Wednesday, December 30, 2015
The plaque at the entrance of Disneyland in California reads: "Here you leave today, and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and ...
The plaque at the entrance of Disneyland in California reads: "Here you leave today, and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy". The very core of the Disneyland brand has been to take you to that fun and magical place. Our recent family trip to Disneyland was anything but fun and magical. It was more a page out of a Freddie Krueger horror story. And, if Walt Disney could see all the corporate greed for maximizing money making, at the expense of a fun user experience, he would surely be turning in his grave. Below is a summary of our experience, and lessons for us all to learn for delivering a world-class customer experience (or not!!).
You know you are not off to a good start, when despite arriving an hour before opening, you still have to wait an hour just to park your car. The flow from the highway exit to the lot was bumper to bumper for about a mile, and when you finally arrived at the pay booth, six lanes merged down to one lane in a chaotic mess. It was like Disneyland had never had to deal with parking flow issues in their sixty year history before.
FOOT TRAFFIC FLOW FAIL
The average person can walk at around three miles an hour; we were lucky if we were walking one mile an hour. It was so overcrowded in the park, you felt like you were part of a herd of cattle being lead to the slaughter. You should never feel like waiting in lines for the rides, was actually a reprieve from the chaos of walking through the park itself.
PARK DESIGN FAIL
Disneyland prides itself on how well-designed its park is, with "invisible" operations behind the scenes. But, to me, the "visible" part of the park, was very poorly designed to handle large volumes of crowds. There were so many "pinch points", where a wide walkways narrowed down to a thin walkway, creating crazy bottlenecks. And, there were many "dead ends", where you needed to reverse direction back through crazy crowds, to get where you thought you were originally heading (based on very poor signage).
WAIT TIMES FAIL
There are around eight main sections of Disneyland, each with a main ride therein. In a good user experience, in a 9-5 day, you should be able to ride each of the eight main rides in an eight hour day, with no more than an hour wait for any one ride. Wait times were approaching two hours on many of the rides, which means the visitors were only able to experience around half of the rides offered. Fun is enjoying the rides, not waiting in lines for the rides.
FAST PASS FAIL
I like the concept of a Fast Pass, to get a set reservation time to avoid a busy line. But, the fails were many here: (1) you can't set reservations anywhere but the ride area, which means you need to battle crowds and wait in lines just to get your Fast Pass; (2) you are limited to one Fast Pass reservation every two hours, which reasonably means you only get a couple chances to use it per day; and (3) if you don't return in your slotted time, you lose your reservation (and many people were missing their one hour reservation time window because the crowds were so bad to get back to that part of the park in time).
MARCHING BANDS FAIL
I love marching bands as much as anyone, but there is a time and place. You should not close down the main foot traffic walkways of the park, to accommodate marching bands on the busiest days of the park. That takes a slow user experience, down to a crawl. If you want bands, put them on the main stage at the entrance of the park, where they won't impede foot traffic flow during your peak times.
When it is lunch time, around noon, and you can't get food for your kids until after an hour or two of waiting in long lines, there is a major problem. And, when you finally get your food, and there are no empty tables for you to sit down and enjoy your meal, that just compounds the problem. And, when you find the one open restaurant in the park with 20-30 open tables, and you are are turned away because you didn't have a pre-booked reservation (which many people missed due to crowds impeding foot traffic) is just plain stupid.
I understand the Disneyland amusement park experience has been in our country's core DNA since 1955, or over 60 years now. That is around three generations worth of families that have taken their families to the Magic Kingdom for that break away from reality and to fantasy. But, when that experience has become more of a nightmare, at the rapidly growing entry cost of $100 per person (and easily double that with parking, food and souvenirs), maybe it is time for the country to have a new family tradition.
Perhaps that is visiting any one of our 59 national parks, where the experience is equally spectacular, the land is plentiful and you won't be cattle-herded up against 65,000 other travelers. Or, if amusement parks is a must, there are scores of them across the country--take your hard earned money to other parks that better respect your user experience. For example, we visited Universal Studios in Hollywood, Legoland and the San Diego Zoo that same week we visited Disneyland, and they were delightful in comparison.
Anyway, take these business lessons to heart: (1) don't mis-serve your customers in delivering a poor user experience (regardless of how much money you can make); and (2) don't take your history and customer loyalty for granted (you never know when they will hit their breaking point and take their family and money elsewhere). Disneyland should have capped their user maximum at a much lower level to preserve a better user experience (even if they needed to raise prices to enable that).
I know I will never go back to Disneyland after this recent experience, and I recommend you don't make the same mistake I made: trusting our once-in-a-lifetime family experience to Disney (did I really just say that??!!). I am sure Walt and the brand team at Disney are cringing as those very words are leaving my mouth, as it is 100% counter to the brand positioning they are aspiring towards. But, it has become the stark reality, based on the current generation of Disney executives who have forgotten how to put their customers first (not their bottom line). They may not feel the financial impact in this generation, but they surely will in the next.
ADDENDUM ADDED 1/13/16: I have to give credit where credit is due. I got an unexpected call from Disneyland this week after they read this blog post. They said I raised a lot of fair points, apologized for the poor experience, acknowledged it was one of their busiest days of the year and told me their team is brainstorming the overcrowding issues to remedy it in the future. Then, they offered my family five free Park Hopper tickets (a $750 value) to use on our next visit, anytime in the next two years. That was an unexpected and appreciated offer, and a professional and honest way to treat an upset customer. Problem is: with my family in Chicago, the odds of flying my family out to Los Angeles a second time in two years is pretty low. So, I won't be able to take advantage of it.
For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Let’s face it: every company needs to deal with competition. You compete on your product offering, your pricing, your customer...
If you are in the B2B space, odds are you will need to respond to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) from prospective customers throughout...
Monday, December 21, 2015
[VIDEO] George Deeb Talks Startup Marketing, Hot Chicago Startups & Coding in Schools with Tasty TradePosted By: George Deeb - 12/21/2015
Red Rocket's George Deeb was recently interviewed by Tom Sosnoff and Tony Battista for Tasty Trade's "Bootstrapping in Amer...
Red Rocket's George Deeb was recently interviewed by Tom Sosnoff and Tony Battista for Tasty Trade's "Bootstrapping in America" program. In this video, George talks about startup marketing, hot Chicago startups and the importance of getting coding into the school curriculum.
George Deeb Talks Startup Marketing, Hot Chicago Startups & Coding in Schools from Red Rocket Ventures on Vimeo.
This video is courtesy of Tasty Trade, all rights reserved. Be sure to check out Tasty Trade's other "Bootstrapping in America" programs on YouTube.
For future posts, please follow us on Twitter at: @RedRocketVC
Red Rocket's George Deeb recently presented a "How to Build Your Team & Advisors" session for the new class of startup...
Red Rocket's George Deeb recently presented a "How to Build Your Team & Advisors" session for the new class of startups at Founder Institute in Chicago. This video tackles the following topics: How do you find the right team to launch your company? How do you identify the right set of advisors? How do you manage your advisors? What are responsibilities and compensation for advisors? How do you identify the right roles to help you launch a product or offering? Do you expect the roles to change over time? How can recruit people to fill roles when you have limited resources? What metrics do you track when recruiting? Do you need a cofounder? What are some common pitfalls with cofounder? Is a team necessary to launch a company?
Sorry for the poor quality of the video. But here it is:
George Deeb Teaches Startups How to Build Team and Advisors from Red Rocket Ventures on Vimeo.
And, here is the matching Slideshare to go with the presentation:
For future posts, please follow us on Twitter at: @RedRocketVC
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Red Rocket gets introduced to hundreds of startups each year, in the normal course of doing business, or via our involvement with FireSt...
Red Rocket gets introduced to hundreds of startups each year, in the normal course of doing business, or via our involvement with FireStarter Fund, TechStars, Techweek, VentureShot, Founder Institute or other startup groups or events. We wanted to honor the best of these startups that we met in 2015, in Red Rocket's 4th Annual "Best Startups of the Year". This list is not intended to be an all-encompassing best startups list, as there are many additional great startups that we are not personally exposed to each year. And, this list is not intended to be only for businesses that launched in 2015, it is open to startups of any age, that they or their advisors had some personal interaction with us in the last 12 months. The business simply needed to have a good idea, good team or good traction, that caught our attention. Congrats to you all!!
THE BEST STARTUPS OF 2015 (in alphabetical order):
Apollo Medical Devices (CEO Patrick Liemkuehler) - B2B Rapid Blood Testing Technology
Bitsbox (CEO Scott Lininger) - B2C Subscription Box That Teaches Kids to Code Technology
Block Six Analytics (CEO Adam Grossman) - B2B Analytics & Marketplace for Sponsorships
Boatbound (CEO Aaron Hall) - B2C Private or Captained Boat Rentals
Built In (CEO Maria Katris) - Localized Business Networking Websites for Digital Tech Space
Dose (CEO Emerson Spartz) - B2C Daily Dose of Amazing Content & Virality Platform
Fitspot (CEO Jonathan Cohn) - B2C On-Demand Personal Trainers to Your Home
Fooda (CEO Orazio Buzza) - B2C At-Work Lunch Catering Platform from Local Restaurants
Growth Geeks (CEO Bronson Taylor) - B2B Freelance Growth Hackers on Demand
HighGround (CEO Vip Sandhir) - B2B Employee Engagement Platform
Home Chef (CEO Pat Vihtelic) - B2C Weekly Home Meal Kit Deliveries
Hooks (CEO Oleg Kozynenko) - B2C Push Notifications for Anything You Want
Maiday (CEO Sara Bokan) - B2C On-Demand Home Cleaning Service
Networked Insights (CEO Dan Neely) - B2B Social Listening & Insights Platform
Otobots (CEO Arun Simon) - B2C On-Demand Auto Mechanics to Your Home
SoloInsight (CEO Carter Kennedy) - B2B Smart Gates and Workforce Management Software
Uptake (CEO Brad Keywell) - B2B Internet of Things Data Insights Platform
WeLink (CEO Nathan Chandra) - B2B Location-Based Social Listening Platform
And, don't forget to check out the 2012 winners, 2013 winners and 2014 winners, many of whom continue to be doing great things.
Congratulations to you all!! Keep up the good work.
For future posts, please follow us at: @RedRocketVC
I've previously written about the 1,024 different types of salespeople there are and the difference between selling simple product...
I've previously written about the 1,024 different types of salespeople there are and the difference between selling simple products vs. ones that are much more complex and consultative in nature. I like to call this the difference between selling “widgets” vs. selling “wisdom.” So, what follows are some further thoughts on the difference between the two, the advantages of selling wisdom and ways in which you can effectively transition your selling efforts from "simple products" to "wisdom."
Read the rest of this post in Entrepreneur, which I guest authored this week.
For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
I have previously written about The Role of a Startup CEO , during the company’s early stage of development. But, if your company hits ...
I have previously written about The Role of a Startup CEO, during the company’s early stage of development. But, if your company hits is stride and starts to materially grow revenues, I thought it was important to talk about how the CEO’s role needs to evolve as the company starts to scale. For simplicity sake, I am going to compare the role of a CEO in businesses between zero to $10MM in revenues (early stage), versus CEOs in businesses between $10MM to $50MM in revenues (growth stage).
Read the rest of this post in Forbes, which I guest authored this week.
For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.
Friday, December 4, 2015
Red Rocket's George Deeb has recently been working with his local school administrators to emphasize the importance of learning to c...
Red Rocket's George Deeb has recently been working with his local school administrators to emphasize the importance of learning to code technology, which he feels is a major void in the current core K-12 curriculum, one which is designed for a different era of students and eventual workers. As part of that, he was invited in to present this concept to the fourth graders in the school, which is shown in this video. So, although the message was delivered in a student friendly way, the message should equally resonate with parents, teachers and school administrators.
We share this video with you, because we feel every student in our country needs to learn the basics of coding technology by the time they graduate high school, the reasons of which are shared in this video. If you feel this message resonates with you and you want to make a difference in your own schools, please share this video with your local school administrators. Hopefully, our collective efforts in our respective school districts, will make a collective difference in our schools at the national level, and help lay the foundation for a strong economy of well-employed workers for generations to come.
George Deeb Evangelizes Adding Tech Coding to Core K-12 Curriculum from Red Rocket Ventures.
If you prefer to have something in writing to share with your schools, below is a synopsis of what was covered in the video:
WHAT IS THE GOAL OF GETTING AN EDUCATION
- To increase your intelligence, and gain skills that will enable you to get a good job when you graduate?
KEY TRENDS—HIGH LEVEL JOB MARKET
- The rising cost of living, is making it harder for people to retire. (define cost of living)
- When people don’t retire, it makes it harder for many college graduates to find good jobs
- And, with the rising cost of college education, many college graduates build up big college loans without finding a job that can help them pay back those loans (define loan).
KEY TRENDS—TECHNOLOGY & ENTREPRENEURSHIP
- But, the technology industry is exploding with lots of open jobs
- Over 100,000 open tech jobs in Chicago alone, up 2x in the last year alone
- And, these tech jobs are in such short supply, not enough trained technologists, the ones that are trained quickly have companies competiting for them, and paying them big salaries in the $100-$200K range
- This is fueled by technology companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and 1000’s of others you have never heard of
- Technologies are even taking over non-technical industries like manufacturing via IoT, further accelerating the amount of companies that need technology coders
- The technology coding demand is highest around studying large amounts of data and driving insights that can help make better business decisions
- And, the U.S. are competing in a global ecosystem of businesses—up against companies in China, India and beyond, where others a growing technology skills a lot faster than the U.S.
- In fact, the United Kingdom just required every student to learn how to code by the time they graduate from high school, in their core curriculum
- Even the Chicago Public School system has followed suit, rolling out coding into its curriculum this last year. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to ensure all kids learn to code, as vital to their success.
WHAT IS CODING?
- It is not playing with your iPad or the apps therein.
- It is coding the apps therein, writing the scripts that make the apps do what they do—the layouts, the colors, the movements, the content, etc.
- And, although Kodable and Code.org teaches you how to think like a coder, through games. It really isn’t teaching you to write the code itself.
- We are talking about learning new technology languages with crazy names like HTML, Java, Python and Ruby on Rails. There are literally hundreds of technology languages one could learn, based on the need of the technology.
SO, WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
- Learning to code by the time you graduate from high school, ensures that you will easily be able to find a job, especially for the many families that can’t afford to send their kids to college, or don’t want to take on the big college debts without the certainty of finding a job.
WHAT ARE MY PERSONAL CONCERNS?
- Most schools are not required to teach coding in the core curriculum, and many local parents in our district are trying to change that
- The fear is kids today are going to graduate from high school without the skills they really need for this next generation of jobs. And, if they can’t find jobs, that will ultimately hurt the U.S. economy and our country’s competitive position with the global economy.
- And, there are hurdles when adding new stuff to curriculum, like what other subjects are you going to cut?
- Where I think we can be creative—for art give the choice of pottery or digital design, for language give a choice of Spanish or HTML
- Or, we can even be creative and offer extended class days, weekend programs or summer camps if it is important enough to you kids and your parents
WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT?
- We are trying to get technology coding formally added to the core curriculum in our district as part of the school’s STEM programs. So, hopefully, exciting news to come in the future.
- In the meantime, there are plenty of other resources you can take advantage of outside of school, where you can learn how to code: online websites, summer camps, etc.
- The school and the parents are going to really work hard to get you more coding experience for all the reasons discussed today
- But, if we are can’t get it fast enough, take control of your own destiny, and ask your parents to find you coding classes after school or on the weekends, or coding camps in the summer
- And, make sure your parents tell the school how much you are interested in learning stuff like this, so we can help accelerate our efforts, not only in our district, but for the whole state, if a successful pilot program can be done in our district.
- Coding is no longer a nice to know, it is a NEED to know. This is really important to your future, and I want to see you all succeed—not only today, but 8 years from now when you graduate from high school. And, it all starts now!!
Be sure to read my companion piece that I wrote for Entrepreneur Magazine: K-12 Curriculum Needs Major Overhaul to Develop Entrepreurship Skills.