Think Different

Oct 05, 2011

Steve Job 1955-2011

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Posted in Angels, Business, Computing, Current Affairs, Customer Focus, Deals, E-Commerce, Entrepreneurship, Film, Fun, Games, Internet, Management, Marketing, Mobile, Music, Networking, Personal, Photography, Presentations, Science, Social, Startups, Stocks, Web/Tech

ShootQ Acquired by Pictage

Jul 07, 2010

Not too long ago Matt Culbreth introduced me to Jonathan LaCour, the CTO of ShootQ. Shortly thereafter I met with Jonathan and the rest of the founding team, Andrew Nieson and Rachel LaCour Nieson, down at HobNob for about a 90 minute get to know you session. Despite, or perhaps because of, the intertwined last names I really enjoyed the discussion with the team.  Most likely because I really like to take pictures and it was clear from the conversation that the team had a strong passion for photography.

Long ago Andrew and Rachel were professional photogs that had a problem.  The problem was not their pictures.  The problem was the business side of taking pictures.  And they set out to solve it.  In 2007 ShootQ was launched with the aim to liberate photographers from the tedious side of their business.  I am not doing it justice, but it is essentially a photographer workflow management web app.

Fast forward to our little meeting.  ShootQ was growing.  Since 2007 they had created a nice business and they were at a juncture where they needed some cash to do the things they wanted to do.  Shortly after we met ShootQ started having some serious discussions with a company called Pictage, a powerhouse in the professional photography space. Today they announced a deal.  I advised Andrew and Rachel along the way.  I think it is a good deal for them.  While the official press release does not talk about price, it gives them a good exit and the resources they need to build out their platform.  

It's great to see these types of deals. Self funded with efficient and significant exits for the founders.  The ShootQ team is going to be staying in Decatur and I expect that this deal will not be the last we hear from the LaCour Nieson trio.

Congrats to the entire ShootQ team.   When thing settle down we need to grab another pint.  You buy.

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Posted in Photography, Startups

My Main Lens

Oct 02, 2008

I don't talk about it much on FoG, but I take pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures.  And I have been doing it for a long time.  Paul Stamatiou outed me over the weekend when he posted on Flickr this shot I took of him at Octane.


It was taken was his Nikon D90, which in program mode (I am typically a manual mode shooter) seems to overexpose things to me, and my personal favorite lens.  Paul has a nice review of the D90 if you are in the market for a new camera. 

Which I am not.  But I recently was in the market for a new lens when my wife bought me a D80 as a present.  The D80 upgrade made the autofocus on my Nikkor 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5AF inoperable so I decided it was time for an upgrade.  And somewhere along the way I learned, or was taught, that the lens that you use is more important then the camera body.

So I reached out to Josh Hallet who suggested the Nikon  17-55mm f/2.8. That lens was not quite tight enough for me so I ended up with the Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8 which is one spectacular lens.  It is generally considered to be Nikon's best professional no-compromise normal zoom from 1999 to 2008.  It was discontinued this spring shortly after I purchased it and replaced with the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 (picture below shot with Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5).


It cost about twice as much as the D80 body but it's been worth it.  The f/2.8 is a step function better then the f/3.5 min on my old lens and that in and of itself is worth the price.  Perfect for low light no flash situations which I tend to be in a lot.  On top of that it comes with a nice hood to keep the lens safe and a case for when I have another of my three lenses on the body.  Biggest downside is that it weighs in at nearly two pounds, so it is a bit heavy, but it is the main lens I use when I am out and about.

I love photography and I don't know why I have been hesitant to talk about it much on FoG.  This is the start.  I am in the process of making a decision on the best online photo sharing service to use so that I can bring more of my pictures online.  I have conflicting needs around this.  I want to be able to share them on this blog and want to be able to distribute them to distant relatives that are not as Web proficient as readers of FoG.  I would welcome any direction that you can provide.  Until I get that figured out I will leave you with a parting shot of Buzz, taken outside my office yesterday morning with the 28-70.


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Posted in Photography

Good Byes & Conflicts

Jun 17, 2006

I am a semi-avid photographer.  While we have a Canon PowerShot  that we absolutely love for point and shoot,  I still get serious with my trusty Nikon N80.

Until today.

Nikon recently lowered the price on the D70S to the point I was willing to take the plunge.  I now have the gleaming camera and cannot wait to spend some time getting to know it on my upcoming vacation to the beach.

But there is more of a story here.

Do a simple search on Nikon.  One of the top Adword placement is for Ritz Camera.  $699, free shipping, no sales tax.  Reputable shop.  It's priced about the same on Amazon.

So I go into my local camera shop, Showcase to pick up my $80 worth of developed film.  I have been going there for at least six years.  Taken several classes.  A somewhat loyal customer.

After picking up my pix I stroll over to the camera desk to talk about the camera.  The conversation goes something like this:

Lance:  I am going to buy a D70 today.  I can get it off the Internet from one of your major competitors for the same price that you are advertising but I don't have to pay sales tax if I buy it from them.  Drop the price so that the total is the same and I will buy it from you right now.

Sales Lady:  But you won't get our expertise.

Lance:  Your expertise is not worth paying 8% more to me.

Sales Lady:  We don't discount our cameras unless you are buying more than one.

Lance:  I only need one.

Sales Lady:  We don't match Internet prices.

Lance:  I am going to buy this camera today, and I really want to buy it from you guys.  Will you match the price.

Sales Lady:  No.

Lance:  OK, sorry, good bye.

And I proceeded to walk out the door.  I am most likely never walking in it again. 

I was a good customer of theirs.  Over the years I bet I have spent over $10,000 on products and services in there.  Due to the lack of a little flexibility on there part, I don't think I will be spending much more.

Moral of the story.  Be flexible with your good customers to keep them around.

As an aside, just for fun I walked into the local Ritz Camera to ask them if they would match the Internet price of their own company.  The answer was no.  Great strategy to drive your customers away from your bricks and mortar stores onto the Internet where the products that you sell have a greater chance of being commoditized.

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Posted in Customer Focus, Photography