Day One: Stealth Mode Sucks

This is a response to Stef’s post “Will I really steal your idea?” He does a good job explaining the value of the open culture I want to create.

A few years ago, I met a guy named Josh. He was a goodnatured fellow and interested in startups so we sat down for lunch to talk shop and eat red-skin potato salad.

Through the conversation, I eventually asked “so are you working on a project right now?”

He looked back, and without missing a beat responded: “yes, but I can’t talk about it. We’re in stealth mode.”

I was a little surprised, I guess. Sure, you hear about people in “stealth mode” in New York or San Fran with millions of dollars and fancy pens. But this was my first real, in-the-flesh stealth-moder. Curious, I wanted to know more.

“Well, that’s fine. What *can* you tell me?”

“uhhh…I mean…we’re like a way for people to connect with each other through their phone. It’s going to be super impressive.” Continue reading “Day One: Stealth Mode Sucks”

Day One: Reimbursement App

The Problem

A volunteer at a church goes to Walmart to buy some water and snacks for an event. The church now owes them $35. In order to get reimbursed, they go to to the office, fill out a form, wait a week, get an email and go back to the office for their check.

The process takes each volunteer an extra 45 minutes per request (driving, filling out forms, going to the bank) and requires a check to be printed, that check placed in an envelope, and the receipt filed. At the end of the month, mistakes have to be reconciled by flipping through a stack of receipts.

The Solution

Imagine a simple web application that allows volunteers and staff to submit reimbursement and expense requests from their phone. Take a picture of the receipt, enter in a few details, and you’re done.

For staff with an organization credit card, they’re done. For volunteers, the reimbursement will come in a day or two.

In the back office, a ministry leader got an email about the expense. He or she approves the expense by clicking a single button, and sends payment with a second button. “Approved…paid….done!”

Then at the end of the month, they’re able to download expenses to reconcile.

A Carefully Crafted Mockup

Cloud2go Oct 11, 2013, 4-37 PM


The Screen to Process Submissions.

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 6.52.07 PM

Down the Road

  • Integrate with Quickbooks.
  • Reports showing who is spending what.
  • Could potentially create budgets directly in the app, and have monitoring for the team.


The reimbursement app makes it easier for the church to process and account for the money it’s spending. Also, the app saves a volunteer 45-60 minutes of useless effort, and the back-office expense person saves hours processing paperwork.


  • Likely a very low turnover rate. Customers will stay for a long time.
  • Strong niche advantage. There are comparatively few software companies looking at the church market.
  • Once the customer is set up, they will need little maintenance/support.
  • Builds a reputation of working with churches on money issues, without dealing with sensitive security issues or PCI compliance.


  • Involves a church-wide process adjustment. The onboarding process would be painful.
  • Even minor variations in church practice could result in custom development per client.
  • Churches are occasionally hesitant to spend any amount of money.
  • No natural viral growth advantage.
  • Few other competitors have entered this space. Why not?


This exercise is pointless without your feedback. In the comments, let us know what you think.


Today is Launch Day


This blog started as a response to Steve Blank’s work on Lean Startup processes. He says that a startup is a “temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scaleable business model.”

I’ve worked with several incredible startups and tons of really smart people. And the kicker? I have a degree in entrepreneurship. Friends, I’m a licensed professional. But as I’m learning more about the systematic approach to a startup, I find that the “shot in the dark” method sucks.

Lessons I Haven’t Really Learned

So I exited (actually more like “left”) Garnet Report in January of 2013, armed with all the things the startup experience taught me…I put those lessons together into a talk called: “My Startup is Burning, a Story of Glorious Failure” that was very well received…by a group of high school students. Continue reading “Today is Launch Day”

Farewell to 8BIT

Two years ago, I spent a year working with 8BIT that reshaped most of what I think about work. Something about the “work hard, play hard” mentality just made sense. At the end of my internship, John wrote a post called “Farewell to Batman” that hurt like hell to read. I was leaving good friends who spoke into my life like brothers. Still do.

This morning, 8BIT announced that they are closing their digital doors. So, John, Dewde, Tom, Jared…This is my farewell to 8BIT.

You guys as a team taught me a ton. Without your influence, I’d almost certainly have to wear shoes instead of flip flops to work today. And my job would be buried within some horrible corporate structure with the idea to climb that ladder until I got to the top, got bored, or died. Here are 10 things I learned from 8BIT: Continue reading “Farewell to 8BIT”

Why I’m leaving Instagram


That’s how many photos I’ve posted to Instagram since October 16th, 2011.

Back in 2011, Instagram was a bit of a free-for-all of social networking. Doubters said that it was senseless to post pictures of food and believers insisted that the network had value. The first 4 pictures I posted didn’t get a single “like.” Bah. Value indeed.

But after a few pictures, I “got it.” Instagram is about picking out the best moments of your life, and showing them to the world. Then friends double tap their screen to affirm that you are…in fact…really dang fun.

Continue reading “Why I’m leaving Instagram”