Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Tech Story

I remember way back to 1997. I was working at Road Runner Sports and was 2 years into a 12 year career there. We were a catalog company watching what was going on with the internet. The Chief Runner - Big Boss at RRS, first claimed that people wouldn't buy on the internet and asked us to create an information page. What we created was one of the first forums widely used. We called it Shoe Talk. You could go on the website find your shoe and talk about it. It was hugely successful especially for a shoe guy like me. It was my source for running shoe information. Finally after a year or so of shoe talk the Chief Runner gave us the green light to open up a shopping cart. People bought and bought and sure enough a business began to take shape. After two years or so of selling, myself and another gentlemen were pulled into the big office. You two have a new task, Leap Frog the website. We are running double monthly growth now go double it again. You Dave go into the market and find the partners, you coworker start looking at the infrastructure to handle the business. We were young and somewhat stupid and so we got to working. 

Most of what we did failed. A few things worked. The things that worked caused us to go way above the goal. We did our job and then some. My most memorable meeting happened in an apartment in Downtown La Jolla. I sat at a table and had this guy describe his dream. His dream was written out in grease pencil on his sliding glass door. I loved it so much we started a relationship. But before we really got going a huge number of competitors joined in on his game so I went to meet with each and everyone of them. We actually created one of the first skins on a website where the face of the page was RRS but the back end was a different engine. It was crude on line race registration. Well less than a year after I toured the country meeting all these people they were all in San Diego shaking hands. They had just formed together as one, creating the company known as Active.com

Another such random meeting occurred. This guy came to me with a dream. One day people will use their phones for almost everything. He said we've created this program (now called an App) that allows you to use GPS on your phone to track your running. It automatically load on your log when you hit stop. Eventually you will be running in San Diego and your friend in NYC and you'll be able to run together using this program. You'll see his pace, he'll see yours and you can talk the entire time. Dreamers I tell you. 3 years later I'm at adidas and was asked to work on this thing called Mi Coach. It brought back memories of things I'd already seen and I realized that we, adidas, were actually behind in thinking. I put adidas in touch with the guy with the phone and within a year, adidas bought his company and brought he and his partner to the team to launch Mi Coach. 

There is a story here about being a connector. These are just two stories in a an entire host of stories I can tell like this. 

The other day I was the door man at a Birthday Party in Kona for Zoot. I was applying the wrist bands that allowed people into the party. I put a wristband on the Grease Pencil guy. Only he knows this story and we always have a little extra firm handshake when we see each other. He's filthy rich because of his deal and I could not be more happy for him.  

The best way I can describe this, is this way: 

It's a good life....

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