Great birthday!

For me, my birthday and New Year’s Eve are two of the highest-pressure days of the year. Everyone wants to ring in the New Year doing something memorable or special, the pressure of having all eyes on you during a birthday celebration can be a bit intense.

But this year, I managed to get the birthday right! I threw a little birthday picnic at the Weinbergsweg Park in Berlin Mitte. I got there early with a blanket, some prosecco and snacks, and friends dropped by at various points through the day. The weather couldn’t have been better, and my only regret was that many friends were traveling for Easter, a weekend bookended by public holidays here in Germany.

All in all, a wonderful birthday. Looking forward to the year ahead!

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Moderating Berlin Demography Forum panel on Inequality with fmr. Italian Labor Minister Elsa Fornero

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A great experience for me – moderating a panel in front of a packed auditorium with a top political figure, Dr. Elsa Fornero. She was an excellent speaker and was very kind to me (although she dodged most of my questions with a politician’s characteristic agility).

I met a lot of fantastic people I wouldn’t have otherwise known – Mi Seon from South Korea, Anastasie Dutel from France and Monika Kokstaite from Lithuania. I’m particularly excited about meeting Faruk Tuncer – a native Berliner working on merging Turkish Muslim identity into the narrative of German democracy in a progressive way. I think he’ll be a fantastic leader in the years to come.

It’s taken me a while to figure it out, but I really thrive on performance; from playing lead lawyer in high school mock trial, acting in college, and presenting in business school to moderating a topical panel in front of hundreds of people. I am constantly reminded of the huge favor my parents did for me when they pushed my siblings and I to do our best in youth speech and essay competitions. I’ve really benefitted from the practice.

You know what would be awesome?

An on-board automotive diagnostic tool that automatically senses faults, identifies a list of possible problems, proactively notifies the service department and pre-orders replacement parts. Now that would be amazing service and would probably add little marginal cost to each vehicle. Especially in the case of high-end cars, the inconvenience of getting the vehicle serviced is often greater than the costs of repair.

Venture Capital Investment Competition: Barcelona!

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Delicious Tapas at El Xampanyet
Delicious Tapas at El Xampanyet – thanks for the recommendation Jeff!

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Sharing a light moment over some internet traffic... ahem
Sharing a light moment over internet traffic figures… ahem
Friendographers in Barcelona!
Friendographers in Barcelona!
Outside the IESE main building
Outside the IESE main building
Working hard late into the night
Preparing late into the night

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More prep
More prep
But it isn't all glum faces
But it isn’t all glum faces!
Early morning
Early morning
I mean... guys!
I mean… guys!
Taking a break to watch some puppies!
Taking a break to watch some puppy videos on Youtube!
Some sightseeing after the competition
Sightseeing after the competition – the Parc Guell

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One of many light moments :)One of many light moments

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Seeing Adeline off to Jordan
Seeing Adeline off to Jordan
Enjoying the beach!
Enjoying the beach!
Ajat's favorite photo ;)
Ajat’s favorite photo ;)
Great team and great travel companions!
Great team and great travel companions!
And a fitting end to the trip!
And a fitting end to the trip!

Friendography Update 2

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(Originally sent as an email on Feb 28th, 2014)

Friends!!

Hope you had a great week! We enjoyed the sun here in Berlin but we managed to get a few things done too :)

The positive responses to Friendography Beta keep rolling in! We’re slowly telling more and more people about it and getting great feedback along the way. Based on user suggestions, we’re constantly improving Friendography; Some users were confused about what to do after logging in with Facebook, so we added a little lightbox with brief instructions for new users. We saw a pretty instant bump in time-on-site which made us pretty happy! It’s always nice to see a tangible response to usability/UX investments.

We’ve also been discussing new functions and features for Friendography. We’ve been keeping track of all the great feature suggestions we’ve gotten from supporters since starting Friendography this summer. A lot of folks have expressed interest in seeing LinkedIn included in addition to Facebook. It’s a no-brainer, but with limited resources, we’re trying to decide how LinkedIn integration stacks up against the other features essential to making Friendography an awesome travel-planning platform.

On one hand, adding another social network would help users reach deeper into their social networks for travel planning and could appeal to business/professional travelers. On the other, focusing energy on adding LinkedIn at this point would double-down on the “inspiration” stage of the travel process.

Alternatively, we’re considering building a “planning” feature – a pin-board that allows users to save destination ideas, invite friends, and keep an eye on flights. A “planning” feature would move our users closer to a transaction. What do you think? Which would you prioritize? Would love to hear from you if you have any insight!

On the funding side, we’re preparing applications to Berlin incubators like hub:raum, Plug and Play and Startup Bootcamp (in addition to seeking seed investors). Incubators/accelerators invest limited funds but also introduce young startups to valuable networks that could open up new opportunities and follow-on funding. I think we have a good shot!

Well, that’s pretty much it for this week (sorry for the long post!), but drop us a note with any ideas or feedback! We love hearing from you and always appreciate your support!

Thanks for being part of our journey! All the best from Berlin!
Junayd and Lester