Always make your future bigger than your past.

HeroesDan Sullivan once said, “Always make your future bigger than your past.”

Even if your past was gigantic.

In the spring of 2005, a handful of twenty-somethings from Austin, Texas rejected the rigid road their degrees dictated and decided to embark on an entrepreneurial endeavor that would otherwise be deemed by the business community as really, really stupid:

They were going to bootstrap an online print shop, snag a cheap domain name, call it, and let the customer do the work.TWENTY ONE

For months, it was in fact, really, really stupid. No customers would bite, no company would buy. Shop after shop told those twenty-somethings, as if they were in some kind of blind alliance, that no one  would want to order custom signs and banners online; consumers demand the physical, visceral experience. It’ll never work. Sorry, no sale.

A decade later, those twenty-somethings are now thirty-somethings, has been bootstrapped into an ecommerce powerhouse, and the company is armed with an arsenal of sharp and fast teams – all dedicated to disrupting the way people consume, one customizable sign (or canvas, or t-shirt, or banner, or business card, or…) at a time.

So now, as the spring of 2015 approaches, my co-founders and I can proudly look back on the last ten years of accomplishments, and brim with excitement as we look forward to the next ten.

After all, you should always make your future bigger than your past.

So, in the spirit of gigangic pasts and even gigantic-er futures, I am very ELEVENexcited to announce that after ten years of bootstrapped bliss, “Sorry, no sale.” has transformed into “You’ve got a deal,” and has officially taken an outside investment from PWP Growth Equity, a global, independent advisory and asset management firm,  to help fuel our growth fire for the next decade of badassery.

By transacting this equity sale, we are able to remove risk from our aggressive growth strategies; allowing for more of our teams to seize more opportunities and grab even more wins. This strategic financial partnership will equip our aforementioned arsenal with the resources they need to rise above our competition and I feel strongly that this investment will help us completely command the world’s print space. What’s more, PWP has incredible strength in offline marketing and sales, which will come as a great compliment to our existing online marketing expertise.

When you look back on the last ten years, and all the things we were able to achieve with just our bootstraps, you might be impressed. But when you look forward on the next ten years, and all the things we will be able to wholly dominate, well, then you might just spontaneously combust. This is the beginning of a very cool chapter, and I’m ecstatic to continue working alongside all the talented, innovative, and hungry teams  that make up the very fiber of’s being.

On to the better, faster future; on to the next ten years!

Cabs will not be out-innovated.

uber-muggingsUnless you’ve been fasting from social media to do some sort of life re-centering with your fellow yogis, there’s recently been a lot of hullabaloo surrounding the ridesharing company, Uber. Articles like this one, this one, and even this one, all poised themselves to purport that the company’s ethics are all out of whack.

TL;DR: Uber’s C-Suite is comprised of a bunch of fratty misogynists, their favorite pastime is hoarding your data and stalking you, and they hire criminals to deliberately kidnap you.

Oh and as of August, the service became available in 45 countires, more than 200 cities worldwide, has raised over $49 million dollars in VC funding, and is valued at over $40 billion dollars. They’ve also managed to initiate the biggest monetary outreach the nonprofit No Kid Hungry has ever had, simply by offering a “donate” option in their app. But that’s not nearly as important as the fear-mongering coming from the big brother blogs.

All this to say, ridesharing companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are not only disrupting the way we travel, but the way transportation companies do business. And it’s awesome.

Ed Kargbo, President of the Greater Austin Transportation Company (Yellow Cab Austin) and my good buddy from the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, recently had words on My Fox Austin in his segment entitled “taxis fights back“. In the video, Ed, cool as a cucumber, essentially goes on to explain that Uber and Lyft are mere pawns in his game. Sure, their use of technology has forced them to work a little more efficiently, but it isn’t innovative.

In fact, he says, cabs cannot and will not be out-innovated. Here’s why:

  1. Your trusty yellow steeds were the first to the app game. And I do mean “your” – Austin was the first city to equip cabs with both application capabilities and GPS technology. Today, the HailACab app claims more than 30% of the company’s bookings.
  2. They’ve already got the infrastructure. Since it’s a city-governed company that has been around for what seems like eons – implementing the technology was a cinch. So because of this system, the supply, tech, and drivers are all taken care of; all parties are satisfied.
  3. And lastly – no surcharges. Sure, surcharges are appealing for rideshare drivers during high volume times, but what about all the other times? Fluctuating rates are hard to rely on. With Yellow Cab, drivers never lose money.src.adapt.480.low

Based on what I know from companies like Uber, and what I know from companies like Yellow Cab, both could use a lot of work in their public relations and customer service departments. Now, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure allowing a surcharge during a very traumatic hostage situation  – where people are fleeing for their lives – isn’t the best way to convey you’re a company who cares (and an algorithm is not an excuse). On the flip side, cab drivers have to battle years of being notoriously late and non-communicative – so Ed and his fleet have some work to do on upping their level of reliability.

But, with their use of technology and ability to rapidly adapt with the needs of commuters, both companies (and their respective areas of competition) are transforming the way we get from A to B, making this an exciting time for the transportation industry at-large!

Just maybe make sure you have a rockstar PR team…