dubbed the live music capital of the world for a reason. There is live music everywhere every single night of the week. I’ve seen more incredibly talented musicians play their heart out in the last six months than I have in my previous 33 years outside of Austin.
  3. The cost of living is significantly lower – we spend less money across the board. From office space to lunch to our apartment, everything is significantly cheaper and as a startup that means our money goes further, a lot further.

Three things I don’t love about living in Austin:

  1. Low quality of healthcare – this is definitely the biggest con for me. In LA we had UCLA Medical Center, Cedars-Sinai and a ton of great medical talent. Texas was ranked the worst in the country for quality of healthcare and everyone I’ve spoken to in Austin who has lived here for a while agrees this city is still far behind LA, SF and NYC when it comes to healthcare. On the plus-side, UT is building a hospital but it’s going to be 3-5 years until we really start to see an improvement.
  2. It’s a lot harder to get direct flights – whether we are flying to SF, LA or NYC there is a massive premium on direct flights. So far every single flight we’ve taken has at least one connection which eats up a lot of time. Sure there are direct flights that leave from Austin but you have to book pretty far in advance if you want to get a reasonable deal. In LA we could book flights to SF and NYC on very short notice and still get direct flights at a good price. Austin does have a beautiful airport but it’s tiny compared to LAX, SFO or either of the two NYC-based airports.
  3. The weather – the summer is insanely hot, so hot in August that you really can’t jog which was disappointing for me as I’m used to jogging year-round. The last few weeks have been bitterly cold and I’m told we’ve got a few more months of chilly weather ahead. It looks like Austin has about 3-4 months a year with beautiful weather like LA and then the rest of the year it’s either really hot or so cold you need to wear a hat and gloves.

At the end of the day I couldn’t be more proud to call Austin our new home. It’s an amazing city and we think it is going to be a great place to grow our startup. Like most things in life you have to balance the pros and cons and for us the pros far outweigh the cons.

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My 3 Favorite VC Blogs

Over the last five years more and more Venture Capitalists have given entrepreneurs a window into their world through their own personal blogs. I’m pretty sure Fred Wilson takes the cake for starting this trend and now it’s easier than ever to know what a certain VC thinks about a topic because there’s a good chance they’ve covered it on their blog.

As a kid I used to be an avid reader, I would sometimes read entire books in one sitting (Snowcrash is still my all-time favorite). Now I still read a ton but I find that 90% of what I read is blog posts and given that I’m a first-time startup founder, most of the blog posts I read are about the issues we face as we grow our startup.

I think it’s safe to say I read about ten blogs in total but there are three that I read every single time a new post hits the interwebs. Yesterday I was talking to another founder about some of my favorite blogs and here they are:

AVC

1. AVC – I have to give Fred Wilson credit with really getting me excited about the startup space. I’ve been reading his blog since the very early days and it was a blog post about Lean Startup Machine that inspired me to fly to New York in the summer of 2011 and start the amazing startup journey that we find ourselves on today. Fred covers common issues that founders face along with solid analysis of current industry news and events.

Both Sides Of The Table

2. Bothsides Of The Table – Mark Suster’s blog is very aptly named since he has been both an entrepreneur and an investor. Mark is able to share a unique perspective on being an entrepreneur and has done a great job of organizing Startup Lessons that are pure gold. If you haven’t read Mark’s blog you can quickly play catch-up as he’s done a great job of organizing his posts by categories so you can dive in and read what is the most relevant to you and your startup now.

Hunter Walk Blog

3. Hunter Walk – one of the newest entrants into the VC blogging world is also one of my new favorites. Hunter is a VC at Homebrew, a relatively new seed stage VC firm in San Francisco. Hunter has a great writing style and really does a good job of covering the qualities that go into making a great startup team. It’s clear Hunter really cares about people and shares solid advice from his daily dealings with some of the best and brightest.

 

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TLD Registry Takes Home The Gold In China

You’ve probably seen TLD Registry in the news a lot lately and that’s because they have been making news all over the world as they make waves in the Chinese domain market. Given that 20% of the world is Chinese they are hitting a massive market and they just took home the Best Marketing Award in China at the New gTLD Roadshow.

tldregistry-gold

TLD Registry CMO Simon Cousin’s had this to say about the team’s efforts leading to the award:

“This award is the result of the incredibly hard work and creative strategic decisions of the entire TLD Registry team. I’m enormously proud to be a part of the most dedicated Chinese domain name marketing team in the world”.

Huge congrats to the whole TLD Registry team, with so many new TLDs it can be easy to get lost in the sauce and it’s clear that TLD Registry is one of the best at getting above-the-fray and in front of the people who can use these new domains to help definite the next generation of Chinese websites.

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Hello, happy Friday and welcome to my Flippa Five. I have to say that this week Flippa has some of the best domains they’ve had all year so it was tough to narrow it down to just five. That being said I do think there are some truly exceptional names in my Flippa Five this week – enjoy!

3 Domains with good resale potential

Rides.com – incredibly solid one-word .COM, not sure you’d want to jump in the ring with Uber and Lyft but this would be a great brand for a ride-share app.

Hacked.com – another nice one-word .COM, a lot of different ways this could be used, just remember Hack.com is definitely the strongest term but there are still a lot of uses for this name.

Direction.com – awesome name for anything in the GPS space, I’d also want to get Directions.com to go along with it since I could see people easily getting these two confused.

1 Domain I think has good development potential

AntivirusReviews.com – review sites have some good built-in revenue potential when they are in a niche that affiliate programs tend to support. There is an affiliate program for just about every antivirus company out there and couple this with some solid review content and this could be a great site for someone.

1 domain I like personally but may not have much investment value

Group.ly - I’m usually not a big fan of brandables that end in .ly but for some reason I like this one. I can’t see it having any resale value and if you did decide to use it for your business I’d make sure to get Grouply.com as well or be prepared to lose some traffic.

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I will be the first to admit that I am a long-time Nintendo fan. I can still remember getting the original Nintendo for Christmas when I was a kid (yes, I’m old) and from my first game of Super Mario Bros I was sold. At that time Nintendo had literally resurrected gaming console market and paved the way for a new generation of gaming at home.

Nintendo followed-up their original NES system with another massive hit, the Super Nintendo. Then came my personal favorite (or at least the console I played the most) the Nintendo 64, which was followed by the GameCube, and then the Wii. Of course, Sony and Microsoft joined the race for the living room and as time went by Nintendo’s dominance began to erode.

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Nintendo really tried to out-innovate Sony and Microsoft with the Wii but it may have been too little too late. Enter Nintendo’s latest system and a console meant to get Nintendo back in the game (pun intended) – the Wii U.

Here’s the problem. When it comes to branding a new console, Wii and Wii U really don’t sound like two very different things. The GameCube sounded cool and futuristic, Wii was new and different, but adding a U to the end really doesn’t make me think of a next-generation console.

The sales numbers for Nintendo’s latest console haven’t been great and while you can’t blame it all on a the branding I do think that is somewhat responsible for the lack of buzz around the Wii U. It just doesn’t sound like a new system and if you’re not plugged-into the console world (which I’m not any more) then you could easily miss that it even came out.

I actually had no idea that the Wii U was different from the Wii but stumbled on an article a few weeks ago talking about it and started scratching my head.

So here’s my question to you – did Nintendo make a huge branding mistake here?

 

 

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So new domain name extensions are launching every week and with so many coming to market I thought it was about time to do a weekly feature of my top picks. Before I go any further let me be really clear about what I am picking these for. I am not picking these domain extensions as a way to encourage domain investors to buy them up like it’s going out of style. Instead I am hoping that entrepreneurs and small businesses use these to get the keyword they’ve been chasing and can’t get in .COM.

As I’ve said many times before, I think a lot of these new domain extensions are going to fail, and fail big. At the same time I think a select group will do very well and I’m going to fire up my crystal ball to pick which extensions I think are going to be the winners. Remember thought, this is speculation, not investment so please don’t confuse the two. If you want to invest in domain names, go .COM or go home. If you want to build a business online, you have a whole new host of options.

With that, here are the domain extensions coming out this week that I think are going to do well:

Dot Restaurant

Top Pick –> .Restaurant – this is my top pick because I know for a fact that a ton of restaurants couldn’t get their .COM and I think they are going to want their .Restaurant.

.Gifts – gifting is a huge market online, I do think it’s important to pick keywords that do apply directly to gifting.

.Engineer – I’m an engineer and so is my wife. Since I went to engineering school I know a lot of engineers and all of them want their first name .engineer.

There are more new domain extensions coming out this week but these are my favorites. Once again, just to hammer this point home, if you’re looking to invest in domains, stick with .COM, but if you want to develop on a domain, these three extensions offer some very solid options.

Hat tip to OnlineDomain.com, one of my go-to blogs for news and updates about new domain extensions!

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I have been a big fan of Afternic since I started using them back in 2007, they have a great team and a massive network of partners that makes it easy to get your domain(s) in front of a ton of potential buyers. What you might not know is that Afternic has two different promotion levels, Network and Premium and while Network still can get you a lot of exposure, there are a lot of advantages to premium.

Afternic Logo

The core advantage to upgrading your domain listing to premium (which is free BTW) is the massive reach it gives – 75M prospective buyers/month. Along with more exposure, based on the data, domains listed in the Premium promotion tier sell for 33% more and offer fast transfer options that make the sales process much quicker.

Most of my domain names have not been eligible for Premium promotion for years since Afternic didn’t support domains from Go Daddy to upgrade to the Premium promotion level. Now that Go Daddy owns Afternic this has all changed and any names you have registered with Go Daddy can now be upgraded to Premium, and you can do it with one simple action.

Afternic Premium PromotionIf you look at the top of the screen when viewing your domain portfolio in Afternic you’ll see a button under “Promotion Level” that says, “Upgrade All Eligible” which, like it sounds, will upgrade all the domains you have selected to Premium if they are eligible. If you want to do it one at a time you can do that too by clicking the “Upgrade” button next to the domain you want to upgrade.

This is the easiest way to get your domains in front of more people and it won’t take more than five minutes.

 

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One app everyone should be using

I recently discovered an app that I’ve found just about every one of my friends uses and I understand why. It’s called f.lux and it does something that will actually change your life in a small but meaningful way. To understand what f.lux does I want you to first pay attention to your computer screen right now.

f.lux

Look at the white on the page all around this blog post. It’s bright isn’t it? It also has a blue tint to it. That bright screen is what makes your computer look awesome in the day at your office but at night it’s like a spotlight.

“During the day, computer screens look good—they’re designed to look like the sun. But, at 9PM, 10PM, or 3AM, you probably shouldn’t be looking at the sun.” (Source – justgetflux.com)

It also turns out that there has been an insane amount of research done about the impact of blue light on human sleep patterns. You can read research papers until you are literally blue in the face (pun intended) and you’ll see that it’s pretty clear that bright screen could be costing you valuable sleep.

Oh and the best part is, it’s free so you can just try it for yourself and see how you feel. Like Evernote I think this is one of those apps that everyone should be using and that Apple should probably just build into the OS.

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Dolphin.org was purchased for $45,000 back in August, it is the largest reported .org sale of 2014.(That sale has now been surpassed by Coin.org at $75,000) The domain was purchased by Right Ventures which was founded by Edith Yeung, the purchase makes sense as Edith is also VP of international business development at Dolphin Browser.

Dolphin Browser a Sequioa-backed mobile browser with over 80 million installs worldwide, owns the domain Dolphin.com.

Currently Dolphin.org has a coming soon page.

 

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Pager App Is The Buyer of Pager.com for $45,000

The domain name pager.com sold for $45,000 on Sedo this week. The whois just changed and we now know the buyer. The company upgraded from getpager.com and is involved in the health care field.

Pager was started in 2013 in New York City by seasoned entrepreneurs Philip Eytan, Gaspard de Dreuzy and Oscar Salazar. Prior to Pager, Gaspard started several gaming companies, and the online broker Kapitall; Oscar was part of the founding team of Uber (he then joined TPG –owned Ride); and Philip became a founding investor in tech startups (like Livestream) after a career on Wall Street.

Investors in the company include: Lux Capital and Montage Ventures.

pager

 

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