Flaviu Simihaian's Blog - Entrepreneur and Developer

1 Way to Be More Productive

TL;DR: 1. Stop reading this post

When Lebron practices, what motivates him? He’s already better than anyone out there.

Is it another championship? Maybe? Staying ahead of KD? Most definitely not.

Compete with another and eventually you might just beat them all. Then what?

Set a lofty goal and you might just attain it. Then what?

The lofty goal you set becomes your downfall. Should you set a loftier goal? No.

As Jarod Kintz puts it “What does it mean to be the best? It means you have to be better than the number two guy. But what gratification is there in that? He’s a loser—that’s why he’s number two.”

Instead, compete against yourself. That way you’ll win the battles but never the war. The never-ending war of self-improvement.

Anyway, stop reading here. Go back to work. Reading about productivity is counterproductive.

Why Blinkist Doesn’t Work With Ben Horowitz’s ‘Game of Throes’

Ben Horrowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things is a great book I highly recommend. Blinkist is a startup that summarizes non-fiction in a 15 minute read.

A friend recommended Blinkist so I “read” a couple of books in the time it would take me to peruse the WSJ cover. But before I could pay for it, I wanted to try it on a book I had read. So, for Ben’s book the key message was:

“Running a business is a very tough, lonely task. This is The Struggle. Happily, though, The Struggle also spawns greatness.”

Aww. Startups. So hard. But, you could be a billionaire. Ba-Dum Tshh…

Wait. The book is a series of stories from Ben’s experience with advice in between the lines of each story. Stripping the details of the story and extracting the advice has 10% of the effect. There is value in the details. Summarizing pales in comparison. The lesson isn’t ever learned.

Blinkist Actionable Advice: **Find the right investor.**

It’s like eating a donut when you’re hungry. You feel satisfied but for a much shorter period of time. Blinkist is a bunch of donuts for the brain.

Criticizing is easier than building, so I want to say that the Blinkist product looks great and they seem to have a solid team of quality writers. Summarizing well is a tough job and for the most part their writers succeed.

Also, Blinkist works much better for books like Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, which only has a few key messages with a plethora of repeating examples. Blinkist gives you one of those examples, the summary of the lesson to be learned, and you can move on.

In other words, the fewer key messages and less meaning in a book, the better Blinkist is at trimming the fat.

But if you have a block of lard, what’s the point of trimming fat?

P.S.: I was very hungry when I wrote this post.

Investing in Healthcare IT

There is a spectre haunting healthcare IT — the specter of investor skittishness.

I am here to tell you they are wrong. Not just because I lead a healthcare IT startup. But because the recent Rock Health report is showing investors shorting healthcare IT.

Supposedly there hasn’t been a billion dollar exit. So VCs hesitate. Which makes it a great time to buy. Why?

  1. Seed stage healthcare IT companies are undervalued.
  2. The current redistribution of revenues in healthcare will have some winners and losers. You want to pick the winners.
  3. Investing in 10 healthcare IT companies is less risky than buying 10 houses. The number of companies is very low and you have a few accelerators vetting and doing all the work for you.
  4. You stand more of a chance of changing the world in a meaningful way than the rest of your portfolio does. That’s got to matter, right?

13 Ways to Avoid Startup Stress and Anxiety

Much has been written about startup stress here and here and the solution is what Justin Rosenstein of Asana calls a “willful intention with a nonconcern for results”

Despite this problem being seemingly solved, we get posts like My Startup has 30 Days to Live. So here’s some tangential advice:

  1. Every minute spent on something other than your startup is a minute you could blankly stare at your Mac

  2. Exercising is healthy. But eating is even healthier.

  3. Stop reading TechCrunch and any industry news not directly related to your business

  4. Thinking you’re not being productive enough makes you less productive

  5. Impostor Syndrome is a real thing

  6. Go big AND go home; Occasionally.

  7. If you lie, believe it, stand behind it and move on. Saves you time.

  8. Every high has an imminent low. Use every friend, family member, or acquaintance conversation to refuel your social energy and get out of the low ASAP

  9. Sleep on airplanes. Only.

  10. Looking at other startups is like reading People. Waste of time.

  11. Before you doubt something, make sure you had your normal dose of caffeine

  12. Always act like you have infinite money

  13. Listen to this TWiST episode with Jerry Colonna (or watch the Steve Jobs video again)

That’s it for now.

Prufrock’s Startup Observations

Let us go then, me and I,
When the seed stage stretches out against the sky
Like a student etherized
By college education;
Let us go through certain half-deserted meetups,
Twitterring retweets
Of restless nights in one night cheap hotels
For sapless conferences we pay to pitch
The uninformed bravado comments
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “Is it on Android?”
Let us go and build our product.

In the room, associates come and go
Talking of startup deal flow

And indeed there will be time
To wonder “do I dare?” and “do I dare?”
Will I make your partners billionaires?
With a three to five year plan that scales—
(They will say “His distribution channel’s thin!”)
My user base, my cost to bring them in
Retention rich and modest, but engagement like LinkedIn.
(They will say, “How his team is very green!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For the pivots and re-pivots that a board room will reverse.

In the room, associates come and go
Talking of startup deal flow

For I have emailed them already, boomeranged them all:
Jigsawed sales in evenings, mornings, afternoons,
Burn rate measured out in coffee spoons.
I know the startups dying with a dying fall
Beneath the Entrepreneurship Thought Leaders
and the Calacanis from a farther room.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth the opportunity cost,
After the Series A round, and the B
After preparing the report, after the board room scuffle
And this, and so much more? —
It is impossible to sell just what we have!

But as if a magic CFO threw revenues in patterns in Excel:
Would it have been worth the license
If one, boarding Virgin Airlines, or checking in the W,
And turning towards the black car, should say:
“That is not it all,
That does not scale, at all.”

No! I am not Mark Suster, nor was meant to be;
Am an un-blogging soul, one that will do
To send a term sheet, book a flight or two,
Advise the founder; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to make an intro,
Visionary, skeptic, and meticulous;
Full of disruptive revolution
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous
Almost, at times, the Foo.

A Viewpoint on Startup Accelerators or the New MBA

The stats above are from Seed-Db.

A year go, my startup (iMedicare) joined RevTech Labs, a tech startup accelerator in Charlotte, North Carolina. We still hadn’t launched the product and we knew a handful of people in the industry, through the Python Meetup I organized, and where I met my cofounder.

Packard Place and RevTech Labs gave us free space for 3+ months and introduced us to our current lawyer, Fred Hutchison, Dan Black, a business development expert that helped us (introverted tech guys) generate our first sales, and many other great advisors. We met 100+ people in 3 months.

These advisors offered us the chance to exhibit at the Huffington Post event around startups at the Democratic National Convention. There, we met one of the leading healthcare accelerators: Blueprint Health. After applying on a whim with a video done during a break from coding at 3:40AM, we got in.

So, in January, we moved to SoHo, New York City to participate in the third class of Blueprint Health. The 3 months of the program were the least amount of sleep I have ever gotten in any 6 month stretch of my life. We met 500+ healthcare industry advisors, entrepreneurs, and investors in 3 months.

Every program mentor introduced us to someone relevant for our business or gave us very useful advice going forward. Some questioned the business’ entire premise and some thought we should go in 10 other directions. We learned how to focus on our business and eliminate all distractions. This has been the most valuable lesson of all.

Preparation for demo day taught us how to present in front of 500 investors with diction, persuasiveness, and pizzazz. Without any control over the slides!

Now, we just finished raising a round of seed financing,hired a full-time Director of Business Development and are growing the company to the next level. But I wanted to take the time and recognize that we could not have done what we’ve done so far without all the help we’ve gotten along the way from both the Charlotte and New York City startup communities.

For me personally, each accelerator was a 3-month MBA program, that made me a better entrepreneur and more likely to succeed. Time will tell.

RestKit 0.20 : No Response Descriptors Match the Response Loaded

Well, as the error message in XCode and as Blake Water explains in this github issue the paths don’t match.

It’s especially subtle when you have a get parameter, like I did:

NSString *resourcePath = [NSString stringWithFormat:@"/counties_by_zip/?zipcode=%@", zipCode];
RKResponseDescriptor *responseDescriptor = [RKResponseDescriptor responseDescriptorWithMapping:[MappingProvider zipMapping] pathPattern:resourcePath keyPath:nil statusCodes:RKStatusCodeIndexSetForClass(RKStatusCodeClassSuccessful)];

It turns out that if you have a parameter like that, your path needs to NOT include it, like so:

RKResponseDescriptor *responseDescriptor = [RKResponseDescriptor responseDescriptorWithMapping:[MappingProvider zipMapping] pathPattern:@"/counties_by_zip/" keyPath:nil statusCodes:RKStatusCodeIndexSetForClass(RKStatusCodeClassSuccessful)];

That’s it folks. 2 hours of my time. It’s yours.

Paragraph Tags in HTML Email From iOS Makes PDF Attachment Not Show Up Outside of iOS

Here’s a standard way to send an HTML email with a PDF attachment from iOS:

// add the attachment
[mailComposer addAttachmentData:myData mimeType:@"application/pdf" fileName:@"comparison.pdf"];

// Fill out the email body text
NSString *emailBody = @" \
<p>Bla bla bla.</p>\
<p>See comparison attached.</p> \

[mailComposer setMessageBody:emailBody isHTML:YES];
[self presentModalViewController:mailComposer animated:YES];

You will be happy when checking the result of this on your iOS device. However, when you check it in Gmail, it looks like this:

What? Why? I don’t know!! What I do know is that it works if you put br tags instead:

// Fill out the email body text
NSString *emailBody = @" \
Bla bla bla.<br /><br />\
See comparison attached. \

Now it looks as it should:

So, the lesson is: WTF?!

Architecture Saturday Part 6: Industrial and Mechanical Age

The Crystal Palace above is the pantheon of the Industrial Revolution. Built in 3 days without a scaffold by unskilled workers, it was scorned by architects for invalidating their existence.

But come on, as Wayne says in Wayne’s World, “we fear change.” Just look at Paris’ Bibliotheque Nationale:

It has 9 graceful (Pantheon-like) domes inside of it. Who wouldn’t want to read day and night in there?

I won’t even mention Grand Central Station, since we’ll cover the US a tad later in the post.

Of course, for every action there is a reaction (Newton’s 3rd law of motion). So, some architects tried to bring about a Gothic Revival:

And then there was the decadence from the obscenely wealthy, like Ludwig II, the crazy Bavarian King that built himself a copy of the Versailles and this little Summer house:

My favorite designer of this period is William Morris, who mostly made wallpaper and interior decoration, and said wise things:

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

The US began leading the charge with Chicago’s Reliance Building (1895):

The reason Chicago became an architectural center was in part due to the 1873 fire that burnt many buildings in Chicago and allowed architects to innovate in the rebuilding process.

Also, you know those designs you see in every bank and skyscraper building? Like this one:

That, sir, is called Art Deco. An even more famous example of Art Deco inside and outside of a building is the Chrysler Building:

Richard Wright also lived in the same time period and everyone now loves him because of that house on the waterfall. Well, you know what? Richard Wright also designed this prison look-alike:

Oh, and this:

Ok, he was a genius, but come on, what is that thing?

To end on a positive note, Antoni Gaudí is awesome. Barcelona claims him as a Saint, but the Pope won’t recognize him as such until there are two miracles to his name. I propose these two:

One day, Antoni stepped back to look at a tower in the Sagrada Familia, and got hit by a tram, where authorities mistook him for a tramp.

Three days later, Barcelona came to a halt for his funeral procession.

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