Categories for News

Nasty Bug in iOS 5.0.1 OTA Update screws up Address Book on the iPhone 4S

I updated my iPhone 4S earlier today (using the OTA method), and I discovered a nasty bug. My iPhone could no longer remember the names of any of my contacts! I opened up the contacts app on my phone and discovered that all of entries were still there but if I got a text or a call my iPhone would have a sudden bout of amnesia and forget the contacts name.

It’s even more bizarre when you’re trying to create a new text. In the example above I texted Erin Hontz. After I selected her as the contact, I wrote my message and hit send. In the message pane (pictured on the right) it would forget my contact’s name and just show the number.

I mentioned this on Twitter and many of my followers had similar experiences.

How to trigger the bug:

• Use the Delta Update (The OTA version)
• Be on an iPhone 4S (I haven’t had reports with the 4)
• Be On Verizon

Disabling (and re-enabling) iCloud contacts did not solve the issue.

Have you had any issues upgrading to iOS 5.0.1?

Update: Here is a partial fix

This method fixed my incoming calls but not incoming text messages. Your milage may vary.
via TSF reader James Foster

1) Open the Phone and dial *228. This is a Verizon over-the-air programming number.
2) When the system answer press 1 for “Program or activate your phone”
3) Wait for the call to disconnect. You should get a prompt stating something like, “Settings updated.”
4) Open the Task Manager (double click the home button) and kill the Phone, Message, and Contacts Applications
5) Wait a few minutes (I waited 3 just to be extra safe)
6) Open the Message App to verify the fix.

If you are still broken, kill the Message App again, then reboot your phone.

YC Alum creates TouchBase Calendar and shares App Store Marketing Tips

TouchBase Calendar launched earlier this week to much fanfare. TouchBase Calendar hit the front page of HackerNews, jumped to the 18th spot in productivity on the App Store, and is receiving great reviews. I had the privilege of catching up with the cofounder of TouchBase, Tony Wright (A YC Alumn) to talk about what he’s learned from launching his app. In this TSF interview Tony talks about marketing tricks he used to create a successful launch, an inside look at his startup, and (with the benefit of hindsight) things he would have done differently.

Don’t miss this interview and make sure you checkout TouchBase.

Points of interest

0:30 – Quick Overview of TouchBase Calendar
1:20 – Where the idea came from (and challenges with finding a co-founder)
3:38 – Working in exotic locations – How Tony took advantage of Startup Workaway
5:45 – Start of Marketing section
5:50 – Why traditional (web) MVPs don’t work for mobile apps.
7:05 – The challenge of pushing out fixes to App Stores
8:40 – “Shooting a balloon out of a canon.” Tricks to use to get noticed. How to leverage Apple’s ranking of paid apps.
8:50 – Low price high volume apps are preferred on the App Store (for Apple’s ranking purposes).
10:30- Ways of buying traffic.
16:25- What’s next for TouchBase Calendar


Big take aways:

• Launching on an App Store is very different than launching a Web App.
• Your MVP needs to be of a higher caliber for App Store launches.
• The tendency of your ranking will be like a “balloon shot out of a canon”.
• Your rankings will naturally decrease to promote “fresher” apps. You need to juice your ranking.
• Don’t get stuck working some place boring.

For more startup news, follow us on Twitter @startupfoundry or on Facebook.

What happens when a whale dies.

I’ve always found whales to be really endearing. In elementary school, my teacher told me that whales were among our closest animal brethren in the seas. They also live for about 50-75 years, and, according to Wikipedia, can teach, learn, cooperate, scheme, and even grieve.

Those majestic creatures swim through the ocean, from place to place. The other oceanic animals I’m sure are aware of whales, but unless they’re plankton being eaten by whales, I doubt they pay much attention.

That is, until they die.

You see, whale death, also called a “whale fall,” is a pretty magical event. After the whale dies, often times they sink… deep to the ocean floor.

Curious scavengers can smell the decomposing whale from afar, and make the trip to come pick it apart.

After the scavengers leave though, all that’s left is a skeleton of this once magnificent beast.

Eventually, a “fugitive species” of  little worm-like creatures find the skeleton, and start a thriving ecosystem based on the skeleton. In fact, 30 species of tubeworm have only been found present at whale falls. Their entire life and prosparity seems to depend on the whale skeleton.

According to RadioLab from where I first heard about whale falls, the ecosystem continues on for another 50-75 years; another full lifetime of life based on what the whale left around.

Steve was a whale. His skeleton? The bicycle of the mind.

On Steve

When I heard the news that Steve passed away it felt like unfortunate, expected news. The writing was on the wall when Steve resigned on August 24, 2011. Steve simply would not leave Apple unless he had no other option. Sad, but ultimately expected news.

What I wasn’t expecting is how much I’ve been personally affected. I’m not an emotional person. I knew that I’d be sad but I wasn’t prepared at how profoundly Steve’s early exit would challenge me. Steve made Apple in his own image, and then he didn’t stop. Go build something bigger than yourself.

I from the bottom of my heart, thank you Steve. You’re a huge reason why I became an entrepreneur.

Additional Links I’d recommend checking on Steve (please add more in the comments):

Read John Gruber’s Universe Dented, Grass Underfoot (This is the article I wish I would have written).

Steve Jobs Presents to the Cupertino City Council (6/7/11) – Thanks TSF reader Marcin for the link.

TSF is looking for guest authors to help out

I’m looking to roll out some new features (better submission process for startups, iterating on our theme, improving site load time, laying down a framework that will allow us to grow more easily in the future, etc…) on TSF and I’m looking for some help from the community. I would love to be able to just focus on code for a few days and publish some quality content from our readers.

All of our guest posts would include a 2-3 sentence intro of the author, along with a link to their URL of choice (startup, personal, etc).

How do I submit an article?

The best way to submit your article is to share it with me in a Google Doc ( Please also state that the article is yours, and you give full permission for me to publish it on TSF.

Thanks for your support and I look forward to hearing from you!

Follow us on Twitter @startupfoundry or on Facebook.

Your startup needs to sell experiences, not features

Entrepreneurs often want to highlight every single feature on their landing page. I’ve seen landing pages filled to the brim with cliches, buzz words, and jargon that simply don’t convert visitors into customers. A lot of consumer facing landing pages are focused on the wrong things.

I’ve discovered that’s it not your products features that sell people on your software, it’s their perceived experience with your app. Users are more concerned with “How will buying this app make my life better?”, than “Our new version benchmarks 6% faster”. Giving people an emotional connection with your app is paramount in gaining users.

Give your customers an emotional hook that they can latch on to and own. People are much more passionate about emotions than they are numbers.

Jargon vs. Experiences

It’s tempting to throw in as many buzzwords as you can on your landing page. This might work for a small segment of your users, but it won’t let you build mass market appeal.

Let’s look at a real world example. Shall I Buy It is a fantastic app that helps you decided if you should buy something. They do a great job highlighting the experience of their app without getting bogged down with features. This is what their landing page looks like:

Their landing page wouldn’t have been nearly as effective if they were writing buzzword filled copy. For example it might have said something like “Leverage your social graph to influence purchasing decisions.” Although it’s technically correct, it’s emotionally sterile, and totally forgettable.

How to write great copy: Work backwards

This might seem counter-intuitive, but the easiest way to write great copy is to work backwards. Start with the end goal in mind. After a potential customer sees my site, I want them to have “response x”. Once I know my end destination (“response x”), it makes plotting the course substantially easier. Leave the buzzwords out, and focus on getting “response x”. If my startup was in the SaaS business, my goal might be to have a potential customer visit our pricing page and collect their email (with the ultimate goal being to sell them your service). Once you know what you’re working towards, it gives you tunnel vision (a good thing), and lets you focus on your goals.

Emotion is far more memorable than stats. If you can hook a customer on a feeling (backed by a solid product), you will score a very faithful and passionate user.

Remove as much jargon as possible from your landing pages and sell emotion.

For more startup news, follow us on Twitter @startupfoundry or on Facebook.

TSF is looking for funded startups to cover. Will you tell me about yours?

I’m constantly looking to improve TSF. One piece of feedback I’ve received is to cover more startups. I’m taking this to heart and I’m going to make it happen. I would love to feature some TSF readers startups.

What I’m specifically looking for:

• Funded startups (I’m going to ask for bootstrapped startups in the next few weeks).
• A sentence description of what you do
• Your story (how you got started, how you met your cofounder, etc…)
• How are you measuring traction?
• Give me a hook to work from.

Bonus points if you “Make your Startup ridiculously easy to write about. Put Together a Great Press Pack”

To submit your startup, email me at

For more startup news, follow us on Twitter @startupfoundry or on Facebook.

It sucks to build a startup with the “Google Method”

“We’re not making any money yet, but once we hit 100,000 users, we’ll be able to break even with ads!” an entrepreneur enthusiastically told me. As I listened to the entrepreneur passionately explain his plan to make his startup profitable, I realized that I’ve heard the same strategy repeated ad nauseum. I’ve started to call this misguided strategy the “Google Method” of profitability.

What is the “Google Method”?

The “Google Method” breaks down into a simple equation:
Free + Lots of users + ads= The Google Method.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this formula, but it’s a terrible model to try and shoehorn onto a bootstrapped business. One of the worst things your startup can do (for its bottom line), is to try and emulate Google’s methodology for revenue. You might gain a lot of users, but monetizing them will be incredibly hard. You’re essentially cannibalizing your own business.

Why does this suck for startups, but work for Google?

This is a classic example of knowing what type of business you’re actually in. For example, Google isn’t a search based company. They used search as an engine to break into the market, but they are actually an advertising company. Did you know that 97% of it’s revenue in 2009 came from advertising?

Since Google is an advertising company, they have different goals then most startups. Google has to play a different game. For an advertising company to stay afloat, they need as many eyeballs as possible. This is why the “Google Method” is so effective for them. Free gets a new Google service a lot of attention, while allowing their actual product (advertising) to flourish.

For a bootstrapped startup to keep its doors open, it needs cash. Giving away your main product and hoping to “make it up on volume” is incredibly dangerous. You’re giving away your main product without any sort of (financial) benefit to yourself. The metrics that Google uses will be fundamentally different than what your startup needs. Don’t blindly implement the Google Method. It’s most likely the wrong model for your startup.

Side note: Even though your startup may receive money from ads, you’re probably not an advertising company.

Is there a better way to build a startup?

Absolutely. I’ve realized that I hate to leave money on the table. If someone sees enough value in my product to pay me for it, I will gladly take their money. This is slightly unpopular in some entrepeunership circles, but have the audacity to charge from day one.

It’s a painfully simple method, but it’s something that’s hard to have the guts to do. If you believe you startup has real world value, let people pay you. Don’t chicken out by giving it away for free.

For more startup news, follow us on Twitter @startupfoundry or on Facebook.

What It’s Like Being a COO at a Startup, with Jason Sew Hoy of 99designs

Engineers get a lot of coverage in the tech world (as they should) but I’ve been interested in other pieces of the startup puzzle. For example, I’ve always wondered what it’s like being a Chief Operating Office (COO) at a startup. Jason Sew Hoy was gracious enough to give me some of his time to share about his experience as COO of is a marketplace for crowd-sourced graphic design. It connects designers from around the globe with customers seeking quality, affordable design services.

In this interview Jason walks us through his day to day life, what’s the biggest challenge he has to face, and the role creativity takes in a startup’s life. You don’t want to miss this.

What’s a typical day like for you?

My role at involves a lot of multi-tasking so what I do from one day to the next can be very different.

To give you a rough idea though, today my morning started off with our weekly marketing meeting, a 3-way conference call with staff from Melbourne, San Francisco and one of our founders in Vancouver. After this I made a coffee on our espresso machine and then spent the rest of the morning working through emails and yammer updates, as well as checking the performance of the business via our dashboard.

At midday I went down the road for pizza with managers from several other web startups in our building, including, and Given we’re all born out of SitePoint, we share the same culture and have a vested interest in seeing each other do well – it’s a very unique situation and awesome to be part of a group where knowledge sharing is an everyday occurrence.

After lunch, I attended an Agile sprint review with the development team. A core part of my role is overseeing product development in Melbourne, so I have several key meetings with the team during the week to ensure they have everything they need to keep moving with key projects. Today’s job was to review several demos from our engineers and approve features to be deployed to the live site.

Soon after this a customer called with questions about our design service, so I spoke to her briefly on the phone and answered her questions before getting back to prioritizing feature stories for our next sprint.

About mid-afternoon I then sat down with our Design team to review videos from the Guerrilla user-testing sessions conducted that morning to get feedback on a key part of the site. We then brainstormed ways to improve the design by making things simpler for customers to understand. Making notes, drawing on the whiteboard… it’s easy to get carried away with stuff like this and by the time we finished we were well into the evening.

What’s the difference between your role and the role of your CEO?

In general, my role as COO is to focus more on making sure our teams are executing our business priorities well and operating as smoothly as possible. Our CEO, Patrick Llewellyn is mainly focused on long-term strategy as well as pursuing sales & marketing opportunities. There’s some overlap of course but it’s no coincidence that our main points of focus also correlate with the location of our teams, with Pat leading the sales and support teams based in San Francisco while I head up our product development team based here in Melbourne.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

One of the biggest challenges is building and maintaining a passionate, high-performing team, which isn’t easy in a fast-growing startup. Regardless of how badly we need a vacancy filled, we’re very fussy about who we hire. We look for individual brilliance and a passion for technology, as well as a strong cultural fit. Because we work with such new technologies, lack of direct experience isn’t always a deal breaker, but attitude and passion are extremely important to us. Sometimes it’s a hard call, but the principle we go by is that if it’s not a resounding yes, then it’s a no. It also helps when candidates are into coffee, foosball and Macbooks!

What’s the most exciting/enjoyable part of your job?

Without a doubt, the most enjoyable part of my job is hearing stories directly from customers and designers on how we’ve impacted their lives. From customers who’ve used 99designs to launch their business, to designers who now make a living off us after being laid off from their jobs, it’s the real people and the real stories behind our service that constantly inspire us to keep improving our service.

Imagine being a winning designer and being flown from Paris to the US by your customer, so that you can hand-paint your custom design on the wall of their office. Or being called by a high-profile design company and being offered an internship purely based on the strength of your 99designs portfolio. Or being able to maintain your livelihood as a talented designer recovering at home from a long-term illness.

Looking at the numbers, we’ve paid out over $20,000,000 in total to our designers and we’re currently awarding another $1,000,000 every month. It’s a huge amount of opportunity, but often it’s the individual stories that really capture the heart and give us that warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

How does one become a COO of a startup?

Good question. I think the thing about startups is that you have to be a jack of all trades, especially in non-technical positions. Drawing from my own background, I think the key skills that help me in my role are: high-level technical knowledge, an analytical metrics-driven approach to solving problems, ability to communicate well, a passion for business and a little sales experience. One other vital thing that a COO needs is a strong willingness to take ownership – in a lot of cases the buck stops with you!

How much involvement do you have with the other departments in your company — sales, customer service, engineering, marketing, etc.?

If I’m doing my job well, then I see myself being the glue that joins all the departments together. It’s crucial that we maintain a big picture view of what’s going on across the company so that we can provide the best possible experience to our customers and designers. It isn’t always easy with our staff being spread across different countries but frequent communication is the key!

How important do you think non-engineers are to technology startups? Do you find that there’s tension between engineers and non-engineers?

Engineers are great at building stuff, but they typically don’t like marketing and selling stuff or talking to our customers for hours on end – they usually just want to get on with it. That’s where the rest of our team comes in to back them up – everything from designers to marketing experts, to sales & support staff – and they’re a critical part of our ability to execute. Because we work so closely together, we don’t get any real buildup of tension – that all gets left on the foosball table!

What role does creativity play in your day-to-day job?

Creativity exhibits itself in many forms and it’s what our entire team strives for on an everyday basis. From product design, to thinking up new marketing angles, to planning our long-term roadmap, I find there’s always a creative way to approach every task. If it feels like an idea or a solution isn’t quite right then I push to come up with something better – in my mind that’s what being creative is all about.

For example, when we were nominated for a Webby Award in 2010 we had to think of a creative way to get our community to vote for us, so we promised them we’d make a video of us singing in the street if we won. Sure enough, our community loved the idea. They voted in spades and we ended up taking out the award despite some intense competition. I’ll always remember this as an example of how a little bit of extra creativity can go a long way… and what followed was one of the most entertaining days I’ve ever had at work. Check out our performance here!

This is a guest post written by Steven. Steven is the creator of – a community news website about business (aka Hacker News for Business News). Email:


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Weekly reader question: How has your startup “failed faster”?

Yesterday I spent the day in Grand Rapids, Michigan, checking out The Michigan Lean Startup Conference. Eric Ries gave a fantastic talk about building lean startups and how to discover if people actually want what you’re building.

The key principel behind building a lean startup is “failing faster”. Before you spend months building a “perfect system” you should spend a few days on crappy code to prove your concept. The goal is to to learn fast and iterate quickly.

My question for TSF readers, is “How have you applied these principles to “fail faster”? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments or via email (