It’s Official. I’m looking for a Tech Co-Founder in Sydney.

Title says it all. I’m considering doing a video log of how my search goes in Sydney’s tech/startup ecosystem. Let me know if you have any thoughts or opinions.

If you’re a developer, I welcome your email or phone call. I’d love to buy you a coffee or have your baby if that’s what it takes to get to know some great coders.

In a sentence, there’s a huge opportunity to create the 1st brand in high quality social experiences through an exclusive platform. Confused? I’d love to explain in person.

Cheers,
Drew

American Universities in Qatar

I recently watched an excellent 60 Minutes piece on the resource rich nation of Qatar. This led me to want to learn more about Education City, a Qatar initiative that brings American Universities to Qatar. The draw for these universitities is that ALL facilities are paid for, which gives many of these schools the latest technologies and resources. A very insightful video piece by PBS on Education City can be seen here.

Since I currently work in study abroad for Boston University here in Sydney, I was curious which American Universities have satellite campuses in Qatar. Here is the list with links.

Carnegie Mellon
Cornell University
Georgetown
Northwestern
Texas A&M
Virgina Commonwealth

Sitting isn’t very good for you.

I have been working in venture capital since August of this year. Physically, it’s your pretty standard office job. I have a cubicle and sit at a desk all day. I haven’t been doing a great job of finding time to exercise, which has translated to me being the most out of shape I’ve ever been I think.

Here and there my back will be sore, which is expected since I barely move. This got me thinking, “sittings for years of my life may not be that great for my health”. One of the partners at the firm (around 35 years old) just tweaked his back doing ordinary chores and was out two weeks. He’s been sitting the 9-5 for at least 10 yeas. Hmmmm. This got me thinking, and googling. This is what I found.

If you’ve ever worked an office job, keep reading.

Sitting is Killing You
Via: Medical Billing And Coding

Updated: My Work Experience

I’ve decided to update my about me section. For those who don’t know, I’ve been working in Sydney, Australia since August, 2011 for Boston University and Driftwood Capital. It’s been a great balance of gaining valuable work experience in venture capital and working the best job in the world as a senior RA for BU’s study abroad program.

In undergrad I founded my first startup, Hangchillparty. Built for the cracked-out social ecosystems of college dorms, it was an instant way of letting groups of friends know when you were free to socialize. This experience taught me keys to design, pitching to angels/VCs, and how to file patents.

I then worked as the Director of Marketing for two successful mobile development startups, Dokogeo and Retronyms. Dokogeo is a leader in geo-location with apps such as Dokogeo. They spoke at SXSW 2011 on the Future of Location Based Games Beyond Check-ins. Retronyms focuses on music production apps and has done work for companies such as Justin.TV and Adobe. I learned the power of utilizing social media to build cult followings that market products for you.

After my mobile stint I was then persuaded to join Kar.ma, a social marketplace for buying and selling goods for the benefit of charity. I saw why most startups don’t succeed and the pains of raising money with the team and product just isn’t there.

This instance helped me realize the importance of joining a startup with strong execution and a talented team. Before I left for Sydney, I spent some time at Grubwithus, the YC startup backed by the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Ashton Kutcher, and more. To be surrounded by a team that hustled so hard showed me what dedication it really takes to build value.

If you’ve read this far, you may be wondering why I’ve hopped around so many companies. I’ve always had the goal of co-founding a startup of my own in the back of my mind, but to do this, a hodgepodge of startup experiences is important in understanding what has made companies succeed and fail.

My current gig in venture capital has shown my how to dark side thinks, which will come in useful when fundraising. Developing modest modelling skills to test out returns on different ventures doesn’t hurt either.

Ferrari Boyz Album Cover. Stupid.

While browsing the latest hip hop album releases in Amazon, I stumbled upon the album below.

There comes a point where silliness becomes outrageousness and outrageousness becomes obsurd. After obsurd, that point just becomes a feeling of despair. I love the first two, but am disappointed when music hit the third.

Anyone who knows me understands I listen to rap and hip hop constantly. I don’t think N.W.A. should be reprimanded for their explicit lyrics, Jay-Z should be regarded as one of most talented musical artists of modern music, and Gucci Mane’s Lemonade is a song I enjoy listening to on repeat because of how catchy it is.

But the excessive flaunting of wealth in such an influential culture of our youths is crippling to see, especially in a world that is on the brink of collapse because of it.

Album covers like the one above exist all over hip hop and rap, but for some reason, this one pushed me over the edge.

Look at it. It’s the most obsurd album cover ever. It’s stupid. First off, the title of their album.

Ferrari Boyz

Are you so dumb that the most clever name you can come up must include a fast, fancy car? Gucci Mane & Waka Flocka Flame, may I ask the origin of this name? I’m just gona take a stab at it, but maybe you boyz rap about speeding in your Ferraris with attractive, supple females by your side as you point at your detailed rims with bottles of assorted champagnes by your side. Real artistic.

What scares me about this is how formulaic pockets of hip hop have become. There is no art in this whatsoever. It’s rude to judge a book by its cover, but not when the cover contains no thought or creativity at all.

Fancy Car + Shiny Bling + Word spelled incorrectly with Z replacing S = Awesome album cover!!!

Now, maybe the Ferrari Boyz are smarter than I think and are receiving an excessive amount of royalties from Gucci and Ferrari. That’s cool and pretty smart if so. But they must realize that they are crippling listeners with the most blunt forms of materialistic showmanship one can imagine.

Of course, I haven’t listened to this album, so I may be wrong. The Ferrari Boyz may not rap about how fly they. Maybe the album cover is a satire of those pockets of the hip hop industry. I hope so.

One of the reasons I love hip hop is how well it expresses the ego and individualism.  Great artists and songs can make you feel like the shit, which is a definite appeal to the genre. But there comes a point where it becomes obsurd and the content is so superficial that you have to slot Ferrari into the album title because you’ve already said it too much about fast fancy cars in your songs. This album has hit that point.

Absorb Current Experiences.

I’ve copied an excerpt from http://jasonkelly.com/, a very insightful site and newsletter on stocks and the current state of the world ecoonomy. This exerpt is more about life though.

I highly suggest subscribing to his paid weekly letters. They help keep me up to date on the world’s happenings and are from a very knowledgeable source.

“I’ve noticed recently when meeting people visiting Japan from abroad that I rarely find the meaningful conversations I crave — and found in times past. The overseas-travel filter used to deliver learned, inquisitive people into my life. We’d size each other up, find common ground, then traverse that ground to find what the other could contribute to our own body of knowledge. We’d both emerge better informed, in possession of a wiser perspective on this mutual journey around the sun.

What I get now is a collection of thought fragments, most of them irrelevant. I’ll begin discussing a topic and find myself instantly removed from it and embarked on a kaleidoscopic journey through an internet trivia wonderland. It goes something like this:

“The cracks and bumps in this road are remnants of the March 11 earthquake,” I say while driving toward the disaster zone. “Believe it or not, the road was much worse than this until a month ago.”

“Oh, wow,” says A. “I saw a YouTube video of road crews fixing highways after disasters. I think I have it here.” He pulls out his smartphone and starts searching.

“I took shots of the longest road on earth,” says B. “It’s in Australia.” He flips open his iPad and starts swishing through a gallery of photos, then taps one to fill the screen. “See? It was an amazing journey. Just amazing. I met a guy there who’d been around it three times on a bicycle. This is him. The guy on his left was named Bill, I think. He was amazing, too.”

“Here’s the video!” cries A. He turns up the volume and plays a video of a road crew at work somewhere. Nobody knows why we’re listening to it.

“Did you see The Simpsons’ road trip episode?” asks C. “It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant.”

“The one where Bart made a fake driver’s license?” asks B.

“Yeah! I was dying. I think I have it here somewhere.” He starts searching his device.

And so it goes. What happened to the earthquake-damaged road we were driving on? What happened to the scenes passing by? What happened to getting somewhere in a conversation? Who cares about all this digital inconsequentia? Why are we looking at and listening to evidence of other experiences, instead of absorbing the current experience?”

-Jason Kelly

A Grubwithus Adventure to LA

Recently I got the opportunity to do some work with Grubwithus, the social meals startup that allows people to meet and get to know each other over great food. The company has a unique business model and service that may be the future of how people socialize together (in real life), which is one of the reasons I decided to apply for a position with the hot startup.

Since Grubwithus is more service-based than other startups, it doesn’t require the company to be based in San Francisco like most early-stage companies. The founders Eddy and Daishin are from Los Angeles, and with some of the team members already residing there it made sense to base the company in LA.

It’’s 10pm and I just got kicked out of Red Rock Coffee in Mountain View. I’m suppose to roadtrip down to LA with Eddy, Daishin, and Nikhel this evening. They’re an hour late as I loiter on the corner with my bags and get weird stares by passersbys. I start to wonder if maybe this is all a cruel prank. They’re probably watching me from the building across and laughing at this well-groomed looking homeless person.

Luckily it’s not and an event they were speaking at ran a bit late. They roll up and we’re off for a late night drive to La La Land.

The guys are developers so they are semi-nocturnal which means no one needs to sleep on the car ride. Instead, with the same innocence of preteen girls gossiping about their latest crushes, the guys chit-chat about the hottest startups and what trends they see in tech. Y Combinator is an early-stage startup mentoring program, and the abbreviation YC was probably used 400 times during the ride. I recommend anyone who’s interested in starting their own company to get locked in a car for awhile with YC founders. It’s Startup Lessons Learned in a concentrated road trip edition.

We arrive at 4am and no one sleeps. There’s work to be done with the launching of Grubwithus Boston that day.

The next day we realize that we need to eat. This calls for a Costco run. Apparently YC reminded the founders on the importance of eating healthy, so a 40 pound bag of carrots were thrown into the lasagna-filled shopping carts.

Grubwithus is headquartered at a modern work-live space in Venice, but the team’s scrapiness still shines through. Everyone sleeps in sleeping bags, bread is toasted in the oven, and jelly beans supplement as nutritional snacks before the frozen dinner meal of the night.

It’s been fun getting to know the Grubwithus team. Everyone is constantly working hard, but the atmosphere is more light-hearted than stressful. The team genuinely enjoys what it is creating, which makes working 16 hour days seem more like a constant slumber party than a work grind.

The startup lifestyle is not for everyone, but when executed correctly around the right people, it makes for a fulfilling work environment. Or at worst, a blog post to keep fans updated on what’s going on at Grubwithus.

Graduation: Check

Hello all. I wanted to drop a quick post since I’ve been MIA. As of this evening, I am officially finished with my studies here at the University of San Francisco. Finals were a struggle, but I think I made it out alive. Now that I’m done with school, I’ll have more time to write more about the blend of my two passions:

Startups + travelling = Web Travel Startups

There are a lot of possible game-changing startups in the travel space right now. I’ll be updating in a few days on sites that could be taking the place of dinosaurs such as Orbitz and TripAdvisor.

We’re in a bubble and it’s not the internet. It’s higher education.

All college students should be required to read this article based on a recent prediction by Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal. He states that the higher education system isn’t working in today’s economic climate.

It’s thought provoking, scary, but most importantly, true.

As a senior at the University of San Francisco, I can feel the stress and uncertainty among my classmates after the $250,000 education we’ve purchased. In all small talk conversations, the inevitable question is always brought up.

“So…what are you doing after college??”

Never in our lives has there been such a defining question. On the surface it looks like a question with an open-ended answer, but at the core there are really only two. Do you have a job, or not.

If you answer with “yeah, I have something lined up” the conversation immediately has a more lighthearted feel. The tension is cut, and your friends know you’ll be doing just fine.
If you answer “I don’t know”, people immediately say. Oh ok, so what are you thinking? The mood is cloudy, passive, and uncertain. Your friends then think through all the assumptions below in a split second.

– Are you trying to find a job?
– Do you think you’ll find a job?
– Did four years in college help at all?
– Is your major worth anything?
– Are you scared?
– Do you feel unsuccessful?
– Will you move in with your parents?
– Are you gona enjoy eating PB and J for dinner every night until you get a paycheck?

So…what are you doing after college?

To the Hjerrilds: An update of the last four years.

To the Hjerrilds,

It’s great to connect with everyone on Facebook. I’m glad all this social media technology actually did some good. It normally wastes my time pointlessly, but I have to say when Ben requested me I realized there was actually some value in all this digital stuff :-).

Where do I start? Currently, I’m a senior at the University of San Francisco. Been living in the city for the last four years where it has become my second home. The weather is just like Washington, except less rain, for which I cannot complain. I’m spoiled now. Whenever I go home I get more and more impatient with the gloomy weather. I’m studying Finance, but see myself working more in technology in startups. The eccentric entrepreneurism of my inventor dad must have rubbed off on me. I don’t think I have enough of a coffee addiction to go into a number crunching finance job for 90 hours a week. I like wearing a lot of hats and being in a creative, innovative environment.

Last fall, I studied abroad in Sydney, Australia (I heard from Ben you guys were in Australia too, I’ll have to catch up on some Hjerrild Herald reading). I worked on a reef tour boat in the Great Barrier Reef for a few days, made some East Coast friends through my host program Boston University, and enjoyed how much Eastern influence there was in Sydney and Melbourne (though I wish there was more racial equality and awareness).

Since my winter break was an eternity, I decided to backpack New Zealand for a month. I used a site called helpx.net (work 4 hours a day at places in exchange for food and board) and found a luxury lakehouse in Wanaka to stay and work at (If any of the Hjerrilds are in NZ you’ll have to helpx at this beautiful place). I did online marketing work for the Lodge and got them digitalized with the the latest SEO and social media tools. During my stay at the lodge I got to know two Dutch and a Canadien couple (from Kelowna, BC) really well. I did some hitch hiking (most of my friends think I’m crazy for doing this, but you guys as worldly travelers would approve), exploring of Milford Sound, Franz Josef Glacier, and camping with some friends in the back of an auto shop’s junkyard in Queenstown for New Year’s (a whole other story in itself).

I guess I’m doing this in reverse chronological order, so I’ll keep rolling backwards. My next experience is relevant to Ben’s CS degree hehe.

During the summer of 2010 and most of my junior year in college, a friend of mine and I decided to found our own web startup. A lot of my posts in this blog are related to it, but in a nutshell, we went from developing an idea because we were too lazy to text friends to building a social networking site that instantly answers which of your friends want to hang out. We spent almost all our free time during school on it and lived out of Berkeley last summer to work nonstop. I had a cozy sleeping bag of a bed for the duration of our time there. We finished our web platform, marketed it to users, and pitched it to venture capitalists and angel investors. Since it’s not the next Facebook, we’ve moved on from the experience, but it is from this experience that I want to work in startups.

I think you’ll like this job I had during the Summer of 2009. I worked as a food director for a travelling Jewish teen tour throughout the East Coast and Canada. It was awesome since I got to see Boston, Maine, Montreal, Toronto, Niagara Falls, D.C., and Virginia on a bus and hang out with 40 teenagers and a crazy staff. It was tough and stressful buying groceries for 50 people and organizing the preparation and cleanup when we were camping at different locations. This was one of, if not the most difficult job I’ve ever done, which I’m grateful for since it taught me how to be efficient and time manage to a tee.

During summer 08 and half of 07, I worked at a place that has become very near and dear me, and it is thanks to you guys for inviting me to go with Ben when I was a kid. I spent this time working as a camp counselor for YMCA Camp Orkila. My time working in the San Juans has definitely helped shape who I am, so I must thank you for introducing me to this beautiful place. I got to experience the most beautiful sunsets in the world, throw dodgeballs as hard as I could at annoying campers, and live in a really magical world away from reality during my time at Orkila.

And to cap things off, it is ironic how I began my life as a legal adult. After graduating high school, three friends of mine and I decided to treat ourselves to a one month graduation trip. We started our backpacking escapades in where I was first inspired by the world, Paris, France. From there we eurailed to Amsterdam, stayed with my friend’s family friends in Munich, visited my friend’s Aunt in Lucerne, Switzerland, and made short stops in Venice, Cinque Terre, and Rome. From there we flew to Greece and spent a week in Ios and Santorini. It was a journey I’ll never forget, and thanks to my travel experience with your family, I was able to make it out alive with the knowledge I learned from you guys.

I still clearly remember getting into Paris when Ben and I were 13 (I think…). After arriving the airport and getting on the shuttle bus to the city, I thought, “what’s the big deal with this place? This is going to be borrring”. Once we got off the subway at Montmarte though, I remember stepping up each stair and under the tainted green metal awning into that busy neighborhood street. It was instant awe. My mind was rocked by this new world of Parisan people, architecture, cafes, and life. The walk to the apartment was one of the most amazing and intense moments of my life. This is probably why Paris is still my favorite city I’ve visited in Europe.

I’m bummed how Ben and I have lost touch the last few years, but now with all this technology we can keep in contact by writing on walls, skyping, and sharing stupid comedic youtube videos. I still remember Sunday afternoons shooting aliens on your Mac and playing legos at my house. I remember the first time I had an Italian sausage for dinner at your house. It was pure tastebud bliss, and it’s a meat that has become a staple in my college diet.

If any of the Hjerrilds want to travel to San Francisco, know that all of your family or friends are welcome to stay at my place. As of now, it isn’t huge, but I know how adaptive the Hjerrilds are when exploring the world so we can make something work. It’s expensive here, so a free place to stay is always good. Katherine and Steve, I’d love to catch up on your travels and you two are welcome anytime. Natasha, if you or any friends want to travel the Bay Area, just shoot me a message and I’ll make sure you guys have a place to crash. Ben, we should definitely figure out some sort of get together within the spring or summer. You should try applying to some startups in the Bay Area if you’re looking to use your CS degree. If I run into any opportunities for you, I’ll let you know. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t because exploring SE Asia sounds way better!

I’ve been lucky to do a lot so far as a 22 year old, but I’ve realized most of these jobs and experiences wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the trip to Paris and all through England your family invited me on. It is probably the most generous thing anyone has done for me, and I cannot thank each Hjerrild enough. I’m not going to lie, I am getting a little mushy as I write this because of how lucky I am to know your family.

I cannot imagine what my life would be life without traveling. Maybe I’d be one of those crazy workaholic Asian students who sees little in life besides A’s and a lofty salary. Maybe I’d be that ignorant person who doesn’t know Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population. All I’m sure of is that I’m lucky to have grown up with such a generous friend and family.

Thank you Ben and the Hjerrilds. We will definitely be in touch now!

All the best,

Andrew

An update on the Sings:

Everything with the Sings is going well. My dad is still inventing crazy products (he is spreading the word on his new composite material), my Mom is still holding down the fort in the family as the rock, and my sister is in her last year of high school.

Annie is looking to go to UW or Whitman for college. She’s been playing club volleyball competitively, and will play on the team at Whitman if she decides to go there. She’s developed into an outgoing, energetic girl who I think takes after my dad a bit with her fun and crazy personality.