Nik Borghi

Lens App Prototype Design

Every time I read news, I quickly skip through headlines without really reading the entire article.
This is a little mockup for a iPhone app, called Lens.
You select your favorite newspaper and we show the most relevant headlines (since you don’t read the entire article anyway) in a highly visual way (so your brain have a visual reference making it easier to remember).

Three Unexpected Books For Entrepreneurs

When I check my credit card balance every month, my first exclamation is “damn it…Amazon!”.

I actually do love Amazon but I just have that love-hate relationship with books some many girls probably have with their shoes. You spend so much but you just can’t live without them. Books just pull me, they want me to buy them, and the 1-click Amazon button is simply irresistible.

All this to say that books (99% it’s non-fiction) are a huge source of knowledge and the reason I have been living without TV for the last 5 years.

Now I have read tons of books about startups, entrepreneurship, starting a business etc. The only problem is that when I do some research about the best books to read, people keep on mentioning the same few titles over and over again (I will probably write a post “Three Books Every Web Entrepreneur is Expect to read”).

Here I want to tell you my three of my favorite books. People never mention them but they will really inspire you.

Anything you want by Derek Sivers

What: Derek Sivers is the eccentric founder of CDBaby, a company he “accidentaly” created in 19… and later sold for $20 million. The book is not about raising VC money, doing PR, get covered by tech blogs (well, they didn’t even existed at the time). The book chronicles how he started the company, including all the usual first-time entrepreneur’s mistakes, up to the point where he cashed in…oh no wait, here’s another Sivers-style move: he donated all the money to a music foundation.

If you are into the startup world, read TechCrunch/The Verge/ The Next Web everyday, this book will a like fresh air. Sivers has totally different approach from the usual startup game. If  you don’t trust me, trust Forbes magazine:

“One of the best hours you’ll ever spend will be reading Derek Sivers’ new book, ‘Anything You Want’.”

Setting the table by Danny Meyer

What: what does a restaurateur has to do with web companies? Well, startups has a huge chance of failing and only the best ones succeeding. What’s the secret formula? Now, in a city like NYC 80% of restaurants fail, Meyer has opened 25 and closed only one. He really seems to have a recipes for success. The chapter I liked the most is chapter 10 “The Road to Success is paved with mistakes well handled” which is all about customer-service and how his group manages clients’ feedback. Meyer shares with the reader the “Five A’s for Effectively Addressing a Mistake”. This is all about the restaurant business, but it’s not hard to imagine they could work in any kind of industry.

  1. Awareness = Many mistakes go unaddressed because no one is even aware they have happened. If you’re not aware, you’re nowhere.
  2. Acknowledgment = “Our server had an accident and we are going to prepare a new plate for you as quickly as possible”
  3. Apology = “I am sorry this happened to you”. Alibis are not the Five A’s. It is not appropriate or useful to make excuses (“We’re short-staffed”.)
  4. Action = “Please, enjoy this for now. We’ll have your fresh order out in a few minutes”. Say what you are going to do to make amends then follow through.
  5. Additional generosity = Unless the mistake had to do with slow timing, I would instruct my stuff to send out something additional (a complimentary dessert or a dessert wine) to thank the guests for having been good sports. Some more serious mistakes warrant a complimentary dish or meal.

The whole chapter is worth reading but I guess this part really encapsulates the essence of it.

When I’ll stop talking you know I am dead by Jerry Weintraub


What: if you know Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley or if you have seen The Karate Kid and Ocean’s Eleven (all three), then you already know part of the work of Jerry Weintraub. He is a Hollywood producer and legendary deal maker.

The stories in the book are so many, it’s difficult to pick a favorite one. However, it’s epic the way he convinced a depressed Frank Sinatra to do “Sinatra – The Main Event”, his live, legendary Madison Square Garden performance. Read the book, you gonna love it!

How Startups Got to their First 1 Million Users

I’ve been doing some research about the different tactics and strategies used by companies like Mint.com, Dropbox, etc. to reach their first 1 million users.
It’s not a complete list but I will keep on adding new stuff.

9 Links from: Startup: Getting to the First 1 Million Users.

Nicolò, via Urlist

Can You Learn How To Start a Company in University?

It was probably midnight and I was googling the name of a middle-age man I’ve never met.

No, I am not a stalker. But I was recently contacted by a few students who wanted to know more about Creonomy. Their “entrepreneurship” course assignment was to imagine “a start up for start ups”, so they were basically asked to come up with ideas of services and products to help other start ups and so we had a chat over Skype.

After answering their questions, at the end of  our call I asked them a few things about the course itself and their teacher. I went on online and look for the teacher’s background (I know, I have a pretty boring and empty life) and my immediately thought those students were probably busy learning notions they will never use.

 

Learning by doing vs. learning by studying

“The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein

The current start up frenzy seems to be everywhere and universities are not immune “Hey, let’s make a course on how to start a company”. The problem is most university professors are just well…professors without a previous start up experience. And for all the books you can read there’s nothing like practice and experience to learn something. Sure, I am an avid reader and I spend way too much on books but getting my hands dirty is always the best way to learn.

Another way to look at experience is like a big collection of mistakes. Think about it: you have experience when you have tried yourself what works and what doesn’t.

“Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” – Randy Pausch

And this is exactly what you can’t learn when you “study” how to make a start up. When you read books, you don’t make mistakes. Ok, probably you can read about mistakes other people made before you but you are experiencing them first-hand and so you are not fully absorbing them.

 

My experience

 

And if experience is “the sum of all your mistakes” then I can safely say I have a lot of experience :)

I’ve previously used this blog to post quick interesting stuff I was finding on the web but I now chang…ehm, sorry, pivoting to a different style. Longer posts with real lessons. I am not going to tell what you should do. I am just going to write what worked or did not work for me now that I am working at Creonomy, and making Board, our first product,  during my previous experience co-founding and running The Hub in Milan, other little experiments and so on.

I will try and be the more specific I can. Again, you are not going to learn what to do just by reading my blog but hopefully you will find something useful. Some of my models include Joel and Leo from Buffer, James Altucher and Derek Sivers.

 

Follow me

 

Here is my Twitter profile, and I am going to add a email subscription form so you can get my posts directly in your inbox. As always feel free to use the comments to let me know your opinion.

 

Hi, I am Nik

I'm the co-founder of Creonomy.
Our first product is Board, a better way for design agencies and creative professionals to save, organize and share their images.

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