Engineering Your Ideas for Your Engineer

Everyone can come up with an idea, but not everyone can communicate one. What makes the difference between an idea that fizzles out and dies before it has even begun, and an idea that blossoms into prosperity, is engineers.

Without engineers, ideas go to waste. Learn how to communicate your ideas effectively and make them “shovel ready” for a developer with Cort Johnson of Terrible Labs in this week’s upcoming class. Next time that light bulb pops up above your head, (yes, like in the cartoons) you will be ready.

In lieu of the class, Cort sat down and answered a few questions for us:

Based on your experience, for a non-technical person, what is the hardest aspect of communicating an idea to an engineer?

CJ: The hardest part for anyone to communicate an idea is presentation. The difficulty with explaining an idea that lives in one’s head is that it’s unorganized and not thought out. Therefore when the idea is presented to an engineer, angel, VC or colleague it’s more than likely misunderstood.

What is the single most important thing to remember when working with
engineers to make your idea come to life?

CJ: To work most effectively with any engineering team, one should take the time to understand the development process. I’m not saying that one has to know how to set up a development environment or be able to explain the MVC framework, but take the time to understand how an idea is taken from conception to delivery. The more educated one is on this process, the easier it will be to tee up your product idea for an engineer to build.

Terrible Labs is known for some pretty eye-catching marketing tactics.
How do you come up with all the creative ideas?

CJ: We force feed espresso to Jeremy Weiskotten all day, he comes up with ridiculous ideas, we choose the ones that fit our company’s personality, and I go out and find a way to make them happen.

If you could be an expert in one skill by tomorrow, what would it be?

Time travel.

Interested in learning how to ready your idea for an engineer? Sign up for Cort’s class! Register here!

Paddleboarding the Mobile Advertising Landscape with Matt Kojalo

Online Advertising and Mobile Advertising are one in the same…right? WRONG. Online vs. Mobile advertising is just one of the key concepts you’ll need to grasp when starting to grow a mobile presence. On Wednesday night at, learn this and more from mobile maven, Matt Kojalo, as he shows students how to cultivating a thriving user base while making money along the way. Here’s a little sneak peek into his upcoming class!

What is the biggest challenge in going about growing a mobile presence?

There are a lot of challenges. How to acquire users and make money from them is probably the biggest challenge now. It’s pretty simple, but you need to experiment to find  the best plan for you. You need to gather that data—people are still trying to figure it out. It’s just like the traditional web was in 1998. It’s the wild west, now is time to stake your claim. The post-click experience, what happens after you click on an ad and the inclination brands and agencies have to dip more than their toe into mobile is increasing, but needs to increase more.

How do mobile ads differ from traditional online advertising, and how does this change the focus/outlay of the ad?

Mobile ads are small.  BUT…what they lack in size they make up for in a higher engagement rate than traditional web ads. It’s all about the Click-Through-Rate (CTR). Publishers (people who have apps and mobile sites) are looking to attract users and advertisers want to get in front of those users. Since the ad is small, it really has to get the user to enage. Rich media (iAd) and other ad types help, but majority of ads are still just 320×50 banners.

How big of a role do analytics play in building a mobile presence?

Analytics are crucial.  You have to know who your users are and what they are doing and how you got them. Once you have all these pieces together, you will be able to quickly find out if you are making money.

If you could be an expert in one skill by tomorrow, what would it be?

Well after trying Stand Up Paddeling boarding recently, I wish I was good at that. But I do wish I was better at math. Big analytical formula’s. Its all math these days. Thank God for Excel.

Matt KojaloMatt Kojalo is the Vice President of Global Advertising for the Poynt Corporation, a global leader in the mobile local search and advertising space. Before joining the Poynt team, Matt served as Vice President of Business Development at Mocospace, the largest mobile community in North America, with over 14 million users.

Join Matt at on Wednesday, July 25 for Monetizing and Navigating the Mobile Landscape.


The Hard Truth About Cold Calling from Yesware’s Matthew Bellows

Matthew BellowsAs a small startup, attempting to target and sell to a big company may seem daunting at first. It’s perfectly natural for “Where do I even start?!” to kick in. Matthew Bellows, CEO of Yesware, is ready to ease your fears, with precise insight into how to take your first steps. Cold calling, identifying a champion, and the big meeting are just a sneak peak into the topics he cover during Tuesday night’s Startup Selling to Big Companies at We sat down with Matthew to learn a little more before the big night.

What is the biggest challenge that a startup faces when targeting a big company with their product?

It’s hard to narrow it down to just one challenge, but the most important one to overcome is finding a genuine champion to lead the internal conversations within the big company. Without finding that person, it’s just not possible to close a deal. I’ll talk about the process for finding and building a relationship with your champion during my class.

 What is the importance of cold calling?

Cold calling has three important benefits:

1) There’s absolutely nothing better for honing your 30-second pitch and getting a genuine conversation going.

2) It’s often the only way to get in front of older decision makers who don’t deal with email well.

3) Almost all sales teams want a majority of their younger salespeople making dozens of cold calls a day – so you just have to get good at it.

How has Yesware helped you hone your sales process? Can you provide any real-life examples?

Two major ways: the template libraries help me respond much more quickly and accurately to prospects, and email tracking gives me incredible insights into how people are responding to my emails. But I’m the only one on Yesware’s sales team – bigger teams have several more features that help with CRM syncing and collaboration.

The real-life example I hear about the most from salespeople is, “Yesware told me this prospect just opened my email, so I gave him a call right away. ‘I was just thinking about you!’ he said and I got the deal closed.” I love hearing those stories.

If you could be an expert in one skill by tomorrow, what would it be?

Synchronizing my body and mind. I’m not sure we’ll get to that in the class, but we can talk about it afterwards if anyone wants.


Photoshop with Ash Edmonds: Tool or Toy?

Photoshop. You know it well, but do you know how to use it? From working in design to marketing, product or sales, Photoshop can be a useful tool for helping you find your creative side, and surprisingly, it’s not that difficult to get the hang of. Whether your goal is to develop a logo for your new company or tap into a new source of expression for your own free time and amusement, your first stop should be the Photoshop 101 class in Boston with Ash Edmonds, the Head of Design at Dailybreak on Monday, July 23 at 6:00 p.m. at!

Ash Edmonds Photoshop

What’s the most bizarre photo you’ve ever edited / created in Photoshop?

The most bizarre photo I’ve ever edited was of my friends and I in Germany. The edit was primarily focused around lighting, using a photography technique called HDR, or High Dynamic Range, which merges multiple exposures of one photo together. For this photo I took the original, two under exposed versions, two over exposed versions and mashed them together. As a result, a whole new set of lightening and detail possibilities are available.

How might someone who’s not a designer put Photoshop to work?

Even if you’re not a designer, Photoshop is a very valuable skill to have. It’s much more mainstream and odds are almost everyone knows what Photoshop is. A content writer, developer, or a co-worker in marketing might work with a designer everyday and could benefit by knowing what goes into a particular design and how much time it might take. A smaller piece of the design project may be delegated to someone from another department to make the process more efficient. The writer can easily crop a photo, add text to it, or make it black and white. A developer might take a UI design within Photoshop and by understanding layers will be able to export all the necessary images. A co-worker from marketing might need a design for the companies Facebook page. By understanding Photoshop that person can take a designers file and re-create it in a different size.

If you could be an expert in one skill by tomorrow, what would it be?

If I could be an expert in one skill by tomorrow I would be a master at compositing. Compositing is the total creation of a scene, bringing aspects from other photos, creating custom shapes, and seamlessly integrating all elements with respect to shadows and lighting to make a realistically designed environment. Being a master at compositing requires a keen eye, dexterous skill, and the patients to craft with attention to detail.

Ash EmondsAsh Edmonds got his start as an Interactive Designer at the Staples HQ then after 3 years, joined the startup community with Dailybreak as Web Designer. He shortly moved on to build a super talented design team as Head of Design. Ash is a Photoshop guru, Photographer,and friend of

Ash is teaching Photoshop 101 at on Monday, July 23rd at 6:00 p.m.