Launching Startup Weekend And While Fighting Crowd-Sourced Design

What I admire about Andrew Hyde is that he doesn’t just complain that crowd-sourced design takes advantage of people who create without getting paid, he launched a business to create an alternative., the marketplace he started, lets clients can find and hire freelancers.

It’s one of many startups that he launched, including VC Wear, the company that let venture capitalists buy tshirts which read, “Don’t Pitch Me, Bro” and Startup Weekend, which teaches entrepreneurship by helping participants build a new company in a single weekend. You’ll hear about his businesses and why he disagrees with me about crowd-sourced design, in this interview.

Andrew Hyde

Andrew Hyde

Andrew Hyde founded founded five companies, including a Freelancer MarketplaceStartup Weekend and VCwear. Previously, he was the community director at TechStars, the startup seed and mentorship program.



Full Interview Transcript

Andrew Warner: Mixergy is sponsored by Scott Walker of Walker Corporate Law. Scott is a lawyer you turn to when you’re raising money or when you’re selling your company, those big transactions. He’s the guy and that’s a law firm you turn to. If you’re just getting started, Walker Corporate Law will also help you get started just right, that way, when it’s time for you to sell or raise money, everything will be in order. Check out Walker Corporate Law.

Mixergy is also sponsored by PicClick. PicClick is a visual way to search eBay, Etsy, and other websites. My buddy Ryan, who founded it, is looking for feedback on the site. Of course, if you have a friend who’s doing any shopping online, recommend PicClick as a visual way to search those websites, Etsy, eBay, and the rest.

Finally, Mixergy is sponsored by Andrew Hyde, as you’ll see in this interview. He’s about to get a big, fat bill for this sponsorship.

Here’s the program.

Hey everyone. I’m Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of, home of the ambitious upstart. I can see he’s already smiling because he recognizes the intro. I’ve got with me today Andrew Hyde, the recently former community director at TechStars. I was prepared to introduce you, Andrew, as the community manager, the community director at TechStars, but you told me that you’ve left there and we’ll find a little bit more about it.

TechStars, of course, is this startup and seed mentorship program. He also launched a few startups of his own, including Startup Weekend, where current and aspiring entrepreneurs get together and in one weekend, launch a startup. He’s also the founder of Venture Capital Wear, which makes t-shirts that say things like “I went down on Sand Hill Road,” “Your mom is not a valid test market,” and of course the classic “Don’t pitch me, bro.” You’ve got such a long list, I’m going to go with one more. He founded, a website that helps you find developers, designers, and other freelancers. Andrew Hyde, welcome to Mixergy.

Andrew Hyde: Thanks for having me.

Andrew W.: Did I leave anything else out there? Anything off the list that we need to include?

Andrew H.: I do a lot of stuff in Boulder. I planned Ignite Boulder and TEDxBoulder.

Andrew W.: Okay. All right. Cool. If during this interview, you launch a startup, will you please tell me about it, too? I want to add it to the list.

Andrew H.: I will. I will.

Andrew W.: Okay.

Andrew H.: That’s a funny thing. That’s how VC Wear was launched, actually.

Andrew W.: Oh, really? What do you mean? How was it?

Andrew H.: We were at a bar and this VC was getting horribly pitched and he finally just said, “I need a shirt that says Don’t Pitch Me Bro.” We went with it and had a very fun discussion night. On the plane ride home from that, we built it on the plane and launched it as a total joke. We made it so people could pay for some reason and then people started buying them, so we had to make the shirts.

Andrew W.: I see. This was just a picture of a shirt and it looked like it was a store. At what point did you add the store feature to it?

Andrew H.: When we landed, it was a built-in integration that I was playing around with that weekend. We launched in and it was a joke to us. It was $100 per shirt so it was VC pricing. It was pretty fun.

Andrew W.: How many shirts did you sell at 100 bucks a pop?

Andrew H.: Man. I think we had 18 the first week.

Andrew W.: Wow.

Andrew H.: That freaked us out because this was a joke. Then we lowered the price to make it a little more accessible and printed up a bunch and shipped a bunch around the world.

Andrew W.: How well has it done?

Andrew H.: We shut it down just because the fad kind of ended. It was an interesting project. I think we ended up sending out 400 shirts.

Andrew W.: Got you. How long did you run it?

Andrew H.: I think we had it up for about a year.

Andrew W.: Oh, cool. All right. It got your name out there, too. That’s one of the first ways that I got to know you.

Andrew H.: Yeah. It’s funny. Every VC in the world has seen that site multiple times. Brad Feld says he’s forwarded that site over 200 times. It’s kind of an inside joke to a lot of people.

Andrew W.: I think Dave McClure who recently raised around himself linked people to that t-shirt, Don’t Pitch Me Bro. I guess as soon as he raised money, people started pitching him even more heavily than before.

Andrew H.: I can’t imagine being Dave right now.

Andrew W.: Why’d you leave TechStars?

Andrew H.: I got the travel bug. I’ve been at TechStars for almost four years. One year just unofficially hanging around and three years as an employee. It’s fantastic. I’m 26, single with no mortgage. If I’m going to travel, I’m going to travel now. I decided to take up the opportunity.

Andrew W.: Where you planning on going?

Andrew H.: I want to spend a lot of time in the Himalayas and then go overland from Egypt to South Africa and spend a lot of time in South America. Can I come and see you?

Andrew W.: Oh, wow. I’d love to see you here. It’d be great. Actually, by then I might be gone. Who knows? It’s hard to say where I’ll be. That’s one of the hard things about traveling. You just don’t know who you’re going to run into and just when you make a good long-term relationship with the city or with a friend, something happens and either they leave or you leave.

Andrew H.: Exactly. I’m trying to keep it as open as possible. Right now, I only have one destination which is Napal and we’ll play it from ear from there.

Andrew W.: Wow. You’re going to get flights along the way or you’re going to get travel arrangements along the way? Cool.

Andrew H.: Yep. One-ways along the way based on the great people I meet.

Andrew W.: One thing that I wish that I’d done, we’ll get into business in a second, but one thing that I wish that I’d done when I was traveling was gotten one of those round-the-world flights where as long as you just keep moving in the same direction, you could take as many flights as you need. Man, that would have opened up whole new cities and countries and possibilites for me.

Andrew H.: Yeah.

Andrew W.: All right. Let’s start off in an uplifting way. Do you have one story, one inspiring story of an entrepreneur or startup from TechStars?

Andrew H.: There’s a ton. They’ve done like 70 investments now, including Seattle. You have 70 great founding teams that all have unique stories and are all really nice people. One of my favorites is Vanilla, which is open-source web forums. Mark and Todd are just an amazing founding team, super nice people, doing what they love, helping out a lot of people.

Andrew W.: How’d they come into TechStars?

Andrew H.: They came in as an open-source project that had made a big splash with their version one. They treated it more as a hobby, more as a very early, we just want this product in the world. Actually, TechStars ended up moving back to Canada and raising a round. Now, it’s their full-time job that they’re working on, not just a side-time hobby.

Andrew W.: Okay. Why’d you pick them as the most inspiring or one of the most inspiring stories? What is it about them?

Andrew H.: I think they’re the nicest guys I’ve ever met.

Andrew W.: How? I would like to be one of the nicest guys somebody has ever met. How did they do it?

Andrew H.: I think you qualify as that already.

Andrew W.: Maybe in like an hour long video here on the Internet, but day to day, I got no interest. I keep to myself.

Andrew H.: [laughs]

Andrew W.: No, really. What is it about them? I want to learn from other people’s successes. What is it that they’re doing so well?

Andrew H.: They put their lives in front of an open-source project, which to me gets a lot of respect. They were really involved in community and outreach and being very intellectually honest with their product. They’re always reaching out. They’re always engaging.

Andrew W.: What’s their product?

Andrew H.: Vanilla. Vanilla forums.

Andrew W.: Okay.

Andrew H.: On Twitter, they’re @Vanilla. It’s or .org.

Andrew W.: They’re the ones who are going to modernize the forum business. Most of us are on Bulletin Boards which are so antiquated that they’re frustrating for everybody involved. They’re going to bring them up to speed, modernizing them a little bit. They’re reaching out to people a lot. How are they different from everyone else who’s reaching out to people, who’s on Twitter, who’s on Facebook, who’s emailing?

Andrew H.: They’ve got a different style. Everybody’s got a different style and I don’t want to say one’s better than the other. Them, just personally, I know all their families and beyond what the story’s been. That’s a great example. TechStars has a lot of ones, even ones that don’t work out. You guys had the EventVue guys on here a while ago talking about their not-so-successful company, but they failed very, very gracefully and shared a lot with the world and, I think, made a lot of other companies stronger.

Andrew W.: Yeah. One of my best interviews because he was willing to be so freaking open. It’s hard to even be open when there’s a success, but, man, when there’s a failure, when things don’t go exactly right, that’s when you just want to avoid the whole thing and he came on here and did an interview instead of avoiding it and talked to us about what he learned.

Andrew H.: Yeah. We just had our demo day for Boulder and Josh got up on stage and introduced one of the teams and he opened by saying, “I’m glad I live in a community that accepts failure as part of the process and not something that bad people do.” I just thought that was very special. The community was really supportive and still is supportive of those teams.

Andrew W.: Do you ever get frustrated with the whole startup world? Here you are, looking at all these startups, talking to investors who are sick of being pitched, hearing everybody talk about their ideas and blog about it nonstop. Doesn’t it ever get tiring?

Andrew H.: It’s only tiring when people aren’t intellectually honest with themselves or others. That’s when the hype cycle really starts. I will listen to any startupper talk about anything for any length of time as long as they’re being honest with themselves.

Andrew W.: What do you mean? How is someone being dishonest with themselves?

Andrew H.: If I was doing a startup and pitching you right now, I would just be like, “Man, the world’s awesome.” In reality, I’m in a basement apartment and I’m at a coffee shop working. At a certain level, there’s not an honesty there if I was saying we were going to sign a huge deal next week. There’s not this hype cycle. There’s some honesty to that, which is I’m trying an experiment, I need your help. I really respect people like that. I don’t really respect, or I have a hrd time connecting with the people, that are really hyping their product or hyping their service to others. I think that burns them in the long run.

Andrew W.: Really? I sometimes feel like it’s all make believe and it’s just in the entrepreneur’s head until he gets everyone else to see it and then the resources and the time and the product itself come together.

Andrew H.: Yeah. It’s almost a mental disorder, right?

Andrew W.: Is it like that?

Andrew H.: You’re believing in something that you wish is true. You’re hoping that you have the best skills in the world to bring that to reality.

Andrew W.: Mm-hmm.

Andrew H.: It’s a little bit of both. You do have to be a bit cocky. You do have to believe in yourself a bit too much. I respect that a lot.

Andrew W.: Who do you know who’s got a lot of confidence who has gone through TechStars, maybe?

Andrew H.: Matt Galligan has a lot of confidence. He’s at SimpleGeo right now. He formed socialthing! back in 2007. The guy’s just got a swagger to him. It’s done him very, very well.

Andrew W.: Yes. Swagger, actually, seems to be the right word for it. There’s certain guys who just have that swagger. It’s not put on, it’s not an arrogance. It’s just like a confidence. When they walk in a room, you can tell.

Andrew H.: Yep.

Andrew W.: He’s one of the guys who has it. Okay. Sorry. We lost the connection for a second there. I got to say, anyone in the audience who can introduce me to him, in fact, if you Andrew, can you introduce me to him, I’d love to do an interview with him and maybe find out how he has that swagger.

Andrew H.: Sure. Would love to.

Andrew W.: What happened to lighting in your room, by the way?

Andrew H.: What happened to the lighting in our room?

Andrew W.: Maybe it’s the Mac that suddenly just went a little bit dark.

Andrew H.: I’m not sure. We had a cloud outside. It’s a very sunny and cloudy day in Boulder, Colorado right now.

Andrew W.: Ah. I see. Okay. Now it’s a little less. . .

Andrew H.: Maybe some more light. No. No, light, okay. Sorry about that. Let’s go back to swagger. I really like that and I respect that humble pride that some people have. I think the guys from Next Big Sound really have a humble pride. They’ve got a great product that’s really connecting to their core community. They were just in Billboard Magazine. They’re working until 4 a.m. every night and just have a humbleness that I really appreciate.

Andrew W.: What’s a community director mean at TechStars?

Andrew H.: A little bit of everything. I started out as the first employee, so if you can imagine just stepping up whenever something needed to be done. At times it was part office admin, at times it was photographer, video producer, event coordinator, really I just tried to focus on helping as many people out in the community as possible.

Andrew W.: Okay. Were you doing this as a volunteer at first?

Andrew H.: At first, I walked into TechStars and said I want to be involved. I applied to a company as a solo co-founder. Was not accepted, was given the rejection letter. I went in and hacked my way into the program. I agreed to do video and volunteered for the summer and just be around. I used it as office space and I was fortunate enough to be there at the right time and the right place.

Andrew W.: You were from Boulder?

Andrew H.: I moved from Providence, Rhode Island to Boulder. I grew up in Oregon.

Andrew W.: Okay. Why’d you move to Boulder?

Andrew H.: I threw a dart on a map. I was tired of the Northeast winters. I didn’t really want to move back to Oregon. I wanted to be somewhere it was sunny. Boulder just seemed like a great town. It wasn’t at all a tech scene when I moved out here.

Andrew W.: I see. You had a startup, these guys were starting to invest, they rejected you and you said, “Well, I’ll go in the office. I’ll hang out. I’ll do what I can.” You did that for a while and then eventually you were hired on.

Andrew H.: Correct. Yeah.

Andrew W.: Okay. Once you were there, what did you beyond, was there official responsibilities that went along with that?

Andrew H.: Not really. It was “step up when it needs to happen.”

Andrew W.: Okay.

Andrew H.: Make sure we have quality investors and quality teams is the very, very loose direction.

Andrew W.: How do you get quality investors into the program?

Andrew H.: You have quality exits. [laughs] I think you train the teams to be really good companies. I think that’s really done through the mentorship network of TechStars. That’s the secret sauce that it has. Having the first batch of TechStars have the 50% exit rate has been very, very helpful to that. Also just having all the mentors around the program and being very unselfish and very open with their mentorship.

Andrew W.: Were you pushing for exits early on? Was the program pushing for exits early on so that it can have a track record?

Andrew H.: I don’t think so. I wasn’t in on a lot of the emails that I’m sure were core to those topics. We have founder stock in the companies. We never push for anything that doesn’t make sense for the founder. It’s their company, it’s not our company. We don’t really influence them, but we support them. I don’t think there was a push at all.

Andrew W.: The other thing that you said was mentors help. You guys do work a lot with mentors. You bring in successful entrepreneurs to be mentors and then they eventually, many of them, become investors? Is that the way it works?

Andrew H.: Correct.

Andrew W.: Okay.

Andrew H.: Yep.

Andrew W.: How did you get so many mentors? Especially when it was just in Boulder?

Andrew H.: Yeah. There’s a huge community here of people just trying to help each other out. I think starting in Boulder really helped us out with that. There’s a lot of entrepreneurs that have been there and done that and somebody was there to help them. Now that they’re in that grace period of they’re developing their lives and having these rich and wonderful lives, they want to help. This is a great opportunity for them to help. It’s also a great opportunity for them to network with other mentors. A lot of the investors come in that way where it’s a good opportunity to meet other investors. A lot of mentors want to work with David and Brad and Jared and David and they want to just be around the excitement that was their first company. There’s that passion and excitement of the room. They want to be around that.

Andrew W.: What about guys like, let’s say, Tim Ferriss? How’d you get Tim Ferriss to be a mentor and eventually an investor?

Andrew H.: I think Tim came on, he made a couple investments, Daily Burn, he was one of the investors in that. He just became slowly friends with the program and we asked for help and he was very gracious.

Andrew W.: He was first an investor and then he was a mentor?

Andrew H.: I’m not sure about the exact order.

Andrew W.: Okay. Do you know who reached out to him and was able to bring him in? I ask because that guy’s insanely hard to reach at times.

Andrew H.: I’m not sure. In all honesty, I’m not sure.

Andrew W.: Okay.

Andrew H.: I think it was maybe an investor play. It might have been something else.

Andrew W.: Were you bringing in some of the mentors? Were you responsible for calling up investors and having them be part of the program?

Andrew H.: One of the frustrating parts about being at TechStars were David Cohen and Brad Feld are so incredibly good and so incredibly genuine that none of that really trickled down to me. They led that whole effort and they were amazing at it.

Andrew W.: They were just able to pick up the phone or send out an email and bring in mentors?

Andrew H.: Yeah. If you’re connected and you’re like David and Brad who have just helped out so many people and been so genuinely nice, people come and help you out as well.

Andrew W.: Do you ever feel overwhelmed? I sometimes have this doing these interviews and I’m sure the audience does listening to them. You see a guy like Brad Feld, one of the biggest investors in this space, David Cohen, ditto, the guy’s launching TechStars and helping bring out all these successful startups. You see startups who were nothing just a few months ago suddenly get incredible exits or great headlines and you’re just sitting there like, “What the hell? This is a little overwhelming. What am I doing here just sitting here?”

Andrew H.: Yeah. It’s funny how many friends of mine that are millionaires now that still owe me their cup of coffee. It’s overwhelming but it’s part of the game. You know this. You can plan for this, you can be a part of it.

Andrew W.: Some people, though, don’t care. I remember asking Robert Skobel in one of my first interviews and he laughed at me when I asked him that. Other people I can see just don’t want to be the blogger, don’t want to be the supporter, want to be in the game.

Andrew H.: Sure. I’ve ridden the fence there. I started Startup Weekend and sold that off. I started which is going quite well. I’ve witnessed them, I catch the energy, I go home and I work on my own projects.

Andrew W.: Yeah. Does it fire you up more?

Andrew H.: It does. It’s incredibly tiring and a book that I highly recommend everybody reads is “The Soul of a Chef” which talks all about this passion of food and one of the most takeaway moments for me is what is most efficient is your action. If you look at the best restaurants in the world, you’ll see very bored-looking chefs because they’ve mastered this efficiency. When you’re around really efficient and really talented people, you try to take that away as well.

Andrew W.: Interesting. Why take your foot off the gas now? Why travel to parts of the world where you’re not going to get great WiFi and not build up your own business or not use some of the energy you’ve gotten from all these experiences?

Andrew H.: It’s a little bit of an intervention by my friends. I was going to go straight forward with and I talked to them and I had some money in the bank and they just said to travel. I really value my own personal mentorship network and my own personal friendship network. I’m just going to try it. I just hosted TEDxBoulder which had 1,400 people. Ignite’s in Boulder, the largest in the world, where we have almost 1.5% of the town show up. I host that as well so I’m on this huge high of everything I’ve worked so hard for is being very successful. In the other end, I just need to get away.

Andrew W.: Ah. I see. What do you feel like you’re missing out on? I was in that space, that’s why I’m asking.

Andrew H.: I don’t think I’m missing on anything. I think that life is pretty freaking great. I’ve got to be very, very appreciative of that. I want to see some new experiences. I got into a rhythm, which was great. I was getting my coffee at the same place, I was writing my emails, I was doing all that. I think there’s a time in my life for that and I don’t think it’s right now.

Andrew W.: Mm. I know that feeling. Part of the reason why I’m here. Dan Blank is of course linking to “Soul of a Chef,” the book that you mentioned.

Andrew H.: Great book.

Andrew W.: I’m getting a lot of requests to ask about the different projects that you’ve worked on. My buddy Gavin Doherty [SP] is in the audience and he’s asking me to talk to you about Startup Weekend, which I will. I see CraigVDB is asking me to talk to you about TEDxBoulder. I’ll do my best to get into that too. You kept bringing up, you call it and I called it Pick dot IM because that’s a domain. What’s the best way to call it?

Andrew H.:

Andrew W.: I see. I was saying Pick dot IM to make sure people went to the website, but it’s What is Tell me a little bit about it.

Andrew H.: just solves the whole freelancer problem that we have right now. I need a designer in San Francisco for my budget in my timeframe. Give me a search on that.

Andrew W.: Cool. It doesn’t even make me figure out exactly what my budget is. I’m not saying I can pay between 20,000 to 40,000, I’m just saying I’m a bootstrapper or I’ve got a lot of money and it’s just all drop-down menus like that.

Andrew H.: Correct. We try to get, we did a lot of A/B testing on it, especially in the mockup stage and we really tried to get people to see portfolios and to contact the freelancers. Your entry to get to that point is very, very little. I can release the stats after this if you’d like, but most of the people that come to the site do end up viewing a profile. It’s up to like 73% actually see a profile.

Andrew W.: The flow is, I come to the site and there are two input fields. One is what am I looking for, the other is what my budget is, give or take. I hit submit and then I end up with a series of results. I click on one and you’re saying that a lot of people end up clicking on at least one of them and seeing the portfolio.

Andrew H.: Correct. Yep.

Andrew W.: Okay. How many freelancers do you have in there?

Andrew H.: Right now, it’s over 1,300 and it’s invite only, so the quality level’s really high. We’re placing about $1.3 million a year in business.

Andrew W.: How do you know that?

Andrew H.: We monitor the contact forums and we have a very small, passionate group of freelancers that are on it, so they tell us. They say thanks when they get a contract.

Andrew W.: How’d you get 1,300 freelancers into your system?

Andrew H.: We solved a problem. Spec work is a huge and rabid debate out there right now. I’m sure you’re involved in that and may have heard it. I was really mad about it. Really, really mad. I continue to be livid about it. It makes my blood boil. I talked to a lot of people. I blogged about it. Finally, somebody said, “Why don’t you just do it? Why don’t you build this alternative?” I basically wrote is the answer. Somebody build this. Nobody did, so I finally put together a kickass team and we’re working really hard on it.

Andrew W.: What’s your frustration with spec? First of all, what is spec work?

Andrew H.: Spec work is asking somebody to complete a professional task for the slight chance of non-noteworthy payment.

Andrew W.: Of non what payment?

Andrew H.: Non-noteworthy.

Andrew W.: What’s that mean, non-noteworthy?

Andrew H.: Like 200 bucks is non-noteworthy.

Andrew W.: Ah. I see. Okay. In other words, my interview here is spec work because I’m probably not going to get paid for it by anybody.

Andrew H.: It’s not spec work because it’s not custom. You’re not doing the interview for me. Right? I’m not making a custom product for you and we’re not doing this for the sole intent of money. We’re doing this because we care about other people.

Andrew W.: Okay. Because you spoke out so loudly against spec work, other freelancers, designers got to hear about you, got to say, “This is our guy. We trust and believe in his message.” When you launched it, they jumped in and they added themselves to the database.

Andrew H.: Correct.

Andrew W.: Okay. Do you charge them anything?

Andrew H.: No.

Andrew W.: Okay.

Andrew H.: Totally free all around.

Andrew W.: How do you get users into the system?

Andrew H.: It’s invite only. Right now, we’re just growing slowly and steadily. It’s a side project and we’ve got some big business going through it.

Andrew W.: Okay. I don’t know if I’m picking up on anything from you, but I got to say, I take the other side with spec work. I think spec work is the future. I believe in it a lot.

Andrew H.: I can break down the debates with this. I view it as exploiting other people. I view it as exploiting other people that don’t have a lot of resources. If you did this on a construction site or in real life, you would probably be physically assaulted. Right? Do work for me, and I’m going to pay you money and that’s why you’re doing it, and then oh yeah, by the way, I know going into it I’m only going to pay one of 100. I think that’s just downright evil. I think it’s a pyramid scheme. I think it’s not sustainable at all. I’m just really sad, we can debate on end, but I’m just really sad that it’s out there.

Andrew W.: I would love to get into a debate on this, but I don’t know if Mixergy’s the place. I’d love to get into a debate about it. By the way, I couldn’t find, I didn’t know that you spoke out against this, except when Gary Vaynerchuk said, “Hey. I’m going to have a contest. Anyone in my audience can design the next bookcover for me.” He said, “Andrew Hyde, I promise I’m not asking for spec work.” I said, “Hm. Interesting. Andrew Hyde didn’t even say anything, but Gary already was ready to respond to your feelings on it.” I didn’t know you were that outspoken. Go ahead. Sorry.

Andrew H.: I’m very outspoken on it. I think it’s exploitation. I think it’s exploit-sourcing, not crowd-sourcing. I think crowd-sourcing will die if exploitation takes over. I don’t think it’s healthy. I don’t think it helps anyone. Right? If we take a step back, I’m a designer, I always do this, right? What is the problem you’re trying to solve? I need a logo at my pricepoint, done well. You don’t need 100. That’s not the problem. Now, this is agreat solution, but it also brings in all these other things.

I can almost guarantee every crowdSPRING or 99designs project has some level of plagiarism on it. You can see a lot of child labor stepping in on this because to compete on having to complete work for the slight chance of non-noteworthy payment, you’re starting to see people can’t treat it as day jobs. What if you did a spec work contest and I’m a competitor? I’m going to send out a press release attacking you for any violations that I see, which I see are rampant.

Andrew W.: That wouldn’t happen on a site like Elance where you’re trusting your work to some stranger who you don’t see, who you don’t know anything about, who there aren’t multiple eyes on his result?

Andrew H.: Most people that are in the freelance market are higher freelancers. Get referrals from friends. You don’t go online and look for a blanket advertisement. Elance is great. OS [SP] can be great. I’ve never hired freelance that way. I hire a ton of freelancers and it’s always through a friend of a friend. By being a good client, and I believe this strongly, to get a good design, you need to be a good client, not have a good designer. Right? Good design comes from being a good client. I think by setting it up through this contest model, you’re just setting it up for people to be bad clients. Man, that’s setting yourself for failure if you want to get really genuinely good design.

Andrew W.: Why are you a bad client if you’re going out there and you’re saying specifically what you want, what you’re willing to pay, and you’re giving feedback when you get the results and you’re explaining what works and what doesn’t work?

Andrew H.: Sure. I would think you would argue that I would be a really bad businessperson if I set up a pyramid scheme. Correct?

Andrew W.: If you set up a pyramid scheme. . . Frankly, yeah. Let’s say you’d be a bad businessperson.

Andrew H.: I’d be pretty scummy. It’s kind of like walking into a bar and saying, “Who wants to sleep with me?” Right? It might work but you look like a scumbag.

Andrew W.: The whole world, now, is moving towards do it first, if we like it, we will only pay the person who we like. You can look at your experience at TechStars, you spent months working at TechStars before they said, “You know what? We like you enough that we’re going to hire you and create a job for you.” I, as someone who does interviews, I may not have done it custom, but that’s a small distinction. I have done tons and tons and tons of interviews before anybody paid me anything for it. That’s the way the world works. When I look at what I read online, I’m reading from lots of people with my ad blocker on until I find the one person who I like enough that I might end up doing business with. We’re all spec workers today.

Andrew H.: I see you’re building a business. That’s not spec work, right? You retain the rights to everything you’ve created and you get to drive that. If the world revolved in a spec world market, you wouldn’t have a passion for what you’re doing because you wouldn’t drive anything and you’re not getting any of the benefit from it. I just see a lot of people getting hurt and the people getting hurt are the smallest. That just really is something I’m willing to fight against.

Andrew W.: They’re starting out in many cases. They end up practicing in public and getting feedback in public. In fact, you can see in chat boards that people will design things just to get feedback and nothing else. I know you created a t-shirt just to get feedback and they’re doing the same thing from paying customers. If the customer doesn’t like their work, they can still add it to their portfolio, they still own it. In some cases, they just tweak it a little bit and they get to resell it.

Andrew H.: If you’re researching somebody with this great portfolio and you look up XL Strategies, this logo they did, and you see the site and they didn’t use it, isn’t that disingenuous? I think that’s really disingenuous, saying you did work for a company that didn’t hire you.

Andrew W.: You’re not saying. . . You did work for the company, but it doesn’t matter whether they pay for it or not. If another client is looking at a design that the first client didn’t pay for, they’re not upset that the other person didn’t pay for it, they’re just looking to get a sense of what the work is like. They just want to see the portfolio.

Andrew H.: If I find out that designer did work for free, why don’t I expect that? Doesn’t that just create this giant pyramid scheme of expectations that everybody bails from the market? It creates this scumbag marketplace and I’m not a fan of that.

Andrew W.: I’m not sure that I see that. I think that it’s going to become, because right now, what happens is, if I want to go to your website, for example, and find a designer, I see a portfolio. The portfolio is meaningless to me because in many cases maybe they had a friend who they were designing for and they had a better sense of what that friend needed. Maybe they were working on a project with other designers and the person who I’m hiring didn’t specifically do all the work. Maybe there’s something else involved in the work that they did for someone else. Based on that portfolio, I’ve got to hire them. It’s a much more honest relationship to say the same thing I say to Starbucks, I will only give you the money if I get the coffee that I want. If I don’t like it, I’ll get my money back.

Andrew H.: Right. But you don’t order the coffee, drink it, then say, “Nah, it wasn’t as good as this other one.” Or, “I’m just not feeling like a hot coffee today,” after you’ve purchased the product. Right? You’d be arrested for that because that’s theft. I just don’t see it. I don’t see it being sustainable. I think if you look at the history of spec work, it has never been sustainable. It’s done nothing but hurt people over the years. The only people pushing this are the people making money off of it, which is a giant red flag.

Andrew W.: Everyone else is kind of indifferent to it. I’m not making any money off it. Well, I guess 99designs is a sponsor.

Andrew H.: Some of them sponsor your site.

Andrew W.: Yeah. Did it bother you that you were coming on to do an interview with me with 99designs as a sponsor?

Andrew H.: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Andrew W.: I’m wondering what kind of impact it had.

Andrew H.: It more has an impact like Guy Kawasaki is crowd-sourcing his book or exploit-sourcing his book. I’ve lost a lot of respect for him. He’s not an example I’d use as a successful person. I would not trust him. He’s gone in my mind as a role model. I think a lot of people share that. He looks like a scumbag. For what? He doesn’t save any money. He’s spending 300 bucks on it. He’s opening himself up to a lot of dangers out there with people plagiarizing work in his name, with kids working on full projects, potentially winning it. I just don’t see the benefit there.

Andrew W.: He’s buying his cover design from a site like 99designs?

Andrew H.: Yep.

Andrew W.: Oh, okay. I didn’t know that. All right. Then there are more eyes on it. Look, I was just looking at Steve Pavlina’s blog and he said that over the years, people have copied his blog posts including one author who took Steve Pavlina’s blog post and essentially put it into his book and took credit for it. Steve Pavlina said that when he investigated it, he discovered that the author hired another writer to work on the book and that writer copied Steve Pavlina’s work. It’s freelancers, it’s people who don’t work for you that are the danger.

Andrew H.: I would say that’s just dishonest work. Right? You’ve got to surround yourself by honest people, outstanding people. No amount of Internet ads or forums or companies we can have that won’t have that. We’re trying to build, with, we’re trying to build in LinkedIn integration so that you just see people that you’re connected to one step away and you can get a personal introduction from. I think that’s causation of an argument there. It just doesn’t add up. There’s going to be crime everywhere, that doesn’t mean you can’t live in those places, doesn’t mean you can’t be an outstanding citizen there. I think there’s a right outstanding way to do it and that’s what I aim to do.

Andrew W.: If TechStars would have funded, or wanted to fund, a 99designs type site, what would you have done?

Andrew H.: I would have left.

Andrew W.: You would have left over that?

Andrew H.: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Andrew W.: All right.

Andrew H.: I don’t think they would have.

Andrew W.: Why not?

Andrew H.: It’s just disingenuous and I don’t think it helps out a lot of people. I think it hurts people in the long run and I think that’s very obvious there.

Andrew W.: I see Dan Blank is linking to your blog post, I guess the title is “Spec Work is Evil, Why I hate crowdSPRING.” CrowdSPRING is like 99designs right?

Andrew H.: Correct.

Andrew W.: Do you hate them more than you hate 99designs or did you just happen to go with CrowdSPRING?

Andrew H.: I wrote another post called “I’ll Dive on that Intent Grenade.” The 99design guys were managing a forum and it came very organically, so their intent was never really bad. The crowdSPRING guys to me, they’re lawyers that see a business opportunity, so they’re easier to pick on. They came at it from a different angle. The 99design guys, I’ve had coffee every time I go to San Francisco with them. They’re super nice guys. I wish they’d change their business model. I think they’re evolving it and I think going aaway from spec is a very, very smart decision for them.

Andrew W.: What do you mean? How are they evolving away from spec?

Andrew H.: There’s nothing wrong with having stock coffee shop logo. If I’m a small-town coffe shop owner, I’m not arguing that you need to spend $10,000 on a design for that. I’m arguing that you need to treat the person fairly. If somebody wants to create a bunch of stock icons and say Coffee Shop X on it and sell it on 99designs, I think they have a new marketplace for that type of thing. They can see it, say, “Hey. That’s what I’m looking for,” and go for it. One person did a generic thing that one person bought. I’m fine with that model.

Andrew W.: I’m so passionately in favor of spec work. I still believe that this is the future of everything that I know as a customer who’s intimidated by design in the first place. People who saw the first version of my website know that. I know that I don’t want to have to explain and then wait to get a design and then pay for it whether I like it or not. I want to go out there and say, “This is what I want. If anyone is willing to go and design this for me, I will pay for the one who’s best.” Or in some cases, more than one who’s best. That feels so good to me. That feels so right to me.

I’ll tell you, you say child labor, when I was a child my problem was that I couldn’t get enough projects and work that I could do because you have to go to school certain hours, you have other obligations. This is the kind of thing I could have done in the evenings.

Andrew H.: I did a lot of entrepreneur activities as a young lad as well and I think that there’s some labor laws in many countries that prevent that. I think I can’t argue with those.

Andrew W.: I’ll tell you what guys. If anyone in the audience feels this way, email me and tell me your point of view. I guess this isn’t the right forum for me to get into a debate on this, but I’m going to go back and I’ll look at your blog posts on it and I’m willing to have an open mind. God knows I don’t know everything, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing these interviews. I also want to hear from the audience, what you guys think about this. Pro and against, you can email me and we can have a conversation about it. I’m curious about peoples’ opinions.

Andrew H.: Somebody in the chatroom is asking, there’s an unbaked claim that there’s child labor. There’s people in the forums on crowdSPRING, I have seen it in crowdSPRING, I haven’t seen it in 99designs, that have unveiled their age and not been kicked off the site. It’s there. It’s sad.

Andrew W.: I got to say, I’m in favor of that. We’re not talking about kids who are dismantling old computers so that they can pull out the valuable parts in there. We’re talking about kids who are designing, who are learning, who are getting feedback, who are making decent money, I think.

Andrew H.: You’re not paying them.

Andrew W.: If they do what you’re looking for, then they get paid. That’s the way life works. For some reason, with designers, you always had to, as a customer, had to shut up and take it because if you said no to a design, you were the business guy who just didn’t get it.

Andrew H.: Sure. If you’re talking about commissions, you’re talking about for somebody to land you a sales deal and then not paying them. They’re completing the work you asked them to do with the intent of not paying them.

Andrew W.: Intent to pay them if it works. Same thing as affiliate programs. Affiliate programs are you get a free ad on somebody’s website and you only pay for that ad if the person sends you a customer.

Andrew H.: Sure. Most of the affiliate networks that I’m a member of or am in contact with only pay when there’s performance.

Andrew W.: Right. Somebody could run an ad, maybe run it for a day, a month, maybe email it to their audience, to the whole list, and end up making no sales and sorry, that’s the way it works.

Andrew H.: Sure.

Andrew W.: All right. I’m willing to have an open mind about this if people want to send me feedback. I’ve actually had a negative comment on this. I called the pesron up, I found his phone number, I said, “Let’s have a discussion. I want to hear your feedback.” I think he was surprised that I was willing to call him up and just didn’t get on the phone with me.

Andrew H.: I’m really open about the whole conversation. I think there’s really great ways to do it. If you look in Boulder, there’s two companies doing really great things with crowd-sourcing that somewhat looks like spec but isn’t. One being Trada and one being Victors & Spoils.

Andrew W.: I had Trada on Mixergy. Can you tell people what Trada does?

Andrew H.: They do PPC ad campaigns. you go on, you do, in a very spec-work like, you complete the tasks and you’re on there. There’s a couple things that they do that I’m really in favor of. They pay 80% of work that’s done. If you do it really well or ahead of your competition, you get paid more. If you look at the numbers and you look at how they’re labeling it, it’s not an open, you got to be invited to be in their network. You’ve got a lot of small people doing a lot of great work. I view that as great.

Victors & Spoils is an ad agency that’s trying to beat the whole ad agency model by saying eight designers and if you were to do an ethical contest, this is how you do it. “Hey, eight designers, I respect your portfolio. I’m going to give you $2,000 to do this brochure and I’m going to give a 5k bonus to the designer that does it best or the design that’s picked.” They’re both innovating on that model and they’re both having a lot of success. Every company that I talk to that’s really starting out, going spec, they’re moving away from it if not running away from it because it’s dirty.

Andrew W.: Okay. All right. We’ll agree to disagree and we’ll agree that I will get a lot of feedback.

Andrew H.: Yeah. Anytime you want to talk about it, I’d love to.

Andrew W.: Sorry?

Andrew H.: Anytime you want to talk about it, I would love to.

Andrew W.: I would love to do a debate on this at South by Southwest or even do an interview here where I have two points of view and I would just have to shut up and let both sides have their say instead of just jumping in there. I’d love to hear more from both sides on this.

Andrew H.: Yeah.

Andrew W.: I don’t mean in the negative way. I know that there’s a lot of yelling back and forth in this space and I’m glad that we didn’t have to do that, but I’d like to have a real conversation about it and I’d like to hear from both sides.

Andrew H.: Two years ago at South by Southwest, there was a panel called the Spec Work Evil, Debate About Crowd-Sourcing or spec work. That was based off of my blog post that was linked to in the chatroom.

Andrew W.: Oh, cool. Now I can see why you want to leave the country. Who needs all this agita. It’s not even your company, crowdSPRING or 99designs.

Andrew H.: There’s an ecosystem you have to protect, right? If I move into a town and it’s got nice sidewalks, bike lanes, and nice people, I’ve got to respect the people that helped build that and I think there’s a really nice design ecosystem out there. I think we need to respect them. I think the same for designers, programmers, and entrepreneurs.

Andrew W.: All right.

Andrew H.: I don’t think it would be fair if Google would buy a startup saying, “In a year, if you have a million page views, we’re going to actually pay. If you don’t, we’re not.” I don’t think that’s fair. I think the entrepreneur gets to set the terms and I think this public perception is going to set the terms. We’ll see. It’s an exciting future.

Andrew W.: Startup Weekend.

Andrew H.: Yeah.

Andrew W.: Company’s are coming. What is Startup Weekend?

Andrew H.: Startup Weekend’s an idea of there’s all these great people in the community. I was a usability and design guy, so I got to work with all sorts of startups and companies in Boulder. I kept on being the patcher or connector. I thought that at a certain point, we should move beyond me being that and we should all get together and work on smaller projects.

You don’t work together on small projects if you’re on a startup. You’re passionate, you’re full steam ahead. You don’t meet a lot of people that way and you don’t know if people are quality. You can meet them at networking events, but you don’t know. You see their card, you see the people, people like them.

Startup Weekend is, “Hey, let’s get together over a short weekend and let’s build something together and let’s see how we all act.” The point isn’t launching startups, the point, at least originally, was how do we meet co-founders, how do we really build a community.

Andrew W.: Okay. At what point did you decide that it would be about building a startup in a weekend? Was that right from the start?

Andrew H.: That was from the start. We were late at night, hanging out at TechStars, and I just wanted to get a bunch of people together working on a small project and the domain was available and we named it. We threw the first one in Boulder. We had 75 people come to it and it was a huge success. We were really, really happy.

Andrew W.: How’d you start spreading it outside of Boulder?

Andrew H.: It was back in the days when TechCrunch only had two articles a day. After TechCrunch had a really nice writeup about us and we then had 80 cities to go to. I just started going down the line and I just personally got on a plane. We got up to 48 before we really brought on help.

Andrew W.: Was it that there were people in 80 different cities who asked to create a startup weekend in their city?

Andrew H.: Yeah.

Andrew W.: Okay. Wow. How did you help them find an audience for the event? I know that organizing events is tough because it’s tough to get people to leave their homes and come out to an event and here you are getting them to not just come to an event, but come to a weekend event. Not just an event where they can hang out and drink, but one where they actually had to work. How’d you get so many people?

Andrew H.: It’s a really easy story to be retold. “Startup Weekend. Hey, it’s this really crazy experiment. Can we get a bunch of people in a room and launch a startup in a weekend?”

Andrew W.: Okay.

Andrew H.: That is a little bit viral and a little bit personal. I’m a huge fan of Richard Florida, Creative Class. One of his points that I remember from the Rise of the Creative Class is that the creative market really values, over workplace conditions and pay, they value creativity and the chance to have a challenge. What we do in Startup Weekend is we give the creative class a challenge and as much flexibility as they can, as much creativity as they can, and they really thrive on that. That led to the success of it.

Andrew W.: Was it a non-profit when you were launching it or for-profit business?

Andrew H.: It was always a non-profit in methodology. I never went through the non-profit status when I was in charge.

Andrew W.: When you sold it, you had equity. I mean, when you sold it, you were actually able to get paid for something that was essentially a non-profit?

Andrew H.: Yeah. I was the sole owner of it.

Andrew W.: Wow.

Andrew H.: Mark and Clint were forming a non-profit wanting to do the exact same thing. It just worked out as a really nice partnership.

Andrew W.: Okay. Any hard feelings over the whole spec work debate?

Andrew H.: What was that?

Andrew W.: Any hard feelings over the whole spec work debate? I feel like once we got into that conversation, I feel like the tone changed.

Andrew H.: No. Not at all. It’s [??], right? It’s something out there. I see the positive outreach of it. I see how people can be, as I see it, trapped into it.

Andrew W.: [laughs] How much are you paying or how much did you pay the entrepreneurs who are working for the weekend at Startup Weekend?

Andrew H.: Zero.

Andrew W.: What are you doing?!

Andrew H.: What do you mean?

Andrew W.: Aren’t you taking advantage of these guys? They’re coming out, they’re building something and they don’t get paid. Only one of them maybe does well.

Andrew H.: They retain ownership of 100% of what they built.

Andrew W.: I see.

Andrew H.: It’s their project.

Andrew W.: Isn’t that the same thing with a logo that somebody creates and a client decides that he doesn’t want to buy it? The person who created it gets 100% equity in the logo.

Andrew H.: If I made a pie that said Andrew Warner is Awesome and you decided you didn’t like it, there’s not a huge marketplace where you could sell that pie.

Andrew W.: [laughs] Good point. All right. I like the way you put that.

Andrew H.: If it wasn’t custom, then the whole debate is changed. But since it’s custom, I just don’t see it being sustainable.

Andrew W.: I see. If I say, “I need a website to sell CDs,” and someone creates a generic website to sell CDs, terrific. They can always sell it to someone else. Once they customize it to me, that’s a problem.

Andrew H.: Correct.

Andrew W.: All right. Maybe there’s a business in there for somebody else. Gavin in the audience is saying we’re both right. I like that. I got to move on from that. Startup Weekend. What are some of the things that you’ve learned from the startups that were created there?

Andrew H.: If you look at Startup Weekend, the biggest success was not really the startups that were created. It was the community and the partnerships that were created out of it. The biggest thing for me was letting go of the brand. It is a community-owned brand. The first two years of it, it really was me asking the community to step up. I was going to places I had never been to and running events with 150 to 300 people coming to it. There’s a lot of trust.

You see the worldwide movement of BarCamp of Ignite, of TEDx, and there’s the organizations, like Ignite is totally free. If you talk to Brady, he can set up Ignite Smalltown, USA, and they’re totally supportive of that. TEDx is a little bit more controlling of that. One of the things I learned from Startup Weekend is that the people with the right intent, if you just want to help out the community, there’s very few people in this world that are going to take advantage of the community. It’s kind of a self-checking meritocracy.

Andrew W.: How do you keep it focused when people can do whatever they want with your brand?

Andrew H.: The intent of somebody is pretty pure when they’re in a startup and there’s small communities. If it’s a bad perseon or they have a bad track record, nobody shows up to the event. If it’s a good person and they’ve got a good track record, or they’re just very genuine, a lot of people show up and it’s a big success. Startup Weekend’s in 97 cities out there. I think we’ve had two or three that haven’t turned out really well.

Andrew W.: What happened with the ones that didn’t work out well? What did we learn from that?

Andrew H.: My messaging. The second one was one that was horrible. I guess I won’t name the city on that.

Andrew W.: Tell me about that.

Andrew H.: It was just somebody that wasn’t aligned with my intent. They wanted to make money off of it. They thought that they had some equity play in it. It just didn’t really work out.

Andrew W.: How do you pull back something like that where you tell the community that they can take it and run with it and somebody is clearly going in the wrong direction?

Andrew H.: That’s the great thing about a blog. [laughs]

Andrew W.: Oh, you called them out?

Andrew H.: You just write about it. You’re open and honest and other people are open and honest.

Andrew W.: Okay. I’m looking here. There’s still a lot of debate here about the whole spec thing. Let’s talk about TEDx. What was it like to put TEDx together?

Andrew H.: TEDx is really interesting. If I have to talk about an event that I love throwing, it’s Ignite because we throw it a lot more.

Andrew W.: Okay.

Andrew H.: It’s a little bit more creative. TED, I’m a booster upper. I didn’t come from money. I didn’t come from a well-connected family, so I really like the booster upper, the unconnected, that type of person. For me, Ignite, it symbolizes that, where TED is still a little bit more of historically, you’ve got to have some connections. Ignite, if you don’t have one in your city, go run one. They’re a blast.

Andrew W.: What’s Ignite? I don’t know them.

Andrew H.: Oh, cool. It’s something that Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis started up in Seattle. It’s a presentation format made for geeks. Five minutes per presentation. 20 slides, 15 seconds a slide. It auto-advances. You’ve got to present something where you teach something, whether that’s hacking chocolate or how to start the revolution, you have five minutes. It’s quick. You do it at a bar or some place.

In Boulder, we have 1,400 people show up and it’s packed. So much fun. People are talking. I’ll link to a couple of the episodes. We had a girl with MS come on and talk about this very experimental procedure she just had. Talking about her belief that that might be the cure for MS. You’ve got some very honest talks, you’ve got some very humorous talks, and in between.

Andrew W.: They get to talk for five minutes about anything?

Andrew H.: Pretty much anything. There’s no pitching and there’s no webcockery. You’ve got to be genuinely trying to share something.

Andrew W.: How do you get people to even come out to that event? Is it because of your reputation? Is it because you have access to people because of TechStars?

Andrew H.: We threw the first one and 100 people showed up. We threw the second one and 150. The third one and 200, the fourth one. . .

Andrew W.: How’d you get 100 people for the first one?

Andrew H.: There’s this great marketing tactic saying “I’m trying an experiment,” and calling on your friends to help you out.

Andrew W.: Help you out and bring more people out? Help you out with what?

Andrew H.: Just show up. I asked 14 friends to speak and they all worked on a presentation and they all brought two people and we had this small little community event. It went really, really well. We built on it from there.

Andrew W.: Why do you put these events togther? They’re a lot of work and not making money from putting together something like Ignite. Why do it?

Andrew H.: Sure. When I moved to town, I applied to an amazing amount jobs before somebody felt bad and gave me a $500 freelance project. There’s nobody there for me and I just want to make sure there’s somebody there for other people. I’m in a very fortunate opportunity to do that. It just makes sense.

Andrew W.: I also find that organizing events is a better way to experience the event. It is a lot more work, but man, you get to meet so many more people.

Andrew H.: And you get to be so stressed out through the entire thing. It’s great. [laughs]

Andrew W.: You know what? That’s absolutely true. I would have thought that by now you wouldn’t be stressed anymore. There’s always worry that what?

Andrew H.: This weekend was pretty crazy because we did TEDx which had 1,400 people. Just an amazing event.

Andrew W.: You did also a Half Iron Man, I think, this weekend, right?

Andrew H.: Yeah. Then I went to a Half Iron Man eight hours later. The whole time I was very cool as a cucumber and just relaxed as can be.

Andrew W.: How do you get to be that relaxed?

Andrew H.: You throw a lot of events.

Andrew W.: Eventually you just get used to doing it?

Andrew H.: You get used to doing it and you learn to be really honest. Hey Corey, can I get some power?

Andrew W.: Oh. Ha ha. The computer is running out of power, huh?

Andrew H.: Yeah. I don’t want to move and I’m asking the friendly Corey. I’m in a co-working space called the Dojo4 and I want to thank them for letting me stay here.

Andrew W.: I see people are linking to

Andrew H.: Yep. is our humble project. Our next one’s September 2nd. We’re about to throw voting up. Somethinn we learned from Ignite is if you empower the community, really, really good things happen.

Andrew W.: What about blogging?

Andrew H.: I’m a huge fan.

Andrew W.: How do you pump out so much?

Andrew H.: You get used to pressing that publish button. That’s it. If you look at my first year of blogging, it was really bad. It was really, really bad. But I got used to pressing that publish button and there was. . .

Andrew W.: What do you mean by really bad?

Andrew H.: What was that?

Andrew W.: What do you mean by really bad?

Andrew H.: My posts didn’t mean anything to anyone or benefit anyone. They were all, “I saw this movie and wow, there’s this really loose quote that meant something to me.” They were just horrible posts that if I link to right now, I’m embarrassed. I keep them up because I think they’re important to be there. Then there was a time where Startup Weekend was cranking and I needed to be able to have my voice out there and it was incredibly powerful to have that, being open and honest out there.

Andrew W.: All right. He just found the power but I want to be fair with your time, too. I said we’d only take about 45 minutes to an hour and we’re clearly at the end here. Final words. What have you learned as you are helping all of these startups?

Andrew H.: You have to be part of the game. I believe that there’s an ecosystem. I wrote a post called “I Believe in Sport” and that’s because when I finished the Half Iron Man, I was not the first place, I was not the second place. I was 80th in my age group and I was 800th in the race of 1,800 people. There was no medal that I’m wearing that says “podium” on it, yet I think it’s very important that I’m part of the process because there’s a lot of personal development that comes out of that and there’s a lot of community development that comes out of that.

I think if we look at startups and we look at what my company did or look at how much money is in my bank account or look at my house, I think it’s the vision of why we do startups. We’re part of an ecosystem. We’re part of a game. We need to help each other out, whether that’s the people who are unfunded, funded, part of TechStars, Y Combinator, DreamIt, any of those companies. We just need to be good to each other and realize that the community is better if we’re that way.

Andrew W.: Great way to leave it. I’m looking, also, in the chatroom as you can see, Dan Blank linked to your very first blog post.

Andrew H.: [laughs]

Andrew W.: World.

Andrew H.: Oh, geez.

Andrew W.: Now people are pointing out a few of the others ones in there, too. That’s the way you and I met. I was reading your blog. I was reading you on Twitter. I was following you online.

Andrew H.: It’s the best professional thing I’ve ever done. If you don’t have a blog right now. Put it up, your name dot com or dot net or whatever you can do and just do it. It’s so helpful and so wonderful. You’re going to be bad for a while and then at some point, it’s going to be critical to your being that you have it, and then it’s just going to be beautiful from that point on.

Andrew W.: Hey. Any objections to me running a 99designs ad before this interview?

Andrew H.: Yes.

Andrew W.: You say no even though it means I take money from Matt and I. . .

Andrew H.: I’d rather not. It’s just not something I believe in.

Andrew W.: Okay.

Andrew H.: If I need to buy that ad spot from you, I’d be more than happy to. It’s a passion play for me at this point. I’ve seen so many of the negative sides because I’ve been so vocal against it. Of course I’m going to be against it for the long term. You’ve see some of the positive sides, you’re fed the positive sides, of course you’re going to be positive about it. I see both sides. Personally, I choose to stay out of it.

Andrew W.: Okay. All right. Fair enough. I will send you a PayPal invoice or a Freshbook invoice in a little bit.

Andrew H.: [laughs]

Andrew W.: There will not be a 99designs ad at the beginning on this interview because of Andrew Hyde. I’ve got to go and cut and add for the other two sponsors for the day.

Andrew H.: [laughs] I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

Andrew W.: [laughs] No. I want to be fair with you. I want to be fair with 99designs, too, and not put them where they wouldn’t be happy.

Andrew H.: Sure.

Andrew W.: I want to thank you. I want to keep following you when you’re traveling around the world on, which is No dot com.

Andrew H.: Yes. [laughs]

Andrew W.: All right, buddy. Thanks for doing the interview.

Andrew H.: Thanks so much, Andrew.

Andrew W.: Cool. Thank you all for watching. Bye.

Andrew H.: Cheers.

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