In Defense of Google Glass

This post was originally featured in Forbes.

John C. Dvorak from PC Magazine UK recently wrote a piece outlining all of the reasons that Google Glass will fail.

He is largely wrong.

Dvorak’s primary thesis is that Google is taking a cavalier attitude towards privacy and that the public won’t stand for it. He predicts that as a result of slow sales (which he doesn’t quantify), Google will shut down Glass in the next year.

There are a few problems with Dvorak’s hypothesis:

Glass is not a walking invasion of privacy

Most peoples’ negative reactions to Glass from a privacy perspective are rooted in the camera. Theoretically, this camera could be recording at all times. Although technically true, that fear is not a logical interpretation of reality. Just because one is wearing Glass doesn’t mean that one is recording. But more importantly, new technologies don’t create new behaviors out of thin air.

In other words, if everyone was so adamant about recording their peers, what’s stopping them from doing that today with their phones? If people aren’t doing that today with smartphones, why will they all of a sudden do that with Glass? Glass’s camera is more convenient than that of a smartphone, but that doesn’t mean people will use it in the most nefarious, privacy-invading way possible. Social norms and self-image will prevent the vast majority of people from recording when inappropriate.

“But what about the creeps in the world?” you may ask.

Just because most people won’t use Glass for nefarious purposes, that doesn’t mean that some people won’t, right? And those bad apples will rot the entire tree, right?

Once again, simple logic comes to the rescue: people who want to record others in public typically don’t want others to know that they’re being recorded. Glass is a particularly awful tool at being discreet. It rests clearly on one’s face in plain sight and forces the recorder to look at the intended target. Google Glass is more likely the least deceptive technology than the most deceptive. Smartphones, given their ubiquity, are far more apt for deception.

Smart glasses in 2014 are where desktop computing was in 1978

Google initially designed and marketed Glass for consumers. Eighteen months later though, it’s clear that like desktops and cell phones before it, Glass will be adopted by enterprises first.

The first real application for desktop computers was spreadsheets (in the form of VisiCalc). In 1978, despite all of its limitations, the Apple II desktop computer was capable enough to render a 2-dimensional spreadsheet of numbers linked by basic addition and multiplication. Business analysts in finance and the corporate world immediately rejoiced because they no longer had to calculate each cell by hand. Spreadsheets made business analysts and executives 10x more productive.

In the early ’90s, Motorola released the first commercial cellphones. Despite their poor performance, poor network coverage, high price, and excessive bulk, business executives bought them in droves. Why? Because there was undeniable value in making phone calls while mobile. They would have gladly paid $1,000 / month for a phone in order to make billion dollar business decisions on the move.

The teams that built Glass intended it for wide-scale consumer adoption, but like Steve Jobs in 1978, were too early. However, early “killer apps” are emerging for Glass for use in the enterprise.

Of course, I have every reason to believe in a wave of enterprise Glass adoption. My company, Pristine, is on a mission to dramatically improve field service, training, and education through Glass. We’ve built a scalable, secure, robust, remote-collaboration suite for Glass to help local technicians fix problems that they otherwise never could have. Rather than struggle with a phone call to remotely diagnose mechanical problems, our customers empower their engineers to share what they’re seeing securely to remotely collaborate and fix mission-critical equipment, leading to massive ROI in healthcare, manufacturing, aerospace, oil & gas, and more.

What Dvorak gets right

While the killer apps for Glass in the enterprise are clear to many, Dvorak is closer to the mark in terms of consumer adoption. Currently, “consumer” ownership of Google Glass is limited to very early adopters who are trying the technology for its own sake, in absence of a truly game-changing application.

For consumers, the emergence of a killer app will be predicated on a few things:

  1. Glass won’t achieve mainstream adoption until you can no longer tell the difference between Google Glasses and regular glasses.
  2. Glass needs a killer app. It’s clear that given current hardware constraints, there isn’t a killer app for consumers. Perhaps augmented reality technologies will deliver the killer app for consumers.
  3. The price needs to fall dramatically. Luckily, Moore’s law dictates that the price will drop.

So where does this leave Glass?

Is Google going to kill Glass like other high-profile projects (e.g. Wave, Reeder, Buzz)? Doubtful. Larry Page just handed over most of his daily responsibilities to Sundar Pichai so Page can spend more time accelerating commercialization of Google’s most promising nascent technologies such as Glass and self-driving cars.

Instead, I offer this: Glass is going to change the world. But like other world-changing technologies before it (desktop computers and smartphones), Glass will solve expensive problems in the enterprise before achieving broader consumer adoption. Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at to talk more.

Can Life Sciences Companies Evolve to Accountable Care?

This post was originally featured on HIT Consultant.

Healthcare providers continue to assume increasing amounts of risk in care delivery. This has major implications, not just for providers and patients, but also vendors in IT, diagnostics, therapeutics and devices. If providers assume risk, why shouldn’t their vendors?

We’re already seeing this to some extent in emerging health IT companies. Most health IT innovation discussions revolve around driving value through population health, big data analytics and patient engagement. But many of these startups fail to any generate revenue until they prove the value of their solution through improved outcomes or reduced costs.

Life sciences companies, on the other hand, still generate all of their revenue in a fee for service (FFS)-like model. The more implants implanted, the more arteries unblocked and the more pills prescribed, the more these companies are rewarded, even if it’s the same patient receiving their third implant. The life sciences industry is still in the “sick care” business as opposed to the “health care” business.

How can life sciences companies transform from their traditional FFS business model to a new model that assumes risk and drives accountable care? How can they demonstrate value on a per patient basis? How can they re-shape their businesses to be more consistent with new care delivery models? Data.

Risk cannot be assessed without the measurement of data. It’s impossible to understand the efficacy of a treatment for a given patient if the outcome isn’t assessed in a granular, measurable way.

Today, efficacy data for treatments is typically captured at discrete points in time. Usually this happens when the patient sees the physician and the physician records a data point in the patient’s siloed electronic health record. Moreover, life sciences companies are only formally held accountable to data captured during clinical trials. After a treatment receives FDA approval and is commercialized, life sciences companies hardly understand how their treatments are performing in the wild.

The Internet of Health Things... In People

The road to better measurement of product efficacy may lie with embedded sensors. These sensors would capture data 100 or even 1000 times per day, rather than weekly or monthly during physician office visits.

For pharmaceuticals, that likely means pairing sensors with pills and capsules to measure specific changes in chemistry and its effect. In some cases, these sensors could even be ingestible! Imagine after taking medication, the medication itself could measure and report against the key indicators it’s supposed to effect. Companies like Proteus Digital Health are developing some of the core IP in this area already, and have plans to license to their technology to other pharmaceutical manufacturers. In the future, cholesterol-lowering statins are paired with a sensor to measure both the target of the drug (the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme crucial to cholesterol production) and overall cholesterol level. Then this data is reported back to the care team in real time.

Google Contact Lenses monitor glucose levels in real-time. With an always-connected passive monitor, diabetic patients could learn about the peaks and troughs of their insulin throughout the day and better manage their diabetes.

In the medical device world, one could embed sensors right into the device. For example:

Many pacemakers already contain sensors to adjust electrical impulse to match heart rhythms and conditions accordingly. What if that data were tracked historically and tied to particular events (e.g. meals, activities, stress)? Patients would be able to understand how their heart is reacting to their lifestyle.

Or what if the recipient of a total knee replacement also received accelerometers within that implant to measure motion and gait? The patient’s physical therapist could use this data to adjust the rehab schedule and long-term data could be used to assess the success rate of the implant, surgeon and physical therapist. Then aggregating that data could then be fed back to the device manufacturer so they could better understand how their device affects patients.

Onboard Storage of Connected Healthcare Data

Once a medical device captures data, the information could be transmitted to the cloud seamlessly. Patients wouldn’t have to remember to prick their fingers and go to the doctor to see how they’re doing. Just as businesses can take a pulse on themselves through dashboards and data, soon patients will be able to track and manage their health through measurable data in real time.

As patients better understand the impact of their treatments, they’ll react, creating virtuous cycles for effective treatments and vicious cycles for ineffective treatments. Patients will rightfully demand a new implant at no cost if their implant is shown to be statistically inferior to what they otherwise should have received.

Concluding Thoughts

Accountability has profound implications for the life sciences industry at every layer of operations. The entire product development, regulatory and commercialization strategies need to be re-thought around accountability. The most lucrative therapies will be those in which patients can clearly see and feel the benefits of the treatments.

Software is eating the world. Life sciences companies will need to embed intelligent software into their products and connect the local devices to proprietary cloud-based services. This will require massive changes in the development processes.

Regulatory processes will change. Perhaps the most important question to answer as a result of the regulatory process will evolve from, “Is the treatment safe and effective?” to “For whom is the treatment safe and effective?”

But commercialization strategies will change the most. The most successful life sciences companies won’t rely on providers as much to manage on-going success with a given therapy. Life sciences companies will employ data scientists to identify trends and patterns proactively. The data models will need to account for dozens, if not hundreds of variables. There is simply no way providers will be able to make sense of this data on a per-treatment basis so these companies will need to get more involved and develop a (even perhaps automated) direct relationship with the patient.

Healthcare is finally on a march towards accountability. And although it’s been a painful march, the march continues. The effects are slowly permeating throughout the healthcare ecosystem at every layer. It’s often said that un-innovative industries are that way because that’s what their customers demand. Hospitals have traditionally been FFS, but are transitioning to assume risk. Thus, it’s only natural that their vendors will be forced to do the same, although they may be kicking and screaming along the way. 

Smart Glasses Will be the Internet's Portal to the Physical, Hands-On World

This post was originally featured on the Huffington Post.

The Internet has been the most democratizing technology of all time. It has enabled knowledge, ideas, culture and expertise to be transferred between people and places more quickly than ever before.

We've seen entire industries disrupted by the Internet including newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, libraries, travel agents, music, taxis, hotels, the Yellow Pages and more. All of these industries were predicated on controlling proprietary information flows. When the Internet brought the marginal cost of communication and information transfer to $0, the old business models failed and new ones emerged that took advantage of a fundamentally new way to communicate.

What About Non-Information-Based Businesses?

The industries that have been disrupted are, at their core, information-based businesses. The Internet hasn't transformed industrial enterprises and more hands-on industries such as manufacturing, warehousing, energy, healthcare and field service. Operationally, these industries are remarkably similar to their 1960s counterparts: They still rely on airplanes and cars to move workers around to do things -- inspection, audit, diagnostics, repair and service. Why can't people communicate virtually in these scenarios across distances to address the problems at hand? Why hasn't the Internet virtualized communications around real-world, hands-on collaboration?

The Internet hasn't yet disrupted many hands-on industries not because the Internet is deficient or because management is incompetent, but because the Internet end-points have been deficient. The client devices we've been computing with -- desktops, laptops, phones and tablets -- are simply not designed for hands-on jobs; using these devices in hands-on settings is simply ergonomically impractical in most cases.

Enter Smart Glasses: The Internet's Portal to the Physical World

Today, we are finally on the cusp of the industrial Internet. Using smart glasses (like those manufactured by Vuzix, Google and others) as a portal, the Internet will reshape traditional industries by bringing information and expertise where it was previously not possible: into hands-on arenas.

Field service in particular is ripe for disruption. When mission-critical equipment is down, business operations come to a halt. Using glasses, workers will be able to remotely collaborate to diagnose and repair problems. Rather than waiting hours or even days for the right people to arrive, workers will begin collaborating immediately and fix problems and order of magnitude more quickly than ever before.

This problem manifests in all kinds of industries: airline manufacturing (e.g. conveyer belt not working), pharmaceutical manufacturing, contract research organizations (CROs), HVAC refrigeration (industrial, commercial, academic), midstream and downstream oil and gas, and telecom.

Healthcare is also ripe to adopt glasses. Smartphones are remarkably filthy. Why are healthcare workers touching these devices all day while taking care of patients? This seems like a recipe for accelerating the growth of hospital-acquired infections.

There are incredible opportunities ahead. By breaking old assumptions about who can do what and where, entire industries can be reshaped. Just imagine being able to extend the knowledge and insight of your best workers to the periphery of your distributed workforce. Or training your customers on a new machine daily over the course of the first month, instead of 0- and 30-day trainings.

The future of traditional industries look remarkably different -- for the first time in a long time -- through Glass.

The Technology Hype Lifecycle: Google Glass Edition

This post originally featured on Forbes.

Recent announcements from Google about the future of Glass naturally ignited an explosion of commentary in the tech media. For those of us in the Glass at Work world, the news that Glass has “graduated” from Google[x] into a true business unit headed by Tony Fadell is very promising. Yet many outlets’ coverage focused on the end of the Glass Explorer program for consumers, characterizing it as the final death knell for the technology.

So why the disconnect?

Historically, Glass has fallen victim to the technology hype lifecycle, and has done so more strongly than most technologies.

The Technology Hype Lifecycle

There’s a famous graph you’ve probably seen before on the Internet that charts the lifecycle of hype for new technologies.

But in a number of ways, this graph isn’t quite right – specifically, the plateau of productivity isn’t illustrated correctly. Technologies plateau far above the peak of inflated expectations.

Consider Mobile Computing

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Microsoft recognized the potential of mobile devices, so they built Windows Mobile and worked with OEMs to deliver Windows Mobile phones. They were way too early and made some fundamentally poor design decisions. They dreamed big, but failed to deliver on most of them. By 2004, BlackBerry was emerging with phones that could support basic business communications, contacts and calendar functions. Mobile computing was exiting the trough of disillusionment. Google saw this and bought Android in 2005. Rumors suggest Apple started development of the iPhone in late 2004/early 2005. They saw it too.

What no one foresaw was not only how fast the curve would ramp up, but the magnitude of the peak. Even in 2009, no one could have imagined Uber or Tinder or Snapchat, let alone 2007. Even today, we still do not know where the curve will plateau. How could Microsoft, or anyone else for that matter, have seen the potential of mobile computing in 1999 when they committed to building the (failed) future of mobile computing?

The mobile computing hype cycle graph actually looks something more like this.

Who knows which of today’s Series A and Series B stage startups are the next Uber? Kevin Spain from Emergence Capital has recently been evangelizing that today’s enterprise mobility market resembles that of the cloud in 2004. If that’s the case (and given mobile’s incredible penetration today), there is only one inevitable conclusion: mobile is eating everything.

So What About Glass?

Right now, in early 2015, Glass seems to be deep in the trough of disillusionment. The media has been hammering Glass lately, declaring its demise and failure, and before today’s announcement, Google itself was very quiet about Glass’s future. For the record, Glass is not just alive and well, but thriving in professional and enterprise use cases.

But what’s much more important isn’t Glass’s near-miss with death, but its tremendous potential. Glass is today where mobile computing was in 2000: dreams seemingly shattered by early setbacks.

The Glass curve will look a lot more like the mobile curve than the famous generic curve. We are seeing tremendous growth as enterprises adopt Glass to solve painful economic problems that were previously unsolvable.

The Glass growth curve will not mirror the mobile growth curve identically. Glass will peak at a lower point on the hype cycle graph than smartphones did. Smart glasses simply don’t have the upside potential on a per-person basis that smartphones do. Glass competes with smartphones; smartphones compete with laptops. The marginal improvement from always-on-you smartphones to hands-free Glass is material, but not as large as the jump from sitting-only laptops to always-on-you smartphones. Moreover, the best use cases for Glass are for desk-less, hands-on workers; these workers typically earn substantially less than their white collar, desk-bound counterparts. Smartphones amplify the productivity of expensive workers; glasses multiply the productivity of less expensive workers.

Having said that, Glass is still nascent today. We are at the tip of the iceberg. There is tremendous potential to be had in hardware, software and services. Over the next few years, we will see tremendous innovation from startups and giants. Hardware experiences are going to diverge. Software developers will experiment and pioneer new user-interaction models. Cloud services will evolve and take on an increasing percentage of computing. We know nothing, which means we can still do anything.

Watches Are For Consumers, Glasses Are For The Enterprise

This post was originally featured on

From watches to socks, shirts to wristbands, glasses to rings, wearables promise all kinds of features to make our lives better. Thus, everyone seems to be building new wearables or software to run on them. The hottest sectors for wearables currently are twofold: wristbands such as FitBitJawboneBasisMicrosoft Band, Android Wear devices, and the Apple Watch (collectively dubbed “Smartwatches” for the rest of this post) and smart eyewear such as Google GlassMetaVuzix, and more (henceforth “smart glasses“).

Smartwatches are primarily being adopted by consumers, and smart glasses by the enterprise, and their adoption is driven by widely different reasons. Why the split? 

It’s all about marginal utility

Many consumers react negatively to smart glasses like Google Glass because of two hardware traits: the outward-facing camera and the omnipresent screen. The general argument is that smart glasses come with both a massive invasion of privacy (via the camera), and the ultimate manifestation of our always connected culture (via the screen). Although these sentiments aren’t really valid, the fact that most people hold these opinions will slow adoption in the consumer market for at least a few years.

On the other hand, smartwatches don’t face many socio-cultural challenges. They just need to solve some basic consumer problems to create value and justify their cost. Indeed, there are all kinds of reasons for consumers to purchase a smartwatch, leading to to a burgeoning smartwatch market for consumers. The entrance of Apple entering the market is proof enough that we can expect fast growth in the consumer smartwatch space.

Enterprises, on the other hand, are much more objective buyers. Broadly speaking, they pay for products and services for one of two reasons: to reduce costs or to drive revenue.

What business problems can smartwatches solve that phones can’t?

The use of wearables in corporate wellness initiatives to reduce employer healthcare costs has shown some early success, in terms of ROI.

But in most cases, and particularly when we talk about leveraging wearables to help employees do their primary job, the business case for buying employees smartwatches is pretty thin. Smartwatches are basically an extension of the smartphone, but with additional, strict limitations around screen size and battery. It’s these restrictions that pose a problem for their use in day-to-day work. Though smartwatches are technically hands-free devices, they impose material restrictions on their wearers that will prevent wide-scale adoption for enterprise field applications:

  • Smartwatches require the wearer to turn his/her arm, which may not not be possible in certain scenarios.
  • Many field workers wear specialized gloves and sleeves that would prevent a watch from functioning correctly.
  • Smartwatches can’t display much information because of the small screen.
  • Smartwatches lack robust input mechanisms for documentation. 

On the other hand, smart glasses can be used in almost any hands-on situation, and are a perfect fit for mobile field workers:

  • Smart glasses can rest comfortably under protective gear, and can be sanitized for use in sterile areas such as operating rooms and semi-conductor fabs (we've verified these use cases and many others at Pristine).
  • Smart glasses offer large screens that can render more information
  • Voice activation on smart glasses obviates any comprises in hand-based ergonomics
  • Most smart glasses have a camera, a great tool for documentation and remote support and assistance.

This isn’t all theory, though.

Gartner predicts a $1B savings in the field service industry by 2017, a prophecy that industry players seem to be fulfilling. Companies from oilfield services to remote assistance are actively and publicly investigating ways to use smart glasses in their business. The manufacturing industry has been particularly quick to realize the value of smart glasses by deploying them on the factory floor.

Consider a production line: in this setting, perhaps more than any other, calculating the economic value of uptime is simple. Just count the number of widgets that roll off the line per day, multiply by revenue per item, and scale for % uptime. When an incremental reduction in downtime can recapture significant amounts of lost revenue, the math of smart glasses is rather simple. If a wearable-equipped onsite staff member can get a conveyor belt or laser etcher up and running quickly with the help of a remote expert, extended downtime is avoided, materially increasing revenue. Plus, the OEM has avoided travel expense for their field engineer, and satisfied their SLA at a dramatically lower cost. In other words, the price of glasses represents a mere fraction of the potential ROI.

At Pristine, we’re driving the very future outlined above. Our customers–spanning more than two dozen organizations across life sciences, field service, industrial equipment, and healthcare –empower their mobile workers to communicate, collaborate, and document in the field, 100% hands free. None of our customers are asking for watches. Why? Because watches don't make the workforce materially more productive.

The Virtuous Cycle of Sacrifice in Startups

I ask people to sacrifice dozens of times a day. I ask candidates and my team to sacrifice employment at bigger companies that pay more and expect less. I ask our investors to put the capital they went to such great lengths to raise behind us. I ask prospects to believe that our insanity can solve pressing business problems. I ask partners to expend their precious resources on us.

I ask literally everyone around me to give up something substantial. I am always asking. Thus I am always taking.

Except that I'm not.

I ask our stakeholders to our stakeholders. Everyone is sacrificing for everyone:

Our employees sacrifice for our investors, customers, and partners. They bust their asses day in and day out. Our engineers are working into the evenings regularly to deliver for our customers. Our marketing team is rapidly accelerating our public profile and our lead generation machine so that our engineers' code can make a dent in the world. Our sales team is creating value for customers. Our client success team is moving mountains to fulfill our promises. Everyone at Pristine is doing everything they can for our customers, investors and partners.

Our investors have gone out on a limb for our employees, and in turn, our customers and partners. And we put them to work: we work with them nearly daily to find and close candidates, customers, and partners. They know how hard it is to create a new market, and they are betting their time and precious capital on our ability to succeed. They are all in for everyone else.

Our customers are placing bets on us. They're betting that we aren't full of it. They're betting that we aren't a security liability. They're betting that we won't disrupt their mission critical business operations. They're betting that we don't piss away their capital into the massive abyss of failed startups. Executive sponsors within our customer organizations are risking their political capital with us to build our mutual vision. Our customers are sacrificing for our employees, investors, and in turn partners.

Our partners are betting on us too. They shouldn't waste their time on losers. We have to prove to them that we deliver value: relationships, revenue, growth, marketing, and more. They're offering their time and effort for our customers, investors, and employees. They expect that we reciprocate.

Many people love the energy and vibe of a startup. Although it's easy to attribute the startup mentality of boundless optimism to naivety about the challenges ahead, there is a deeper source of connection. We all know that we are sacrificing for one another. It fosters a deeper bond between all of us. We aren't here because we just need to feed ourselves; we're here because we believe in a shared mission.

We are all sacrificing for one another. That is the virtuous cycle of sacrifice in startups.

Tech Outregulates Regulators

I Just finished listening to a Freakonomics podcast episode, Regulate this!, that outlines the battle between local governments and peer-to-peer (P2P) services such as AirBnB], Uber, Lyft, and EatWith. Freakonomics interviews people on both sides, including cofounders of AirBnB, Lyft, and EatWith, as well as New York State Senator Liz Kruger.

Throughout the podcast, Kruger repeatedly highlights how P2P marketplaces aren’t regulating the users of their respective marketplaces, and thus consumers and bystanders could be adversely impacted without regulations and protections in place. She cites moving drug labs that operate via AirBnB; Lyft and Uber drivers that may not have insurance, and at-home chefs that may be intentionally or accidentally poisoning their guests.

The fundamental premise of Kruger’s argument is that consumers and bystanders must be protected, and that top-down government regulation is the best, and perhaps even only, way to protect consumers.

Her argument is by all means logical. She has hundreds of years of history backing her argument. Governments regulate industries to try to ensure fair outcomes for all stakeholders. But her argument also fails to account for a few of the most profound aspects of human behavior and sociology: the power of social norms and reputation and the power of creating transparency through technology.

These P2P-based businesses are by all accounts exceptional. They are each worth over $1B and are only a few years old. The market has proven that they solve real problems that millions of people face at spectacular scale. And like all businesses that operate at massive scale, there are a few bad apples left in their wake.

All successful P2P businesses are based on identity, reputation, and trust. Each of these services goes to extreme lengths to ensure a vibrant and healthy community:

eBay - after every transaction, buyers and sellers are asked to rate one another. Many sellers highlight their seller ratings in new and ongoing listings.

AirBnB - after every transaction, AirBnB offers discounts to guests to review their host. Hosts must review their guest before they can accept a new guest.

Uber / Lyft - Both services require that riders and drivers rate one another after each and every transaction. Neither party can partake in another transaction without rating the party from the prior transaction. Moreover, Uber and Lyft perform background checks on all drivers, require valid and updated vehicle inspections, and mandate a current insurance policy.

These businesses strongly encourage - and in some cases force - users to rate one another to build a trust-based community and marketplace. The reputation score tied to each party is based on the sum total of every single transaction each party has with the system.

On the other hand, when governments regulate businesses, they tend to review/approve businesses prior to opening, and on some periodic ongoing basis. In many cases, the business being regulated by the government knows approximately when the government may be coming by for a regulatory inspection.

In this light, it would appear that crowd-sourced regulation is actually stronger than government-mandated regulation. Crowd-sourced regulation is most certainly more granular, more frequent, and less prone to bias and corruption. Perhaps more interestingly, each of these crowd-sourced services also tends to offer better service than their respective traditional retail analogs:

Uber and Lyft drivers are known to be quite friendly and enthusiastic. Many offer complimentary water. Uber and Lyft both go to great lengths to build a community among their drivers and to ensure that drivers provide a great customer experience.

AirBnB hosts are generally warm and welcoming people and offer stellar traveler experience. I’ve used AirBnB four or five times. All of my hosts offered home-cooked breakfasts and bars for the road at fraction the cost of nearby hotels. This is perhaps largely due to self- selection of hosts, but is no less relevant. Hosts are thankful for the opportunity to earn money when they otherwise would not, and want to work hard to earn guests’ business in a competitive AirBnB marketplace.

These P2P marketplaces ensure and promote high-quality for every transaction by promoting accountability during every transaction. The government will never be able to regulate these services at this level of granularity because governmental approaches to regulation are intrinsically top-down as opposed to bottom-up.

Everyone, for all of our sakes, regulate one another!

CEO = Chief Worry Officer

I'm a first time founder. I've been fortunate enough to build a company supported by an ambitious, talented team. Together, our team has built a great product, proven its value with customers, and raised $5.4M in Series A financing off the back of our early success. For the first time in my life, I'm responsible for millions of dollars of other people's capital, and as such, I now report to a board. I'm a founder, and I can be fired. I'm learning a lot as I go.

I was recently talking with a friend (who I'll call Barry for the rest of this post) who's raised over $100M in VC financing. We've talked quite a bit about startup boards, and specifically, the board's expectations of CEO performance (not just my board, but all boards). It's pretty easy to overthink these issues. Barry provided a simple framework to think about my role as CEO: the board has hired me as Chief Worry Officer.

As Chief Worry Officer, my job is to worry about the business. I find that it helps to pretend the board hired me as an outside consultant to come in and "worry" about things. I have to demonstrate a realistic understanding of where we are as a business, highlight strengths and weaknesses, identify the problems we're facing, and outline how we're trying to solve them. The worst thing a CEO can do is understate and underestimate problems. As Chief Worry Officer, I must find, vocalize, and solve these problems.

I would love to provide an anecdote to substantiate the above, but we haven't been holding board meetings long enough for me to discuss board issues publicly. Although the framework is new, I love it. It forces me to worry about just a few issues, and to delegate everything else as part of the leveling up process. Today, I have 4 key issues that I'm worried about. I've written those 4 key items down in my task manager that stays open on the right hand side of my computer at all times. As chief worry officer, I've structured my thinking, meetings, and processes around solving the key issues the board has hired me to worry about.

I recommend this framework to all new VC-backed founders. Founders, worry. It's good for you :).

Looking At Field Service Through Google Glass

This post was originally featured in Field Technologies Online.

Why do enterprise customers of capital equipment demand guaranteed uptime? Because the capital equipment is mission critical to these organizations' revenue streams; when the capital equipment isn’t working, the organization is bleeding money and literally dying. Worse, nonfunctional equipment can put peoples' safety at risk (e.g. patient safety in hospitals when diagnostic machines are down). So when mission-critical equipment isn't working, businesses cannot function correctly. Executives quickly (and rightly) grow frustrated and money is burned. In other words, time-to-resolution (TTR) is critical in field service.

Therefore, buyers of capital equipment spend extraordinary amounts of capital to purchase service contracts that ensure maximum uptime. In turn, equipment manufacturers spend extraordinary amounts of capital to satisfy service level agreements (SLAs) to guarantee that uptime. These SLAs are supported by highly trained, specialized support teams who either fly to--or are located near--the customer's capital equipment for one simple reason: if things break, someone needs to be on site fast.

What if they didn't have to be on site? What if the customer could be supported remotely by a centrally located expert? Google Glass and other smart glasses are making this a reality.

Why Glass? Why not mobile?

For mobile, hands-on workers, smartphones and tablets promised a new paradigm in information access, process control, and remote support. To a certain degree, these devices have delivered. From an information perspective, workers equipped with mobile devices are better equipped than ever before. But smartphones and tablets suffer from one critical problem: they obstruct the worker's process. All the functionality in the world is somewhat less helpful to a worker if they're constantly interrupting their work to glance at, tap, and swipe on their tablet. Most notably, using video for remote collaboration is somewhat less useful if the tech must hold a phone in front of their workspace, occupying one hand and obstructing their view.

Glass, then, is the natural solution to this problem. It brings all the capability of the smartphone to the field, without the obstructions. Glass is voice activated, lightweight, and stays out of the field of view. Most importantly of all, the front facing camera means that a Glass-wearer can share their point of view with anyone, while maintaining their focus and the use of their hands. Every pair of hands in the field now has access to the expertise of the entire organization, in real time.

Perhaps more interestingly, this model can be extended directly to the customer. Particular for field service and repair of capital equipment, this has powerful effects: dramatically improved time to resolution, and lower cost to provide the service.

An Example: Diagnostics in Action

Acme corporation manufactures MRIs for use in hospitals. Pines Hospital in Smithville has an MRI from Acme. It runs about 12 hours per day and generates a total revenue for the hospital of $225,000 each day (or $15k/hour). Last Friday at 8:30AM, the MRI broke at Pines Hospital. It took 3 hours and 40 minutes before an Acme service technician could arrive and fix it. During that 3 hours and 45 minutes, Pines hospital lost $15,000 * 3.67 = $55,000.

Why did it take so long to fix the MRI? Because it took three hours for the nearest ACME support representative to make it from his home in Houston to Smithville. Upon arriving, the field service technician opened the back panel on the MRI, reset the device, re-installed the system settings, and ran a few tests to ensure the MRI was correctly connected back to all of the ancillary imaging and scheduling system. The diagnostic and repair process took just 20 minutes.

Enter Glass: The Next Generation of Field Service

Meanwhile, in an alternate universe, Acme had equipped their technicians with Glass.

In this alternate universe, things occurred differently when the MRI went down. Instead of calling on a telephone, the local Pines Hospital radiology technician put on a pair of Glass and initiated a video call. In seconds, the radiology technician was showing the ACME technical representative exactly what he was seeing and hearing as he walked around the MRI. With guidance from the remote Acme technician, the radiology technician fixed the MRI machine in 40 minutes. Although it took the radiology technician twice as long to complete the actual repair, there was no time lost in transport or logistics. In this alternate universe, Pines hospital only lost $15,000 * .67 = $10,000.

In other words, remote service workflows, powered by Glass, drove material savings for Pines hospital! Plus, the shorter overall downtime kept the hospital running smoothly: patients received diagnoses on time, staff went home on time, and schedules weren't pushed out.

From Example To Reality

This alternate universe is becoming reality! Already, industry leaders are adopting Glass to enhance their field service organizations--equipping both technicians and customers. At Pristine, we’re pioneering this reality, building software for Glass to power new field service workflows based on the "Wearable Worker.” Our customers are lowering costs, shortening time to resolution, and bringing ever more positive experiences to their customers. That’s the next generation of field service in action. Drop us a line to learn more.

The Entrepreneur Hustle

This post was originally featured on Forbes.

We live in incredible times. Young, inexperienced, naive founders without any connections or experience can raise millions of dollars from angel investors without a product, plan, revenue, users, or clients. My company Pristine is a testament to that fact – we recently followed the seed round described below with a $5.4 million Series A.

When we first started in May of 2013, my co-founder Patrick and I thought we knew what raising money meant. After all, we’d read about hundreds of financings on TechCrunch. It seemed like 20-something founding teams could get funded to build just about anything in Silicon Valley. VCs couldn’t find enough 20-somethings to quit their jobs and change the world.

We didn’t have a clue.

Through dumb luck, my blogging connected us with an anesthesiologist who ended up investing our first $100,000 in June of 2013. In the ensuing months, we raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in $25,000 and $50,000 increments from smart and dumb money without a demo, let alone clients or revenue. In retrospect, I can’t believe we raised when and how we did. We had nothing and we were entering an awful market — health care is 10 years behind in terms of technology. Why would investors think that physicians would be the first adopt Google Glass?

So how did a 23-year-old and 21-year-old in this space do it? In short, we hustled. Specifically:


My New Year’s resolution for 2013 was to blog three times per week, every week, for the entire year. I succeeded in keeping my pledge, writing about everything I found interesting — human computer interaction on PCs, the strengths and weaknesses of Google Glass, why Macbook Pros are amazing, healthcare policy, macroeconomic changes in the healthcare landscape and more. Blogging led to a number of strangers emailing me, some of whom ended up funding Pristine to the tune of $250,000 and helped us find some of our first clients. One of those strangers was a physician at UC Irvine, who became our first client.


This is an obvious choice, but one that I can’t stress enough. There are angels that scavenge AngelList just looking to invest capital. We ended up raising about $150,000 from cold intros via AngelList. We did however make one big mistake — we incorporated as a Texas C-corp instead of Delaware, which made us ineligible for AngelList’s syndicates.

Other Crowdfunding Sites

We were promiscuous fundraisers. We signed up for as many crowdfunding portals as we could find. RockThePost, HealthFundr, AngelMD, MicroVentures and others. Some of these portals didn’t drive any investment, but those that did drove an additional $350,000 in investment and led to paying clients. Although each portal may consume several hours’ worth of time, it was worth it to pursue every one. Founders, don’t hesitate to flirt with everyone.

Shameless Begging

Young, naive entrepreneurs aren’t selfish enough. Successful people who like to help entrepreneurs often ask how they can help, but entrepreneurs are too shy to directly ask for money. I wasn’t, and it worked. Whenever someone asked me how they could help, I would always ask, “Do you know any angel investors that you think might be interested in our space?” That question alone generated over $200,000 in investment.

…And a Few Less Successful Strategies

We also did a few foolish things. For instance, never again will I spend capital attending a startup pitch contest. We spent over $25,000 attending and winning a major pitch competition. What did we get? Nothing, except a temporary ego boost. If there’s a local pitch contest that you can participate in without spending any capital, you should attend to practice your pitch and network. But don’t spend a dime.

We also wasted an enormous amount of time meeting with VCs while we were at the seed stage. VCs will not fund first-time entrepreneurs at the seed stage, period. They receive too many pitches from seasoned executives to invest in an unproven team and will always wait until you demonstrate real traction.

But the most dangerous mistake of all was allowing an angel — we’ll call him Bob — to get actively involved in the business by taking a board seat. Bob was a first-time angel investor who led a syndicate of his friends to invest $300,000. A few weeks after investing, he got cold feet and demanded all of the syndicate’s money back. He had no legal basis for doing so, but threatened us with lawsuits. We sent the money back, but it was a serious morale kill, and a massive time and money suck (lawyers are expensive).

Moral of the story: Be cautious about allowing angels, especially first-time angels, to get involved in your business. Use them for advice, use them for their connections, and take their money, but be wary of anything else.

For first-time entrepreneurs, the fundraising process is confusing. There are no magic tricks, but there are some pitfalls that can be avoided. So long as you are incredibly passionate and have a business that could theoretically work, you can succeed. Let the fear of missing payroll coerce you into approaching strangers in person and on the Internet to shamelessly ask for money. If necessity is the mother of all invention, then fear of death is the mother of the entrepreneur hustle.