A Roller Coaster of Emotions

I first must apologize for the cheesy “pun intended” title to this post. 

If it were easy to build a multi-billion dollar company overnight, everyone would do it!  After the success of my first business I knew I wanted to enter into the mobile space. I had the dream of creating a product/app that could help make the world a better place!

Little did I know when I started this journey the magnitude of the challenges that I would face. Perhaps the biggest of them all was managing expectations. Let me explain.. Many of us have Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts; however, most likely none of us were on these networks in the very early days. To properly grow a successful company you have to be flexible and adapt your product based on the feedback you receive and learn from users.  This principle is called the Lean Startup Model, and it has been used by all of the successful networks you enjoy today. In fact, most of the successful social networks  have “shifted” dramatically from their early concepts.

SocialCoaster has a small but extremely dedicated & amazing team of developers.  Like myself, these guys are extremely passionate about our product. Unfortunately, with a small team it can sometimes take quite a bit of time to make necessary changes to the app.  For the user, this “downtime” can be discouraging and lead to the belief nothing is happening.

It has been roughly 4-5 months since we initially launched SocialCoaster.  We looked at our first launch as our MVP (minimum-viable product). We knew that the product we launched on day 1 was not going to be the product that the world fell in love with; however, we had to start somewhere.  

One thing I have learned throughout this journey is that entrepreneurs feel ONLY two emotions, EXTREME HIGHS, and EXTREME LOWS… That is it.  

Over the last few months, I have personally experienced both feelings ( a lot ).  My daily responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Managing an awesome team.
  • Generating a clear vision for SocialCoaster and relaying that vision to the team.
  • Keeping an eye on product development and make sure it is progressing.
  • Form partnerships with influencers and organizations.
  • Raise funding. 
  • Manage expectations with our loyal followers.
  • Market the app.
  • Study the latest trends & techniques. (Lots of reading)
  • Public speaking.
  • Keep the office clean.

As you can see, running a company is not easy and requires my team and me to wear multiple hats. In order to do this, I have to look at where we are at as a company and prioritize what is most important. Recently, that priority has been focused on raising the capital needed to successful scale SocialCoaster once we exit beta.

Throughout the highs and lows of the last few months one thing has never changed, we have the most amazing followers!  Over the past few months I have picked up the phone and called users. We have brought several members into the office to see what they liked/disliked about our app. We have hosted focus groups and read over 100 encouraging letters with feedback for SocialCoaster.

This feedback is what we have relied on in order to make SocialCoaster better.  While to the average user is may seem like things in the SocialCoaster world are “slow”, I can assure you otherwise.

In the upcoming weeks we will release SocialCoaster v2.0!  This version will be released for iPhone and Android users. I am purposely holding off from disclosing the changes in this update but I will soon release that information.

What I can tell you is that SocialCoaster v2.0 is BY FAR the biggest update that SocialCoaster has ever released.  Based on the feedback we received we were able to shift directions and truly allow our users to define who we are.  If I could accurately compare/score our current app to the upcoming version it would look something like this:

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                                                     SocialCoaster v1.0                       SocialCoaster v.2.0

User Interface:                                            6.5/10                       9/10                     

Ease of Use:                                                      5/10                       9.5/10

Reliability:                                                        7/10                       9/10

Ability to Grow:                                              4/10                       8/10

User Collaboration:                                      6/10                      9/10

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As you can see, we feel that the product we have been working on the last few months is superior to the original version.  We were able to achieve this solely because of your honesty and feedback.

I am the type of person who wants to solve every problem in one night; however, I have realized that this is not always possible. My team is amazing, they take so much pride in what they do, and when you see the next update you will realize that behind the scenes there is a LOT going on in our office. They work long hours each and everyday… Not for the pay…  But because they are passionate!

Despite many hardships, struggles, and challenges we have had to overcome, I am feeling really blessed.  For every negative, there has been two positives and right now things seem to be on a good track.  I appreciate the continued support from each of you and I cannot wait until I am able to release SocialCoaster v2.0 in a few weeks… It is WAY different, and you are going to love it!

 

 

10 Tips For Success

10 Quick thoughts on what it takes to be successful:

I am constantly adding to this list.

1. To be successful you have to be able & willing to stand on your feet and take blow after blow without falling. During good times you must inhale deeply and use the fresh air to push forward.

2. To be successful you must surround yourself with successful people. Always be open to learn. You can never know enough.

3. To be successful you must know that it is better to have someone owe you a favor than money. Do nice things & help others just because.

4. To be successful you must be able to form relationships with anyone at any time. You can do this by genuinely caring about them and making the conversation about THEM!

5. To be successful you must want to grow internally. Live everyday trying to improve yourself, and always treat others with respect.

6. To be successful you must understand the importance of a strong team. Get those around you to understand your vision and take time to plug them into your culture.

7. To be successful you must be willing to LET GO and trust others. It is easy to want to micro-manage but you can’t do it all!

8. To be successful you must daydream. If you are not a dreamer, your a status-quo’er. No bueno. DREAM BIG!

9. To be successful you must see change coming and be WILLING to adapt to changing environments.

10. To be successful you must be willing take risks and then must lie to yourself each and everyday saying there is NO WAY I CAN FAIL!

Feel free to add to this list.

My Ever Evolving Definition of Success

Since the day I started running my own businesses I have learned a lot of lessons.  I have learned it is important to always remain humble and treat others with respect… There is no “I” in success. This year has provided me with many lessons that I hope to hold on to until that day I die… The definition of success should continuously evolve as you become a better person.  I have made plenty of mistakes but I always try to learn from those mistakes. But, I know many of you read this blog… So I thought I would share what I now consider to be important keys to success, enjoy!

Important Keys to Success:

Work hard, save, and only buy what you can afford.. Avoid debt at all cost! Don’t be afraid to sacrifice missing out on a fun opportunity NOW because your hard work can lead to a whole lot of fun opportunities in the future. Work hard at everything you do, become an expert in something, and treat others better than you’d treat yourself. You can go nowhere in life by yourself so meet as many people as you can, listen to their wisdom, treat them right, remember networking is key!

Most important, love your friends, love your family, and trust in God! Don’t make a decision unless you have received a peace about it. If your uneasy, say no. Being a happy person correlates with how other perceive you as a leader. Stay focused, believe, and don’t even look at failure as an option. Others will say not possible, let that be the fuel that drives you to prove them wrong.

Daydream always, figure out the steps to get there. Don’t think success happens over night.. To get to where you are going you have to take it one step at a time.. But as you do. Don’t look back. Real life doesn’t have green participation ribbons, you have to work hard and sacrifice to achieve goals!

Without risk, there is no reward. So take risks but only well informed and calculated ones.

Love what you do and never work with people solely looking for a paycheck.. Look for those who love what you do just as much as you do.

I have been blessed in my life but I also know that someday it could all go away. I was formed into who I am from those who raised me: parents, teachers, friends, bosses, and church members. Thank you all!

Life Update

A lot is going on in my life and it is often hard to find the time to write a life update.  So lets jump right in: 

SocialCoaster:

As you know a lot has been going on with SocialCoaster and we have received a lot of buzz about our upcoming release! After working on SocialCoaster for longer than a year, I am pleased to announce that we have scheduled a release date of December 30th on the Apple App store.  We have partnered with several large venues, organizations, and bands to make sure we have a very big launch!  Once released, I would love if you all could download the app, add events, and most importantly invite all of your friends… The success of any business depends on the loyal followers of that business. We have some pretty amazing followers!

Other Businesses: 

You may have read a long time ago that am also co-owner of 110mb.com.  When purchasing that business with my business-partner Craig, I had intentions to help run the business side of things while his role was to manage things technically.  About a year ago I really started to phase myself out of 110mb and gave day-to-date operations to Craig.  Craig is very very good on the technical side of things and there was very little that I could do to help him.  

Although, I am not actively involved in this company anymore I still follow things with it when I can… I want to make sure customers are happy and although sometimes there is nothing I can do from the business end of things… I still want to keep everyone happy when I can… It has been challenging at times and this business actually has taught me a lot of lessons along the way about what to do and what not to do…  I am still learning everyday and still working on a plan of action with 110mb…  Since I am focused on running SocialCoaster, I have even been considering selling my portion of the company at a major discounted rate to someone with a strong technical team that could help this company succeed.  Really open to all options now, just trying to make sure I do the right thing for all of the 110mb.com users.

Family: 

My family is doing great!  My little sister just turned 13… Wow, she is growing up fast… Also, my brother and sister-in-law are in the process of adopting… Did you know that if you shop on Amazon you could help them raise money towards their adoption?  Go to BurdonAdoption.com for information on how you could help them.

Other: 

I am not perfect and I am continuously working to improve myself on many fronts… Thank you all of your continued support and encouragement throughout the years!  You all are amazing and I thank God each and every day that you have been put into my life! 

- Jonathan

SocialCoaster – Coming Soon to a Phone Near You!

SocialCoaster

In June of 2012 I began to envision an idea for a new business startup. I have had a few successful ones in the past but I was looking for a idea that had the potential to skyrocket with exponential growth.   I love business management & marketing and have at least an intermediate understanding of technology so I decided that I wanted to embark into the area of Mobile technologies.

For those of you who do not know me well and think that I am a person who “programs” and actually develops computer software; unfortunately, that is simply not true…  I absolutely do not like the computer side of the work (ironically), that is why I hire great companies and employees to do that side of things.  I consider myself a visionary.. I get a vision of something that could be great and instead of keeping it as a “vision” I work to find a way to make it “reality” or at least I try to.   I love challenges, I love business, and honestly, I have grown to love a Social Network which I have been working on that is not even available to the general public yet.

In this blog post I will explain the concept of SocialCoaster, will go into details on its features, and finally will let you know the time-table of when you can expect it to be released.

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Be One of the First to Use SocialCoaster:

First and foremost, although SocialCoaster will start-off as a completely mobile network we have set up a site that allows users to register their e-mail address.   We will e-mail these users the minute that SocialCoaster is available to the general public so we encourage you to go to:  SocialCoaster.com and add your e-mail so you can literally be one of the first to use the app.

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Brief Synopsis of SocialCoaster:

With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and many other Social Networks… I wanted to develop something different, something that would benefit users, give them unique functionality that they never had with other networks.  I wanted to create a business that would not directly compete with other Social Networks but instead a business that could interact with the other networks to make us all stronger.   SocialCoaster will do just that.

SocialCoaster is a completely Mobile Social Network that identifies user behaviors & their location to predict EVENTS & LOCATIONS that they would like to go.   In one quick instant, users will be able to log into their app and get a quick snapshot of what is going on around them & will receive clear suggestions to what that user might enjoy doing at any given moment.

The real fun comes in with the fact that this is a complete, stand alone Social Network so interactions with other users makes this app even more fun!   Let’s take a look at just a few of the features SocialCoaster will offer.

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Just a Few Features SocialCoaster Will Offer: 

Homepage - The main page of the app is very simple looking on the front-end but behind the scenes is a very complex algorithm working to provide users with accurate results & suggestions.   The homepage will feature 8 random photos (thumbnails) that will show the user a snapshot of what is going on around their current location.   Users can click on one of the thumbnails to enlarge the photo and the app will tell them exactly where and what event the photo was taken.  These 8 photos on the homescreen are in real-time and will update frequently as members upload new photos.

Also, on the home page is “Recommendations” for each specific user.   Using computer based mathematical equations that I wrote (algorithms) the app is able to detect behaviors from each specific user and determine what type of events/places they like to attend.  Some people may enjoy sporting events, others may enjoy concerts, while others may enjoy political.  The app combines user behaviors with the number of people checked into an event at a given time, the location of the user, location of the event, and other factors to make smart recommendations to the user about where they might enjoy going at that specific time.

SocialCoasterChecking Into Events & Places -  Like any social network, SocialCoaster will depend on its users to add data, events, and places to our database over time.  The more users participating, the more exciting the app will become.  Users will be able to create events & places (both public & private) and also will be able to check into any Public event or place.  Each event/place has its own unique page on the app displaying information about the event, photo galleries, and even a live event feed from each specific event (sort of like newsfeed but specific to each event).

Users will be able to click on a button to automatically check into an event and when they do their camera will automatically load until they check out of that event.  At which point photos taken by that user will automatically be added to that event and/or places photo gallery and feed… User’s also have the option to connect the app with their facebook/twitter accounts so photos can automatically be posted on their Facebook walls *LIVE* as they are taking them.   Users will be able to collaboratively work together to generate a huge photo gallery from each event and/or place..  Users will be able to look at each event’s gallery and see their favorited photos, photos that the individual user took, photo the user’s friends took, and even photos that others they do not know took from the same event, ultimately giving many different prospectives. 

Profile Pages - Each user on SocialCoaster will have their own profile and users will be able to add friends on the app as well, allowing them to look at their friend’s profiles.  From the profile screen you will be able to send messages to other users, add/remove/block friends, see user photos, friends, tagged photos, check-ins, and each user’s Scrapbook (details below).

Scrapbook - One of the cool features of SocialCoaster is that every user will have their own Scrapbook on their profile page.  In simple terms, the app keeps track of every event that the user has ever checked in to in chronological order.  Users can scan through the scrapbook, find an event/place that they checked in to, and then click on it to load all the photos and details taken at that event.  Want to remember the name of a person you met at the event?  Simply click on that event in the scrapbook and search the profiles of all the users who checked into the same event.

Collaborating Photos -  As mentioned before one of the cool parts of the app is being able to collaborate photos with others from a specific place or event.   Let’s say a couple is getting married… They can simply ask all of their guests to check-in via SocialCoaster to their private wedding page, and EVERY photo taken by those checked in will go into an album that the bride can look at instantly on the way to their honeymoon.

Or lets say there is a Presidential Inauguration with hundreds of thousands of people attending…  You can log into the app and view photos *LIVE* as they come in from all kinds of different viewpoints…

We will soon have an API that gives events/locations the ability to project live (either on a screen or computer) –  photos that are coming in from users at that event or location.

Many Many More Features - What I listed above are just the VERY basic features that make up SocialCoaster.  There are so many more features that I did not have time to outline.   I assure you though, SocialCoaster was professionally developed by CodigodelSur and the functionality is fun and easy to use giving users a different and fun way to connect with others around the world.

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When Will SocialCoaster be Launched? 

I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel and the launch date is near… The app will not be perfect but we will be able to use feedback from users to prefect it over time.   SocialCoaster will be launched in phases.   First phase will the iPhone app.  We are hoping for it to go public around October.   The next stage of the app will be the iPad & Android apps.  These should go out a couple of months following the iPhone app.  Obviously, these time tables can change… But these are our goals.

To be notified first, please register your e-mail at:  SocialCoaster.com .

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We will depend on user’s to participate with the APP once launched, the more events, places, & photos being uploaded the more fun SocialCoaster will become.  It may take us a couple years to get the APP running on the scale of other large Social Networks, but these things take time…  And the fun part of it all is that you will be able to watch the journey from DAY 1.

With SocialCoaster…. You will always know where to go!     And you will always be able to share those moments with others around the world in real time!

 I want to thank all of you for your encouragement and I look forward to building SocialCoaster into a Social Network with millions of users representing different areas of the world!

It’s that time again.. another .. LIFE UPDATE (applaud here)

I may have been a bit facetious with the title of this post but it’s been a while since I last updated this blog with a life update so I figured it was time…

1) This blog’s popularity went up a little bit ;)

Normally only a handful of people visit my blog on a daily basis, who for one reason or another like to keep up with me or one of my business ventures.  I’m no Mark Zuckerburg (YET..), I’m no Dave Ramsay, or Justin Bieber (thank goodness). But I enjoy seeing that a few people each day like to come read about my life.   I can see the number of visits my site receives on a daily basis so I was shocked when I started having hundreds of visitors each day to my blog.  After some investigating it appears several individuals, including one successful business man, enjoy reading my previous article on the state of the economy and shared it with their Facebook followers.   With that, I’d like to welcome all my new followers and readers… I’ll be sure to get you some good new content soon.

2) SocialCoaster is GETTING VERRRY exciting! 

This is something you are going to be hearing a ton about from me over the next month.  With the help of an AMAZING development team (Codigodelsur) I have been working on creating what I believe will be the next major social network out there.. It operates completely different than sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. and does not directly compete with them.. In fact, they all work well with each other… What it does do is give people a capability to do something that really no other service has yet offered… And I am pretty pumped to share it with the world!  When I do, I need your help to share it!  The iPhone app is LESS than two months from completion and the android/ipad apps will not be too far behind.  This will be a completely mobile based social sharing network.

A bit of a lighter note regarding SocialCoaster.  One of my good friends Brooke, who along with her husband were one of the first to know about my idea and have actually given me several ideas for it, babysits a 5-year old.  Brooke & Brice have been two of my biggest ground troops when it comes to spreading hype about the new app…  One afternoon last week Brooke was sketching out some possible logo concepts for the little button that represents the app on the iPhone when the little boy she babysits asks her what she was doing.. Being the good babysitter that she is Brooke explained her friend Jonathan was building an app and asked the boy if he would like to try to help… Of couse he jumped right on the idea…

After completing this drawing (which I would say was a pretty dang good job for a 5-year-old), the boy looked at Brooke and said, “Dang, building an app is hard work.”  I got a kick out of that.

3) Did I mention I bought a house?

Yep! It is a done deal… Closed on November 8th, and with the help of my amazing family I am now all moved in and back in the great city of Nashville.   The house is twice the size of my previous apartment so I am just thankful for my creative mom who always helps me find the perfect furnishings to make the house look AMAZING!   I love visitors/guest/whatever… So, if I know you… Shoot me a message and come visit… Heck, even if I don’t know you.. Shoot me a message, let me do a background check, and come on, I’d love to meet you!

Since this blog post is starting to turn more into a picture book than a life update, I figure I might as well show you a picture of the outside of the new house..  Love it.

4)  My future plans! 

I think it’s appropriate to end ever “life update” blog post with details of what I plan to do in the future.   Well, other than the normal (work), I am excited because waterfowl season is about to come in so my Dad and I are about to get our hunt on.  Also, Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner and they happen to be my two favorite holidays so I am obviously excited about that.   I definitely plan to travel soon!  A trip to Washington D.C. very soon (maybe early January), and then back to Salt Lake City for a business/snowboarding trip in February.

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed this LIFE UPDATE!  God Bless.