Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

Entertaining Entrepreneurship

VV Show #5 – Joe Kraus of JotSpot (part 2 of 2)

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We covered the past with Joe in our previous show, but it’s clear he spends a lot of time thinking about the future. Many people muse about how they would do things differently if they had only the chance to do it all over again. Joe is doing it all over again by building his new business, JotSpot, from scratch. He shares his development strategy and vision for the company.

Odeo is a young startup with fuel. Ev announces in this show that Odeo has just received its first round of venture funding.

Update (4/21/08): Ev returned Odeo’s funds to the investors and sold the company. He co-founded Twitter, which just raised its own funding and is on a fast growth curve.

Show notes:

0:45 JotSpot elevator pitch

  • ‘Do it yourself application publishing.’
  • ‘There’s nothing that allows an average person to create a Web-based application.’

2:45 Getting non-geeks to use JotSpot

5:45 Listening to customers

  • ‘Focus groups are not useful at all for telling you new concepts to be created. Focus groups never asked for the Sony Walkman. Sony created the Walkman. But figuring out how to make this new device easier to use, focus groups are really good at.’

6:50 Team dynamics

  • ‘I tend to like people who have a mass amount of raw, intellectual horsepower.’

8:45 Excite lessons

  • ‘The company had to scale up too fast for its own good. We had to grow so fast. I don’t think we need to do it that way this time.’
  • ‘I have a no false positive rule, this time, which is that I’d much rather pass on people that could fit in JotSpot to make sure that we never get somebody who doesn’t fit inside JotSpot.’

9:20 Funding

  • Raised money from Redpoint Ventures and Mayfield.
  • ‘It took $3,000,000 to get Excite to market, it took $100,000 to get JotSpot to market ‘ a 30x difference.’

10:45 New competition

11:15 Prices for JotSpot

12:55 Developer community

  • Hub of developer community at
  • ‘Our developer community isn’t well developed, if you will, enough, to really be contributing to the core product in a major way, yet.’

14:00 To do list

15:00 Non-profit work

  • Just joined the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  • ‘I’ve been allowed to succeed by an environment which has enabled me to innovate without permission. And I think that preserving that environment is critical. And I think it’s under threat by changes to copyright law.’

17:45 Interesting opportunities on the Web

  • On podcasting: ‘Media that allow for what amounts to infinite variety will usually trump media, will always trump media that allows for only finite variety. That’s the reason that cable and satellite continue to trump and erode traditional broadcast. But I believe media that allow for infinite variety but don’t requite permission to publish will always trump media that allow infinite variety but require permission or media that does not allow hardly any variety.’
  • ‘Satellite radio trumps regular radio due to the first law, which is that infinite variety trumps little variety, but I think that podcasting trumps satellite radio because it allows infinite variety without permission. And that I think is amazing powerful.’
    Excited about OdeoCurry and Apple iTunes.
  • ‘In terms of content ownership, I don’t see the traditional players dominating this market [podcasting] in any substantial way.’

21:30 A blogger but not a podcaster, yet

23:15 Copyright and podcasting

24:10 Advice to entrepreneurs

  • ‘I think now’s a great time to be starting something. You can feel it.’
  • ‘If you got the bug, if you can make it work, do it.’
  • ‘It’s cheap to start things these days.’
  • Services like Rent A Coder and Elance make it inexpensive to outsource development.

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