Friday, August 22, 2014

DRM Free Downloads - Is That OK?

I talked to a prospect today that was using a competitive platform to deliver their video products.  We talked extensively about differentiation of InteliVideo over their current platform (from brand to analytics to customers to apps and so on).  But one thing that came up had to do with DRM free downloads.  You might think that's a good thing if you don't understand what it they did.  I said "so you're OK with your customers downloading the MP4 and putting it on YouTube or emailing it to their friends or throwing it on a thumb drive."  He said, "no, our customer's can't do that."  So I showed him the language on their website (DRM free downloads), to which he replied, "right, it's protected."  When I looked puzzled, he said "what is DRM?"  I said DRM stands for Digital Rights Management.  You can think of it as protection.  So that wording is saying "you get this video that has NO protection, use it as you wish."  Of course there's likely wording in the click through contract that says the customer is only supposed to use the content on their own devices.'ve just handed them a risky piece of content. my humble opinion, I was say that "no" - DRM free downloads is not OK.

How the Big Boys Do It!

We have a number of VERY large (video on demand) customers.  We've broken our customer-base into 3 categories:

1. Infoprenuers - these are companies who do something and have video, but video is not their primary business.  For example, RunBare.  Their primary business is teaching people how to run in your barefeet.  They do have a video on this topic, along with books and other items.  Another example is BDB Software, which is my original side consulting business.  I started it to sell online Oracle Application Express training.  So all the business does is video, yet, I'm the CEO at InteliVideo.  That's my primary business - so BDB is just a side business.  You could say that Infoprenuers are wannabes.

2. Enterprise Content Providers (ECP) - these are companies who's primary business revolves around selling digital goods, education, etc. online.  These are the "big boys" of our industry.  In this blog post I'm going to talk more about how the Infoprenuer can become an ECP.

3. Corporations - these are companies that use video content to educate their own employees.  They typically aren't interested in selling their videos, they are interested in protecting their videos.

So how do the big boys become so big.  Like any business, it's typically over an extended period of time.  Even those who focus on infomercials are not usually overnight successes.  Take P90X or Beachbody.  They've been selling DVDs for MANY years.  Infomercials contribute to their success, but also the fact that they figured out how to do affiliate marketing is another large piece of their success.

So how do they do it?  Creative marketing, marketing, and more marketing - lots of it!  Promotions, A/B split tests, refining the message and analyzing what works and building on it.  Said another way, they are professional marketers!  You might ask - social marketing or pay per click marketing or SEO or.... - the answer is yes.

You want to get big?  Well's time to focus.  On what?  One guess!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Employee or Member Training

Do you have a group of employees or members that you would like to train?  Would you like to make the training available for a limited time only - such as for 2 weeks?  Would you like to have the ability to take the ability to view the training away at your discretion (such as when an employee leaves the company)?  Would you like to know who watched which videos?  For example, did Jim watch the introductory video on Tuesday as he said he did?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, I have great news for you!  The InteliVideo platform supports all of these needs and more.  In fact, you can upload any number of videos, you can group them as you wish, you can give people access or deny access at any time (even if they have downloaded videos to their iPad, they will no longer be able to watch them once you deny access.

Below I'm going to run you through an actual use case for a company that's using our platform to train their employees.

Signing Up for an InteliVideo Account

Signing up for InteliVideo is an easy, painless and free process.  First, go to the InteliVideo site and click on "Sign Up:"

You will be asked for your subdomain name (typically something like your company name), first name, last name and email address.  Finally, just fill in the Captcha (anti-spammer protection) information and click on "Create Account."

You will then receive an email that will provide your InteliVideo account information.  Congratulations!  You're getting closer!

Customizing the Site with Your Logo, Color Scheme, etc.

Once you create your account, you'll be taken to the "Display" page within the InteliVideo administration / backend pages.  This is where you can update your subdomain name, logo, color schemes, page header, choose a template (look and feel) and so much more.  We work with most of our customers to make sure that the look and feel of their main website matches the look and feel of their InteliVideo website.  If you want to point your domain to our website, we can do that for you too.  For example, if you signed up for and you want to change it to, we can even do that for you!

Signing Up for a Paid Account

Under "Account Settings" and then "My Plan" you can sign up for a paid account.  The highest value is in the $249/year account.  It includes more videos, storage, etc. in the plan.  You can always go over the number of hours or minutes provided, we just charge by the minute for those overages.

Uploading Your Video(s)

Uploading your videos is easy!  Simply drag and drop your videos into the platform and we do the rest for you!  When you click on the "Videos" tab, you'll see an "Upload Videos" button.  Click on this button, which will present you with a window like this one:

You can drag and drop any video file into the "Drag file here" section or you choose files, import them from Dropbox, download from a URL and there are other options.  If you have 100s of video files, we will work directly with you to get your videos into the platform.  Most of our customers who have more than 100 videos will send us a hard drive with the videos and we'll upload them.

Once the videos are uploaded, we take care of transcoding.  Transcoding is just a fancy way of saying that we convert just about any source video file format (MOV file, AVI file, VOB, etc.) into a number of different resolutions and formats so that your video will play on any device.  Another way of explaining this is that we take care of the hard stuff for you.

You'll see your videos in the list along with a status.  If the video file is corrupt, you would see an error message, but most of the time once your videos are transcoded, you'll see that you can watch the video as you see here below:

You can also edit the details (i.e. the description, if it's a public or private video, etc.) by clicking the edit button:

As you can see, you can edit the short (title) and long description here.  You can also indicate whether a video is public or private here.  Public means anyone can view it for free.  Private means you must be a member (or buyer) to view the video.  The override image allows you to upload an image that should be used as the default background image for the video.  If you don't upload an override image, we extract the first frame of the video and we use that image.

If there is a 1:1 correlation between your video and a product, you can click on "Create Product" in the list of videos page above.  Most of the time a product is made up of more than 1 video, but sometimes this is a good starting point for a product.  You can always add more videos to a product.

Grouping Your Video(s) into a Product

If you didn't click the "Create Product" button above, you'll need to create a product.  A Product is simply a bundle of videos that you wish to offer to the public, for sale or for members.

Click on the "Products" and then click on "New Product."  You'll see that there are a number of options here:

Again, you can set a short (title) and long description for your product.  You can determine whether the product is available to the public, members only or for sale.  If it's for sale, you can determine if the product is a one time payment, a rental, subscription or installment payment.

Offering Products for Sale

If you want to sell your products, you must connect your InteliVideo account with a Stripe account.  If you don't have an existing Stripe account, you can create one through our platform.  If you already have a Stripe account, you can connect to that account.  Either way, click on "Connect with Stripe" and we'll walk you through step-by-step what if required to connect InteliVideo and Stripe.

Granting Access to a Product / Video

Any product that is available for sale or for members only can be granted access (or revoked/denied) manually.  Click on the "Customers" tab, which will show you a list of your existing customers/members.  To add a new customer or member, click on "New Customer:"

Enter the first and last name along with the email of the person and select any products that you would like them to have access to.  IPs allow indicates how many unique locations you want the user to be able to access your video from.  The default is 8.  If you wanted them to be able to access it from one computer only, you could change this to 1.

You can view any customer/member by clicking on their name from the customer page.  You can click on "Edit User" to disable the user.  As you can see here, when you drill into a user, you'll see their usage stats:

When you edit the user, you can disable the user at any time.

Timed or Dripped Content

Within the details of every product, you can reorder the videos and the order they are displayed in by dragging any video into the correct order:

You can also set up a delayed delivery schedule or "drip schedule" for each video.  In other words, if you want Module 1 to be available for days 0 through 7 (first week), you can set that schedule up.  If you wanted all of the videos to be available for 3 weeks, you could set each video to 0 through 21.

Knowing Who's Watched What

The InteliVideo platform tracks all of the usage for every video whether it's watched streaming or downloaded and watched on a plane.  You saw one example of those usage statistics for a specific customer/member above.  There are MANY other ways of slicing and dicing the data to know what your customers/members are watching, what they are having a difficult time with (i.e. they are watching repeatedly), and what they aren't watching.  You can see where (in the world) they were when they were watching, what devices they watched from and so much more.  We are data guys, so believe me when I say "we track everything!"

Employee / Member's Viewing Options

We support about every device out there for viewing.  Most video platforms only support streaming videos.  This limits your members to watching when they have an Internet connection.  We have apps for iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android (phones and tablets), Chromecast, Roku, Windows computers, Apple computers and much much more.

The apps manage which content users can access and they keep track of those usage statistics when people are disconnected from the Internet and they upload those stats when the person's phone, tablet, laptop, etc. "phones" home.  This allows your customers or members to download a video, yet they don't have access to the source video file.  Therefore they can't archive it to watch it later.  They can't email it to their friends.  They can't post it on Facebook or YouTube.  It also allows you to control when they can no longer watch the product.  If you deny the user, they won't be able to watch the content any more.  The bottom line is that we protect your content and we don't allow people to access the content when you're done allowing them to have access.

Sign Up Today!

If you're ready to sign up for an account at InteliVideo, please do so now!  We would love to have you as a customer!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Update on InteliVideo

Pivot Update

It's been a while since I wrote a blog entry.  I guess we've been heads down working for a while now.  I'm finally coming up for some air!  When we started InteliVideo, the focus was on providing a marketplace for people who wanted to sell their video content.  After talking to 100s of people with video content, many of which sell millions of units a year, it became clear that we needed to create a number of pricing (and service) options for our customers.  The marketplace is "high end" from a cost (to our customers) perspective.  We used to get a lot of questions about how we are different or better than iTunes.  We'll be able to answer that some day since we'll do a better job of promoting our customer's content than iTunes, but for now we're going to pivot a bit.  Since we don't really have a marketplace in place yet, we decided to focus on providing authenticated access to video content.  This could include putting a paywall in front of videos, but could also mean that our customers can simply tell us who can access a video, how long they can access it for, etc.  This could be done through our API or via an email to us (that will be read and processed automatically).  So the "slight pivot" is moving from the marketplace mentality to paywall / authenticated video viewing.  There are plenty of places that can host your videos, but providing a paywall (or authentication) in front of your video - not so much!

We developed a short video explaining what we do for our customers.

I would love to hear your feedback on this video.


When I started my consulting business, TUSC, in 1988, I wondered about how to price our consulting services.  A good friend of mine, Steve Silver recommended we ask our customers what we should charge.  This seemed counter-intuitive to me.  Would customers be honest with pricing our value?  The answer was yes - they were VERY honest about what they could pay for our world class Oracle consultants.

At InteliVideo we did a lot of research on the market and have now arrived at a pricing model.  We'll disclose this soon - when we release our new website.  It was exciting to work through this, to run it by potential customers for feedback and now to close on this chapter.

As you can see, we'll have features that are available by classes of customers.  Our monthly bundles provide HUGE value to our customers.

New sales site

In the process of revising our message, we revised our website accordingly.  Less focus on the marketplace and more focus on the value we provide to our clients.  The feedback on the site has been good!  Our primary customers are currently those companies who have historically been in the DVD replication business.  These folks have witnessed a change in their business over the last 5 years.  Many people have been quick to point out that if they receive a DVD they don't even have a DVD player anymore.  We're providing the video on demand platform for these companies.  You would never know that InteliVideo is the platform behind their offerings!  We're a complete white label solution for them!

New "Player"

We reworked our "player" in the browser to simply that for our customer's customers:

We list all of a customers videos (that they have purchased) on the right.  The top left of the page provides branding for our customers.  Below the list of videos we created an "upsell" section for our customers to advertise other things that might be of interest to their customers.  At the bottom of the page, we list all of our players (beyond the browser).

Clean, simple, easy to use!


We've also added a couple of world class partners/founders to the business.  I'm going to assume the CEO role.  Monty Sooter, former CIO at Corporate Express (a huge customer for TUSC) and former COO for ClickBank is our President/COO.  John Hayward has joined us as our CTO.  I'm very excited to have these guys on my executive team!

Whole new design in action

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I was big on Crowdsourcing logos, website development, etc.  The last round of UI work was done through CrowdSpring (and others through 99Designs).  I really enjoy that process and the end result.  This provided us with an excellent revision in our site's look and feel.  We're in the process of using Mike Stemple to design a whole new look and feel throughout the site.  Mike's an amazing guy and so much fun to work with!  We're also working on our site flow.  It's time!

We have clients, who will upload their videos, categorize them, monitor sales and how often they are watched, and the like.  This is our "white" site.

We also have customers, who will actually be our customer's customer - i.e. they will buy a video.  This is our "dark" site, which is supposed to look and feel more like a TV.  This site will have its own set of features and benefits such as being able to watch your video on any platform.

We are working heavily on our admin side of our "white" site too.  This will provide our clients with the analytics they need, but just as important is the uploading, categorizing, etc. that I mentioned above.


A big part of our focus has been that we protect our client's content or intellectual property.  In other words, we don't simply email a customer an mp4 file and let them figure out how to play it.  We also don't email the mp4 to protect the content creator's content / IP.  In other words, that would make it very easy for them to upload it to YouTube and make it public content.

One player that we were missing was a player for the laptop or desktop computer.  Sure, you could stream the content and watch it on your browser, but you couldn't download it and watch it on an airplane (i.e. disconnected from the internet)...and you had all of the baggage of streaming too.

Laptop/desktop client

Our first attempt at a laptop/desktop player was with HTML5.  We spent December realizing this was a futile effort.  HTML5 has a lot of "disconnected" or "offline" functionality built into it.  However, HTML5 is SUPER buggy and you can't download large files (which video files are large), so we spent January creating our laptop/desktop client in Java.  With Oracle's Java FX we were able to create a client that runs on Windows, Mac, Linux AND we were able to create installers for all 3 environments / operating systems.  Our laptop/desktop player looks a LOT like the browser-based functionality...but allows you to download any of your videos.  It also manages subscriptions (i.e. you can't play a video when your subscription ends).

Android, iOS and Roku

We've had players for Android, iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Roku for a while now.  However, our iOS player didn't allow you to download your content to the device.  We reworked that application, so it now provides that functionality.  At some point we'll develop players for all of the smart TVs that are out there.  Our Android app works on the Google TV, but there are Yahoo, Samsung, etc. smart TVs out there.


One feature that I love that we added is the "subdomain" functionality.  This allows our customers to establish their own subdomain within InteliVideo.  We can create an ENTIRE video site for them here or we can automatically display all of the videos in their sales library.  For example:

This allows our customers to create their own branded marketplace in seconds!


I'm always interested in your feedback, ideas, comments, suggestions!  Every day is a learning opportunity.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

eDVD - From Concept to Implementation

I love the process of starting a new venture.  It's an iterative process where you come up with a concept, take it to the market for feedback, develop a minimally viable product, take that to the market for feedback and the loop continues until you have customers - or you're dead (i.e. out of time, out of money, etc.).  We're very focused on the former - lots and lots of customers!

InteliVideo start around the concept of delivering educational courses online...and allowing people to charge whatever they want to charge for a course and getting to keep 70% of it for themselves (i.e. an education and training monetization marketplace).  After talking to the market (i.e. training people like myself), I learned that many trainers enjoy traveling the world doing their training.  Unlike me, they aren't so interested in making money while they sleep.  My class is available on the InteliVideo site and if you know any trainers who want to make money while they sleep, direct them my way!  Everything is self service!

We then changed our focus to those who had existing video content they were selling (or not selling) - i.e. those people/companies selling DVDs.  After a number of discussions, we then learned that people who produce videos and then want to sell them typically go to a distributor to fulfill their sale needs.  These distributors make their customers (i.e. the producers) pre-pay for about 1000 DVDs to be distributed on average.  If they produce 30 DVDs, at any one time, they will have at least 30,000 DVDs in stock.  Those up-front costs are considerable.  These distributors also require that the producer signs a contract that says they (the distributors) have exclusivity for distribution.  That makes sense, but there is a small catch in that exclusivity.  It typically states that they can't sell their video content in ANY media - i.e. even media that hasn't been invented yet.  Specifically, if they are selling DVDs for them when they signed the contracts in 2008 and then the iPad was invented, changed the world and everyone starts moving to the digital world, these video producers are stuck!  They can't move to the digital world because of their contracts.  In other words, they no longer really own their content.  So we quickly learned that this "long tail" market wasn't a good market to focus on.  All of the "self-service" functionality (to upload, categorize, index, search engine optimize, etc.100s of videos) we built for this market works great however!

Now...this isn't true for everyone who produced video content, but it's true for a large majority of them (i.e. we'll call them the "long tailers."  It was certainly the industry norm of 2008.  Those who had a bit more leverage, actually read the contract and likely disputed that clause.  Or...they simply went to a DVD duplicator (with no handcuffs) and used or built their own sales engine.

As I've said before, good start-ups pivot (and twist and turn) to find their market.  DVD duplicators have a number of customers.  Finding customers who bring you customers is a great thing!  At the same time, most DVD duplicators have not moved into the digital world just yet.  Many that we've met with have seen their sales drop to as little as 10% of what they once were!

Here enters InteliVideo pivot #2.  Sure, we still have a platform that will work for educational training purposes AND we still have a platform that works for those video producers who actually own their content.  We also have built an excellent CRM (customer relationship management) email campaign management system into InteliVideo.  This allows those with video content to email (after all, email still rules the world) a video sampler (or trial subscription) to a prospective customer, to know how much video every prospect watched and take actions based on this information.

DVD duplicators needed an additional piece of functionality, which we've now added to InteliVideo.  This is what we call the eDVD functionality.  DVD duplicators are used to authoring DVDs for their customers.  They want to make the DVD look exactly the way they want it to look.  We quickly learned that many of them saw this as clear differentiation for them.  They not only duplicate the DVD, but they create the look and feel for their customers before doing the duplication.  The (physical) DVD review process alone requires shipping or delivering a physical product today.  Not with an eDVD!  They can of course continue to deliver a physical DVD for any or all of their customers.  But with a simple email, their customers can review an eDVD AND they can now offer an eDVD solution to their customers - transparently through InteliVideo.

For a company like Schooled that has a physical DVD for their customers, the standard InteliVideo look and feel is something like this:

You can see that the video is at the top, chapters to the right, pricing below, social media below, etc.  However, as we learned from the DVD duplicators, each producer may have their own way that they wish to display the look and feel for their eDVD.  So we created an eDVD authoring tool (through the browser).  This allows schooled to have a page that looks exactly as they want it to look.  For example:

This is powerful functionality for our customers!  Try it out here!

We're seeing some real traction with the DVD duplicators.  If you know someone in that business, point them our way!  We would love to help them move into 2013 with many differentiators over iTunes, Amazon, etc. marketplaces - here's a shortened list of functionality over the iTunes market:

  1. Cross platform - iTunes is for iPhone/iPad only.  Versus InteliVideo, which is available on iPhone, iPad, Android phones, Android Tablets, Google TVs, Yahoo TVs, Roku, your browser, etc.  In other words, it’s truly cross platform.  We also offer “in app purchases” on Android, Roku, iPhones and iPads, but there’s a cost of doing that.
  2. Pricing - We have a LOT of flexibility on pricing.  We can gladly charge the same fee that iTunes (and Android and Amazon) market does – which is 30% of the gross fees.  But we can offer a variety of pricing offerings.  We tell our customers that “if you can dream up a way to charge people, we can implement it.”  In other words, a company like Subway could use our platform for training…and we could charge per employee rather than per “customer.”
  3. White labeled offering - InteliVideo is a white labeled offering – in other words, you can put some HTML code on your website and sell your videos through your site.  It looks like your site, but everything goes through InteliVideo - payment to delivery.  Think of the InteliVideo platform just like you think of  Google Analytics - plug and play.
  4. eDVDs – as mentioned above, we allow you to design your own “skin” for your videos – just like you can author a physical DVD, we allow you to do the same for an eDVD.
  5. Social marketing – we offer a social component to videos – you can post a comment and people can then view a sample of the video before they buy.
  6. Bookmarks and Chapters – we allow you to have any number of videos that you group into an eDVD and you can break up a video into any number of chapters.  Customers can bookmark their own sections in the videos too.
  7. Referral / Affiliate network – we allow you to allow your customers to put some HTML code on their website and they get a referral fee – you set the fee they get (i.e. could be 5% or could be 95%).
  8. Email campaigns / CRM – we have a built-in CRM system that allows you to send out any number of emails to people.  When they click on the unique link in the email, we create an InteliVideo account, send them the details for that account and track everything about that person.  We know what they watched, how long, etc.
  9. Virtual classrooms – you can set up a course through InteliVideo and you can monitor any number of students.  You can watch their progress.
  10. SEO – We integrated with Google Analytics, so you can track your clicks, etc. through them, but we also log every click, etc.

We'll certainly keep you posted on our progress as we continue to pivot, twist and turn and we would love to hear your feedback, comments, questions, and thoughts.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

#Oracle #Cloud is Here!

Well, the long awaited for #cloud offering is finally here from Oracle.  This post will walk you through the registration process.  My next blog entry will walk you through the setup, configuration, installation, etc.

First, just go to and click on the "Register for Access" button:

Then Oracle asks if you need to create a new Oracle account or if you already have one.  Answer accordingly.

If you need to create a new account, answer the questions...

If you already have an Oracle account like I do, just sign in:

Tell Oracle which of their many cloud offerings you want to try out:

Now just sit back and wait for your account to be created.  I was in the Early Adaptor (EA) program, so I had everything in the EA version.  I just signed up for my new "production" version of the offering.  In my next blog I'll let you know how long it took to get my account set up and I'll show you what I had to do from there.  The above process took me all of 1 minute...

Sign up - good luck!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

InteliVideo is Ramping Up!

The rubber is starting to meet the road now!  We're getting some serious traction in the market wiith InteliVideo.  J.P. O'Brien, a long time friend has joined me as a co-founder and CEO.  We're signing up customers each week.  We have customers in 3 different categories: 1) Long tail videos - just like Amazon was originally focused on the long tail books, we're focused on the long tail video market.  2) Mid tail videos - these are our ideal customer who have videos.  These companies have the best potential for knocking it out of the park with a viral video.  3) Business who want to partner with other companies in the video and entertainment space.  More about this another time.

We now have APIs for anything you can imagine.  We have players for most every device.  We have a full digital rights management platform (we protect our customer's IP).  We keep track of detailed video viewing, previewing, and every click on our site.  In other words, we have extensive analytics about our customers and our prospects.  We have full support and feedback platforms built into our platform.  We allow people to watch videos pretty much anywhere they want - from their big screen TV (i.e. on Roku) to their iPhone, iPad, Android devices and more.

Last week I offered my Oracle Application Express class to the first 10 people that signed up for free.  That provided me with considerable valuable feedback.  Thank you beta users!  10 new people have some great ApEx skills now!  I started by offering my class at $300.  My thinking was that if you attended this class (which I planned to add to over time for added value), it would cost you about $300 per day for an in person class.  This class is at your own pace and you can refer back to the materials at any time.  If it's a 5 day class (I personally think I'll end up with at least 10 days of material)...that's a $1500 value for only $300!

What we need right now is to prove out our model.  In other words, we need to prove we can sell classes online.  I'm headed to Branson, MO for my yearly family reunion/vacation for the next couple of weeks.  So I'm going to put my class out there for just $49.99.  You can buy an unlimited number of seats (one seat is for one employee) and it's not a timed copy of the class - in other words, you'll be able to watch it as long as we're around...and you'll get all of the updates that I do to the class.  All of this just for being one of my first customers!  Hopefully you'll want to train a few hundred of your employees in ApEx...or maybe it's just you. But...please sign up, pay for the class and help make a difference with the future of InteliVideo!  Think of it as a "Kickstart-like" investment!  I can assure you that you won't regret it.  If you don't like the classes, you don't see the value or whatever your reason, I'll gladly refund your money.

This is a cool look at our videos.  Please buy other videos too!  But...PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE buy my ApEx class.  And...if there are other classes you would like to see offered out here...let me know!  If you want to deliver your own content and offer it up to the world just as I'm doing (at whatever price you want to offer it for -within reason), that's exactly what I built InteliVideo for...sign up as a content owner and we'll be happy to help you publish and sell your content.

Again, please...and thank you!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Oracle ApEx Class Online

I've been building out an Oracle Application Express class on InteliVideo.  Check out the class...I'd love to get your feedback, ideas, etc.  I'll give the first 10 people to send me an email ( a free class registration.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Roku SDK

It's amazing (and pretty cool) that when you start looking around, most everyone has an SDK that allows you to integrate whatever apps you want to develop into their solution.  Sure, you can develop apps for phones - Android, Apple (iOS), and even BlackBerry phones.  Everyone's effectively  carrying pocket PCs around with them these days.

Let's say you want to develop an app to run on a connected TV.  Well, you can do that!  Yahoo (and Google) basically own that market.  Google running on LG, Sony, etc. and Yahoo on many devices too, such as Vizio and Samsung.  Google's pretty easy to develop an app for since it's powered by Android.  I already had my Android app developed, so all I had to do was add some information to my config file, choose a specific API version and I was done.  That was easy!  So now I have an app that runs on Android devices such as the MANY phones and tablets that it runs on.  Yahoo is a bit more more complicated.  You have to down a virtual machine (and a virtual machine "runner" such as Virtual Box from Oracle) and some other code.  It's not well documented either.  I have a Yahoo TV, so that's my next project.

I also have a Roku box.  Roku provides an SDK (Software Development Kit) AND they provide amazing documentation to help you write your first Roku application.  The first language that I programmed in was BASIC - it just so happens to be VERY similar to Visual BASIC, so for me, the learning curve was pretty easy.

Here's a look at the functionality I created using the Roku SDK.  First off, I published my application into the Roku private channels (public channels are apps reviewed by Roku - private are not).  If you go to you'll be able to see how you can add my new channel to your Roku box.  There are 3 images below.  The image on the left, shows the link on my website to the above Roku link.  In my website, I determine what device your viewing the site from and displays the player for your device (as discussed below).  The image in the middle shows the results of the above link to Roku and the image to the right is what you'll see if you add my Roku app to your Roku device.

Here's a look at that iFrame - if you're looking at this blog from your iPad or iPhone, you'll see the iOS link (which isn't available in the marketplace yet, but will be soon).  If you're looking at it from an Android device, you'll see the link for the Android app.  If you're looking at it from a PC or desktop, you'll see the Roku link.

Once you install the Roku app, it will show up in your list of Roku apps!  This occurs very similar to how auto updates occur on iOS and Android.  You can arrow to the app and click OK / Select and it will run the InteliVideo app.  Now that you can control everything about the app - from the description showing below the icon to the icon used.

Roku has the ability to generate a unique ID.  So I display this unique ID to the user and tell them to go to the InteliVideo website to link their authentication to the Roku device.  This way I didn't have to build an authentication page for the Roku, which is frankly painful to "type" using your arrow keys.

Once you've linked your Roku device to your InteliVideo account, my application looks up all of the categories that you've purchased or can view and it displays each of these videos in a grid.  You can move around the page to view information about each video.  When you want to select a video, you click OK and you'll see the next page.  In the application, I thought it was pretty cool that I can dynamically look up these videos (via XML), get their images (via HTTP) and display them along with descriptions, ratings, etc.

Once you select a video, I used a custom viewer to start the video.  I display the name of the video on the left side of the page and the instructions are on the right.  This is on top of the InteliVideo logo.  If you press the down button, I display the video in full screen.  These videos are streamed.  All of the buffering is done for the user automatically.  The quality even on my big screen TV is BlueRay level.

As you can see, Roku has a full SDK that allows me to authenticate users, provide only videos they have paid for, allow them to watch them, rewind, pause, etc.  It's amazing how powerful these SDKs are.  I'll talk about the Yahoo TV SDK once I've written my application for my Vizio TV with Yahoo TV in it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cloud-Based Marketplaces and Services

The cloud is clearly where the world is moving!  Amazon has done an amazing job of offering up cloud-based infrastructure services (i.e. servers by the hour).

There are thousands of DVDs on the market today.  We all know that DVDs are going away.  Everyone is watching movies on their iPads and iPhones now.  You see kids watching movies at restaurants on iPhones.  Roku is your future cable killer.  It allows you to watch online content on your TV.  It's similar to Apple TV in many regards.

My new company, InteliVideo has built a cloud-based platform that helps those companies with libraries of DVDs move into the world of streaming and downloadable videos for any device.  It's a marketplace.  DVD content owners can do everything themselves - my site is entirely self-service.  We collect the money, keep track of who bought what and how long they can watch it, and ultimately deliver the content using our cloud-based platform.

My goal is to make these videos available on every possible platform that my customers' customers might want to watch these videos (formerly DVDs) on - digitally.

This was easy enough to accomplish with iOS, Android, and the Amazon markets.  You can give an application away in any of these markets.  So we developed apps and put them into the markets for free.  iOS is still receiving the finishing touches, but will be available soon.

The Roku marketplace allows you to develop an app and create a private channel too.  Roku's development kit uses a language that's pretty similar to Visual Basic from what I can tell.  You can develop an app and put it into their market for free too.  In the InteliVideo case, the authentication will allow us to restrict which videos you have access to through Roku (and iOS, Android, etc).  JSON and XML services are available to these applications.

Another cloud-based service that we're using is Paypal.  It's great to be able charge what you want and integrate Paypal into your solution.  This is exactly what we did.

Combining cloud solutions and integrating them together allows for the creation of a new cloud-based service in no time!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Update on InteliVideo

I'm making it easy for people to upload their content, create classes, and ultimately monetize their knowledge.

We all know that DVDs are going away. Everyone is watching movies on their iPads and iPhones now. You see kids watching movies at restaurants on iPhones. My company, InteliVideo has built a platform that helps those companies with libraries of DVDs move into the world of streaming and downloadable videos for any device. It's a marketplace and companies can do everything themselves - it's entirely self service. We collect the money, keep track of who bought what and how long they can watch it, and ultimately deliver the content using our cloud-based platform.

This is an example of an IFRAME that an owner can pull off my site.

Here are the main categories:

Here is a specific category:

And another - try rolling your mouse over these...:

And the final category:

Monday, April 16, 2012


Over the last few weeks, as I was working on my "next big thing," I started reflecting on the good, bad and ugly of prior start-ups and companies I've been involved with.  I started writing about building a start-up from the ground up - topics from raising money, pivoting, turds on the table, giving up control, keeping the day job and several more posts.

After being in the services business for over 20 years, I've thought for years about making money while I'm sleeping.  When I created my first Android app, I was so excited when I went from making $1 a day to $5 to $10 to $100 and beyond.  I loved how Google (and Apple) had created a marketplace that allowed you to write an application, put it into a market, decide on your pricing, and collect 70% of whatever price you set.  I had fun experimenting with pricing, features, etc.  I loved hearing the feedback and ideas from my customers.  I was making money while I slept!

At TUSC we provided Oracle consulting services, but we also provided training and education.  Early on I did a lot of training for our customers.  In the mid 90s I did intro (2 days) and advanced training (3 days) on SQR (a report writer for Oracle) nearly 2 months in a row.  I've done 100s of presentations at Oracle (and other) users groups.  I've written 100s of articles for user group newsletters to Oracle magazine.  I consulted for 100s of companies over the years.  But...none of these helped me make money while I slept...I had to be there, usually in person.  Then came the web and I started doing webinars.  I recorded many of those webinars over the years and we published them on our website.  But, I didn't monetize these webinars.

After many many hours of dreaming, working on the concepts, etc. I figured out my next big thing.  I decided to combine the concepts of the Android marketplace and webinars.  I decided to help people monetize their training and how to videos online.  In other words, if you create a webinar and you want to sell it, you can put it on the InteliVideo site, indicate how much you want to charge and we do the rest.  We sell the video, manage distribution to any device (mobile or browser), collect the money, deliver the content and you get 70% of the income.  It's a utility model.  No up front costs to you.  No storage costs.  No costs per byte.  No credit fees.  Simply upload a series of videos (i.e. a grouping you want to sell), tell us how much to charge (i.e. for a 1 day rental it's $20, for 3 days it's $50, etc) and sit back and wait for your monthly check to arrive.

When I first came up with the concept, I thought maybe I'd go out and develop a bunch of video content.  So I brainstormed about what I would develop first.  Oracle content?  I know people who know a lot about fishing, duck hunting, snowmobiling, wake surfing, home building, home fix up, and so many more I thought maybe I'd start there.  Then I realized that we didn't need more content, the world simply needs a video marketplace!

I'm also combining in something that was my first (paid) Internet project ever...developing a testing engine.  When I first learned Oracle Application Express (which I later co-authored a book on), I asked Larry (my co-author) to develop the testing application in ApEx.  Which he did.  I'm going to combine this functionality into the video side of the business as well.  There will be full event driven actions that you'll be able to take based on the answers.  For example, you can pause the video 3 minutes and 12 seconds in and ask a question.  If the viewer answers right, you can continue.  If they answer wrong, you can take the action you want to take - i.e. you might force them to start over or you might show them the answer in a small video.  Then at the end of the course, you can decide what you want to do based on their answers.  For example, as a part of continuing education, you might give them a certificate.  If it was a Meyers Briggs test that you were guiding them through, you might score them as an ESTJ and then up-sell them on videos about relationships for ESTJs.

What do I need from you?  Well, before long everything will be self service and I'll need your content.  So if you don't have content, please start working on it now.  If you already have content, I'd like you to be a beta customer!  I'll upload your videos, configure the site, develop the questions with you, etc.  You can either be part of the InteliVideo generic videos or you can have a white labeled site with your videos.  If you have a white labeled site, you can choose to include links for other partners (which you'll eventually get a sales commission if your site sells them) or if you want to exclude certain companies (i.e. your competitors).

So tell me...what would you like to see on the site?  There is a B to B side of this - i.e. my customers and the B to C side (i.e. selling videos to consumers).  What do you think I should tell each side?

You can view my SUPER alpha version of my "marketing" site, which I need to get all of the links working on...and you can view my generic and white labelled version of the site.

InteliVideo Marketing Site                                     InteliVideo Videos

By the way, please try out the social side of the site - i.e. enter a Facebook comment!  And, you can VOTE on the logo selection if you click on the link soon.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

How Many Times Will you Pivot?

When you start a business, you better have a clear vision in mind.  It's critical to get your elevator pitch down.  You need to be able to explain to others, exactly what you're business is all about in 30 seconds.

When we started TUSC, I would to people that we were in the business of building custom software for organizations...and the pitch went on for 2-5 minutes.  One day I was sitting in a board meeting with a group of CEOs.  One of my competitors was in the meeting that day.  One of my CEO friends, who was a banker, said to my competitor - "so what do you guys do?"  It was time for his elevator pitch.  He said "the same thing as Brad, but for Microsoft."  The banker looked my competitor very confused and said, "if you can explain to me what Brad's business does, that would be great, I've been trying to figure that out for 2 years now."  That's not a good sign!  In fact, that was a HUGE wake-up call for me.  Clearly we did OK at explaining what we did to our customers, who were technical people, but CEOs couldn't figure out what we did.  So your elevator pitch has to be relevant to those you give it to.  My CEO elevator pitch then was refined to "we do Oracle, anything with regards to Oracle software, so if you know anyone who has Oracle - please have them contact me."

Our original vision was to be the best consultants in the world around the Oracle software.  To us that meant we were going to build software from the ground up.  We wanted large projects that would allow us to do things right.  However, the market was in need of consultants would could tune their Oracle applications and make them run faster.  That's not what we had in mind.  We didn't want to be firefighters.  But we listened to the market.  We didn't get stuck on "no, our vision was to do big projects, now give us a big project or we're walking..."  Those little projects became our foot in the door...that later (about 5 years later) resulted in us landing large, from the ground up projects.  Which was about the same time that developing custom software was no longer in vogue.  So again, we had to pivot and listen to our customers.  We build an Oracle Apps (ERP) business.

It's not just about listening to customers, but listening to those who can help you.  There was a recent Shark Tank where the guy had wine and a great glass (individual serving of wine for sporting events, weddings, etc) to store wine in.  The sharks were only interested in the glass.  They didn't seem to like his wine.  They tried to explain that the market is WAY bigger than his wine.  But...he didn't want to sell that off because he wanted to sell more of his wine with the glass.  I get it - he came up with the concept so he could sell more wine...but...what does it matter who's wine it is?

As I always say, you can stick to your vision and end up with 100% of nothing or you partner and listen to people and end up with a whole lot more!  At the same time, you don't want to change your direction every week or for that matter very often.  You can't turn a large ship very need to make minor adjustments.  Businesses that pivot are generally the most successful business, but the optimal pivots is about 2.  So come up with a vision, run it by others, listen, refine your vision and then go try to sell your visions to customers...and LISTEN!  What is it they are asking for?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

SaaS Here, SaaS There, SaaS Everywhere

Starting in 2005, my partner Ric and I created a SaaS business (IntelliReal) from the ground up.  We sold the business to Equifax in August of 2011.  

It seems like everywhere I turn, I'm hearing companies say they plan to use SaaS software over enterprise software.  When do you think SaaS is good for business and when is it not good?  When it comes to firing up servers, people might recommend you run on Amazon's Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2).  There are a ton of infrastructure companies out there now.  You can rent a MySQL instance for about $10 a month.  When it comes to implementing an ERP you can choose from SaaS solutions from Oracle, SAP, NetSuite, and more.  If you're building a product, I hope you're creating a SaaS offering.  If you're building a company, I hope you're considering SaaS solutions.  After all - services companies tend to get about 1 times revenue when they sell and SaaS companies getting 10x revenue!

When will there be more Mobile SaaS offerings?  What different SaaS offerings do you find helpful for your business?  Which ones do you pay for and which do you stay within the freemium model?  Do you think freemium works or are companies just giving away their services for free forever?  Personally although I built and sold (a lot of) mobile apps, I like the free apps the best.  I enjoy Facebook, but would I pay for it?  Not likely.  I used Bill4Time to track my hours and create customer invoices.  I like Trello for list management, but again, would I pay?  I like YouTube, but again, would I pay to watch any of those videos?  Email is important, but would I fire up an Outlook server?  No way, Google does an amazing job on the email side of the world...and I do pay for it.  Dropbox is great, but again, I stay under the freemium minimums.  I like Skype and I do pay for minutes when I call internationally and I do pay a monthly fee for unlimited calls in the US.  I really like Evernote, but I don't pay - again freemium.

Tell me about your SaaS experiences, favorites, etc.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mobile is King

I talked about the wild west of the mobile space a while back.  How awesome was it that Apple and Google created a marketplace that allows you to write an app and put in the market!  They do a lot of the hard work for you - find you customers, collect the money, etc.  It's pretty cool that you can develop and app, put it into the market and you get 70 cents of every dollar they collect.  That's amazing to me!

Then there's the mobile side of existing businesses.  Is there a way you can mobilize a component of your business?  How long will it be before there are as many mobile SaaS offerings as their are Internet SaaS offerings?  Many companies are focused on making sure every other company is represented in the mobile space.

The mobile space is still a huge frontier of opportunity.  What are you waiting for?  Do you have a mobile solution in mind?  How long will it be before someone else takes your idea to market?  What do you think the next frontier will be?

Monday, April 2, 2012

We Would Rather give you a Loan

I talked about this briefly in another post, but what does it mean when someone says they would rather give you a loan than take any more of your equity?  Why would they do this?  Just to be nice guys?  Not exactly!  

A loan is basically a guaranteed return.  Of course, there is some risk, but less than the risk of equity.  Why?  Because if you go out of business, equity is worth $0 and a loan (i.e. debts) gets the first money out...  So if you fire sale the business, debt is paid (in full, plus interest and other provisions) first...then equity is paid with the remaining proceeds.  Another provision that is common is that if you sell the company (even in a fire sale) that interest is paid in full - i.e. to the term of the loan.  So if you have a 3 year loan at 10% for $1M and you sign that today and you happened to sell tomorrow, you might owe the $300k.

Moral of the story...know what you're getting into before you sign up.  As I always say, if it sounds too good to be is.  So don't assume anything - ask!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Business Model Generation

I've talked about several of these topics in the past, but if you're trying to figure out your business model (i.e. how to montetize your business, I'd highly recommend you get the book "Business Model Generation."  

It talks about my favorite monetization model - the multi-sided platform.  This is effectively what Google has.  One person pays for your services (i.e. in the case of the search engine, it's the advertisers) and another person gets the benefits for free (i.e. the people doing the searches).  

The book breaks up your business into 9 sections:

1. Customer Segments
2. Value Propositions
3. Channels
4. Customer Relationships
5. Revenue Streams
6. Key Resources
7. Key Activities
8. Key Partnerships
9. Cost Structure

The book provides a number of example businesses around different business model types.  This structure is quite helpful when it comes to pulling your business model together.

Here's an example for a business that I was thinking about building.  I know a lot about tons of geospatial data that is available...much of it being free (from the government).  So I laid this business out into the Business Model Generation format:

This process is a key step for me when I'm evaluating a business opportunity.

It's important to think about things like: How are you different than the competition?  Is your offering disruptive to the industry?  What is your monetization plan?  Do you have a multi-sided platform business?  What customer segments are you going to service?  In what order?  What is your value proposition?  Is it different than others?  What channels can you take your product/service to the market?  In what order?  What customer relationships do you need to develop?  How will you develop them?  What are your revenue streams?  Do you have many small revenue streams?  What key resources do you need for your business?  What are the key activities required and by who?  What partnerships should you establish and how?  What's your cost structure - i.e. can you make money?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Splitting up the Equity

People often ask me about splitting equity up in a start-up.  People commonly ask how they should split the equity within a company.  For example, if there are 3 partners, do they each need to be at 1/3 of the equity?  If you have 2 partners, should you split the company 50/50?  What happens when you disagree?  What happens if one partner leaves the other hanging?  How can you run the business without that partner?

Well...I've seen all of the above things happen.  When there are 2 partners in a business and they each own 50% and they have a "majority rules" rule - they really have unanimous ruling - i.e. everyone (both parties) must agree for anything to "pass."  That sometimes works out just fine.  But, what happens if one partner gets upset and decides he effectively doesn't want to be part of the business anymore?  I saw this exact case study recently.  So the "active" partner was left to run the business.  How could he legally make any decisions for the business?  I'm not sure he really could...but decisions had to be made, so he made them.  This could easily have become a very ugly legal battle.

To answer the question above, does the equity need to be split up equally, absolutely not.  Equity should be split based on contribution to the business.  This is easy enough to say, but often tough to define.  What you don't want is for anyone of the founding partners to feel slighted by the equity they received.

In one business that I was a founder in, my partner and I decided to split the equity 60/40.  60% to him and 40% to me.  We originally did a capital call (i.e. we needed money and it had to come from us) for $20,000.  That meant that I had to come up with $8,000 and my partner had to come up with $12,000.  The reason we split the company as we did was that I had a day job and this was his day job.  Neither of us were going to get paid until the company made money, but he was going to be available for every meeting and I couldn't guarantee i'd be available to fly all over the country on a moment's notice.  

As time rolled forward after the sale of another business, as a part of my earn out, I was asked to not spending any more time on that venture.  This left my partner holding the ball...yet I still owned the equity I owned.  He was still working on the business full time (and getting paid by that point) and I wasn't working on it at all.  For the 3 years prior to this, I felt like I was working 100 hours a week on the business and I didn't feel like he needed to do the same.  I was building out the technology, managing the tech team, etc.  At times I felt like I should have had the 60% and he should have had the 40%...but it all worked out to be the exact right percentages in the end.

As we raised money and took our valuation from $20,000 to millions of dollars, the capital calls turned into a lot of money!  When you own 40% of a business and if the company is valued at $10M and you do a capital call for $1M, that's $400k that you would need to come up with.  This is where the VC firms often "get you."  They will do a capital call for a large sum of money - let's say it's $5M in this case and they will either dilute you heavily or they will do what's known as a cram down.  A cram down is when the valuation is reduce and money is put into the firm.  So let's say the new valuation of the company is $1M instead of $10M..then they put in $5M, so the new post money valuation would be $6M.  At this point instead of owning 40% of the company, the existing shareholders would own 1/6 or 16.7%.  So if I owned 40% at this point, I would now own 6.7%.  That might feel like it was crammed down your throat!

You can split up equity by any number of formulas, but it has to feel right to everyone...and you have to think about the long term effects too.  In another business I started, I had 2 other partners.  We each owned 33% of the business the day we started and other than employee options, at the end we still each owned an equal portion of the company.  This always felt right to me over the years as we were equal contributors.  None of us put money into the business to open it.  We often self funded the company (by not cashing paychecks), but we did this equally.  So it worked.

In other businesses one person puts in all of the capital required to start the business and someone else puts in their time.  Spend the proper time determining the right way to divide up equity.  Remember that the most expensive thing that you'll ever give away is equity.  If you turn your business into $100M business, each and every percent of the business is $1M.

So think about equity carefully.  Give it the proper time and energy.  You don't have to determine this before you get going.  In fact in several businesses that I've worked on, we didn't determine the official equity split until we were pretty far down the path.  At that point we had a much better feel for how the equity should be split.  We knew who contributed what by then.  I've only had one instance where this didn't work out well for anyone but the CEO (he wanted to keep the lion-share of the equity, which didn't feel right to all of the contributors).

Friday, March 30, 2012

Buying 51% is good enough

I've talked about many turds in the past.  A common trick in the private equity world is to buy 51% of the company, which typically gives you control, but more importantly, if you own 51% (and control), you can sell your 51% of the company to someone else and they don't have to sell your 49% in the deal.

In other words, your money could stay "in the game" forever, while the 51% owner takes their money off the table.  I've seen this happen a number of times. Put another way, you might never see your 49% turn into cash.

So once you sell 51% of your company (or if you've been diluted and someone else now owns 51%), you've sold (or given away) the company!  So how do you buy a company for 1/2 price?  You only need to buy 51%!  Seller beware!

I also mentioned this in my "Shark Tank" article a few months ago.  If you want a story that will turn your stomach, read that one!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

To Keep the Day Job or Not to Keep the Day Job...

I often hear people talking about their "next great idea" and then sometimes I hear them say they are going to quit their "day job" to do their start-up.  I think it's great to have the nerve to go off and start your own company, but at the same time, if you don't want to burn through your savings and be back "in the working for someone else world," it's important to really think about your plan.

This doesn't mean you have to have a full business plan, but at the same time, there are a few things that are very important to figure out.  In my mind, these items include, but certainly aren't limited to:

1. Montetization - all too often, from what I hear from people, they take the approach that a great idea means lots of money.  This isn't always true.  An idea isn't a company.  You need customers who pay you in order to be able to stay in business.  A company with zero profits can operate forever, but the day you go negative and can't make payroll is your last day.  If you think business isn't about making money, good luck to you.  If you think business is all about making money, you're focused on the wrong mission.  So take the time to figure out your customer segments, channels to market, how you're going to develop relationships with your customers, your revenue streams, and your key partnerships.  On the other side of the equation, it's important to know your expense structure based on your plans.  If you're chasing after every mom and pop business in the country, how are you going to reach them all?  This requires a HUGE sales force.  If you're going to rely on social / viral networks to build your business - again, how are you going to create this virality?  The bottom line in my mind is that someone needs to pay you for what you're delivering to the market.  My favorite monetization plans are called multi-sided platforms.  These are the ones where one person is paying and another gets the benefits for free.  Credit cards are a great example.  So is Google.  You need to make more money than you spend.

2. Mission - it's important to think about your value proposition.  What is it that you're doing?  How are you different from the competition?  How are you making a difference for your customers?  Is there a short and long term vision around your mission?  In other words, it's important to not be a "one hit wonder."  How long do you plan on owning your business?  Do you have enough vision in your mission statement to make it that long?  If not, keep thinking about it.

3. Team - it's absolutely critical to think about the key resources that you'll need in order to build your company.  Is it more than you?  How much is outsourced?  Do you need funding so you can hire more people?  Can you hire as you acquire customers?  If you're raising money, a team is absolutely a requirement.  What are your weaknesses?  Do your partners have strengths in your weak areas?  How can you fill those blanks?

4. Company type - what type of company are you trying to create?  Are you trying to provide a lifelong place for your family to work?  Family businesses bring interesting challenges and opportunities.  Are you trying to create a lifestyle business?  In other words, do you want to create an income for your family, but you aren't going to be focused on the sale of the company?  Does it matter to you if there is a "value" associated with the business?  For example, if you're a middle man and using someone else's technology/IP, your value will be diminished.  But...if you're simply trying to maximize what you make from the business, this is fine.  Most people have the goal of creating an asset that will eventually be sold.  Businesses "typically" sell for roughly 5 times simple terms for 5 times your bottom line. It's important to think about the "exit" of your business.

This is a great article on what Nine Things Successful People Do Differently from getting specific to seizing the moment to knowing what's left to being realistic and an optimist to focus on being better...and more.  It's important to know what you need to stop doing as much as what you're going to you have more time to "do."  Stop making an income?  Be careful!

Do you know how you're going to make money?  Can you make money day one?  Do you need to raise money?  Do you have a clear long term vision?  Do you have an executive team lined up?  What type of company are you trying to create?  So...are you keeping your day job for now?  

Please keep your day job until you gave all of these figured out...and don't quit it until you absolutely have to (and are ready to) do so.  It's better not to burn through your life savings on your "dream" or it will become your nightmare in no time!