Drew Giovannoli

I am an entrepreneur, a musician, foodie, travel enthusiast and eternally interested in business strategy. After working in consulting for 2 years, I joined the Techstars Austin staff for the 2013 program, and now work as the Marketing and Operations Manager at Fosbury.


I received my B.S. in Economics and Entrepreneurship from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. I also spent 4 months studying in Milan, Italy at Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore.

Contact me at drew.giovannoli@gmail.com
Posts I Like
Posts tagged "startup"

The easiest way to sell products and services online,

                       Square Glass is a social window to your customers around the world.

image

Square makes transactions sexy, lowering the barrier to entry for accepting credit card payments for friends and businesses alike. By offering an easy to use product at an attractive price, Square has democratized sales to anyone with a product or service to offer. I believe the next product offering to obtain new users and increase transactions of current users is something I call Square Glass. The easiest ways to sell your products or services online, Square Glass would allow users to take photographs of their product or service, set a price and a few details, and share their offering as a widget on any social network, blog, or digital storefront. So easy, so quick, and fully integrated with the analytics and tools Square already provides.

Square was cofounded by Jack Dorsey and his friend Jim McKelvey when Jim lost a few thousand dollar sale for glass faucet because he had no way to charge credit cards. Imagine if Jim not only could sell that one piece of art, but at the click of the button, take photos of all his work with prices and descriptions. A sharing tool would place a checkout widget on Facebook, Tumblr, a tweeted link on Twitter, and Pinterest, where Jim’s fans spend the most time. Furthermore, sales made online using Square Glass are tracked so that he can realized that medium size glass pieces in the $50-$120 range sell best on his Tumblr blog, compared to the lower priced but higher revenue generating small glass pieces that sell on Pinterest. These metrics could help plan production, drive down material costs, and optimize Jim’s time.  Then customers like Janie (made up name), who bought the original piece of art, could be notified to review the ruby faucet that she excitedly installed in her renovated bathroom. Now Jim can sell locally and nationally, gathering a community of art fans like Janie, providing him great reviews and increased revenue and growth for his business.

image(actual ruby faucet by James McKelvey)

eBay is the most obvious competitor to Square Glass. “The worlds online marketplace” offers both used and new items, although it is often publicly viewed as the place to go to get used items through intense bidding wars. The eBay app, which has a 2 ½ star rating from 80 reviews, allows you to display and describe products just as you would from their web portal. eBay has achieved incredible success and growth of this marketplace and in October of 2002, acquired Square’s COO’s former company PayPal for 1.5 Billion. The biggest differentiator Square Glass could provide is its ability to act as social window to wherever your customers existed, not just a crowded marketplace with intense competition. Using social and widget friendly development, Square Glass is not a place to get lost among a sea of products, but a tool to instantly post products or services where your friends and customers can actually see them. Amazon, Craigslist, and Google Product Services also offer ways for businesses to sell products, but none offer the full vertical of tools and analytics with the ease that Square does.

And talk about expertise, there is not a single person better suited for this expansion than Square’s COO Keith Rabois, former Executive Vice President for PayPal. For those of you still using your Nokia flip phone, PayPal is the global online payments giant that you can use to buy almost anything on the web. Barring any non-compete restrictions Rabois might have, Square Glass would directly compete with PayPal adding a value proposition of incredible speed and ease to bring products online, combined analytics with your brick and mortar sales, and a freshness and excitement associated with the Square brand. 

If Keith is busy, I’d be happy to help out :)

I am happy to share with you my clarifying vision of PhotoPlay Events.

"God" designed my logo, and I feel like he did a really good job on it too. God was actually the skype name of the first contractor I hired for work on oDesk.com, and his work came at $11.11 an hour from Sri Lanka. This is the story of using a freelance web developer named “GOD” to create the PhotoPlay logo in the late summer of 2011.

I am not sure how I found oDesk, but I remember surfing through the site and thinking I had found heaven. Skilled programmers, designers from around the world, willing to work for wages that I could afford making my dreams of a technical startup a reality! I have come to understand the many pitfalls of using outsourced work for both myself and the freelancer, but it was a way to get started and I was excited!!

To post a job on oDesk, post a job description for what you need. You then can make your post public or private and can then invite anyone you want from the search option to submit a bid. I wrote the following post:

The overall thought for the logo is 4 polaroid photo graphs that together make up the picture of a smiling monkey - as if the photos were dropped and different parts of the body fell together perfecly.
monkey = play, polaroid = photo. (july 19)

In this case I knew exactly what my logo to be; a cartoon version of the monkey that I found on google images. I then choose an artists whose cartoon stylings I liked, and at a rate I (thought) was comfortable with and I was off to the races.

I suggest narrowing your selection down to 3 contractors and do Skype interviews. See how they interact, see how skilled their English is, see if they are creative and flexible. If it is financially possible, I have heard it is a great idea to actually hire multiple contractors for mini projects before hiring them for full time. **Finally, recognize what time zone they are working in because if they are in Sri Lanka or India as mine have been, your work day will start at 11:00pm. 

Working with outsourced talent, I have found that you get exactly what you ask for, and only exactly what you ask for. This means that if you forget to tell them what kind of colors you want, the size, font, and placement of words, you will get whatever they come up with. This may sound obvious, but working with local talent they might ask you how to address these variables, they might have valuable industrial experience on how to best approach your idea.

Paying $11.11/hour you are not going to get $100/hour work, but I had limited funds and I needed to get started. What I learned in this process is that agreeingto pay hourly is like writing a blank check. Regardless of whatever hourly rate they give you, you are putting no contractual limit on how long they can work. Do yourself a favor, demand a fixed price estimate that, agree to something that you’re comfortable, and don’t create another “Mr. Macintosh.”

What you $ave in cheap outsourced labor, you more than make up for in your time. 

Update - I forgot to mention that God and I talked primarily through Skype Chat. The best part about working with God on Skype is that he often posted status updates that went something like “God is busy.” I know he has lots of people to tend to, but I was paying by the hour. “God is looking for a Goddess" is another one of my favorites. By his Skype picture alone, God was a 6’4" Sri Lankan Body Builder with straight dark hair down his back - not sure why he was having trouble finding a Goddess. 

Overall it got the job done. I was there every step of the way, making sure that I got what I needed. I recommend people use outsourced work to get started, to test markets, test ideas, and test customers.The final take-a-ways that I learned are, to outsource you must:

Know Exactly What You Want

Know How Much You Can Spend

Take Time to Find the Right Contractor.

Accept that what you save in $$ you will pay back in personal

* find people with great skype names - it makes for a better story :)


Have you hired a friend, a professional, or outsourced talent??  What do you think is best? 


Hello,

I am Drew Giovannoli and I created this blog to document the learning process of starting a business and the world around it. Originally from Ridgefield, CT, I attended the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University for a B.S. in Economics and Entrepreneurship. Subsequently, I moved down to Houston, Texas for a technical consulting job where I help implement software for my 8-6, and entrepreneurship 6-8. 

My interests lie in community building, game mechanics, and lean startups but hope to cover a wide range of topics. The majority of discussion should revolve around lessons learned from www.photoplay.me, a venture I have been working on since May 2011. The next post will give a full explaination about PhotoPlay, where it’s been and where it is going.

To leave you with a least a little value beyond an introduction, below I am going to post what I believe are the 3 business books every aspiring entrepreneur should read. These books changed the way I look at life and entrepreneurship.

1. “The Lean Startup” - Eric Ries

ABSOLUTE MUST READ. This book shows you the importance of proving your concepts. Too many entrepreneurs jump into business spending thousands upon thousands on a business because they think they know what the customers want. You don’t know. So put out prototypes or “minimum viable products” and learn.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Lean-Startup-Entrepreneurs-Continuous/dp/0307887898/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332529003&sr=1-1

2. “The Four Hour Work Week” - Tim Ferriss

If you tie your business to your time, you are severely limiting your scalability. This book demonstrates the importance of building a business that you can take yourself out of and continue to make $$. Who doesn’t like that?

http://www.amazon.com/The-4-Hour-Workweek-Anywhere-Expanded/dp/0307465357/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332528784&sr=1-1

3. “The E-Myth Revisited” - Michael E. Gerber

It has been a long time since my last read, but its values have stuck with me forever. Become an opportunistic entrepreneur, not a craftsman entrepreneur. Don’t start a business because you are a brilliant chair maker and you think you can sell chairs. Start a business because you see a market gap in the chair industry, and you believe you can exploit the opportunity. 

http://www.amazon.com/The-E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses/dp/0887307280/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332528370&sr=1-1

That concludes the first official blog post and I’d like to thank you for stopping by! Now I want to know, what business books have changed your life??