I am hoping to turn this into a weekly column in which we at LUA Technologies put our heads together and try to come up with some advice and share our personal experiences for other startups out there and to those considering making the plunge into the unknown.
My first piece of advice is “Don’t over think it, just jump”. While that might seem a little naïve or risky, please let me explain. This week marks the 1 year anniversary of the founding of LUA Technologies. I had been throwing around the idea of starting up a company my entire life, drawing up plans for my first company when I was in third grade (Egg Works: we created useful business gadgets. Still in stealth…). I grew up in startup myself. The summer after my father graduated from college, he was a computer intern at CBS in Washington DC. It was at CBS that he met both of his future partners, an active Vice President at the time as well as my mother who had been working there a few years. This was the early 70’s, the internet was still a foreign concept to most of the world, and a new frontier was ahead of us (much like how it is opening up in today’s web 2.0 world). It was an exciting time. My dad was fascinated by computers and taught himself programming. My grandfather was a lawyer for CBS and suggested my dad come in to fix some computer problems they were having in the office. He started fixing this and that, caught the eye of a VP, pitched an idea and like that the three of them were off to the races. (The whole story in a later post). So while it may have been in my blood, I have always been a support of action rather than concept. Take your idea and do something with it
Don’t over think it, just jump:
- When you come up with an “original idea” don’t forget it. Write it down and sleep on it. Think about it tomorrow and begin market research. Ask around and see what people think. Maybe ask if them if you are crazy (Even if they say yes, don’t worry. I thought I was for about a year, I still do a lot of the time. This is ok… I think). Does this new idea already exist? If so, what makes your idea unique? If not, why has no one thought of it yet? Does the market really need this? Remember an idea is only a good if you are solving a pain point, not creating a new one. If your solution is more complicated than the current practice, you are most likely headed down the wrong path. Identify a pain point and create a solution that simplifies the process. If you can answer these questions and you still think you have something, take the next step. Jump.
Make the jump… or someone else will:
- By jump I do not necessarily mean immediately quit your job and set up a home office. What is mean is make some fundamental steps into make your idea a reality. The best time to really do this is while in school. You are surrounded by intelligent people, have no real obligations yet, and have the time to test your idea in the marketplace safely before you jump. But do something with your idea! Do you know what the number one cause of death in startups is? Inaction. We are all inventors. Everyday. Inventions solve inefficiency and redundancy in everyday life. Who better to solve the inefficiencies in your everyday life than you. How many times have you thought of an invention and a few years later saw your idea in the marketplace? When I was a child, I was positive that I was the first to think of placing numerical countdowns next to crosswalk signs. My little heart broke the day I walked across the street and saw my invention in action. It is very frustrating to see your grand idea stolen. There is only one way to avoid this: create it yourself. If you don’t act on your idea, someone else will. Do it first. Jump, man, jump. You are probably not the first person to think of an idea… but you can be the first one to make it a reality.
Convince someone else to jump with you, it is always more fun:
- A great test for yourself is to see if you can convince someone else to take the plunge into the unknown with you. I stalled on this one for a while. It is scary to ask someone else to turn down a job and go the opposite way with you. Especially if your idea is still a concept. But there is nothing more rewarding that working with your friends. If you are able to convince a few others that your idea is worth the risk, it you gives you the support base and confidence to continue moving forward. It also helps to share the workload and you always sound more convincing in numbers than alone.
So now that you have an idea, you asked around and people still consider you sane, and you even convinced a few others to come along. You’re all set for success! Not so fast guy, your real problems have only just begun. A startup is a 7-day-a-week job. No rests. That is why I suggest you pick something you love. I haven’t taken more than a few days off in about a year but I cannot remember the last time I was bored. I picked something I loved and I’ve racked up thousands of hours putting it together but I love what I am doing. We are still extremely early into the process and it hasn’t always been roses but when I wakeup every morning I can’t wait to start working.
Check out this article my good friend, Tim Devane, sent my way,
“Every time we do something, or don’t do something, there’s a risk/reward algorithm being calculated in our brain. Entrepreneurs, though, are all screwed up. They don’t need to be rewarded for risk, because they actually get utility out of risk itself. In other words, they like adventure…. at no point did I ever consider getting a “real job.” That felt like a black and white world, and I wanted technicolor. Also, I hate working for other people because I’m really bad at it http://techcrunch.com/2010/10/31/are-you-a-pirate/
That kind of sums it all up for me. I live for technicolor. I love doing things people tell me are impossible and I never really did that well with following rules anyway, ask all my school deans. I am still in freefall, trying to figure it all out. But I am working with my friends, love every day, and get to work with extremely talented and interesting people on a daily basis. The startup period is the fun part. This wouldn’t be as fun with a road map. I was pitching for a VC over the summer and after our pitch the VC said, “that was really great but you guys could use a few pointers. There is a 9-week course you can take that can help you refine your pitch.” I told him 9 weeks ago I was sitting in a college classroom. He asked to take another look at our business plan. A dragon sitting on a pile of gold always looks bored, be the pirate always searching for the next score. Come on in, the waters fine.
“When I talk to non-entrepreneurs about the startup world I often use a pirate analogy. Not because I know that much about pirates, but the general stereotypes work well as an analogy. Why did some people way back in the 17th century, or whenever, become pirates? The likely payoff was abysmal, I imagine. There’s a very small chance you’d make a fortune from some prize, and a very large chance you’d drown, or be hung, or shot, or whatever. And living on a small ship with a hundred other guys must have sucked, even for the captain. But in my fantasy pirate world these guys just had really screwed up risk aversion algorithms. Unlike most of the other people they actually lusted after that risk. The potential for riches was just an argument for the venture. But the real payoff was the pirate life itself.”
Or just jack a ship like my ancestors did. Aloha ‘Oe.
Over the course of the fall (August-December 2010) LUA got the opportunity to test out its first set of applications on the set of a major independent feature and work with an truly remarkable director. More details to follow as we would like to respect the director’s privacy while the film is in post-production and until his next project is released.
LUA got to utilize a lean-start up model by testing beta products live in the marketplace, on-set, while simultaneously developing our software.
We got to test out a handful of LUA applications, we can introduce you to one right now:
LUA Communications (LUA Comm) is an mass mobile texting service that allows a production to break down their crew list by department, allowing for an individual (in this case the 2nd assistant director) to send mass instructions to each crew member over the course of each day of principal photography, keeping everyone in the loop. Through LUA’s mobile app, a single message sent from your phone can be sent to any number of recipients to be received via SMS text, email, RSS feed, even a voice note. Individuals can be broken down into groups so individual departments can speak back and forth if the message is not intended for the whole crew.
Working in a fast-past production environment one must be able to switch course at the drop of a hat to keep up. That perfect shot does not wait for “Action” or “Cut” so you had to be ready to move at any moment. When a director has a vision for a great shot, they dont wait and the crew must be able to keep up. You have to be ready to move on a dime and a single piece of information must be rapidly communicated with everyone. With the LUA Comm system, our crew was able to achieve this. A simple mass SMS text message kept everyone, both on-location and off, in sync with an ever-evolving shooting schedule.
There was less time verbally passing down changes in the schedule and more time rolling. Again, that perfect shot does not wait for “Action” or “Cut” so the more in-sync and informed the crew was, the more we could capture each day.
I am very excited to see the final product.
LUA Technologies is a startup based out of New York City, founded by three 2010 Wesleyan graduates. Following the lead of his Hawaiian aumakua (ancestors) LUA Technologies’ founder has channeled the philosophy of his culture’s ancient martial art, LUA, and is developing a solution for the entertainment industry.
LUA Technologies is a software development company offering a comprehensive suite of application tools for film and video production providing cloud-based software solutions and a virtual workspace for all stages of development and implementation.
The ancient Hawaiian martial art of LUA was a discipline that required balancing the practitioner’s spiritual and physical aspects in order to achieve victory in battle as well as harmony in everyday living. Hawaiians believed by learning to balance life’s negative and positive forces—the physical and spiritual, emotional and intellectual— a LUA master could turn an opponent’s energy into a force against the enemy himself.
LUA focused on quick thinking and strategic planning before entering any situation…
… it focused on creating a complete and comprehensive strategic plan of action, coordination, and communication before entering a situation. Planning for a battle and planning a movie shoot can be very similar. A war plan is a complete plan of action, every step is considered and planned out beforehand. Scheduling a film takes the same precise planning if it is going to be successful. LUA is providing a tool for you to digitize the process of scheduling pre-production, giving you the tools necessary for victory in battle. Once in battle we have applications that can be used daily, such as touchscreen call sheets for the iPad.
LUA Technologies hopes that if production teams spend less time scheduling and coordinating, they can spend more time on the creative process… in turn creating a better final product.
That’s what we’re in this game. We love film. We love music. We love art. So stop by for a weekly dose of what’s good.
Aloha oukou (aloha to you and I) E komo mai e noho mai, e ‘ai e, wala ‘au (come in, come sit, eat and talk).
Let’s have some fun.