SxSW Interactive Wrap-Up and Why Most Startups are DOA
Mar 18 2012

My 2012 SXSW Interactive experience this past week was very low key.  No badge.  A few days.  A few parties.  All productive.  Great networking for my consulting business where I’m focusing on operations and partner/client management projects.  I was home by a reasonable hour every evening.

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I’ve had dozens of meetings scheduled since then, met people I haven’t seen in a while, and I’m helping organize a reunion for the B2C (business-to-consumer) and Web CEO groups I was a part of when I was working on Babble Soft.  Many of us are in transition times like I am, which is par for the proverbial entrepreneurial course.  I really enjoy networking and connecting people to each other.  I even made some almost random connections for the very cool 1 Semester Startup team I’m mentoring called beDJ.  If only I could charge big bucks to do that. :-)

I have seen so many start up companies with big dreams of launching at SXSW interactive.  Most of them make a big splash and then you don’t hear from them again.  I thought this post on TechCrunch the other day was very well timed: Why Entrepreneurs Fail And Most Startups Are DOA.  Entrepreneurship (especially in technology) is not for the feint of heart.  It’s mostly for the insane, stupid, independently wealthy, ones with extremely supportive spouses/pets/friends, ones who are calculated risk takers who can rebound quickly from mistakes and failure.

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, conferences, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Timing Is Everything – Babble Soft Update
Mar 7 2011

It’s taken me quite some time to write about this because of a crazy busy schedule and I wasn’t really sure how to write about it.  In addition to my day job, I’ve also taken on a side consulting job in order to learn about a different industry and to bring in some additional income.  The last 20+ months seem like a blur to me with all the changes I’ve had to absorb and process in my life personally and professionally.  A few months ago my partner at Babble Soft, Nicole Johnson, who has been running the company for over a year, told me she needed to put the company on hiatus so she could better manage her life.

Nicole also has a day job as well as another side job (baby sleep advice), and as I and a few others on the panel I coordinated called Building A Web Business After Hours at SXSW Interactive (starting here in Austin later this week) a couple of years ago have subsequently realized: it’s very hard to do.  We had to pass the baton to someone else who could spend more time on our respective companies.  Since I had been in her shoes juggling kids, family, day job, oh and just a handful of personal transitions not too long ago, I told her to do what she felt was best for her and her family.

They say timing is everything and it is so true and especially with businesses.  So many things have to go right for an endeavor to be successful.  There has to be the right balance of personal situation, market acceptance, technology working, right people, etc. that sometimes it’s a wonder any businesses survive!

So it was a bitter sweet transition that happened a few months ago and maybe someone will be interested in buying our intellectual property, the domain name, or Nicole will be able to reduce hours at one of her other jobs to re-launch fresh in a year or so!  A few months ago, we moved everything (including my blog) off of a dedicated Rackspace server to a much lower cost alternative.

So goes life.  If things aren’t working out, it’s better to recognize that something is about to break (whether it’s you or your business) to make changes earlier rather than later.  Sometimes things don’t work out as planned, and I’m so glad I live in the US where we can learn from every business success or failure and still be respected and get another job.  As an example, check out the interview by Fareed Zakaria, CNN news/TIME editor, did of the Foursquare founders.

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, Rackspace, success | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Once In A Blue Moon – It’s Complicated
Jan 1 2010

Last night, December 31, 2009, we had a blue moon.  Most years have 12 full moons but every 2 to 3 years we have an extra full moon and it’s called a blue moon.  We saw it coming back from the airport after a really nice visit with my cousin and her family.  On the way out, after getting up at 3:30 a.m. to make a flight that was 3 hours delayed, we ended up being almost 7 hours late getting to our final destination because of an issue we had leaving Austin having to do with de-icing our plane.  Just before they had us get off the plane to wait it out, my son said loudly “I knew we should have flown Southwest!” which caused all the people around us to laugh.  He doesn’t even have to try to be funny…this wonderful kid of mine. :-)   This was the first time I traveled by myself by plane with the kids, and they did really well.  I told them how happy I was with them because despite the delays, it was one of the least stressful times traveling with 2 kids that I’ve ever had.  We even had a 4 hour layover in Memphis, TN and by a stroke of luck some of my long time family friends who live there (who I hadn’t even told we were flying through Memphis because we were only supposed to be there for 45 minutes) interrupted their plans to come hang out with us for a couple of hours at the airport!   I was so happy to see them…kind of like seeing land when you’ve been lost at sea for a while.

My favorite aunt and uncle (we spent summers and other times with them growing up) were supposed to have left earlier in the day from my cousin’s place, but they waited for us before driving back to their city a couple of hours away.  I was so grateful that they waited…kind of felt like a pilgrim lost in a fog coming home.

So back to the blue moon.  It’s a rare event and thanks to Erin, who picked us up at the airport, it was probably the first time in my life that I was aware we were having one.  He had seen something about it on CNN, so I looked it up on my trusty iPhone.  The moon last night was uncharacteristically huge and bright and to me seemed full of hope and promise.   I started singing the song Blue Moon by Ella Fitzgerald (lyrics) and thought about the upcoming new year and new decade that was upon us.  Although I was invited to a friend’s New Year’s eve party, I was so tired I called it a night at 10:30 p.m.  Lame I know, but I figured it was best to start the new year rested so I could think about whether I should make some new year’s resolutions.

So today is the first day of the new year and last year I made non-resolutions:  “So my non-resolutions for 2009 are to sing more, laugh more, write more, make more funny faces at my kids, be less repressed, empower people, unashamedly love people, continue to take yoga, find a purple hat (any suggestions?), make some life changing decisions (I already got my hair cut short), and move the ball forward one day at a time on Babble Soft and at ATI.”  The funny thing is that I think I achieved all of those to varying degrees with various outcomes and some I didn’t even do consciously (a higher power at work).  I guess I should be careful what I non-resolute!

One of my friends, Julie Fergerson, who happens to be a leading expert in identity theft, got me a purple hat.  I transferred majority ownership in Babble Soft to my fabulous partner, Nicole Johnson, who I finally got to meet in person while visiting my cousin because she lives in the same city.  My cousin had met her before I did.  Nicole also runs the Baby Sleep Site and our online meeting has got to be a case study (GigaOm) in successful partnerships between two people who have never met in person.  It was like we were old friends catching up when we met with our kids at a nearby mall.  As far as writing more, I didn’t write more on the blog, but I wrote song lyrics and did a lot of personal journaling (I’m already on my second spiral notebook).  My daughter likes to hang out with me when I write in the mornings and, of course, add her personal touch to my pages. :-) Maybe she’s a budding writer despite not being able to even read yet…

So I think I’ll stick with most of the same non-resolutions for 2010 and maybe add something about making upward progress in my career and doing more cardio exercise.  I’m not planning to eat black eyed peas or kiribath (rice cooked in coconut milk – yummy), a Sri Lankan new year’s tradition for auspicious occasions, so I’m throwing caution to the superstitious winds and hoping for the best.

And in case you are wondering why the title of this post includes the words “It’s Complicated.”  Well it’s because I saw the movie today with my movie buddies Michelle Ewalt (a great business/life transitions coach) and Cindy S. (she’s an offline kind of gal).  We see a lot of movies together and our next one might be Sherlock Holmes.  It’s Complicated was hilarious and included fabulous actors and actresses including Meryl Streep, Steve Martin (so cute & funny), and Alec Baldwin.  It was much better than the Alvin and the Chipmunks – The Squeakquel movie my cousin and I suffered gladly sat through for the kids.  While watching “It’s Complicated,” I kept thinking, while laughing out loud, that although my life seems complicated, thank God it’s not as complicated as that!

Happy 2010 everyone…

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, entrepreneurship, holiday, national holiday, random stuff | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Babble Soft Has Found A Home
Oct 12 2009

So back in late June, I announced that Babble Soft was looking for a new home, and I’m happy to report I found one and it’s really not that far from its current home.

I put some feelers out for interested parties and got some great leads and potential interest, but after a few weeks I realized I just didn’t have the time with a full time day job and kids to really do the sales effort well and even if a large company said they were interested it could be 6 to 9 months before they could actually do anything about it!  And frankly, I didn’t have it in me with the other things I’m juggling to play the waiting game for an unknown outcome.

So my partner, Nicole Johnson, and I discussed possibilities.  Nicole also runs Pick Nick’s Brain, a baby sleep consulting site.  And like a true angel, she decided she could take it over and run with it!  So a couple of weeks ago, we made it official!  She will be running Babble Soft going forward.  She’s an amazing individual who is also juggling many things, but she had maybe 2-3 less things on her plate to manage than I do right now, so the dream lives on!

I couldn’t think of a better person, who gets the vision (and who knows how to code!), to take our vision and grow it.  And to think I’ve never even met her in person.  I found her through a bunch of online connections and even wrote about finding a partner online for GigaOm.  I couldn’t have wished for a better business partner.  She adapted when the situation changed for me and for both of us.  I’m hoping I meet her in person sometime soon.

I’m still a part owner so I’ll be continuing to support Nicole and talking up Babble Soft when and where I can, and I hope that many of you readers will too!

Now, I must take some extended time to decompress, sort a few things out, and figure out what my next entrepreneurial endeavor might be…possibly creating a music CD or writing a book!  8-)

Author: | Filed under: babble soft | Tags: , , | 6 Comments »

The Difference Between Girls And Boys
Oct 8 2009

Some of you may recall that I accidentally published a version of this post a while back.  In my blurry eyed state of doing too many things I hit the little blue button that said Publish instead of the black and white button that says Save Draft inside WordPress.  So here’s my next attempt to try to have it make more sense.

Everyone knows there is a physical difference between boys and girls, but I think not many (especially in the business world) understand the mental and emotional differences.  Many studies have been done on the subject including ones done on the differences between male and female brains mentioned HERE, HERE, a psychological overview called Understanding The Difference Between Men and Women, and a 2007 one done by McKinsey & Company called Women Matter (pdf) that suggests that companies where women are strongly represented in senior management and on the board perform better than others.

McKinsey also did a report called Centered Leadership: How talented women thrive (you have to register to read the full report).  My boss at ATI, who use to work at McKinsey, gave me a copy of that report late last year and a good overview is on a post on the glass hammer blog at Factors that Sustain Successful Women Leaders.  When I first read the report I have to admit I was pretty cynical and felt like it was mostly taking a man’s perspective’s (i.e., researchers) to try to ‘explain women and their emotions.’  But a series of unexpected events happened in my life, combined with working at ATI, which was my first steady office job since having kids, that changed my mind.  I happen to think men are just as emotional as women, they just express it differently which, of course, is more acceptable among other men.

As a woman who got her MBA and was founding CEO of a venture capital backed tech company, there always seemed to be an expectation that one had to be like a man to succeed, which was mentioned in the Women Matter report.  Only 20% of my MBA class were women and I daresay less than 5% (that may be 1%) of technology company founding CEO’s are women.  Many of those women dropped out of their careers for several years to have and rear children.  I took years off from a high-paced job too but at the same time attempted to keep my knowledge up to date by teaching entrepreneurship at UT Austin and founding Babble Soft from my home office.  My first company was a business-to-business company where you sell directly to businesses.  Babble Soft is a business-to-consumer business where you sell directly to consumers.  I now know a dangerous amount of how things work (or don’t work) in those vastly different kinds of business models.

From my perspective, the more you could act like a man without being too confrontational/aggressive the easier it was to navigate the world of high tech business.  More than 90% of the time I was the only women in a room full of older, White men.  Gail Evans, former VP at CNN, and author of Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: What Men Know About Success that Women Need to Learn mentions that many men put women into one of 4 categories: Wife, Daughter, Mistress, or Mother.  The best of these categories is, according to her is Daughter because men take on a more mentoring role.  She also says there is no such thing as work/life balance.  It’s all one life that you work and play in so trying to balance those two doesn’t really make sense!

I really enjoy working with men and women so I think that’s helped me break some barriers and fortunately 99% of the older, experienced men and women I’ve been around in business have been helpful.  I have avoided most of the horror stories.  I remember being amused at what some of the good ‘ole boys I ran across when I worked for an oil & gas company would say and do.  I could usually tell if a guy was being malicious, sexist , disrespectful, or just joking around.  It helps that I’ve had a lot of guy friends.

As I watch my two kids, an older boy and younger girl, the differences are fascinating and have been noticeable since birth.  They are both wonderful in their own ways and some of the differences I’ve noticed is how they show their affection as well as how they assimilate information, hear you, and how they want to be heard.

I’ve noticed that boys in general like to show their affection in a more physical way by running in to you, talking about their bodily functions, wrestling, and being overall less aware that sitting on you is not always comfortable.  But my son also wants his cuddle time and hopefully he’ll still want it  for a few more years.  He’ll sit close to me when he’s watching TV, give me a hug, or if he wakes up at night, he’ll want to lay in bed next to me for a little while.  He much prefers throwing a football, playing soccer, playing video games, or watching TV than engaging in long conversations.  I end up turning the TV or Wii game off when I really need him to listen to me though, which frustrates him.

My daughter shows her affection more through drawing things, sitting next to you, talking to you, hugs, saying she loves you, and generally being calmer.  I think she’s a little bit more active than she would be because she has to keep up with her older brother, who encourages her to talk about bodily functions!  But she wants you to be generally softer with her.  Certain things seem to affect her much more strongly and she’ll get a bit more emotional and require much more talking with to get her out of a funk.  But once you explain things to her and help her express her thoughts she’s usually fine.  She’s still not big into long conversations either.

I’ve always found the world of human dynamics fascinating and have enjoyed the complexities of both men and women.  Both genders have such great things to contribute to humanity and I think the best leaders take the time to understand that and play to the strengths of each gender and each person in particular.  The greatest, well known leaders (political, military, and business) of the past had teams of 99% men on their team.  The great leaders of the future should be aiming for a balance of men and women on their team, and they will hopefully take the extra time and effort to make sure each is supported to meet his/her goals.

Aren’t people wonderful? :-D

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, diversity | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Nothing Much To Write About
Jul 23 2009

Well that’s not entirely true.  There is always many things to write about but it doesn’t always fit the topics of this blog which are business and parenting.  I’m meeting some great people on this path to finding a home for Babble Soft (I so enjoyed the comments from all of you on that post) but nothing I can write about yet.  It’s an interesting process to go through because we haven’t really set a price for the company but of course people want to know what the price is, and I say it depends on the buyer! :-)  Which it kind of does because we want to make sure it’s the right fit with the right marketing channels that will enable Babble Soft to live on.

I found it interesting that one of the professors at UT Austin did her dissertation/thesis to prove that entrepreneur’s don’t always sell their company to the highest bidder.  I could have told her that without all the research.  We look for the right fit, the right timing, the right exit, and for hopefully the place it will live on the longest and be paid the most attention to.  The hope is that the highest bidder fits all of those criteria!

The kids are doing great and enjoying summer camp.  My daughter has a little end of summer camp performance tomorrow and then she’ll be at the same place my son is at but it won’t really be camp for her like it is for him.  He goes bowling, swimming, skating, to the park, and on field trips constantly it seems like.  At the end of August they will start at their new school:  The Magellan School and soon they will be babbling in Spanish!

So yes, there’s loads to write about but writing about the trivia and minutia of daily life takes too much time and is boring to most and the high tragic/dark comedy drama…well we must leave that to reality TV shows, the movies, and to shows like Grey’s Anatomy.

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Documents And Other Such Things
Jul 4 2009

In between doing some laundry, making beds, painting my daughter’s fingernails, and making grilled ham & cheese sandwiches for the kids, I spent much of today getting things and documents together that people who might be interested in taking in Babble Soft will want to look at.  I just finished up the typical “one pager” that entrepreneurs use to gain interest from a potential investor or acquirer. I got some great feedback from a couple of my co-workers at the Austin Technology Incubator that I think enhanced it quite a bit.  That’s one of the pluses of having a day job where the Directors review such docs for other technology start-ups.

The one pager can be different depending on who you are sending it to.  It’s much harder to write a one pager than a novel sometimes because you have to really figure out the best words to put down in a limited amount of space.  It’s a cross between a product sales sheet and a company highlights document.  A ‘teaser’ document that will hopefully get someone to call you to discuss your company further.

Since tweeting about us finding a home for Babble Soft, I already have more leads than I expected.  That is the power of a strong social network…so many people reaching out to help others.  I’ve started following up on those leads and they are interestingly quite different.  I also sent messages to some of my LinkedIn contacts to see if they might have connections to appropriate partners.

I’m not as organized as I should be about this process as I’m pulling together information in real time.  I guess I’m following a “fire, ready, aim” route instead of the proper one but it’s the best I can do at this moment in life so may the winds of favor smile on us. :-)   Thank goodness for smiley emoticons.

On an unrelated note, in the background today I’ve been playing music.  For all of my life, I’ve loved music but I haven’t been able to have it playing in the background when I work.  I usually have to have almost complete silence when I read, study, type, etc.  But for some odd reason that wasn’t the case today.  I found myself listening to Jim Croce, James Taylor, ABBA, Simon & Garfunkel (Feelin’ Groovy), Michael Jackson, and of course Backyardigan’s while working at my computer.  Not sure if that bodes well or not to the final product, but it’s an interesting new experience for me.  I guess I’ve just enhanced my multi-tasking abilities or maybe I’ve killed those brain cells that tell me I can’t listen to music and concentrate at the same time.

Just finished listening to I Am A Rock - by Simon & Garfunkel “And a rock feels no pain and an island never cries

My husband is just getting back from taking the kids grocery shopping, and now we’re off to take the kids to see Ice Age – Dawn of the Dinosaurs at the theater.

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Babble Soft Looking For A New Home
Jun 22 2009

This is a hard post for me to write, but there are times in life when the best way to handle hard things is to just deal with it head on.  I had some time and space to reflect during my recent beach vacation.

Babble Soft, an idea that I started tinkering around with after my first baby was born in 2003 (our first beta web app release was in 2007 and iPhone app in 2009), has reached a point where my partner, Nicole Johnson, and I can’t do it justice and build it to the company it could be.  We just don’t have the monetary and time resources that a consumer web and mobile (iPhone) based product Baby Insights and Baby Say Cheese require to become a household name.  I’ve been working on Babble Soft part time while balancing kids, the house, etc. for most of the company’s life.  I spent a few months full time on it just before I took a day job about a year ago and now the time has come to find a new home for it.  Nicole has been working on this part time, after hours, as well.

We are both discovering that Building A Web Business After Hours is hard to do with two small kids around.  And doubly hard when two ventures are trying to get off the ground in one household: my husband is starting the pre-K to 2nd grade Magellan School that’s scheduled to open this Fall and our resources are also being tied up with that and our kids will be attending the school.

Nicole and I both believe in web applications to help make parents of newborn’s lives easier, and we want to find a good home for Babble Soft with someone who can take our vision to the next level.  We will continue to support our existing customers and any future customers so please don’t worry about that.  We have a high bar set for customer service!  We just can’t take it to the level (with all the exciting new applications we have planned) where we know it could be right now in our lives, but we know there is someone or some company who can.

If you know of someone who might be interested, please email me at blogger(at) babblesoft(dot)com to discuss further.  Please pass a link to this post to everyone you know!

Motherhood is not always peaches & cream and being a mom entrepreneur adds a little extra challenge to the process so sometimes it’s the hard calls that can make the difference in a company’s and person’s success.

Thanks to all of you readers for your continued support and sticking with me through my unusual parenting and entrepreneurial journeys!

Aruni Gunasegaram
President/Founder
(512) 961-6002

Nicole Johnson
VP Product Development
(512) 961-6002

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , | 27 Comments »

The Austin Technology Incubator is 20 years old
Apr 20 2009

By day I run operations at The Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) and this year it turns 20 years old.  By night I am mom to two amazing kids, work on Babble Soft, and often fail at my attempts to meditate.  I did a guest post on the Austin Startup blog called obviously enough:

20th Anniversary of the Austin Technology Incubator

I shared my story of being a founder/CEO starting my first company at ATI and how I see how it has evolved over the past several years since I first officed there on the other side of the fence back in 1998.

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, entrepreneurship | Tags: | 1 Comment »

First Professional Babble Soft Newsletter with $450 In Prizes!
Jan 15 2009

bm-photocomp-200w-150hWe are finally using an email marketing tool versus my hodge podge attempts at emailing our customers and friends many moons ago.  It doesn’t look so professional when posting it here but I’m living life on the edge or ledge or whatever. And if you take our marketing survey, you will be entered to win up to $450 in prizes in the form of free Babble Soft subscriptions and Amazon gift certificates that you can buy your spouse, significant other, companion, child, co-worker, boss, employee, mother, brother, father, aunt, uncle, sister, mistress, masteress, lover, something lovely for Valentine’s Day!

Oh and did I tell you we just released an alpha version of our new iPhone application! The iPhone is so freaking cool!

****

Hello Babble Soft Friends and Customers –

Happy New Year! It’s been quite some time since we sent out an official newsletter so we thought now would be a good time to tell you what we’ve been up to. Here’s what’s in this newsletter:

A New Partner On Board – Baby Sleep Expert
Survey Opportunity – Giving away up to $450 in prizes
Babble Soft Going Mobile (iPhone)!
The Babble Soft Blog – NEW!
Special Discounts through February 15, 2009

A New Partner On Board – Baby Sleep Expert

The biggest Babble Soft news that will make all of our lives easier is that we brought on a new partner! Her name is Nicole Johnson and she is our new VP of Product Development. If you want to know how we found her, please see a recent article I wrote on GigaOm called 5 Tips for Vetting a Partner Online. Now when we have bug or feature requests, she will be able to figure out how to fix them much faster. Nicole is amazing and not only is she going to help improve our existing Babble Soft applications, she’s also going to help bring new applications and features to market with the first new mobile application being available already (see below)!

Nicole is also the founder of Pick Nick’s Brain, where she offers an ebook and advice on how to help your baby sleep better. You can keep track of your baby’s sleep patterns using Baby Insights, share your reports with her and she can impart her sage advice to you!

I am so excited to have her as part of the team! Please say hello and/or send her any feedback on the website and applications. You can reach her at nicole@babblesoft.com.

A Quick, Fabulous, and Lucrative Survey – Up to $450 in prizes

In order to provide you with quality service and understand your needs better, we have designed a quick 10 question survey to help us provide the best, most useful products and services for new parents.

Please take a few minutes to take the survey by clicking the link below and enter to win several prizes just in time for Valentine’s Day! Feel free to forward this survey to other new or expecting parents who might be interested in Babble Soft applications.

Click Here to take survey

We will pick the winners based on a random drawing after the survey is closed on January 30, 2008. If you want to be eligible for the prizes, please don’t forget to fill in your name and email address at the end of the survey.

1. First Prize: $100 gift certificate to Amazon and Two 6-Month Babble Soft email gift subscriptions (worth $29.95 each).
2. Second Prize: $50 gift certificate to Amazon and Two 6-Month Babble Soft email gift subscriptions (worth $29.95 each).
3. Third Prize: $25 gift certificate to Amazon and One 6-Month Babble Soft email gift subscriptions (worth $29.95 each).
4. Fourth Prize: Three lucky winners who weren’t selected to win any of the above prizes will get One 12-Month Babble Soft email gift subscriptions (worth $37.95 each) to use yourself or give to any expecting family members or friends.

Babble Soft Going Mobile (iPhone!)

Baby Insights 3.0 Alpha is now iPhone compatible! We have just released the Mom Pump & Feed and the Baby Bottle Feeding portions of the new application. We will be releasing sleep, diaper, and medicine tracking as soon as possible!

The application has been optimized (i.e., looks the prettiest) for the iPhone and we continue to work to make it look nice on the Blackberry browser and Opera Mini browser on the Blackberry. For those of you with an account, you can log in by going to http://m.babblesoft.com/ and enter your user name and password to get started.

Since this is an alpha release, if you find a bug let us know and we’ll add a month to your subscription or give a one month subscription in your honor to the person of your choosing! That’s a $9.95 value!

The Babble Soft Blog – NEW!

In addition to my blog, entrepreMusings, and Nicole’s blog at Pick Nick’s Brain, we just launched a blog on Babble Soft’s website located at www.babblesoft.com/blog where we will offer unique baby tips, advice, parent stories, etc. Sign up for FREE updates via e-mail or preferred RSS reader. Don’t miss even the first post!

We also welcome guest posts on your parenting experiences and will gladly link back to your sites and blogs. We look forward to you stopping by, subscribing, and/or sharing your comments with us on The Babble Soft Blog!

Special Discounts through February 15, 2009

In case your name doesn’t get pulled to win any of the free subscriptions from completing our survey, we are offering a New Year’s discount so you can still buy a Babble Soft subscription for yourself or your friends using coupon code: BABNOW15 for 15% off purchases from now until February 15, 2009.

Please also feel free to give the gift of sleep to yourself and your family members by using coupon code BABBSPEC for 15% off any baby sleep consulting services at Pick Nick’s Brain during the month of January 2009.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Happy New Year!

Thank you,

Aruni and Nicole


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Behind The Baby Album
Dec 22 2008

During the holiday break, I’m trying to tie up some loose ends and one of those was completing my daughter’s first year baby album. She was born a couple of years before we released Baby Say Cheese otherwise I would have already had the pictures selected as each milestone occurred!

Her baby album has sat on our fancy, big, mostly unused dining room table for close to three years (removed for dinner guests and promptly replaced the next day). She will be 4 years old next year.

It has sat open, closed, or askew with pictures hanging in and out of it for years. I saw it often out of the corner of my eye and quickly switched my attention to other things. For those who know me, I usually don’t let things sit around undone but for some reason, I could never find the time to finish it. I would occasionally have a spurt of desire to complete it, would write some words, select some pictures, and ask my husband to print them. But quickly I would get distracted by something seemingly more important. And it sat there pulling me and repelling me at the same time.

We finished our son’s album just before our daughter was born which was 2 or so years after he was born, but that was mostly because his album is in Spanish and I don’t know Spanish. My sister decided to give us a Spanish baby album, so I had to nag, harass, make kind requests of their dad, who is fluent in Spanish, to finish the parts I couldn’t before our daughter was born.

Our daughter’s album is in English and on most days I know how to read and write English, but I had a baby album block…sort of like a writer’s block but it had a baby album slant to it. Several months ago, I came to the sudden realization that all my excuses of not having enough time, not being able to log in to my husband’s Mac to search iPhoto, not wanting to learn how to print pictures, and not wanting to deal with figuring out the dates of the pictures were masking my true feelings fears. And that fear had to do with closing a chapter in my life called ‘babyhood,’ despite not planning to (or wanting to) have any more babies. In my heart and eyes she will always be my baby girl but finishing her book puts finality to it and my heart is still adjusting to that feeling.

And it made me wonder about the other areas of my life where I might be doing the same thing. My fear of closing a chapter in my life and moving toward the unknown may be holding me back from discovering many unseen opportunities in business, my career, my life, or even my children’s lives. And I wondered if many other’s experience this sensation or if I’m the odd duck?

Oh, and just in case it wasn’t clear, I finished her album today…just a few short hours ago…and she helped me do it. I’m moving on to the next chapter of my life, and I’m thinking to myself “thank goodness there’s no such thing as a teenager album!” From what I hear, people like to forget those years. :-)

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby say cheese, parenting | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

So Much For My Blog Post Today
Dec 11 2008

It’s been a whole week since I last posted something despite wanting desperately to do so. As usual, life got in the way. I participated in a fabulous 3 day and 1 weeknight long seminar called the Landmark Forum last weekend which was extremely time intensive and extremely insightful. I’ll write more about it when I get the chance.

My new Babble Soft partner and I have been been making progress on a new blog, new product development, and other creative endeavors.

Life at my day job has been interesting in as much as office politics are interesting. It’s amazing how one person can cause so much strife and another so much joy and both be in the same organization.

So until life provides me a window of opportunity to write about the

a) Landmark Forum,

b) our “fireside” chat with Jimmy Treybig, founder of Tandem Computers and partner at venture capital firm NEA and Jim Hoover, investor, entrepreneur, and ex-Navy Seal,

c) how the difference between being perceived as stubborn or persistent is how pretty you are,

d) school supplies,

e) Poke Mon,

f) a new children’s book called Nacho the Party Puppy, and/or

g) how my 6 year old son is so wise and smart

go re-read my post called The Strength of a Thought. It might be the most profound post I’ve ever written — well at least according to my aunt! :-)

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, entrepreneurship, working mother | Comments Off

Two Heads Are Better Than One
Nov 23 2008

I’m excited to announce that I’ve found a new business partner for Babble Soft!  You can see the full write-up on GigaOm on the post 5 Tips for Vetting a Business Partner – Online.  The really neat thing is that I have never physically met Nicole Johnson.  We did the whole transaction online, on Skype, and on the phone…a true first for me.

Nicole is our new VP of Product Development, a mother of two, and is amazingly talented!  So in case it isn’t obvious by her title, we will be releasing some new products in 2009…

I can’t republish the entire article here because I wrote it originally for GigaOm which may get redistributed throughout their entire network!  So go read 5 Tips for Vetting a Business Partner – Online and share your comments. :-)

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, entrepreneurship | Tags: , | 7 Comments »

Those Who Seek Will Find
Sep 21 2008

Photo by Sandy Blanchard

Yes, the title of this post is another fortune from a fortune cookie I got a few weeks back at PF Changs, and I’ve found it true in many respects in my life and career.  [As an aside, I started this post while listening to Chiquitita by ABBA and after a glass of red wine!  I'm usually not able to write or think while music is on because I'm easily distracted so take that into consideration as you read.]

The title of this post is also in a well known Christian Bible verse in the book of Luke Chapter 11 verse 9 (“And I say to you, ask and it shall be given to you: seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.“). I believe when you set your intention on something, if it’s with pure intentions, and if it’s meant to be something will happen.  It may not be what you envision but something happens.  I guess it’s sort of a cross between the belief that many people hold like Edward Mills, who writes about the Law of Attraction, and taking destiny in your hands.  You seek but you also pay attention to what people are saying and doing. 

I’ve had people tell me I’m lucky to a) start a company before, b) to get the education I’ve gotten, c) to find the amazing childcare for our kids, for d) having the friends I have, d) to have the things we do, e) etc., etc., etc.  What most people haven’t seen is the hard, dark times in between that I’ve been through.  I’d venture to say that most people who the world perceives as doing something beyond “normal” have struggled through many things. 

I’ve always felt there is a healthy portion of luck involved but also a good portion of seeking, asking questions, and listening involved.   Finding good childcare (gosh we are so lucky with the people we had take care of our kids part time and full time when they were little and where they go to school and pres-school now — knock on wood!) didn’t just happen because I sat on my couch all day.  Finding good jobs or opportunities didn’t happen because I was watching TV or drowning my sorrows (which is tempting!).  Plus, I think I like to see the good in people and expect great things from them so when I do get disappointed, it is pretty deep. 

So just over a month ago, I finally let the realization that I could not continue with Babble Soft with a day job and no funding, and I needed to do something different hit me.  There are many options out there including a) moving on to something else, b) finding a business partner, c) finding a large baby-related company to take the risk early on and buy us.  Given the economy and the hard realization that we are in fact creating a market with Babble Soft, option c) is unlikely.  And I’m not ready to just give up.  So now I’m seeking a business partner (so I’m not just a lone pumpkin by a tree).  Hopefully, the right person will happen across my path…maybe she or he already has! 

I’m wrapping up this post listening to 70s music…for some reason I enjoy listening to 70s music.  I also enjoy 80s music but there is just a deepness to 70s music that resonates with me sometimes.  The song currently on is Piano Man written by Billy Joel.  I was fortunate enough to hear Billy Joel in Concert when I lived in Dallas several years ago and I remember thinking to myself “What a feeling it must be to hear hundreds, nay thousands, of people singing along word for word to a song you’ve written.”  It must be so energizing yet so surreal at the same time.  I wonder if I’ll ever experience that kind of feeling…

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Hurricanes and HARO
Sep 11 2008

Photo by Sandy Blanchard

There’s a little hurricane heading our way here in Texas called Ike.  Many places along the coast have been issued mandatory evacuation notices, including Houston, one of the largest and sadly also one of the fattest cities in the country.  Houston has also still been working on integrating all the permanent victims of hurricane Katrina (2005) that evacuated to their city since then. 

The schools here in Austin are closing early tomorrow, airports are in a muddle, and far more importantly for all of you college football fans out there, they have actually rescheduled the UT Austin vs. Arkansas football game that was going to be held this Saturday!  Of all the things that have been happening, I think rescheduling a college football game in a college town that’s not directly in the landing path of the hurricane speaks volumes about the fears and concerns of the people around here as well as the anticipated amounts of rain.

So shifting to HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and it’s relation to hurricanes, it might be a stretch but Peter Shankman (the founder) seemed to bring it out from nowhere a few months ago and now he has tons and tons of subscribers – both reporters and sources.  He’s managed to make ProfNet/PR Newswire nervous because he’s giving all his leads out for free and us resource and money constrained entrepreneurs are loving it.  He even got on the radar screen of Seth Godin who mentioned Peter and linked to HARO on a recent Getting reporters to call you post.

I can quickly scan the queries and make a decision as to whether to try to pitch based on my company and my personal background.  Because of HARO, I don’t have to pay tons of money to get access to these great queries from reputable sources.  I have had couple of people interested in learning more about Babble Soft (mostly bloggers) and am crossing my fingers that I’ll soon have the opportunity to share with national/international reporters my ideas on how the world of parenting is changing and how technology can support that transition!  I guess I’m hoping that by using HARO I can eventually create a hurricane of activity around my company. :mrgreen:

So may you all be safe and avoid the disastrous effects of Hurricane Ike but also take advantage of HARO (tell your friends). I, for one, am glad the last two big hurricane’s have male names instead of female ones like Katrina.  I was getting a bit tired of all the jokes/innuendos surrounding the big hurricanes being referred to as feminine and destructive.

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, FYI, rain | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »