Private Beta of launched…..ON TIME!

Since conceptualizing the FD World idea the March of 2007 (during that time, it was not a very intuitive concept), it has been close to a year and a half now! During that time, we spent more than half a year finding the best people who could be on the team, discussing our concepts, and pretty much plain out learning by our own or other peoples’ mistakes. Getting to this point without income is a tough for all our awesome teammates who bought into our vision and would seek to accomplish extraordinary things with us. And at this point, we have finally put out a product. The website product is a tool to learn and share about companies that you want to work at, as well as converting peoples’ real lives into a RPG game where they can level up and become a strong player in their fields.

What’s really special about our launch, is that almost all, no I mean, ALL products that I have seen from a startup or even small team of a large firm don’t meet their deadlines. When a company says they will release something in 2 months, they usually take 3 months; when it is something that should to be finished “tomorrow,” it probably will be finished 1-2 days after that. launched on time! We made a commitment to complete it on July 1st, and even when there were not any external deadlines pressing, all our programmers took things very seriously and busted out sleepless nights to make it on time.

Now we have invited some FD relatives – people who have helped us along the way and are interested in our success – to test out the site. It seems to be getting really positive feedback, and even though our website product is just a prelude to the big-scaled FD World, I can see it becoming a big success independently.

What lies ahead is very exciting. These 2-3 months are most critical to FD, as we have launched a product, have full-time people to support financially, and are looking to raise our $150K seed funding. Even though we say seed funding, it is probably closer to a series A round in the sense that we already have the team, we have a product, and we have 20 campus cmo across the US to help promote our vision.

We’ll see what happens with this cool company! Happy Independence Day everyone!

A letter I wrote to our programmer’s grandfather.

To run a start up, the leader has to make sure everything in peoples’ lives are going well. Working in a startup is not a career, it is a lifestyle. You count the hours you don’t work, and you live and breathe your products. For this reason, my job is not only to make sure everyone has a fulfilling and meaningful career, but also a fulfilling and meaningful lifestyle. Even when the business is going well in every way, personal issues become some of the the toughest challenges in a start up. Family members usually never support working at a startup due to the high risk and initial low compensation, and they give a lot of pressure to startup people, as if there are not enough problems already. In this case, I wrote to our programmer’s grandfather and hope he would approval of what we are doing.

Hello Mr [omit],

How are you doing? I hope life is treating you well! I noticed that Steven has not responded to your email for awhile, so I said he should email you, and then I thought it would be a good idea for me to write you an email too, since that might make you more comfortable with what he is doing here. I felt bad a month and a half ago when Steven told me that he realizes you are visiting him from Aspen and would miss him. During that time, I have actually just returned to CA from Aspen too. I was invited to help out at a conference “Selling without Selling Out: CEOs of socially responsible companies that are bought out by internationals” (I’m just a helper and do not qualify for that title). I got to meet the founders/CEOs of Ben & Jerry’s, Odwalla, Dagoba Chocalate, and a few other great people on a very intimate level, and I have learned a great lot there. Aspen is a great place to be, and if I had known earlier, I would have paid you a visit too there! (assuming you welcomed that obviously)

Future Delivery plans to develop a continous and long term relationship with Steven. Steven and I were good buddies from awhile back. We went to the same high school quite awhile ago. I used to teach him chess and take him to chess tournaments, as well as worked very hard to prevent him from failing Forensics class. It wasn’t a subject that he cared to put much time into, haha. After going to college (UCLA), I became an entrepreneur, and have spent every hour of my spare time trying to build good businesses that make a positive impact in society. Before I gradauted, I conceptualized the concept of converting a virtual world (usually used for gaming and escapism) into a professional tool where people can do business and find jobs in. Essentially, it is a game where, the more hours you spend on it, the more productive you are (our company motto is combine work and play in every single way). The concept is appealing in the sense that we recruited some top talents in the industry, including our CTO, who is a senior engineer in Toshiba, holds 24 patents, teaches at UC Irvine, and was the first employee for Xerox in China. We also put together a very strong board of advisors, including the founder of Google Adsense, the founder of the Google Earth company, the lawyer who worked on the News Corp – Myspace aquisition, and the accountant who worked on the eBay-Skype aquisition.

While I’m building the business, I kept in touch with my high school friends. Steven and others were extremely interested in the project we were doing, and were interested in helping out. Good programmers are always looking for good projects to work on. I heard that Steven, along with Mike and Tony, were very good programmers, and I thought of something that is very intriguing. When I tell the Californian folks that I am from Kansas, they all say it is very random. I thought it would be quite awesome if we formed a Blue Valley team that would become famous when the company starts to make a big impact. The goal is to have it so that, a decade later, when people hear about Kansas, the first things they think about are Jay Hawks, Oz, and Blue Valley. Working with old friends are obviously very fun too. So even though we had a lot of resources and talented people here in California, I invited them to come, and tour around CA too. I’m sure you will agree that travelling and learning from different places and cultures are invaluable experiences that school can never install in you.

So here they are working at our Summer internship. Because of the low resource and nature of the startup, we declared very early before they agreed that they won’t be paid a wage. They came here purely for the fun and challenging project, experience, and seeing CA (besides Steven I would say). After they came, I decided to give them each 5,000 amount of stock options, which may or may not be valuable in the future. Since we plan to build a longterm and continous relationship with Steven, later on we will defintely pay him in the future when we have the resources. Right now we all are at an apartment work station close to UCLA, and half of it is for sleeping, a quarter of it is the work place, and a quarter of it is the gaming place. Right now me, Tony, Steven, Mike, and another person name Chan live here. Besides Chan, we are all from the same high school. Mike goes to UI-Urbana Chapagn (the 4th best school in computer science), and Tony goes to KU. I try my hardest in making sure they have a good environment and are having fun here (which is what the company stands for). I cover their living costs, cook for them, do their dishes, do their laundary, and take them to places. I also sponsored accupressue massages for them. We’re all here to have fun, do good work, and make life more meaningful.

As for the hours, Steven pretty much does everything on his own hours. He would sit in front of his computer, work, surf the net, play games, work a bit, and then go and play video games. It seems like he’s only interested in his computer, video games, and eating. Everyone here plays video games freely, and since I know Steven has an ingrained interest in getting the codes to work, I don’t really monitor much. He’ll do it if it is work that he likes. I’m not sure if that answers your question.

Finally, I did make plans to take them to a lot of places around Southeran California, including famous beaches, Disney Land, Universal Studios, Getty Center and such. However, it seems that Steven and Mike are not interested in going anywhere. Only Tony is excited to go to places. I didn’t want to force them to spend money and go to places that they don’t want to go, so I often let them stay home and play video games and sometimes only Tony goes to certain places. Steven and Mike are really the type that prefer to sit in front of their computers or play video games. However, I did emphasize that being outdoors is important, and made them go out and play basketball once. That is when I realized Steven never played it before and does not even know the rules. Mike also felt it was torture. I also promote walking whenever we can, instead of driving. At this point, I’ve only been able to show Steven Chinatown, Korea Town, Hollywood, Walk of Stars, Chinese Theater, Disney Concert Hall and the UCLA campus. He says that since you suggest it, we can go to the Getty Center to take a look (it is just 10 minutes away). I hope I can take him to more fun places, but it probably depends on his consent.

That pretty much sums up how his life has been here in Los Angeles. I hope I addressed most of your concerns, and feel free to ask more. I know the email is pretty long so I do thank you for reading all of it. I thought it is something that is important in your mind, so I decided to elaborate more on it. I know that you would still like to talk to Steven, so I suggested him to call you in the near future. I think he will do so soon. Anyway, I hope you have a great week, and that you will be successful in every activity you engage in!

With Sincerity and Respect,
Yu-kai Chou
Future Delivery
Tel: 323.633.8323
Fax: 866.734.3124″

Networking: Finding the Common Interest

Networking and building relationships with people is one of the most essential things one needs to do to become successful. When you want to contact someone and meet up(newly met professional or old friend), you want to find a common interest to make the meeting pleasant and enjoyable for both. Maybe you both like golf. Maybe you would both like to visit a museum. But what if you don’t know what that person likes? In that case, there is a pretty universal common interest: food. Statistics show that most people deal with some sort of food one time or another in their lives. It also happens that most people like food. So it’s pretty safe to invite this person to a good food place when you don’t know enough about him/her. If the food is good, timing is possible, and maybe you’ll be treating them (and it’s worth it), most people wouldn’t mind getting some food and talking to you.
When you are talking to a new professional, make sure you don’t put too much focus on his or her professional information and forget about the personal things in his/her life. It doesn’t matter if they’re highly successful people, they’re still people, and until you show that you care about them as real people instead of their titles, you will have a hard time building a true relationship.

In regards to conversations, if you know the person likes something that you don’t, do not lie and
pretend you like it. You’ll lose any sense of credibility very soon. You could reveal that you do not know much about that topic but is interested to learn about it. That’s a good way to have a good conversation on something without needing much knowledge to it. Most people like explaining and teaching things they are passionate about, as long as you can keep yourself from drooling. However, besides having an open mind to learn, being genuinely concerned about the other person often helps in being more interested towards subjects that he/she is passionate about.
If you know what makes people smile, your day will turn out much better.

Awesome Wizkids from Kansas

For the Summer, Future Delivery invited 3 young programmers who are 19-20 years old from Kansas to help us develop our FD World platform and launch (in the next few weeks). I call them Team Blue Valley because they were all actually from Blue Valley High School in Kansas. I converted my 1 bedroom apartment into a work station with desks connected, and added another bed in the bedroom. Right now we have Team BV sleep in the bedroom and do work in the living room. My old roommate and myself just sleep on the floor in the living room, and a marketing gal will sleep on the couch for awhile. That’s an awesome startup life.

Now to really understand how good these kids are, I need to tell you what happened. Our CTO Jason Wei gave them an option of 4 tasks to do, and expected them to tell him which one they want to work on in 3 days, and take the next few weeks to complete it. After 3 days, instead of telling Jason which one they want to do, they already finished 3 out of the 4 tasks. Jason was very impressed, and so he gave them another set of tasks that were much more challenging, and they completed it in 2-3 days again. Jason said they are better than at least 50% of his team in Tosh-iba, which is one of the strongest devisions in the US, and all have at least 10-15 years of experience. Again, these guys are only 19-20 years old.

Everything is looking swell in FD, and everyone is passionately trying to make a difference in the future. I do hope that we will be given that opportunity to make that impact in society.

Steven Wallace: The Crazy Genius

Mike Liu: The man who is addicted to frustration

Tony Tonev: The Bulgarian Web 2.0 guy for celebrities

They’re working their lives away for FD….obviously.

A great blog I retrieved on the founding of Bruin Consulting

So today I accidentally found a blog post by my business partner Jun. It was a blog that he thought he had lost due to switching of url names and destruction of the wordpress database. I found it on Google Cache and remembered the good old days of how we founded Bruin Consulting, a premiere business group at UCLA. I was also gladened by the kind words he gave me. Anyone out there who seeks to start a student organization, here is a great example.

“Posted by Jun Loayza on Aug 28, 2007

Recruiting during the Fall of 06 was an eye-opening experience. I was able to get many first round interviews and achieve second round interviews as well, but I never received that phone call that I was impatiently waiting for. I interviewed with a myriad of companies: PWC, Deloitte, Triage, Cast, FTI, Gallup, and many others. My interviewing skills were top-notch, so I just couldn’t understand why I had yet to receive a phone call from these companies.

I came home early November to visit the family. In my room was a pile of letters, letters that were staring back at me, digging into my soul because I knew what each one of them said. Do you remember the feeling back in High School, when you come home waiting to get your acceptance letter in the mail? You know if you’ve been accepted by your dream school even before you open the letter. Big means that all your hard work has paid off; small means you just didn’t make the cut. Well, in the world of interviewing for a full-time job, a letter means that they had “too many qualified applicants” to give you a position.

Life has always been easy going for me. I work hard, get good grades, have great friends, and always get what I want. These letters hit me like a ton of bricks. They made me feel small, inadequate, and unimportant. These letters would be the turning point in my life.

A good friend of mine told me the reason I wasn’t hired at his company was due to lack of experience. My interview was great, but when it came down to making a decision, my resume was lacking the leadership and experience that other people had. To be honest, I felt depressed for a while. I didn’t care about school and I thought that my biggest fear was going to come true : I was going to be a failure.

A phoenix is a mythical bird that dies in flames and is reborn in its ashes. I was the phoenix. Yu-kai Chou was the fire. The most influential person in my life has been Yu-kai Chou. Because of him, I am who I am today. He was the one who encouraged me and made me pursue my dream of achieving a consulting job.

In one of our many long discussions about UCLA, we came to the realization that UCLA does not have a consulting organization. There was no club in UCLA that prepared students for the consulting world. I belong to Delta Sigma Pi, but the fraternity is mostly for the benefit of brothers, and it was at a professional low during the Fall of 06. I came up with the “crazy” idea about starting a company that does consulting work for small businesses. Yu-kai had the perfect book for me to read, E-myth Revisited and E-myth Mastery. I read these books while in Peru and was motivated and ready to start my company. My company was going to be called Loayza Consulting. I was so ready to start it, that I managed to overlook some very important facts that would make Loayza Consulting fail before it even got off the ground:

1. I had no consulting experience

2. The Loayza name is not attached to business prestige

3. My team was small, still in school, and had no consulting experience either

A brother by the name of Dave sent me a link to Berkeley Consulting. Berkeley Consulting is an undergraduate organization, supported by the HAAS business school, at UCB that does consulting work for companies in the Berkeley area. This was the perfect organization that I could mimic and implement at UCLA. I quickly contacted the president of Berkeley Consulting and asked him all about the organization and how it works. I also talked to Yu-kai about my idea and he said that he was on board. With Yu-kai on my team and UCLA Consulting ready to go, there was nothing that could stop me from creating a consulting organization on campus.

UCLA said no.We do not want students conducting a business with the UCLA name.” Even after I explicitly told them that it was not for profit, and that Berkeley does the exact same thing, they still would not let me create UCLA Consulting. I was upset, and ready to petition and argue this thing as long as it took me; however, an even better idea dawned upon me. My original idea was to create a for profit company that does consulting work for small business. I also wanted to create an organization that educates UCLA undergraduates about consulting and helps them get a consulting job. I decided to create both a company and an organization. Bruin Consulting (I got the name from my friend Jamie Lee) would be the organization on campus that educates students about consulting; Scholar’s Edge Consulting would be the for profit company that does consulting work for companies in the Westwood area. The most promising students from Bruin Consulting would feed into Scholar’s Edge Consulting, creating a synergy between the two organizations. It was a genius idea.

Bruin Consulting was founded with the vision to educate UCLA undergraduates about all types of consulting, create a stronger business presence at UCLA, and get the most prestigious consulting firms in the nation to recruit UCLA undergraduates. It’s crazy how life is filled with ups and downs. If I had never received those rejections letters from those companies, I would never have been motivated to create such an influential organization on campus.

By the way, recruiting turned out to be a success for me. I was offered a full-time position at Navigant Consulting as a Business Analyst. Good thing they didn’t give me the offer in October – I would never have been set on fire.”