You Go First...

When I receive meeting requests from people, most of them just say, "Please let me know what time and place will work for you" and fail to mention what time and place will work for them first.

Then my palm automatically slaps my face, and these following thoughts come across my mind:

  • What if you are not available on the day I suggest?
  • Do you have so much free time that you can meet up with me at any time of the day I suggest?
  • Would you be willing to travel across the ocean to meet up with me even if I told you I were in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle?
  • Are you passive? 

If you are just a polite person who's trying to give the other person the option to choose first – please don't. It will cause unnecessary additional rounds of back and forth emails to nail down the meeting place and time. I'd rather work with someone who's more efficient than polite.

If you just never thought about this issue before – please do, so that my palm doesn't slap my face any more.

Bottom line, if you are the one who's suggesting a meeting first, state your preferred meeting time and place first. Then politely tell the other person that you'd be open to other options if your suggestions don't work for them.

Sung

Typical, Boring Night

It's now 11 pm. 

I put down my laptop to get some coffee.

Then I saw light peaking out of my grandma's room window. She was still awake, so I walked over to her room to say good night.

She told me to sit down for a minute. I asked why. She said she just wanted to sit next to me and see my face.

Then she started telling me the same old story she's told me a thousand times before. It's about some middle school girls complementing on my big ear lobes when I was a little kid (In Korea, having good ear lobes is considered a good fortune).

Then I said good night to her and proceeded up to my room.

My dog got up and greeted with her wagging tail. My wife was deep in sleep. She recently got a job at a no kill animal shelter. She's been working with big dogs in freezing weather outside, so her skin was dry.

I got down on my knees and brushed her hair with my fingers. I said "I love you," and she replied, "mmm ...ove mmm ...ou." I kissed her on her lips and left the room.

Now I'm sitting at my dinning room table with an iPhone over a coffee while listening to my mom washing dishes and asking me about upcoming birthdays for my wife and dad. 

This is my typical night at home. A typical night that, one day, I'm going to miss. From the light on in my grandma's room window to her stories, my dog's wagging tail, the sound of my mom washing dishes, and planning for everyone's upcoming birthdays.

I've made many sacrifices to do what I do. I sold my car, moved into my parents' house, and use 90% of every paycheck for my startup company. But if anyone asks me what's the biggest sacrifice I've made for the company, I'll tell you that it's the story of my typical, boring night you just read today.

Sung

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How to power nap like an entrepreneur

1. Pour 12 ounces of hot black coffee down your throat (should I really say do not try this at home?)

2. Get in a hot bath tub (clothing optional)

3. Take a nap (you will fall asleep like a baby if you haven't slept in days)

In 30 min, your heart's gonna start to race because the caffeine is now kicking in, and you are gonna feel extremely uncomfortable because the hot tub is dehydrating the shit out of you.

So there -- now you are wide awake! You had 30 minutes of a good nap, and you are good to go for another 8 hours.

With all the jokes aside, that's really what I do to stay awake and get my work done.

Whenever I try to go to bed early, I get this sense of unease, guilt, and lack of accomplishments as if I don't deserve to go to bed. 

Like today, a Sunday, I worked for over 12 hours and got a lot of things done, and now it's 2 am. But for some reason, I feel like I shouldn't go to bed yet. I feel like I should do more (hence writing this blog... -.-;;)

Should I stay up and get some more work done? Or should I crash in bed next to my beautiful, lonely wife who has been going to bed alone for months.

Zzz... 

 

Sung

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Building a Startup at Startup Weekend Denton

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Over the past weekend the Gestures team was fortunate enough to participate in a local Startup Weekend event located in the thriving art and music district known as Denton, TX.

For those of you unaware of this particular city let's just say it's a humble and growing population of ambitious and creative individuals, many of whom attend or are alumni at the nearby University of North Texas. 

Simply based on the Denton culture alone, it makes perfect sense to host one of the largest organizations focused on building startups and inspiring individuals - AKA Startup Weekend. I'd been looking forward to the Startup Weekend Denton event ever since I first heard about it, which was a few months back. I originally hoped to pitch an idea that'd be good enough to push a few others into helping build it, however I ended up not because I didn't have a very viable idea and our team thought it'd be fun to help another individual boost their idea into a product (which ended up being a very awesome experience).

First off, I have to say it was quite amazing to see so many colleagues, those familiar and unfamiliar to one other, collaborate so quickly to build in essence, a true startup. Secondly, getting the opportunity to mingle and share ideas with people who have a multitude of technology and business related backgrounds is worth the trip itself. For those of you who are programmers, developers, designers, or just all around tech-lovers like myself, Startup Weekend is for you and I highly recommend grabbing yourself a ticket to one near you.

All in all around 25 bright minded folks pitched their idea for a web or mobile app in 60 seconds or less. There was a handful of ideas that stood out immediately as having some potential to become a business, but there was one in particular that caught our attention and it was from pair of sisters not even in their teenage years. Their idea hoped to make changing and taking down outdoor lights during the holiday season a thing of the past. And with that short but sweet pitch, Light Seasons was born.

After chatting with the two young CEO's and their mother we quickly decided we could offer some help. Sung brought with him his design skills and mocked up a very intuitive and easy to use UI/UX, along with putting together a website via Squarespace, Roy went to work researching existing products using bluetooth technologies, reaching out to LED companies hoping to gain some partnerships, and developing analysis of cost/production output. Will built a mobile iOS prototype to show the judges and audience during our final presentation. Kevin Kimbrough built our business plan and presentation slides along with giving most of the final presentation in front of 5 well-known judges from the DFW tech scene. Thinh Dao beefed up our technology research efforts and helped build our business manual. We also had quite the help developing the product from Tonya Delaney (the mother) who is also one of the organizers of Startup Weekend Denton and her daughters - who drew up a sweet little logo straight from their laptop along with making the critical decisions as to what they wanted in the app.

Our end product was something of value, perhaps not monetarily, yet anyway, but certainly educational. We happily received the Honorable Mention Award - after all who could deny two courageous young girls who thought of an idea, helped design it, and helped present it in a room with over 75 people 3 to 5 times their age! There's something special that fills the room when you see a group of people most who have never met, come together and build a product that simply started as a 60 second pitch. I firmly believe that it could easily become a working model and business with some more work and planning, that of course will be decided upon at a later stage. 

Perhaps the most inspiring thing I witnessed at Startup Weekend Denton was people coming together and sharing the same passion for technology and innovation as the person standing next to them and truly building something out of those relationships. Whether teams got 1st or 10th they all have one thing in common, they went to Startup Weekend and tried to build a company in a span of 3 days - that itself is worthy of an applause.

Until Next Time - Shutter On!

 

From One to Six

If there is one word that could accurately describe the process of building a start-up company from the ground up it would almost certainly have to be "exciting."

 

From seeing the first prototype to seeing your social accounts grow with a sizable loyal following, every aspect of a start-up brings that added level of excitement and adrenaline rush for the founders. That being said, anyone whose participated in the development of an early stage company knows there is a certain amount of various emotions that fill your brain and stress you out to no end.

However, when it's all said and done, and your able to look at something built with pure dedication, it becomes well worth it. Besides... some grey hair and a few nights of no sleep never hurt anybody anyway, right? Of course this is me, the PR guy. I don't have that stress or worry that a founder may have, but I can attest to the work ethic and determination that it takes to be one of those guys – because we have them on our team.

I've learned that it's important to knock back when doubt or negativity hit you square on. Standing your ground when you believe in something is what it takes to succeed in this world. Of course it always helps to have a reliable team supporting you every step of the way.

For a company to have a viable growth strategy, they must first have the right team. This is where we get the title "From One to Six" for this particular blog. As I mentioned earlier, excitement is what it's all about and the past couple of weeks have been pretty big for us. We gained four more brilliant individuals for our team. What once was a one-man show has quickly become a full fledged group of creative mindsets that are positioning the Gestures Inc. brand into a very - real - company. 

First, Roy Mitsuoka is our co-founder and the VP of Research & Business Development. He has an extensive background with the US Army Intelligence and had a helping hand in the development of Firefox and the Ushahidi app.

Next up is our new co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Rob Edgell, who is currently the Mobile App Development Manager at FOSSIL Group.

His partner in crime William Saults, who also hails from FOSSIL, will be our Director of iOS Development. He will make sure we own our apps completely and knock the socks off of our competitors.

Lastly, we have garnished an amazing photographer and Instagram aficionado Austin Sabado as one of our Street Team Photographers to help lead some of our social awareness and building.

One bad ass team if I may say so myself! 

Rob says it all with this short and sweet line, "Best practice has turned into 'the best way to organize a list view.' GESTURES is here to change that, and it's going to be awesome." I know I can speak for the team when I say how exciting this year is going to be, especially with the launch of our beta-version GESTURES Camera App - coming soon to phones near you, January 31st, 2014. 

Until Next Time, Shutter On!

Welcome to Mobile Photography

Is there a better time to get motivated and start a new project than the month of January? We at Gestures certainly didn't think  so. Kicking off 2014, I'm pleased to be announcing that we're officially throwing ourselves into the ever-important blogging scene; this of course being our first ever blog I wanted to make it a little more personable by giving you some of my own story, thoughts, and ideas. I'll try and work these words magically as to not completely bore you away. :)

My name is Robert Villalobos, and I'm lucky enough to be the PR and Social Media guy over here at Gestures Inc. We're a brand new tech start-up, fresh out of the gates and looking to change the way everyone uses their mobile phones. We plan to do so by releasing a set of apps that are effortless, minimalistic, and truly engaging for users, not to mention designed absolutely beautifully, starting with our iOS camera app GESTURES. 

So how'd I get involved and what inspired me to join? Most people that know me, know I'm a huge technology lover, idealist, and invention dreamer (thanks to the likes of Shark Tank) in fact I always tell myself and others I went to school for the wrong industry. But then again being a public relations person landed me here, so like they say, it all works out in the end. I read about tech geniuses like Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, and even the oh so clever creator of "Million Dollar Homepage" Alex Tew pretty much on a daily occurrence - it just keeps my blood flowing hearing about all the exciting innovations and ideas out in the world.

A few months back I met up with Founder Sung Kim, to discuss what his company would be doing and if he needed some help. I had originally contacted him on CoFoundersLab after viewing one of the videos he put together called "The Next Mobile Experience" it had me thinking "wow this guy is brilliant". Short story, he offered me a spot on the team and I simply couldn't resist. Once I started playing with the test versions of GESTURES I knew I'd be sticking around for the long haul. 

It's also important for me to note that I enjoy practicing photography (I use the Nikon D3000) but really like Canon as well. That being said I'm no professional or amateur or remotely close actually, but I learned quite a bit of technique after a few college courses and really started to enjoy capturing, editing, and sharing my photos. Learning to grab and focus in on the small things in a frame taught me to look at the world differently. There's far more for the eye to see if you just take a few seconds to let everything unravel.  

Today's phones come with pretty amazing cameras that are nearly always within reach, at least it is for me because I'm glued to the phone more often than not! It's nice to have that reliability when you know you've got just a few moments to react. Take into consideration how news media all over gets a good majority of their coverage from eye witnesses that simply pulled out their mobile phone to record or capture. 

We want people to enjoy using a camera app that doesn't take an hour or day to learn, because when it's all said and done - what you're doing requires passion. Hopefully we'll be able to share some good tips and ideas so even the beginners like myself can improve upon their photography skills. Feel free to comment or send in blog topics for us to cover, and don't forget to #GesturesCamera!

Until Next Time - Shutter On!

 

 

Startup Showcases

I had two 5 minute startup showcases in a week. I had prepared a 4-minute 30-second script to say everything I wanted to say with 30-second bumper just in case something goes wrong.

Presenting in front of hundreds of people was already nerve wrecking, but having to do that under a time limit made it even more challenging. Also Steve Wozniak was in the room as well watching from the back of the room.

All in all, it went well. We've got attentions of some awesome investors, and we have meetings lined up for next 2 weeks. :)

Here is the picture a friend of mine took of me from a distance. It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing. lol

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Lost Filters

When I left my last job, I had backed up everything on an external hard drive before returning the laptop. I even backed up the backup of the pictures of my dog. But somehow, I forgot to back up the filters I had created for the camera app. They were photoshop actions, and I forgot to export them...

So I spent the last 3 days recreating the filters. Actually creating them wasn't the hardest part. Organizing them in a way it makes sense as a package took the most time.

But end the end, it actually worked out better. There were some issues I had with the previous filters, but I was able to resolve them.

I guess things happen for a reason. :)

Alpha Release

I finally released the Alpha prototype to the Kickstarter backers.

I was going to put together a formal, high-quality instructional video to go with the release, but I got so busy that I would either have to wait two weeks to do a proper one or do it in my bedroom right before I crash into my bed.

As you can see I went with the latter. I made my backers wait for almost 2 weeks since the end of the campaign, so I couldn't make them any longer.

Last Day

Today was my last day at Rockfish Interactive.

It was great having bosses that encouraged and trusted me to take charge on the projects I was working on and helped me grow into the person I am today.

My first public speaking experience at TEDxSMU Audition would have been a disaster if it weren't for my boss who coached me and helped me rewrite the script to be more friendly... and human-like (My original script sounded like a robot.)

And I was able to add so many cool pieces to my portfolio because my boss and team members allowed me to venture out and design unique interfaces that are not yet supported by Google or Apple.

I'm gonna miss this place... and the free lunch on fridays :q

Kickstarter Campaign Ends

Our Kickstarter campaign finally came to an end.

I'm so happy and feel like smiling, but I'm so tired that I can't even feel my face.

I was staring at the screen as the countdown clock on our page was ticking down. Even though we had surpassed our goal amount, I was afraid some people might pull out their pledges at the last minute and bring the total pledge amount below the goal amount.

I guess being tired and sleepy does make you extra paranoid... so I'm gonna hit the sac for now and plan the next steps later.

Ludlow Ventures

I got an email from Ludlow Ventures (http://ludlowventures.com). They saw our Kickstarter campaign and said they wanted to talk to us.

So I snuck out of the office, hid in my car, and got on a call with them. The call went really well. They said they really want to play with our GESTURES camera app.

I can't wait to finish the app and put it in everyone's hands!

Patent Attorney

Finally found an awesome software patent attorney in Dallas.

It was really difficult to find a patent attorney who specializes in software patents thanks to turf war created by Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung. Some of the patent attorneys I talked to didn't even let me finish saying the word "software" and walked away (no kidding.)

If anyone needs quality software patents at reasonable price, they should definitely have a chat with Dane Butzer (http://www.linkedin.com/in/danebutzer).

Podcast

We were just featured on EntrepreWired.com:

http://entreprewired.com/entreprewired-003-gestures-sung-kim/

It was my first phone interview ever. When I first agreed to do the interview, I didn't even know if it was gonna be a podcast interview. I thought the interviewer was just recording the conversation so he could listen to it later for writing his article.

Maybe it was a good thing that I didn't know. If I knew, I probably would have panicked and screwed up like I did when I tried to record our Kickstarter video. lol

My First VC Meeting

I had a meeting with investors from Bridge 37 Ventures (http://www.bridge37.com). This was my first meeting with a VC firm.

I had memorized some lines from my pitch deck, prepared some videos, brought my prototype on my iPod Touch, did some researches on the investors I was about to meet, and I was ready to go.

But when I met the investors, they turned out to be completely different from the people I researched... Apparently their names are super common.

At first, I was panicking in my head because this wasn't part of the plan. But I decided to just tell them what happened, and it actually turned out to be a pretty good ice breaker.

After about one hour long conversation, they showed quite a bit of interest in what we are working on. They just want to see a little more progress, so I'm going to approach them again once the prototype is done. 

Even better news is that they are going to come and see me at SXSW next year where I'll be announcing the release of our app! :)

Happy Hour

I had a meeting with Bradley who runs Launch DFW (http://launchdfw.com). It's a news website that focuses on startup companies in Dallas/Fort-Worth area.

I think the meeting went pretty well. It was originally a meeting between Ramon, Bradley, and me. Then another person joined us, then another, then another, and another. So it turned out being a happy hour with a whole bunch of awesome dudes in Dallas.

Bradley said he likes the idea, so he's gonna put me in touch with VC's and angels in the area. :)

Too Ambitious

Last night, I met an investor who was super excited about our project at a local startup related event, so I met up with him again tonight to talk about it in more details.

I thought it was going to go smoothly because he already said he liked the idea the other night, but it didn't... His overall feedback was that my pitch was a little too overwhelming and ambitious.

In hindsight, the way I pitched our deck was overwhelming, so I should probably rearrange it and streamline it better. But I don't think there is anything wrong with being too ambitious.

Actually, if what I'm trying to accomplish is not ambitious, why would I be willing to make so many sacrifices in my life for it? I don't wanna waste my time and money on something that's just "do-able" or something that's not hot or cold, but just lukewarm.

If I wanted something safe and normal, I would just continue to work 9 to 5 for the rest of my life.

Agreements

I went over to the Samsung office and read all the papers they asked me to sign. One of the documents was very interesting.

The first 2 pages of it state that Samsung can claim anything I do on and off the clock and on and off the Samsung premises while being employed by Samsung. But there was a single line on the third page that states I can list all the projects I started working on or worked on before joining Samsung, and Samsung cannot touch them – so I did exactly that.

Also I asked the HR person to get the written approval from the directors and mangers at Samsung that I have the permission to work on Gesture related projects. They all said it's not a problem.

Cleaning up my closet

I finally decided to clean up my gmail inbox (I had over 2000 emails from 2011 that are just sitting in my inbox with no labels...)

I tried to just organize the new emails and leave the old one as is because I didn't feel like sorting through 2 years worth of emails, but it wasn't getting any better. No matter how well I organize the new emails, the old emails keep cluttering up the screen, and I keep getting confused and overwhelmed.

I spent my whole weekend sorting through the old emails... this better pay off. -.-;;

Music App

Using the same gesture language I used on GESTURES camera app, I whipped up a gesture-based music app UI that could handle all the features on Pandora. And it took me only 3 hours.

This is not about my design abilities, but about the replicability of our gestures language and how easily it can be applied to almost all the apps we use on our touchscreen devices and elevate our digital experience.

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We no longer need traditional static interfaces that clutter up our limited screen spaces. We need to replace all the unnecessary buttons with simple gestures to make our interfaces minimalistic and beautiful while making our experiences simple, efficient and effortless. All the essential features can be available at our finger tips without having to reach across the screen or bend our fingers in an awkward way to tap on tiny little buttons. 

When it comes handling a large amount of information, such as songs on a playlist, we must consider displaying them organically in a fluid structure based on their relevance, rather than limiting our experience to a rigid grid or list views. Our information does not have to fit in a box anymore. Now it can be molded, arranged, and served to us purely based on their relevance, not based on the shape or size of our mobile devices.

With today's touchscreen capabilities and processing power, we are no longer limited by the technical limitations – but only by our old habits and outdated expectations.

Expect everything to be relevant, contextual, and interactive.