ACL Festival 2013

The 40 bands I saw this year at weekend one, using my standard rating system…

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down !!
Shovels & Rope !!
Smith Westerns !
Electric Six !
fun. !!!
Jake Bugg !!
JD McPherson
Wild Belle !
Kaskade !
Depeche Mode !!
Dan Croll !!
Autre Ne Veut
Deep Valley
Electric Guest !
Junip !
Lissie !
Silversun Pickups !
Portugal The Man !!
Little Green Cars !!
Grimes !!
Passion Pit !!
Kendrick Lamar
The Cure !!!
Foxygen !!
Typhoon !!
Ms Mr !!
Twin Forks !!
Paper Diamond
Grouplove !!
Franz Ferdinand !
Divine Fits !!
Toro y Moi !
The National !
Shinyribs !
Phosphorecent !
Tame Impala !!
Phoenix !!
Lionel Richie !!

SXSW 2013

Here are the 33 bands I saw this year at sxsw…


Rating system:  ” “= You sucked; “!”= You didn’t suck; “!!”= I’m gonna add you to my spotify playlist; “!!!”= I’m gonna buy your tshirt and tell my friends how awesome you are

K.Flay !!!
Thao and The Get Down Stay Down !!!
IO Echo !
Poolside !
Foxygen !!!
Lord Huron !
Charli XCX
Palma Violets !!
Skinny Lister !!
Divine Fits !!
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell !
Iron and Wine !!!
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Gliss !
The Orwells !!
Bleeding Rainbow !
Gold Fields !
Young Galaxy !
Frightened Rabbit !!
Bleached !
The Joy Formidable !
Geto Boys
Wampire !
Taylor McLaughlin
Charlie Sexton & David Garza !
Paper Moon Shivers
Emilia Love !
Vampire Weekend !!!

Spotify SXSW app

Yesterday, Ben and I (well mostly Ben) built a Spotify app that helps you find bands to see at SXSW who are on your playlists. Yesterday, I also learned how outdated my javascript skills are. The app pulls data from (unofficial shows) and (official shows) and cross references that with one or more of your Spotify playlists. The app runs inside of Spotify and at the moment it is ugly, but functional. We may clean it up for next year’s SXSW, but for now it is time to go see some bands!

If you want to give it a try, here is how:

  1. Enable developer access for your Spotify account here.
  2. Create the following folder on your computer:
    ~/Spotify (Mac OS X and Linux)
    “My Documents\Spotify” (Windows)
  3. Pull the code from my github account and place it in the Spotify folder you just created.  You can pull the code either using “git clone” or by downloading the zip file and unzipping it into that folder. You should end up with a folder called “spotify-showlist” inside of your Spotify folder.
  4. Launch Spotify.
  5. Update Spotify if you are not running the latest version.
  6. In the Spotify search box, type the following and press Enter:  spotify:app:showlist
  7. You should now see the app.  You can drag one or more of your playlists to the app, select whether you want to see Official Shows or Unofficial Shows, select a day, then press Filter Shows.
  8. You should now see a list of shows that match your selection.
  9. Spotify doesn’t let you print from inside the app due to a limitation with the Chromium Embeded Framework (I talked w/ the head of Spotify’s developer relations about it at a SXSW party last night), so if you want to print the list of shows you will need to copy & paste it into another app such as MS Word.  Make sure you copy and paste the whole window if you want to retain the font styling for printing.
  10. The Official show listing includes a link to the SXSW site for each band so that you can add shows to your SXSW schedule and sync it to the handy SXSW Go mobile app.


To make a change, start changing

I often tell people that the best time to make a change is now and it will only get harder to change in the future. It bothers me that so many people do things that they don’t love and think that they can’t make a change or think they don’t know how to change. Most people’s intuition seems to be plan, prepare and obsess about change, which often delays the change to a point where other life factors arise and either prevent the change or allows the person to create excuses for why the change is not possible.

If there is anything in life that you want to be or do, the best way to be that person or to do that thing, is to just start being that person or doing that thing. You will probably fail, but you will quickly learn a lot about if you really want to be that person or if you really want to do that thing, and if so you will keep trying.

ACL Festival 2012

” “= You sucked or not my style; “!”= You didn’t suck; “!!”= I’m gonna buy your album; “!!!”= I’m gonna buy your album & tshirt and tell my friends how awesome you are.

Los Campesinos! !
River City Extension !!
Delta Spirit !
LP !!
Tegan and Sara !
Weezer !!!
M. Ward !
The Black Keys !!
Wild Child !!
Wheeler Brothers
Bombay Bicycle Club !
Dry the River
Oberhofer !
Andrew Bird !!!
Punch Brothers !
Kishi Bashi !!
The Roots !
Gotye !
Steve Earle !
Freelance Whales !!
Lera Lynn
The Devil Makes Three !
Tennis !
Two Door Cinema Club !!
The Lumineers !!!
Die Antwoord
The Avett Brothers !!
Jack White !!
…also heard Red Hot Chili Peppers from my house Sunday night, but not clear enough to rate the show.

Geeks on a Plane Eastern Europe

I visited 4 amazing cities and met a ton of startup founders and business leaders during my travels with GOAP and the wild and crazy 500 Startups crew the past 2 weeks.  Below are my notes.  And here are my notes from last year’s trip to South America.

Moscow, Russia

  • lots of smart engineers, but most are afraid of the financial risk to work for a startup. Engineers for startups cost more than for big companies because of this risk and they won’t take equity
  • cut throat competitive, not collaborative
  • very few angel investors
  • felt safe walking around the city, the environment did not feel weird like many americans would think… felt like NYC but with strange letters on signs
  • expensive city
  • Russians smoke like a chimney, like to cut in line, and don’t smile
  • big language barrier; startup founders had enough english to do their pitch but having a conversation afterward was hard
  • a few big Internet companies like Яндекс and are starting to crank out a new gen of entrepreneurs, however the biggest risk is keeping those people from leaving to start their company in the US
  • Russia lacks sufficient logistics/delivery infrastructure to support ecommerce businesses. 2 weeks min to get a product delivered.
  • the best startups are run by founders who have spent time in silicon valley
  • fun flexible company cultures are rare and a competitive advantage for those that have it
  • very cost conscious
  • content is expected to be free. Even leaders at the big Internet companies say movies/music/books should be free or cost pennies, and publishers need to get comfortable w/ alt smaller revenue models in order to get any revenue from this market
  • PCs, Android & feature phones dominate because of cost. Apple products are <1%.
  • big opportunity for Russian entrepreneurs who have worked for or founded tech companies in the US to go back and build companies there “the silicon valley way”

Tallinn, Estonia

  • clearly the most progressive tech startup community we visited in Eastern Europe, but also the smallest
  • people are friendly and smile & everyone either speaks or understands English
  • engineers tend to be more introverted compared to US engineers
  • Skype is their darling tech company and extremely important to the startup community.
  • similar to the US, lots of competition for engineering talent because of the number of startups
  • slow immigration process getting engineers from the EU. Protectionist policies due to being occupied by Russia and before that Germany and others before that
  • engineers are able to get their back after leaving Skype to do a startup and then failing. This low risk causes a lot of people to peruse it.
  • they go global first starting with US market, because there is no local market
  • no B2C, because there is no local market
  • 1M people, but “only 1000s of programmers and ~10k IT people”
  • Estonians are more like US and western Europe than like Russians. They do not focus on Russian market.
  • Estonians hate Russia… at least on a political level
  • lack biz dev, enterprise sales & middle management leader — an opportunity for US biz founder types to move to Estonia
  • tight community, local mentors helping but they are not experts either. Founders are getting a lot of value going to 500 Startups & TechStars and coming back
  • 250 startups, mostly unfunded
  • single digit number of local investors
  • startup founders club and Garage48 hackathons get founders together and has helped build the community
  • opportunity to combine tech communities of Tallinn, Helsinki, Lithuania. Right now they are separate but similar, and many people think they will converge.
  • free wifi everywhere and proud of it

Zagreb, Croatia

  • nice people, safe country, great food & wine, reasonably good English speaking
  • rolled out the red carpet for us
  • met with Croatia’s president after he reach out to Dave McClure on facebook
  • working really hard to build a startup scene from scratch
  • no angels, no coworking spaces, no startup success stories… but starting to manufacture density through events and a coworkimg space coming soon
  • like other emerging startup markets, good engineering talent but extreme lack of product, biz dev and enterprise sales talent. Again, and opportunity for the thousands of US biz founders who can’t find a technical cofounder for their startup idea
  • hardware startups… a surveillance drone company, and Rimac – a Bugatti-caliber Tesla ($1M)
  • local concern that US businesses will be less willing to buy products from Croatian businesses. Not a real concern; its an inferiority complex… this is similar to a college kid trying to build a business out of their dorm room — most US buyers won’t even know you’re not an established US business. A more real risk is that Croatian businesses’ won’t be able to effectively market their product to US buyers because they don’t know the market.
  • not many Croatians have been to the US, but are trying to start businesses that sell into the US. They need to start sending entrepreneurs to the US. They just started a hacker house in silicon valley to rotate Croatians and other entrepreneurs in the region through.
  • generally the questions asked by Croatian entrepreneurs related to fund raising and company building were very basic

Berlin, Germany

  • can’t comment.  I skipped this part of the trip and went to Munich for Oktoberfest instead.


Brain dump of startup ideas #5

– Etsy for indie tech gadgets

– travel site for group bookings. Booking for group trips sucks.

– Metrics driven CRM for Startups (mixpanel + pipeline deals + + drip campains)

– gimmicky virtual currency kids toy. Its a key fob that comes with 1000 “coins”. You can give coins to others via RFID plus a pin number. Website for digital transfers and purchasing more “coins”.

– Aftermarket Dvorak keyed apple laptops