Monthly Archives: July 2011

My proposal for Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program

I have always appreciated the Marine Toys for Tots program each year. This afternoon I was wondering how we (i.e. ShopSavvy) might be able to leverage our platform to help collect toys in October, November and December and distribute them as Christmas gifts to needy children around the country. I had an idea.

What if anytime one of our users scanned a toy we suggested they buy a second one using ShopSavvy – one that would be shipped to their local Marine Corps Reserve Unit for distribution through the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. I know from personal experience I have bought toys for the program, but never actually delivered them to a drop off location. Toys for Tots Foundation, hat do you think?

We could even partner with someone like Walmart who might agree to match toy donations made by ShopSavvy users by sending a SECOND toy. Walmart, what do you think?

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of this idea. If you have contacts with anyone at the Marine Corps, Toys for Tots or Walmart that might be able to help please pass along this post (or send me their contact info).

Alexander Muse, CEO ShopSavvy Inc.
8350 N Central Expressway Suite 250
Dallas, TX 75206

The Hamilton Mixtape

If Alexander Hamilton could make it in America, anyone can make it here:

Why Google+ will release Twitter and Facebook for me

Mike Elgan helped explain why I think Google+ is a game changer. “Instead of saying, “I’m going to write a blog post now,” or “I’m going to send an e-mail” or “I think I’ll tweet something” you simply say what you have to say, then decide who you’re going to say it to.”

  • -  If you address it to “Public,” it’s a blog post.
  • -  If you address it to “Your Circles” it’s a tweet.
  • -  If you address it to your “My Customers” Circle it’s a business newsletter.
  • -  If you address it to a single person, it can be a letter to your mother.
  • -  I’d say this is pretty revolutionary.


Where should you start your startup?

I have lived in Dallas since 1996 and over the years I have started more than my fair share of startups. I have been a big proponent of living and working in Dallas, but over the past few years it has become very apparent to me that my decision to locate my startups here in Dallas has had a massive impact on their terminal valuations – especially when it comes to internet and mobile startups. I have advocated in writing and in speeches the merit of locating a startup here in Dallas, but I wanted to take a moment to admit that the emperor has no clothes. Founders who have the ability to relocate to San Francisco or the Valley should get in their cars and start driving – don’t look back. Don’t waste a minute building an internet or mobile startup here in Dallas.

Why the change of heart? In the past I made various arguments about why Dallas was a great place for startups, but my reasons for making the arguments were selfish. “I” want founders to start companies here in Dallas so that Dallas can become a great place for startups. This is great for me, but a horrible idea for founders. Why? Because until Dallas actually becomes a great place for startups, founders will spend 90% of their energy trying to make Dallas a great place to start a company and 10% of their energy actually building their companies. On the flip side founders who locate their startups in the Valley can spend 100% of their energy building their startup and 0% trying to build an eco-system for entrepreneurs. The financial and professional delta between the two markets is HUGE.

Putting my own selfish interests aside my advice is simple. If you are single and want to start a company or be part of a startup – move ASAP. If you are married and want to start a company or be a part of a startup – move ASAP. If you are married with kids and want to start a company or be a part of a startup – move ASAP.

If you can’t move (and I would argue you can move) and still want to start a company or be part of a startup you should focus your energy on building a company that can quickly generate profits. Instead of trying to raise capital from investors I would focus on selling services to clients – this will help fund your operations while giving you the validation you need to justify your efforts. Don’t spend a minute comparing your valuation or prospects with a comparable company in the Valley. Don’t make ANY decisions based on what you seeing happening the Valley – those rules don’t apply to you because you chose NOT to live there.

Still not convinced? Need a few reasons WHY you should start your startup in the San Francisco area?

  • Time to funding – the average time to funding in the Valley is between 2-4 weeks. This compressed funding window helps founders get instant feedback on their startup idea. Here in the Dallas area it isn’t uncommon for a founder to spend 6-12 months pitching his idea. In the mobile/internet space your idea can be obsolete in weeks – having to wait months to launch will kill your chances of success.
  • Experienced co-founders – in the Valley there are lots of co-founders with startup experience. These experienced folks are primed and ready to help you build your startup. They have been there and done that and I can’t stress how important that is early on.
  • Validation from Investors (angels and VCs) – This third party validation is important for a number of reasons. Future employees and investors often leverage the fact that a well known angel has invested in your deal when considering entering into employment or investment agreements with your company. Without this third party validation it is VERY hard to figure out if your startup has a chance.
  • Number of Acquirers - Who is going to buy your company? It is unlikely it will be a company here in Dallas. ALL of the important internet/mobile acquirers are located in the Valley.

Don’t get me wrong, I really want Dallas to have a vibrant startup community someday, but it is time to admit that today isn’t that day. Say you are an awesome basketball player and instead of growing up in Dallas (the home of the world champion Mavericks) you grew up in Rome. Your high school basketball coach advised you that you could play professionally, but suggested that you move to the U.S. to play college ball. You don’t take his advice and instead play for the Rome Community College. What do you think your chances of playing in the U.S. are? Pretty low. Sure, you might be the one in a million that is recruited by a pro team, but more likely than not you will never get a chance to play with the best. The best startups are in the Valley – go pro, move…