Archive for June, 2011

The obvious question – why did you do this? You stayed up all night to draw? Is this marketing? branding? were you high?
no.

You see, Chris Colbert from Holland-Mark asked us this morning – what’s your “One Simple Thing”? Even as finalists in THE largest start-up competition in the world, few of us start-ups could honestly say we had a good answer for our one simple thing. How pathetic is that?

This bothered me. A lot. Around mid-night Dan and I were talking about it, and we realized we were over thinking it. We may not know what Sabi’s “One Simple Thing” is going to be down the road, but we know what it has been so far in our journey. Being bold and attacking life. These are things that we’ve lived by as founders our whole lives, be it on stage, on the court, or in the conference room. From the day we found our chef on TV, to the list of crazy events we’ve been through this past year – our “company culture” (as each speaker has preached about) is about Doing What We Do, as boldly as we can do it.

You may notice us rockin the DWYD Wristbands...if you want one, say the word

After meeting 100s of other finalists, hearing 8 CEOs speak, and filling up two journal’s worth of notes and ideas  in just two days- I knew realized that with all this noise, two things had to happen.
First, we need to truly internalize and appreciate all the speakers, their quotes of wisdom, and all these brilliant entrepreneurs competing around us. Second, the companies that are serious about making an impact need to show it, not just talk about it – no matter what it takes. So that’s what we did.
This wall is full of the teams we’ve met so far, the quotes we’ve heard along the way, and anything else that’s made our Mass Challenge boot-camp experience. It’s been great, but also overwhelming. Now we can either shrink from it, and cower at the new information, new people, and new challenges we face – or we had to stay true to who we are, do something bold, and attack this challenge the best way we know how – all out.

 

It ain’t simple, but its damn sure our thing.

The Men of Sabi.

Entrepreneurs have it all wrong. We only get excited about ideas that are new. We’re wired all wrong.

We barely flinch at the threat of future competition (cue the MBA student screaming “first mover advantage!”), but upon our first Google search of the idea we’re faced with disappointment: “shit, someone’s already doing it..”

really?

It’s over? Just like that? Are they profitable? Are they controlling significant IP that would prevent you from entering the market? Can’t you learn from their business and iterate/improve on it? What’s better than learning on someone else’s dime? (and finally, will this whole paragraph consist of sentences ending in question-marks?)

As Daymond John, Founder of FUBU and investor on Sharktank puts it:

“Pioneers get slaughtered….Settlers prosper.

Daymond "The Shark" John - Founder of FUBU "pioneers get slaughtered...and settlers prosper"

Having a truly unique idea generally results in early failure. Rather than spending your most important resources as a start-up, (time and money) on educating the market about your product – you must create the market in the first place. Before Ipod and Facebook, there were portable music players and Friendster. Being first, being new, and being successful are rarely related.

Now for some non-cliche examples.

You’re an entrepreneur, and its the 1990s (put your Ace of Base CD in your walkman, you still eat bread because you don’t know who the hell “Atkins” is yet, and deal with the fact that Uncle Jesse from Full House is your generation’s sex symbol).

You have a truly new idea. Online Poker – HUGE potential, easy user interface to build, and poker celeb Mike Caro is on board to be your spokesman. Your company is called Planet Poker – and you launch with a ton of buzz becuase you’re the first online platform to offer “Real Money” poker, elevating the game from free, Solitaire-status, to what will eventually become a $2,400,000,000/yr online platform.

Now before you plan that retirement in the Carribean, you have to deal with market mistrust*. It’s the 1990’s, people aren’t used to depositing money online. They don’t trust your online “card shuffling” algorithm. They don’t know if the other players are sitting in the same room somewhere and cheating by telling each other their cards. Like a boyfriend with a history of cheating, you’ll spend all your time and money ‘buying your customers flowers’ to convince them that you’re a sweet, trustworthy partner – rather than growing and improving your business. This all goes on for a few years until the more handsome and well-financed competitors Party Poker, Pokerstars, and Full Tilt swoop in to steal your customer base.

Now here’s the rub. Why do the settlers prosper? Doesn’t being first count for something? Well yes. It does. And while the later versions do make improvements on their pioneer predecessors, their distinct advantage is not their flashy new interface. It’s the fact that their idea is not new. They enter an existing market. They spend their money marketing, adding features like security, rapid payment processing etc..to steal your customers, while you went through the grind creating the market. They don’t waste time educating customers about where a product fits in their lives; instead, they focus on how their product is better than the existing options.

Don’t let yourself toil away, waiting for the next “new” idea. New ideas suck. They sap you of your time and money simply because the market is probably not ready to adopt it right away. When it works – it works great, but they are the exception, not the rule.  Don’t confuse starting a business, with having a truly unique idea. Innovation isn’t about creating a new product, technology, or industry – its about finding better solutions for age old problems.

Shaan

*Term Shaan made up. Refrain from using in academic papers.

{Do What You Do}

It is more than just our slogan. It has become the foundation of everything we do both with the restaurant and in life. For the past year we’ve been on the lookout for people who have a special talent, a passion or love for something that they do. Our goal is to meet as many of these people as possible, hear their story and help them in anyway that we can. We believe that there are people everywhere – an up and coming rapper in Durham, an architect in Boston or a little kid in WY who wants to become a baseball player – who are living examples of the do what you do mentality.

Last week we had the honor to watch Armando Silva do what he does. In just 4 days this amazing artist completed one of the most impressive murals I have ever seen. A 40 ft Einstein in the middle of Greeley, CO. I can honestly say it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I mean the guy had never used spray paint before he was forced to do it for this masterpiece (he didn’t like the way the normal paint was working with the texture of the brick wall). Everyone thought he was crazy when he said he was going to do the whole thing, solo, in just 4 days. He’s never done anything like this, so on paper, he had no reason to believe that he could pull it off either. Maybe that’s why we respect him so much. He’s fearless and chases his dreams with no excuses.
Check out the video below.

The Backstory: 

For those of you who’ve been following our story, you remember that when we first came out to Colorado, we weren’t in Denver or Boulder…we were in Greeley, CO. It’s a town best known for its thick constant stank due to the slaughterhouses that populate the town. While we were there, we wanted to help Trevor’s Aunt Patti sell her signature craft-bottles at an arts & crafts fair – and while we were out peddling bottles, we noticed a huge crowd gathering around one man.

I wandered over to his station, and caught my first glimpse of Armando – headphones in, jammin’ out, dancin’ and painting a huge picture of Ray Charles.

I’d never seen anything like it. It took him just 10 minutes from start to finish, and half the time he was dancing! The colors blew me away. So fresh.  I loved that he could create funky art without it looking like someone had a seizure while holding a brush. This guy was awesome, and I had to find out more about his story. Well it turns out, his story is incredible. He’s 24 years old, super talented, constantly gives back to the community through his murals and dance classes – and is willing to risk everything to follow his passion. He’s a do what you do’er in every sense of the word – and has become a great friend of ours.

Armando, it’s been a pleasure my man thank you for letting us be a part of the adventure, can’t wait for the next project! Keep doing what you do!

-The Sabi Boys