The Provo Startup Scene Is Like No Other

I was recently visited by a business partner and friend from out of town. Living out of state he was excited to have a reason to visit Provo. He had previously visited Utah for both business and pleasure but had never made it down to Utah County. Let alone specifically to Provo, Utah. He was eager to see what I am always raving about; how the Provo startup scene is like no other.

One thing about the Provo startup scene, where I have spent the last 5+ years of my short career, it has a secret sauce. I can say this because of countless encounters with hundreds of startup founders and experiences I’ve had over the years. In my dealings, I can honestly say I am usually left with impressive warm hospitality, lean startup hustle, and earnest intentions.

The Provo Startup Scene

While preparing for my guest’s visit, I began to think about how to best show him everything I claim about the area. I thought about what to show off, where to take him and which introductions I should make. Many things and people came to mind.

I wanted to deliver a magnificent tour because my colleague is no dummy. He is an honors graduate of Princeton, Yale, and Harvard Business School. He has broke bread over dinner with Peter Thiel. He had a past startup backed by Jay Leno and is currently at the helm of another successful venture. I wanted to make sure to pack a Provo punch. Especially for him.

I am happy to report that Provo delivered and the out-of-stater fell in love.

The List: 10 reasons why the Provo startup scene is like no other

During my visitor’s stay, he was so amazed by Provo that he made a list of reasons why he thinks the Provo startup scene is able to achieve its secret sauce. With the help of myself and other entrepreneurs he met, he was able to formulate a list so impactful that I wanted to share the list with you. Here are my friend’s top 10 reasons why the Provo startup scene is like no other:

1. Vices: My visitor: “why are there so many startups in Provo?” A Provo VC: “There aren’t a lot of vices here. We eat dinner, go to movies, and start companies.” (An example: at a few startup hotspots we visited, there were soda and milk dispensers — not kegs.)

2. Talent: A very heavy Mormon-populated Provo means that most 21-year-olds in the area have had 2 years of learning door to door sales through a Mormon mission. This provides a huge foundation for SAAS and also multilevel marketing in the Provo area.

3. Lean: Companies like the Provo grown Omniture start lean, raise no money for a while, and emerge on the scene with $30m in ARR and $10m in profit. They then continue to raise big checks to get to $1B valuation. All while the founders keep most of the company.

4. Affordability: Everything is way cheaper in Provo. The cost of living in Provo is so inexpensive, except for car insurance. A local Provo entrepreneur, “given our demographics, there is a huge percentage of 16-year-old drivers.”

5. Happy Valley: Elites from Salt Lake City pejoratively call Provo and the surrounding area “Happy Valley” — but locals admit: “We are happy!”

6. Mormon Influence: Provo is the only city in the world with two Mormon Temples. Our visitor said, “Is this the Mormon Vatican?” Provo just opened a wonderfully restored temple that adds to the beauty of the downtown area and is most definitely a majority of the religion.

7. Family Oriented: It is no secret that Provo citizens have large families with anywhere from 1-17 kids. Joke, kinda. Most Provo entrepreneurs are driven by good families, good friends, and profitable companies that impact the good of the world.

8. BYU: BYU is like Disney World (or North Korea?). If you deface a bathroom stall, it will be cleaned in a few hours. Males only have the choice of being clean cut and professional because of strict hair and beard rules. BYU has a top Entrepreneurship program and is a major contributor to the startup ecosystem in Provo.

9. Tech/Stem: There is a huge tech / STEM bent among Provo citizens. There is actually a nationally renowned virtual charter school focused on engineering based in Provo. The city of Provo is almost always promoting business and tech.

10. The Mayor: The Provo Mayor is a startup founder himself. His company helps people create false identities online so as to not be tracked by Google and other advertising companies. It has been said that he was voted most likable mayor in the country.

When my friend showed me this list, I told him that “you’re preaching to the choir. I am already a believer.” In my mind, his list is added to an even larger list that includes Provo’s half dozen unicorn companies and Provo’s City rankings in innovation and quality of life as reasons why Provo is the place to be.

Make it a goal of yours to come out to Provo, Utah and just as my guest experienced, you will see that the Provo startup scene is like no other.

Why I Started My Company In Provo Utah

Not so long ago, if you were serious about starting a tech company you would do so in Silicon Valley, not Provo, Utah. After all, it’s where all the major players are when it comes to venture capital backed technology startups.

And if you were serious about getting a job in the tech field, your path would inevitably lead to Silicon Valley as well.

However, things are rapidly changing. Silicon Valley is still in the lead, but a new force is emerging.

According to some interesting stats provided by Associated Press, San Francisco and San Jose (Silicon Valley) are the top two cities with tech startups backed by venture capital funds. But, that same chart shows another interesting fact: when comparing dollar-per-deal averages, the Provo-Orem region comes out on top.

It might come out as a complete surprise to some, but Utah has always had a vibrant tech scene. Utah was, in fact, the birthplace of WordPerfect and Landesk. Nolan Bushnell, the co-founder of Atari, graduated from the engineering department at the University of Utah, as well as Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull, who graduated from the school’s department of computer science.

With huge tech names like Adobe, Oracle and Microsoft expanding into Utah in the recent years, it’s no wonder Utah is quickly getting recognized as a booming tech hub. Companies like PluralSight, Qualtrics, Vivint and a handful of other tech companies, which are now valued at over a billion dollars, certainly contributed to the growth of Utah’s tech scene.

Another interesting fact is that the Wasatch Front region of Utah—the small section that contains Provo, Salt Lake City, and Ogden, is very similar to Silicon Valley. Much like Intel and other semiconductor manufacturers helped create Silicon Valley, the software company Novell which was founded in Provo helped attract and spawn other local tech businesses. Also, the Wasatch Front, much like Silicon Valley, is densely populated and connected by a freeway and a mass-transit system.

But even with a lively tech scene like that, until recently Utah was desperate for capable developers who could provide a reliable workforce for all those tech startups and companies expanding to Utah.

That lack of developers, combined with people interested in getting an education in web development and the rapid rise of Utah’s tech scene, were the main reasons why my team and I founded DevMountain in Utah as opposed to a more metropolitan area.

The Startup Building In Provo

The Startup Building In Provo, home of DevMountain

DevMountain is a code bootcamp nestled right here in the heart of the Wasatch Mountains that addresses the lack of capable developers. We are training the new wave of developers and entrepreneurs, and we’ve made incredible progress in contributing to the Utah tech scene.

With that rapidly developing tech scene and the fact that Provo is the third city in the United States where Google introduced Google Fiber in 2013, the future of Utah looks bright indeed.  All that, however, is not the only reason why we deemed Provo as the place to be.

Provo ranks #1 for business and careers according to Forbes magazine, thanks to its low tax rates, and an extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit and business-friendly environment. Provo’s quality of life, volunteering, and optimism also take the first place. When it comes to raising a family, Provo ranks #3. Not to mention, the low crime rates and excellent educational opportunities.

It was that environment that convinced Theo Zourzouvillys, the CEO of Jive Communications to move to Utah. Originally a native of England, and a former Skype employee, he admits to not knowing a lot about Utah, but when Jive offered to fly him and his girlfriend for an initial meeting, he immediately warmed up. In Utah he found “the most awesome people I’ve ever met in my life.”

And if that isn’t enough to convince you, Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort is 20 minutes from downtown Provo, while the mountains offer backpacking, snowshoeing, hiking and mountain climbing.  Just like our students, the majority of Utah visitors love the easy access to the outdoors.

Everything I mentioned so far, are just some of the reasons why Provo is such an attractive place to live, an attractive place to learn to code and more importantly, an attractive place to start a business. It is no wonder why DevMountain, our baby and Utah’s very own 5-star code school, has exploded into the scene.

Provo's DevMountain code school

Provo’s highly review code school, DevMountain.

Our Provo headquartered bootcamp offers a Full Time Immersive Web Development course which lasts for 13 weeks. The course features 8 hour of instruction per day, 1:1 mentoring, and is geared towards people who are serious about learning to code.

As of recently, more than 65% of our student body are from out of state, and even out of country.

We also offer an After Hours Web Dev course which is a great way for locals to dive into code without having to quit a job or other schooling. The After Hours course is still extremely intense, but allows for more flexibility and is a great option for those who are interested in coding, need some skills to better their employment options, or simply learn a new skillset.

Come join the Utah, and more specifically, Provo movement. Discover everything the city has to offer, and become a part of an awesome community with a bright future ahead.

Visit to learn more about our courses.

The Skills Gap


It is that time again, Spring. The “decision day” for millions of soon-to-be high school graduates all over the country who are making the decision of where they are going study for an even higher education. They fret about where they are going to go, they throw down deposits for their spot and make this life-changing decision for the college of their choice. But for what? As the debate grows over the value of a four-year degree, so do my hesitations about this whole system.

Is this true? Is the value of a four-year degree declining? A recent study by education technology company Greenwood Hall says that more than half of college graduates say new grads will see a lower return on their educational investment. In easier terms, past college grads are saying that today’s college grads aren’t getting enough bang for their buck.

Is this assumption from past college graduates real?

After looking into the matter more, the outlook for college seniors and graduate students preparing to accept diplomas this spring is actually not so good. The Labor Department reported recently that the unemployment rate for Americans in their 20s who received a four-year or advanced degree last year rose to 12.4 percent from 10.9 percent in 2013.

Is this lower placement rate the reason why recent graduates are saying college has a now lower return on investment? Why did that unemployment rate increase? Why are companies not hiring more?I talk to employers every day in my current line of work and not a day goes by without hearing “Tyler, I am having the hardest time filling important positions.” Which is then followed up by the routine “current graduates skill levels are simply dissatisfactory.”

I talk to employers every day in my current line of work and not a day goes by without hearing “Tyler, I am having the hardest time filling important positions.” Which is then followed up by the routine “current graduates skill levels are simply dissatisfactory.”

Is this the “skills gap” we hear about? Or is it simply companies whining?

Skills are sometimes hard to measure and to manage. Nowadays new technologies pop up as frequently as bunnies make babies. These technologies require specific new skills that schools don’t teach and that employers don’t supply. Tech has radically changed over the last couple of decades and probably even in the time that you have read the beginning of this blog post. Employers have had persistent difficulty finding workers who can make the most of these new technologies.

That is because in many cases these technologies aren’t being taught.

Consider, for example, CS degrees (the industry I am in). Over the last few decades, we have experienced a massive change in the CS degree. With the Internet, demand has grown substantially for qualified web developers. Then came smartphones and demand grew for even more developers. I can’t remember the exact figure, but the US Bureau for Labor Statistics says that by 2018 there will be 3x as many software engineering jobs than there are qualified workers to fill them.

Software developers have to keep up with new technologies and new standards that are always changing rapidly. A few years ago they needed to know Pascal and Pearl; now they need to know HTML5 & Javascript instead. New specialties have now emerged such as iOS and android specialists and many new kinds of information architects.

You are probably saying to yourself “well, the 4 year CS degree teaches all of that, right?” No, wrong. Computer Science schools have had difficulty keeping up. Because technologies and the market move so rapidly much of what CS schools are teaching becomes obsolete quickly and most are left with outdated older technologies.

Because these accredited institutions are, well, accredited, they have to get their curriculum validated & approved by their governing superiors. Universities have to jump through various hoops and red tape to finally get updated curriculum taught in their classrooms. This process is lengthy and from talking to current CS professors it can take up to 5 years to complete. In that time frame, whatever technology the school was trying to approve is already outdated.

Because of this, CS majors have to learn on the job or on their own. They do this either during their program or shortly after and makes graduates unmarketable. Learning on their own takes time and is very difficult. Learning on the job is why experience matters! But employers can’t easily evaluate prospective new hires just based on years of experience. Not every developer can learn well on the job and often what they learn might be specific to their particular employer and not easily transferable to the next.

This is the “skills gap” that exists between what universities and colleges teach and what modern day employers actually need. And when there is a “gap” in the marketplace, there is an opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Enter, “learning accelerators” and modern education. Self-taught entrepreneurs with the skill sets needed to bridge the “gap” are starting schools across the country to teach modern curriculums. These skill specific schools are delivering these curriculums and know-how in intense, condensed training sessions. These entrepreneurs have identified the problem explained in the CS degree example and are offering up to date curriculums which cut out the fluff of a typical 4-year degree. These educations are taught by people who already have the skills in an accelerated format. Typical “learning accelerators” (aka boot camps) are anywhere from 8-16 weeks long making them much more efficient than the previous learning methods. These skill specific accelerated schools have grown in popularity over the last 2-3 years simply because they are working. They serve their purpose; turning aspiring skill seekers into actual doers.

This new form of education has captured the attention of policymakers and employers alike. The schools delivering these immersive, in-person courses that train students in high-demand skills such as web development, mobile technology, data science and design are on the rise.

In 2012 was the first we saw of these high-tech accelerated education schools. Since then they have carved out their own new educational industry which equates to about $100 million in tuition.

How do I know they are successful and serving their purpose? Because I started one of these skill specific schools called DevMountain.

I work behind the scenes and know first hand that schools like mine have exceptional job placement outcomes. Employers are starting to care less of where their employees gain their skill set and are more concerned if said employees can simply perform. Schools like DevMountain offer a way to fill the skills gaps and promote employment and economic growth.

Is the 4-year degree obsolete? Personally, I think it depends on what field you are asking about. While 72 percent of educational institutions believe recent graduates are ready for work, only 42 percent of employers agree, according to a McKinsey study.

As it turns out, advances in “learning accelerators” may be the best news yet to match emerging members of the workforce with companies struggling to fill jobs. Skill specific boot camps and schools may be the answer to closing those percentages mentions above and bridging the “skills gap.”

Astro Teller And His Google[x] Moonshot Updates & Failures

Astro Teller told a full auditorium at the Austin Convention Center, during SXSW, that the last 5 years of Google[x] has taught him to fail and fail at the beginning. He admitted that it is hard. That the longer you work on a project, the less you want to know the world’s reaction to it. He continued to tell the crowd how a number of Google[x] projects have experienced a series of “bumps and scrapes.”

What is a Google Moonshot? They are projects that solve a huge problem, have a radical solution, and involve breakthrough technology. Moonshots must produce a massive value to make things better, not only by 10% or 20% increments, but by 10X.

Teller continued to tell us about past, current, and future projects:

Project Loon

  • Moonshot : Balloon-powered internet for everyone. Astro said 4 billion people in this world are not connected digitally. Project Loon helps them to be connected.
  • How : A network of balloons to act as cellular towers in the sky
  • The Failure : These balloons needed to be so high that they couldn’t be tied down. The team was essentially making a cell tower that needed to be 1% of the standard weight, produce more power, and to function in 90 degrees below zero. Finally after creating a device, the balloons that were used to keep the device high above the earth started to leak and eventually burst. When their balloons failed, they had to fetch it (sailing in the pacific, scavenging the Arctic).
  • Lesson Learned : Turns out it was the socks that the techs were wearing when they were manufacturing them. They found the issue, tackled it, and now the balloons last for 6 months at a time.

Project Driverless Car

  • Moonshot : We spend millions of hours driving. Those hours are wasted. The goal is to make a car drive safer than a human.
  • How : Through artificial intelligence that learns on the fly through it’s surroundings. Astro told the audience about an incident that happened 4 or 5 months ago. Google’s driverless car was driving on yet another test run in the suburbs of California. While driving on the road the car “saw” in front of it a women in an electric wheel chair with a broom. She was reaching into the middle of the road trying to chase a duck to shoo it off the road. The car came to a stop, waited til the woman was out of the road, then continued on it’s way. There is no way for the Driverless Car team to sit in a conference room and say “we need to watch out for women in wheel chairs, in the middle of roads, trying to shoo ducks”. Thats why there is AI. Now that specific Driverless Car computer knows what that specific incident looks like. Astro continued to say that they show the computer this moment and 10,000 other similar moments, and it learns! The more bumps and scrapes in the project the better. It is not about not getting them, its about extracting the value from them.
  • The Failure : When the product was starting to become more and more developed the team started to work with safety drivers. These safety drivers were assigned to ride with cars during the test runs. The safety drivers were there to make sure the car was driving properly and to help in emergency situations. The Google[x] team had cameras watching the human’s every move. What the team found was that the humans trusted the car more and more over time and started doing stupid stuff during the testing. The humans would try to take over in weird moments, or not pay attention at all. The safety drivers, in the end, made the cars drive worse. They assumed humans were a good back up system to the driverless car.
  • Lesson Learned : The Driverless Car team made a car with no steering wheel, brakes, accelerator, or other parts so the humans riding in them wouldn’t be tempted to “take over” the ride. Astro said that regulations did not require cars to have a steering wheel so they cut it out. Oddly enough it was required to have rear view mirrors, so they kept those on.

Project Google Glass

  • Moonshot : Connecting the offline and online worlds.
  • How : Through a smaller and slimmer head-mounted and hands-free display design.
  • The Failure : They made one great decision on google glass, in that they did the glass explorer program. They made a bad decision because they allowed the explorer program to get to big for it’s own good. “We allowed and somewhat encouraged too much exposure to the program….We did things to encourage people to think that [Glass] was a finished product,” Astro said.
  • Lesson Learned : The Glass explorer program led them to learn a lot on the tech front. Including battery issues and improvements. It also led them to social discoveries and how social norms could be built. But Google learned that there is a fine line between rushing into production and perfecting a product.

Project Genie

  • Moonshot : Help the field of construction and architecture. It would design and architect buildings. It was a building genie.
  • How : The invention is a cloud based collaboration software with “planning applications to help architects and engineers in the design process, especially for skyscrapers and large buildings. The platform includes planning tools of expert architects and engineers and advance analytics and simulation tools.”
  • It is now called Flux, a stand alone business. It is the only project that is its stand alone business.
  • Flux automatically answers zoning questions, and correct building codes for a specific area.


Project Wing

  • Delivery of things via self flying vehicles
  • Goal : Why are we sending 2-3 pound packages in 3000 pound vehicles across towns in traffic
  • First road block, could they possibly use someone else vehicle so they didn’t have to build a vehicle? No. There wasn’t anything that fit what they were looking for, so they had to build one. It had to be a vertical take off vehicle because they couldn’t have run ways when out on delivery.
  • They built one. They call them tail sitters. It is a hover able and wing engine vehicle. They are perfect for flight, but they are harder to control.
  • After 8 months, 50% of the team knew it was a failure. Then after a year and a half 80% of the team knew it was a failure. The lesson they learned, admit when something is not working, while also trying to get out to the world as fast as possible.
  • Sergey Brin saw the stall in development and said “You have 5 months….go.”
  • They finally got out to the real world to a select group in australia. They learned alot and because of Sergey’s deadline they have a new and improved vehicle.


Project Makani // Failing to Fail

  • An energy source
  • Goal : Harvest the power of the wind at a fraction of the cost of normal wind turbines.
  • They discovered that the higher they got the higher the wind speed and the more consistent the speeds. There is an enormous advantage to going up when harvesting wind for power.
  • A normal wind turbine is about 100 meters and 300/400 tons. They are an incredible amount of money.
  • How : Next month they have a turbine that will fly, and once it is released the length of the tie down (80ft), the wind turns it’s 8 propellors. The kite like contraption is the most efficient wind energy producer.
  • Larry page said, “make sure you crash at least 5 versions of the vehicles.” So the team picked the windiest place in America to test the product. But they failed to fail. They never crashed it.

Google Mountain View, a First-Hand Tour

From writing code to maintaing clients of every size, the heart of everything Google is found at their global headquarters, Mountain View. I am sure you have all seen their campus from various pictures and blog posts across the web. It truly is where they dream up and design products that are changing the ways people find information, do business, communicate and learn. They call it the Googleplex. Here is a first hand look.


This globe shows the number of Google searches in real-time and where they are coming from and in what volume (brighter light).


Google employees can bring their laundry to work and get it done.


Bicycles are a big part of the Google culture.


This is an employee bowling alley. Doesn’t every company have one of these?


There is no reason to leave work. They have everything, including a chiropractor. 


A Google workspace – lots of cubicles in open space.



A Google micro-kitchen. These are everywhere. Average employee gains 15 pounds in the first 3 months.



Every building, about 50 of them, has a lot of maps . They are needed, or you get lost.


Google’s driverless car.


You know those Japanese heated seat toilets that have a sophisticated bidet system? Yes, Google has those too and in most restrooms.


Need a haircut? Google has you covered.


Need computer accessories, help with your devices, anything tech? Well, there’s a TechStop in about every building.


Served a boat of sushi at one of the Google restaurants.

One of 50 restaurants on the main campus. Food is free to all Google employees.

One of 50 restaurants on the main campus. Food is free to all Google employees.

This is a pod for resting. You entered an enclosed environment and get a power nap.

This is a pod for resting. You entered an enclosed environment and get a power nap.

I Quit My Job to Work on My Own Startup

Quit my job to work on my own business

I am definitely not a business consultant because a typical business consultant would call me crazy, so take my entrepreneurial advice as you wish. Business consultants always coach clients to never leave one job or business before the new venture is successful and lucrative. They say it leads to a roller-coaster ride. Believe me it does. But hey, the majority of people like roller coasters. Right?

When you hate your job the idea of jumping ship seems like a no-brainer. But if you have a well-paying job you actually like the question becomes a little more tricky. Obviously situations will vary depending on the type of corporate job you have and what kind of venture you want to start, but in general, for a person who is trying to start a new venture and wondering if they should quit a current lucrative position, my short answer is, “I would.”

Why I quit my job.

But first let me explain my situation. It was the summer of 2013. I was working around-the-clock for a Utah tech accelerator called BoomStartup after graduating from Brigham Young University. The accelerator was housed in a co-working space in downtown Provo. This co-working space expressed an interest in bringing in a coding bootcamp that at the time were only found in larger metropolitan areas like New York or San Francisco. Instead of bringing one in I, a front-end designer, teamed up with an amazing developer and a operations guru and we started our own coding bootcamp. We named it DevMountain and to this day it is housed in that same co-working space but now we have grown so much that we have taken over the whole building instead of just one room.

Back in August of 2013 DevMountain started out as side project. Our whole co-founding team treated it that way. As a result of it being a side project when my summer BoomStartup job ended I accepted a job as the Director of Business Development at a healthcare and genetics company called Tute Genomics. It was a great salary and opportunity but it was working for someone else, not myself. I was not a founder, owner, or anything close to it. I was paid, did my work, and that was it.

You cannot be two people at once.

After a few months of working at Tute Genomics I found myself caught between the two jobs. Working as an owner at DevMountain in my free-time and working as an employee at Tute Genomics as my day job was not ideal. It was horrible because I wanted to succeed so badly in both situations but time just didn’t allow it. Trying to please Tute Genomics investors and management while also pleasing my DevMountain co-founders proved difficult. In both situations I was accused of not giving my full 100% which was an accurate accusation.

I quickly came to find out that one simply cannot stay working for the man (someone else) while also truly pursuing your own business. Giving 100% of your dedication and effort to really grow your startup takes just that…100%. Since no one can clone themselves and become two people then a side has to be chosen. Otherwise half effort is given at both companies and as a result half of the job is left unfinished and all parties involved are upset and disappointed.

Go where the most value is.

After some sleepless nights I ultimately decided to quit and pursue my new business venture. The ultimate decision maker was considering the differences between being a business owner and being an employee.

I broke down what would happen scenarios if I were to stay at Tute Genomics or quit to work on my own business. At Tute I would have been earning a nice yearly salary. But it is just that, a yearly salary. No more no less. At DevMountain I would be earning less in salary, but the equity I had in the company of being an owner and co-founder was worth more than that yearly salary. Especially if my co-founders and I were to focus 100% on DevMountain and grow it into an even more successful business than it already was. The choice to me was clear, quit Tute Genomics.

Quit my job - quit your day job

Some people crave security and would never be happy in the variable world of the entrepreneur, but that is not me. I enjoy the risk (and reward) of building my own company. A day job requires no risk but grants little reward. In my situation I had to go where my focused effort, time, and skills would give me the biggest return. I literally wrote down both choices on a piece of paper and found that the situation with the most value for my family and I was/is my own company, DevMountain.

Be patient.

That is exactly what I did, in August of 2014, I quit my day job to work full time on my startup.

Everything worth having takes time, and patience, passion, and perseverance. All of which are important foundational elements for an entrepreneur. When I quit my job to work at DevMountain I most certainly took a pay cut. I no longer have the nice cushion of a padded pay check every month. But as I said before, in the long run, after everything is said an done, DevMountain will be the better choice. As an entrepreneur you deal in patience, you can take steps every day to work on doing something to improve, build, and construct your new venture.

Get your personal life in order before making the switch.

It has only been a couple of months since quitting my job and joining DevMountain, the company I co-founded full-time, but I can say my stress levels have decreased and my quality of life has improved. I love having the ability to create, build, and grow my own venture, rather than doing it for someone else’s.

Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of grit. It is critical to ensure that your personality has the drive to forge your own agendas. Make sure your personal life can uphold what you are about to take on. If your loved one doesn’t approve of you quitting your current job, it is going to be really hard to be successful building your own company. Make sure you are in a state of life/mind where eating ramen for a couple months or more isn’t that big of deal.

Success starts with you as a leader. But you can only lead if you have followers. Make sure your family is on board, or you will never hear the end of it. Balance the opinion ultimately with what your own mind is telling you. It is a tricky task.

The question of quitting your job to work on your own business is probably one of the hardest one to go about finding a suitable answer to that doesn’t sound outright crazy. It’s in fact such a hard one, that I often see people avoid the question, forever. I say, you will never know what could have been with your own venture if you laser focus on it, but you will always know what will come year in and year out at your current job working for someone else. That’s why I quit my job.

Facebook Valuation – $190 Billion Explained

Facebook Valuatation

Facebook is now worth more than $190 Billion dollars. If you were following their stock yesterday, and their earnings report the day before, Facebook shares hit their highest value ever at $76.74. Today, shares are trading at $75. This means Facebook’s market capitalization is now around $190 billion, which is crazy. I couldn’t believe it because Facebook’s valuation is higher than companies with real physical assets, compared to their admittedly virtual assets. There is a reason behind the Facebook valuation madness. Here’s why.

Revenues, Sales were up 61%

Facebook reported its Q2 2014 earnings, blowing away analysts’ expectations. Revenue went up 61% to nearly $3 billion ($2.91 billion) and earnings per share were $0.42 (which was 12 cents more than analysts predicted). Income from it all was a feat within itself, $1.4 billion. This time last year it was just $562 million. Facebook has outperformed time and time again since going public.

Monthly Active Users (MAUs)

Here’s the picture regarding the users. Facebook added 41 million users last quarter and 63% of users visit daily. Facebook delivers over 12 billion messages a day. Not to mention 300 million MAUs on Messenger and Instagram is still growing.

Their earning per user is not half bad either. Facebook earns about $4.32 per user in the US and Canada. Worldwide Facebook earned $1.60 per user. There is no wonder why Facebook’s valuation is massive.

The Facebook Mobile Game

Now, most users go to Facebook on their phones and the mobile ads are performing very well. You should all know by now that the world is moving to mobile, and when you look at the time spent on mobile, 1 in 5 minutes on mobile is on Facebook. 1 billion people use Facebook on their phones every month and 650 million use Facebook on mobile every day. On top of all this Facebook’s mobile ad revenue grew 151% and was 62% of their total ad revenue.

Facebook’s valuation cap status is what’s crazy. It took Apple nearly three decades to achieve such a market value and it took Google five years. Facebook has only been public for two years. Overall, it was another steady quarter of user and revenue growth for Facebook. The Facebook valuation is crazy but they got the goods to back it up.

Web Design Tips from a Designer to Non-Designers

Every week or so I am reminded that not every start-up company has the finances to hire a graphic or web designer. When that happens, small business owners or non-designer web developers have to take matters into their own hands. As a designer (here is some of my work) I get asked questions like “How do you do that?” or “How do you know what looks good?” Rather than replying, “I just know,” I have decided to give a couple of basic web design tips to help the definite non-designers out there. 

Here are some general guidelines to ponder before spending money to hire someone like me or a web designer to create or change something in your website design.

1. Alignment and Symmetry

In my opinion, good alignment and spacing is the base of good web design. Friends often ask me how I produce my design work, and honestly, I just line things up and make sure the padding (space around elements) is symmetrical and relative to that particular object’s size. Here are some rules regarding alignment on the web:

  • Try not to mix text alignment. Either left-align, or right-align text, but don’t do both. For example, on a normal blog layout right-aligned text in a right sidebar creates rivers of white space between the two columns and looks horrible. If you left-align your body copy, then left-align your sidebar text as well.
  • Centered headlines are classy, centered body copy is a definite no-no.
  • Use existing hard edges to line up other elements. If your header graphic is 5px from the left edge, then have your body copy be 5px from the left as well. Be precise with it too, in design 5px is definitely not 7px. Remember, good design is all about the details.
  • Use balance. What is balance? Balance is the equal distribution of visual elements in a design. Visual balance occurs around a vertical axis and good design needs visual weight to be equal on the two sides. When elements are not balanced, the effect is disturbing and makes users uncomfortable.

Web Design Tips – Bad Examples:

This website is horribly aligned. Notice the left side of the page is much heavier than the right. The fonts are not all aligned correctly and the picture is has no padding (white space) around it like the paragraphs do. The logo in the navbar seems to be floating randomly and would be much better being aligned in the middle and to the left. The information box and button seems to have no alignment with any other element on the page. The footer at the bottom of the page is even mis-aligned because it is too far to the left when it should be align with the left side of the containing div above it.

This website is horribly aligned. Notice the left side of the page is much heavier than the right. The fonts are not all aligned correctly and the picture is has no padding (white space) around it like the paragraphs do. The logo in the navbar seems to be floating randomly and would be much better being aligned in the middle and to the left. The information box and button seems to have no alignment with any other element on the page. The footer at the bottom of the page is even aligned incorrectly because it is too far to the left when it should be align with the left side of the containing div above it.

2. Use Amazing Pictures

The right photo can take a good design, and make it even better. The right photo can be the solution to the often used, “Something’s just missing.” 

So what makes a good photo? I’ll tell you:

  • Relevance – The picture has to have something to do with whatever you’re selling or doing on your website. For example, for a restaurant you’ll want to use photos of the actual business, or your actual food. Bad stock photos will not do you any good, ever. When I have to use stock photos, I use Stocksy because they are stock photos that aren’t really stock photos. When you’re website content is a little less tangible than a restaurant, like babysitting for example, you can get away with using photos that are more symbolically relevant. But if you are selling internationally, symbols vary from country to country, and culture to culture.
  • Contrast – Because usability comes first, make sure that the photo you integrate into your design has the right kind of contrast. That means dark background with light text and light backgrounds with dark texts. In web design you are always putting things like text, buttons, or other divs on top of pictures, and there is nothing more irritating than text you can barely read. Using a subtle drop shadow is usually acceptable.
  • Attention DrawingPhotos can break up the visual boringness of a site (full of text), and help users to identify an article, link, story, or what-have-you that they might be interested in. If you remember anything from this article, remember this: pictures make people stop and pay attention. This seems almost a little obvious if you think about it but bigger images will have a bigger visual impact.

Web Design Tips – Bad Examples:

This is an example of bad contrast and pictures. The photos are not even viewable with the big bulky text in the way. There is hardly any contrast between background and text on the main navbar. The titles are not aligned symmetrically and the 3 columns are not giving my eyes a place to focus on. Not to mention the horrible stock photos. This website is a wreck.

This is an example of bad contrast and pictures. The photos are not even viewable with the big bulky text in the way. There is hardly any contrast between background and text on the main navbar. The titles are not aligned symmetrically and the 3 columns are not giving my eyes a place to focus on. Not to mention the horrible stock photos. This website is a wreck.

3. Whitespace Saves Ugliness

When I talk about whitespace, I mean negative space. Space between screen elements. Space with nothing in it. Whitespace is not always literally ‘white’ as the title infers. This space may be a color or texture, but either way it is space within a design that does not include screen elements. 

Whitespace is a crucial element of design for good reason. If you implement it well it can transform a design and provide many aesthetic or tangible benefits like improved legibility, comprehension, attention, and organization.

Web Design Tips – Bad Examples:

This literally gives me a headache. The quantity of information is unbearable, but the way it is displayed is even worse. Cluttered information makes the user feel lost and unhappy. Do not do it! Give web elements enough room on the page to deliver the message they are intended to.

This literally gives me a headache. The quantity of information is unbearable, but the way it is displayed is even worse. Cluttered information makes the user feel lost and unhappy. Do not do it! Give each web element enough room on the page to deliver the message they are intended to. If this website was to divide each call to action into vertical sections with enough white space in between, the website would be completely transformed.

4. Standardize Understanding, But Be Creative in Style, Brand, & Voice

Your users shouldn’t have to read, watch a video, or be taught how to use your website. If they need assistance before they can use it, you are doing something wrong and frankly, they just won’t use it. Instead, they will leave.

While your style, brand and voice should be unique, don’t ever sacrifice understanding for something that may be too hip or too trendy looking. The understanding of your website should be standardized. That is not good design. What I mean by standardized is using clear language, visuals, and structure so your website make sense to everyone. Use familiar actions and interface. Keep items that appear on every page (like the logo and navigation) in the same place on each page so they’re easier to find. Label pages and sections with words that make sense. It’s more important that visitors know how to do something than be wowed with your creative naming.

Web Design Tips – Bad Examples:

Remember that good design is intuitive. Bad design is confusing. This webpage is so confusing that I do not even know where to go when landing on their homepage.

Remember that good design is intuitive. Bad design is confusing. This webpage is so confusing that I do not even know where to go when landing on their homepage. The menu on the left is not a standard menu. Even though the website was trying to appeal to their audience with cars as menu items, it is too distracting for the users. The square car pictures to the right of the website are easily confused for the square clickable elements to the left of them. There is no distinction between the two, other than the black text on the clickable links.

Web Design Tips Conclusion

Keeping all these web design tips in mind, create a page hierarchy. When everything is important on your page then nothing is important. Too many large fonts and/or too many words in bold colors actually will confuse your users and makes everything non-important overall. So choose things on your page that are most important and start there. Highlight those elements only.

Hope these tips help out a bit and get your design started off on the right foot.

Happy web designing!

Mormon Temple Drone Flight Video Footage in Washington DC

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Video from a Mormon Temple drone flight shows The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ Temple as you’ve never seen it before.

Tony Collins says he was asked to fly his drone over the temple on Monday to capture footage of it from above.  He posted the video on YouTube of the Mormon Temple drone flight, which was shot on July 8th. The footage is honestly breathtaking and my hat goes off to Tony!

Make sure you watch the video in HD.

Ground was broken for the temple in December 1968, and it was dedicated in 1974. The gold-spired Washington D.C. Temple is a well-known landmark along the Capital Beltway in Kensington, Maryland. The beauty of this soaring edifice is enhanced by a reflection pond near the visitors’ center and a spouting water feature at the temple entrance.

The Temple sits on 52-acre wooded site. Ground was broken for the temple in December 1968, and it was dedicated in 1974.

Washington DC LDS Temple

Bear Cam Season In Alaska’s Katmai National Park

Bear Cam season is upon us. has setup multiple cameras in Katmai National Park in Alaska to watch the biggest salmon feast in the world. The cameras are set to stream live.

The exclusive LIVE footage from Alaska’s Brooks River in Katmai National Park has been set up for 3 years. Every year over a hundred Brown Bears descend on a mile long stretch of Brooks River to dine on the largest Sockeye Salmon run in the world. 

The bears, and the cameras that track them, have steadily grown in popularity since 2012, when the Annenberg Foundations’s group first helped to set them up.

If you you want the best live show, look no further than the bear cam.

Bear Cam