Uber geeks me out

i am a geek. i tend to like technology for technology’s sake. what i love about many of the new startups and technology companies that are popping up is that they are taking mobile, apps and data and trying to turn established businesses and industries on their head. in most cases, the old guard are so entrenched, so deep in antiquated thinking and systems that they can’t figure out what hit them. a great example is Uber, a car service that is pretty well established in SFO and just launched in NYC. this company arms it’s customers with a smartphone app. the app uses GPS to tell them exactly where the customer is located. customers pay via the app, no exchange of money, receipt on the app. even better than that convenience, they are gathering data. what are the hot pickup spots? where should they place cars to wait. while it might freak people out, the app is probably telling them where people are in the background, which further assists in capacity planning. this great techcrunch article discusses some of the data mining they are doing to manage the logistics of keeping up with user demand and deploying cars. cool, but not just for cool’s sake. i can’t wait for Uber to launch in Chicago.

More deals coming - when is the service coming?

Last night the inevitable entrance of Facebook into the daily deal space was made official.  During a meeting on a similar topic, a fairly knowledgeable person stated the current count of deal sites is nearing 400.  That’s a lot of choice for both the consumer and for the important part of the equation that is almost always forgotten in these discussions, the merchant.  

There is a good article on CNNMoney.com today that describes two very different merchant experiences in dealing with Groupon and Living Social.  It is indicative of two very different approaches in dealing with the part of the equation that delivers the most in the daily deal space - the merchant.  Groupon and many of the deal sites have opted for a call center focused sales and customer service model while a select few, including Living Social have opted for the more expensive feet on the street model.  The difference in cost is tremendous.  The 35%+ EBITDA margins being achieved in call center centric businesses servicing small businesses is illusory.  To win in this space in the long run you need people, a face to face service model and the added cost of a direct sales and service model.

My company has spent 26 years in this space.  Most of our P&L is weighted by the cost of our 150+ person direct sales and service team.  As much as CFO’s and VC’s want this these businesses to be limitlessly scalable, it will not happen.  A correction is coming and the winners will have street level talent and relationships in place.

Insanity the Asylum workout program - Week 1

i started a new workout routine this week - its the second installment of the Insanity series - called Insanity - the Asylum. i know, really stupid name.

i completed a cycle of P90X early last year, then did 60 days of the first Insanity and have done an ad hoc combo of Insanity cardio and P90X strength for the past 9 months. so i was excited to start something new. its a 30 day program, but i really like how they included 30 day plans for integrating the first Insanity and P90X into these workouts, which i will do in due time.  i have been through the first four workouts - here’s my take so far.

the first workout was “speed & agility”. more than anything, this workout frustrated me, in a good way.  it was a great, hard workout, but focused on combining cardio and plyo with agility and technique.  there are many exercises that require a jump rope and an agility ladder. the routine is very fast paced and i had to stop the tape many times to watch the exercises, practice and then try and do them.  it was frustrating because, agility wise, i have a long way to go - i kept muffing many of the exercises. it adds a new dimension to the workout - really concentrating to get the moves right.

then came “strength”. this workout combined dumbbell strength moves with plyo and core work. no lifting exercise comes without somehow involving your legs or core. this was a fun, hard workout and for the first time in a while i was pretty sore the day after a workout.

next up was “back to core” focused on, well, figure it out.  lots of yoga and pilates moves and extended holds. i hate these kind of workouts. they seem so easy on the face but are brutal.

finally, this am was “vertical plyo”. it sounds terrible and it was. when i saw it was 37 minutes long i thought “easy” - the P90x plyo is 1 hour and i can now kill that and most of the old insanity workouts are 45-60 minutes and i can get through those.  wrong.  holy crap this was hard.  the addition of the agility ladder and, more cruelly, resistance bands, to the plyo moves is just evil.  it felt like the first time i did the P90x plyo - i wanted to puke.

this workout series is tough, and i am excited to see what happens over the next few weeks.

LocalResponse - a step in the right direction

this week buzzd rebranded itself (or pivoted in cool people speak) as LocalResponse. i think this might be the beginning of an important shift in location based services from the consumer to the business.

the usage of location based services slowly increases on the consumer, but is definitely not mainstream. as i have followed this trend i have been a bit shocked at the lopsided amount of innovation and energy that has gone into new apps and services aimed at creating consumer user platforms for checkins and deals. i could list a hundred here if I had the time. its only going to get more crowded with new offerings from Groupon (GrouponNow) and LivingSocial. but a quick look at your facebook feed will tell you, not many people are using facebook places or foursquare, arguably the two biggest names in LBS, let alone SCVNGR, Ditto, Google Latitude, Bizzy, etc. why is this? there are no deals or incentives other than telling your friends where you are every second of the day, which i personally think is creepy.

lost in the scramble to get consumers is the small business who should be providing content to these networks. these businesses do not have the time to manage one of these networks, let alone one hundred. if this industry is to survive and not just be a fad, simple, easy to use, cross platform management tools must be developed to allow small businesses efficiently offer promotions and deals to consumers.

LocalResponse, which is in beta, is the the first tool that seems to be trying to stake out this position.

the difference between “can” and “will”

two simple words.  ”can” and “will”.  sometimes we use them interchangeably, but we shouldn’t.  your choice of words is critical.

one of the things I will expand on here over time is the methods i used to finally get my butt in shape after spending my entire adult life overweight. regardless of the specific programs and tools, it always simply comes down to just doing it.

the most valuable lesson i learned is that it’s not just a weight thing - it applies to every aspect of your life. are you capable?  definitely. will you? that’s the hard part.  you don’t need the perfect plan, just about any plan will do.  you need to commit and execute.  doing it is what matters.

the most stunning observation i have had over the past year+ as i have transformed my health has been listening to the vocabulary others use when i describe what i have accomplished. “oh, I can’t do that” was the most common phrase I heard.

bull. we are all capable but choose not to do it. it’s the difference between “can” and “will”. we are can accomplish amazing things, but will we actually do it?

change your verb to “will” and make it happen.

what, why and who is shampooer?

i love tuesdays.

why?  its new release day - the day new music hits the stores.  in the old days, i used to drive to Rolling Stone Records on Irving Park and run to the back wall to check out the new releases.  when i was in college, it was Record Swap.  now its off to Amazon.com’s mp3 store for a download as i’ve gone all digital.  regardless, i love my new releases.

so this tuesday, april 19, is important to me as i have my own new release - shampooer 

what is shampooer?  it’s the name of my blog.  

why the stupid name?  shampooer is the name of the band i was going to form.  we were going to be the greatest rock band ever.  problem is, i can’t play any instruments or sing.  so i need to find another way to be a rock star.  this is my attempt.

who is shampooer?  my name is chris locke.  i live in the chicago area. my titles include husband, father, cfo and enthusiast of many things.  i try to bring passion, humor and humility to everything that i do.  i’m new to this blogging thing, so bear with me.  i’ll do my best to share content and thoughts on topics that interest me and might be of interest to you.

on a daily basis i am involved in the restaurant/small business technology and marketing space, i am a techno junkie, i love music, i love food, and i love working out.  so be prepared for a lot of that kind of stuff…

i hope you find this blog useful and amusing.