Category Archives: Darren Herman

What To Buy An Entrepreneur for the Holidays…

Holiday Gift Guide 2007 

Entrepreneurs are a rare breed; we never seem to have enough time to finish our business plan, work on due diligence requests from VC’s, or to stress test our upcoming release… but for whatever reason, we seem to have everything we need.

This means: t-shirts from 10 years ago, pens from the 1 cent bin at CVS, a single pair of shoes that have been to a combined 50 events (weddings, bar mitzvahs, trade shows), a blazer that used to fit over our beer gut in college, and the same inspiring books that are collecting dust on our coffee tables.

The holidays are just around the corner and with about 60 days of shopping left before the big day, I thought I’d compile an entrepreneur friendly list that you can send out to your friends and family. Most of the items aren’t something an entrepreneur would buy, but I can almost guarantee they need them. Whether you’re the wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner/friend of this rare breed of human [entrepreneur] these should be some solid items that you cannot really go wrong with purchasing. Items range from $14 – $650 though most fall within the $25-100 range.

Please note that I’m not financially motivated to recommend one item over another. I am getting ZERO kick-backs. These are purely items that I think would benefit entrepreneurs and should inspire some ideas of gift giving. If you have any product/service ideas that should be included on this list, please contact me as I’ll be releasing another list much closer to the holidays.

Clothing

Calvin Klein Short Sleeve Cotton T-Shirts: we’ll never admit it outright, but the majority of us wear regular t-shirts under our button-downs. Because of this, the imagery on our t-shirts show thru and it looks terrible. Check out these extremely affordable undershirts that are soft and light… guaranteed to be a hit and something the typical entrepreneur would never buy. Helps out big time when you’re pitching VC’s and your nervous as ever… don’t let those sweat stains develop!

Hugo Boss Black Lawrence Dress Shirt: classy yet snazzy. With a black shirt, you can’t go wrong. It’s trendy enough to wear it out at night but conservative enough to wear to your Series A funding dog-and-pony-show. Make sure you don’t have dandruff because it certainly shows up on black, but black generally makes everyone look healthier. Not a bad choice at all.

Charcoal BlazerIsland Soft 3 Button Charcoal Blazer: You need a blazer so you might as well have a nice one. While not the cheapest, this blazer is versatile: you can wear it to your next meeting with your advertising clients, to your first board meeting, or to your hot date at Gramercy Tavern. While not the cheapest on this list, you pay for quality. Goes great with the black button down featured above (Hugo Boss). You’ll score big points at the upcoming nextNY event or NY Tech Meetup because you’ll be better dressed than 99% of the room.

Bacci Bucci Shoes

Bacci Bucci Shoes: How scuffed are your current shoes? Look down. Are these the same shoes that you walk down Astor Place in and also, Rivington? If you then wear those to Central Park, then it’s time for new shoes. These should be your special shoes that you wear when you have your biz dev/corp. dev meetings. Why? Because when you sign that big deal, you want to look down at them and see your smile. If they aren’t shiny, then you need new ones. These shoes fit the blazer and shirt perfectly and as a bonus, they’re extra comfortable.

Office Enhancements

I never recommend giving a gift that would be strictly for the office as one could usually buy with a corporate card, but these are enhancers. If you’re jumping from startup to startup, or want to give something a bit better than one would receive as standard issue, consider the following:

Moleskin Pocket Ruled Notebook: The great authors wrote in them. Why not you? Whenever I write in mine, my IQ jumps 10 points. They survive the rough handling of your bags, the spills of frappucinos, and can contain pages of complex notes- certainly should be on your list. Comes in all sizes – I prefer the smallish ones and generally go through at least 1 per month. Beats legal pads or the schwag you get from Ad:Tech!

Porsche DesignPorsche Design Aero Pen: Other than the really cool factor of owning a Porsche pen, I have always found that having a nice pen brings good luck. When you’re signing your Series A documents or selling your equity over to your acquirer, signing with a luxury pen makes the day that much sweeter.

Magnetic Business Card Case: Always be closing. If Boiler Room/Wall Street is right, then having your business cards on you all the time is imperative. Instead of putting them in your pocket only to have the corners creased, put them into a nice case that can be pulled out in crowds with positive appeal. The case is small yet firm and will protect enough cards that should last thru DEMO or TechCrunch 40. Not only will it hold your cards, but it’ll keep the biz cards from the associate you just met from Union Square Ventures, Sequoia and Kleiner.

Brendhaven MetroliteBrendhaven MetroLite Green Bag: You’ve just walked into the office of DFJ Gotham and put your nappy bag down on their beautiful conference table. In walks Tim Draper and he’s looking at your dilapidated bag on his furniture… good start to the meeting. Start strong. Walk in with confidence. Have a nice bag holding your goods. I like a little color in my bags as it livens the mood, but that part is totally up to you. This bag has some extra compartments to hold your iPhone, business card case, and to protect your Aero Pen. Cool. If you’re still using your LL Bean bag from 5th grade, time to change. Trust me, it’s for the better.

Miscellaneous

Eagle Creek TravelEagle Creek Comfort Travel Pillow: Red-eye’s on JetBlue or Virgin America aren’t exactly the most comfortable… your neck is almost guaranteed to hurt the next day when you’re sitting in Accel’s boardroom or eating at Buck’s of Woodside. An extremely cheap investment of under $20 could net you a good night’s sleep and a healthy neck. You certainly want to look into this.

Starbucks Gift Card: Buying $4 latte’s isn’t in the typical startup budget, but having a venti in hand is surely comforting. If you’re bootstrapping and working out of random Starbucks, this is really helpful. Now you can afford to talk to different angel investors and buy them coffee… also, there is no shortage of Starbucks in NYC.

Ansel Adams BookAnsel Adams: Our National Parks: Everyone needs a little inspiration once in a while. Ansel Adams is a world-renowned artist and photographer and much of his work can be found in very cliché spots. The national parks are absolutely gorgeous and are extremely vast… the ability to inspire anyone. If your new Adobe AIR app isn’t functioning correctly, and after 9 hours of staring intently at it isn’t giving you any insights as to why, step back and flip thru the book… it’ll surely take your mind off of the code.

Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure: The book that initially inspired me to create something great… a great memoir/diary of a technology company pre-bubble in Silicon Valley. It’s amazing to read other people’s trials and tribulations and learn from them… a quick read and something anyone would appreciate who is related to the technology industry. It’s an older book (90s) so you can get some copies used (and cheap). I’ve recommended this book at almost every entrepreneurial speech that I give.

Gotham Dream CarsGotham Dream Car Gift Certificate: This gift is for anyone who has an appreciation of automobiles. If you’re looking to rent an exotic car for the weekend getaway or to join GDC’s next Dream Car Tour, this is an amazing gift, one that the entrepreneur wouldn’t buy himself or herself. Luxury this is, not something that benefits the company perse, but could give the entrepreneur the once in a life-time experience or the motivation to go public or sell that social network they are building to buy these cars outright.

High-End Stationery: If you’re looking to give the uber personal present, high-end stationery could be right up your alley. After every VC pitch, you should be sending thank-you notes. You should be writing to your business development partners. Get off Twitter, Facebook, and email and go long-hand. We’re entrepreneurs, go against the grain. Stationery is making a comeback. The person I’m referring to here doesn’t have a website and handles holiday cards, invitations and stationery out of her private office in Westchester, NY. Click the link to contact me for the info… by appointment only.

Feel free to share this with your friends and family… also, let me know your thoughts as to what should be included. The more, the merrier… happy holidays, they are right around the corner.

Welcoming Fall…

Fall FoliageFor whatever reason, I feel like fall arrived today here in Westchester County. As I drove around, the leaves were changing color to beautiful reds/yellows and pumpkins were being sold at all the markets.  It’s an absolutely  beautiful season and also, one of my favorites.

Fall stands for quite a bit, but most notably: change.  Leaves change color, menu’s change at restaurants, clothing options change, and even time changes (daylight savings).  Fall keeps you on your toes and gets you ready for a challenging season:  winter (my favorite).  Lots of changes ahead and in due time, they’ll become apparent.  I look forward to sharing with everyone!

If you’d like to view a fall foliage slideshow on Flickr, click here.

One amazing thing about fall:  Dave Matthews Band is coming back for one more show on November 13 @ IZOD stadium.  You can bet that Sherri and I will be there…

Change to the Blog

Hello world. It’s been an amazing experience writing this blog. I’ve met people from all over the world who have interesting ideas and fascinating companies. You’ve also given me tons of feedback about this blog and I’ve listened…

Recently, Michael Galpert told me to utilize full RSS feeds. The reason I couldn’t do so was technical (we had a glitch in the backend), but now, we’ve enabled them. HTML formatted and images! So, RSS is up and running fully. If you’ve not subscribed, here is the link. Thank you to Michael for the tip… and I know a lot of you wanted this as well.

Another change to this blog is going to be that the front page (where this is posted) is going to have between 0-2 postings a day, not many more…. I want to post thoughtful and intellectual postings to the blog instead of a multitude of random thoughts.

TumblrIntroducing… Ramblings. After having my second espresso in my life (last night), I stayed up late and had the epiphany to create a tumblog for my random style posts. This will allow me a lot more flexibility without dilluting the front page of this blog. You’ll notice a new tab above the fold entitled “Thought Stream.” In the next 24 hours, I am going to change the name to “Ramblings,” but you get the point. Click the link and you’ll get to my tumblr page. The posts will vary from digital media and entrepreneurial ideas to random hockey/baseball and personal things.

Just wanted to introduce these changes as they were all products of listening to you, my readers. Thank you so much for your feedback and continued support of this blog!

Time To Light 2 Candles… It's a Big Day!

This blog turns 2 years old today and it’s been one wild ride. When I started this blog, I had no idea what it was going to turn into, but over time, it has really come into it’s own. I try and focus on marketing, advertising, media and technology but most of it comes from a startup or entrepreneurial point of view. Why? Because that’s what I love. 405+ posts later and over 600 reader comments… I think I’m on the right path.

I’ve determined that life is too short to do things that you’re not passionate about and this blog allows me to share my thoughts, feelings, and ramblings with anyone in the world that wants to listen.

Based on my own Tag Cloud, the most frequent topics I write about are:

  • advertising
  • apple
  • entrepreneurship
  • Internet
  • marketing
  • metaverse
  • second life
  • startup
  • venture capital
  • virtual world

Over the past 730 days (2 years for all of you quick people), I’ve met some incredible people that found this blog through search engines, comments, YCombinator, MyBlogLog, or other areas of the web that seem to drive traffic. I’ve been fortunate to advise on fundraising, help negotiate business deals, advise on shareholders agreements, inform the finance community on the games industry, add my two sense to multiple journal and trade articles, introduced business partners, and made lasting friendships with people who recently came to my wedding. All of this… stemmed through this blog.

When people ask me, “why do I blog,” you can now see why!

Every post is not created equal, but in each post, there is a tidbit of myself that hopefully comes across in a clear and concise nature. I’m excited to be writing and by the looks of the RSS feed, we’ve got ~390 of you reading… and really appreciate your comments and thoughts on each posting!

Don’t be a stranger… feel free to drop me a line or comment on a post and I’ll certainly get in touch with you.

A toast to the future….

Back in the Big Apple

About 3 weeks ago, I was married to an amazing woman named Sherri and we took off for a mixed tour of the WestYosemite Darren Coast’s National Parks and Spas for our honeymoon. I blogged a little bit throughout the honeymoon (wherever there was Internet service) and spoke to one or two folks, but all in all, I was really shut-off from reality and had no idea what was going on in the digital media world…. and I’m still not caught up yet (over 1300 RSS feeds to browse).

Sherri did a terrific job of journaling our honeymoon online so that our friends and family could see what we were up to. Blogging is also an amazing way to recap everything so you don’t forget things. Here are a few posts from our trip:

There are some great pictures and interesting reviews in each of the posts… enjoy!

BTW: My iPhone died on the trip for the SECOND time and will be going to the Apple store today to get it fixed (hopefully). Please don’t call, as I can’t answer. Email is best.

Business Idea: Mobile Phone Wipes

Do you have an iPhone? Do you constantly touch your screen and then put the phone up to your face? Think about how many germs are on that screen… I’m not the only one talking about it, read this article.

This idea came to me a while ago when I realized that I had not seen a consumer brand of wipes for the phone. I know that many of the wipe brands for computers are techy such as 3M, but what about a fun and simple consumer brand? Consumers love having a reason to buy things due to their health. It’s a necessity.

The cost of wipes are cheap and you can easily kick this business off for under $10k. Getting into this business has a bit of inventory overhead, but it shouldn’t be too bad. You can buy in bulk and sell to stores OR, you can sell direct off the web.

Do a Google search for mobile phone wipes and you won’t see any companies listed. Room to grow….and the media helping by reporting on germs and health isues.

Roadtrip: Leaving in 6 hours…

Roadtrip USASherri and I will be embarking on our honeymoon in about 6 hours as we leave Westchester County for the wilderness out west.  We’ll be spending over 28.5 hours in our rental car over the next 14 days as we navigate ~1500 miles of Arizona, Nevada, Utah and California.

We’ll be spending time exploring the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, and Yosemite.  I’m extremely excited to hike around these beautiful parks and to view America’s most beautiful wilderness.  Intertwined through everything, we’ll be staying at the Boulders (Arizona), THE Hotel (Las Vegas, NV), Ticklepink Inn (Carmel, CA), and the Fairmont (San Francisco, CA).  The contrast of the forest and luxury should be extremely interesting.

Posting will be fairly sparse (will write a few times a week) but we’ll be maintaining HermanWeb and updating it with pictures and such.

See everyone back in NY in mid-September!

It's Official…

Sherri & DarrenSherri and I tied the knot this weekend in front of about 250 of our closest friends and family. We’re extremely excited that we could share this special event with people who flew in from all over the globe including Africa, Europe, Vancouver, California, Austin, Florida, and many other places.

I was totally disconnected from the Internet for about 24 hours on Saturday as the groomsmen took my iPhone away during a photoshoot and didn’t let me have it back until early this morning…. and I didn’t feel any sense of digital withdrawl. Can’t say that too often!

What I absolutely loved was that people would come up to me and tell me how much they enjoy reading HermanWeb.us (mostly Sherri) and this blog. Blogs are an efficient way to communicate and allows us to stay in touh with family and friends from all over. The feedback that we received was excellent! Thank you to all of our readers.

Sherri has posted a nice recap of the weekend here and I’ve uploaded some crowdsourced photos to my flickr account. Professional photos will be deliverd in a few weeks but these should suffice for now.In The Air

We’ll be leaving September 2 for two weeks to explore the whitewater of the Grand Canyon, the lizards and animals of Yosemite, the river in Zion, and the beautiful scenery of Bryce. Of course we’ll be making stops in Vegas and at the Boulders in Arizona for a bit of pampering, but we’re looking forward to a significant portion of our honeymoon outdoors. Due to the trip, posting will be extremely light for those 2 weeks.

Thank you again to everyone who came out to make last night the most memorable evening of our lives!

Swapping an iPhone for a Leatherman

Sherri got me all excited with her most recent posting on HermanWeb:  our honeymoon.  The wedding has been overshadowing our grand trip, but I can’t wait to get to Arizona and start our trip through the national parks (Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Yosemite) and a few luxurious hotels/resorts.

Back when I was a camper at Camp Echo Lake in Warrensburg, NY, I went on a 4 week trip outwest, sort of like a teen tour.  Of those 4 weeks we spent out west, we camped/hiked for 2 weeks and the remaining 2, we spent in amusement parks, touring cities, and staying in hotels.  The trip was one of the best in my life and still reminise about it to my good friend, Adam, who I grew up with and also went to camp.  Totally unrelated, did you know CEL has a Facebook group?

We’re going to be trading in our iPhones and Blackberries for Merrels and Leathermans, but it’s a change we welcome and should be an unbelievable trip.  We’ll be live-blogging the trip from the road on HermanWeb but I’m sure I’ll post a few tidbits here.  We’re not leaving yet (Sept. 2), so there shouldn’t be a posting slow-down on the blog.

A conversation I can’t wait to have:

  • Darren:  We saw Sequoia whilst outwest
  • Friend:  How did it go?
  • Darren:  Wen’t great!
  • Friend:  Did they give you a term sheet?
  • Darren:  NOT Sequoia Capital!  Sequoia National Park!

A Bad Way To Wake Up – Spammers

I woke up at 5:45am today to go to the gym.  Usually, before I go, I check my email to see if anything urgent came in over night.  Well, nothing urgent came in, other than over 5,000 “Return to Sender” emails for a penis enlargement for Man XL.  It looks as though someone broke into my GMAIL account and sent out a heck of a lot of emails.

Not only is this frustrating for the short term, but it’s scary for the long term.  Why?  My GMAIL account has so much information within it (sensitive, confidential) and for the future of web applications, this does not bode well.  Security on the web is going to need to be significantly improved if you think Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs is going to put their financial data online for web applications.

I changed my password immediately on GMAIL but don’t know what else to do.  I cleaned up my inbox, but may have missed some emails (deleted by accident).  If you had sent me an email after 11PM EST last night, please resend.  I am now debating on moving my entire email infrastructure away from GMAIL onto my own domain, so I’m not relying on anyone elses email.

Would love to hear your thoughts on what I should do….

Frustrated in New York.