The volume is too damn high (on flights)

2015-02-04 by Darren Nix

I have been completely deaf in my left ear since being hit by a car when I was two years old.  Since I’m operating with no backup, I do basic things to protect my one good ear like carrying ear plugs to concerts and plugging my ear when a fire engine drives by.

Flying is always a loud experience, of course, so I travel with high quality earplugs and over the ear noise-canceling headphones that, combined, can reduce the ambient roar of an aircraft cabin to a comfortable hum.

Of late, I’ve been on flights where the sound of the flight attendants over the PA system was loud enough to sound like the attendant was shouting directly into my ear despite having two layers of sound protection.  So, I decided to gather some data on my next flight. Continue…

How to train for Ironman while doing a startup

2015-01-06 by Darren Nix

Stylish calf art

The race I’m training for, an Ironman, consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run.  Pros will average around 9 hours and 20 minutes to the finish line, but I’m an age group triathlete. That means that just finishing the race is often enough; finishing in the top third of my age group would be a great day.

During each race, I try to ignore the hundreds of younger and fitter racers flying by. I’m just trying to keep up with the other guys in M30-34; you can tell who they are by the color-coded swim caps and the conspicuous 30-something numbers written on their calves in magic marker.  For us, the race will last a little over 12 hours, during which time we will burn 8,000 calories and eat 4,000 calories of Clif Bar, Hammer Gels, Perpetuem liquid nutrition, bananas, potatoes, oranges, Gatorade’s, and flat Cokes — whatever our stomachs will tolerate.


When you have to wake up earlier than usual. A tip for insomniacs.

2014-12-27 by Jason Freedman


Some of you know, I’ve dealt with some pretty significant sleep issues, including some pretty bad delayed sleep phase syndrome. My long term solution is light regulation. And light regulation, along with lots of other healthy sleeping habits generally works for maintaining a healthy, consistent sleep schedule. All those efforts keep me within the normal band of what the world considers healthy times to wake up and go to sleep.

My wife may still go to sleep three hours earlier than I do, but at least I’m no longer up until 5 a.m. All of which has been very good. If you currently struggle with sleep issues, especially delayed sleep phase syndrome, definitely check out my recommendations on how to solve for it with light.

But none of that work makes me like the morning any more. I still hate morning, but instead of hating them at 11:30 a.m., I can adjust my schedule to hate them at say 7:30 a.m. which itself is a massive accomplishment. And as long as I stay consistent, I can generally adjust that time to be whatever I want.

But even with this progress, I;ve struggled with those rare times when I have to get up significantly earlier than I am used to. For instance, when I have to catch an early plane.

Waking up extra early has always been a source of great anxiety for me because usually I am waking up extra early because of something that is important in my life. I remember being in college and extra early was 8:00 a.m. I had this student government committee meeting that was really important to me. And so to be able to wake up at 8:00 a.m., I had to pull off extraordinary means.

Because I didn’t trust myself to be able to get up with enough time to make it to an 8:00 a.m. meeting, I would simply stay up all night. I would have this euphoric sense of alertness after being awake for that long and then I would crash right afterwards.

That may have worked in college. But it’s bat-shit crazy. And there’s no way I want to be doing all-nighters anymore.

So I just learned this awesome trick on how to wake up extra early. It works freakishly well. So well, in fact, that I’m stunned that I’m only just now learning it at age 35.

The key is waking up hungry on a low carb diet. I’ve tested this several times now, and if I have a medium size dinner at say 6 p.m. with few carbs in it and have no snacking before I go to sleep, I will go to bed slightly hungry. By the time I get to 6 a.m., I’m famished and I wake up naturally. And I wake up not only hungry but also alert and feeling strangely good. It’s a really enjoyable feeling.

The carb part matters. If I have enough carbs in my system, I don’t wake up feeling that way. But it can’t just be low carb, I actually have to be hungry. I’ve been doing it for the last several weeks straight and now that I’m accustomed to it, I’m kind of addicted to it.

There is one obvious challenge – I had to learn how to go to sleep hungry. It’s actually not that bad if you can get over the first few days of it. The first few days you will probably struggle to sleep at all, but once you get used to it, it’s actually a refreshing feeling as you look forward the next morning to springing out of bed and having a huge breakfast.

I’m not really sure if I can keep this up long term, but I know at least for now what to do when I have a super early flight or an important early morning meeting in the office. Fasting the night before and staying away from both carbs and alcohol pretty much guarantees that I’m going to be able to wake up feeling good.

Give it a try.

Discuss on Hacker News.

Repaired with gold

2014-12-22 by Jason Freedman


Two years ago, my cofounder Justin came to me and told me that our listings data was a complete shit show.

We were getting office space listings from landlords through email blasts, websites and phone calls. We were also getting office space listings from brokerages through different websites, emails, and phone calls. And everything was in conflict.

For instance, we may pull a listing off a landlord’s website and later that week receive that listing in an email blast from their broker. In the course of calling to update listings, we might also get some information on that listing from a different broker at the same brokerage firm. And each of those data sources was likely to be different with no clear way to resolve their conflicts. And this was happening across thousands of brokerages and landlords.

The system we built for managing all this data had never envisioned the current reality: that we needed to maintain many different versions of the same listing so that we could learn how best to choose amongst them. And thus, the shit show.


Imposter Syndrome

2014-12-15 by Jason Freedman



In May 2009, I walked into Y Combinator. My company, FlightCaster, had just gotten accepted and this was our intro session to the group. And kind of like the Dean of Admissions on the first day of freshman orientation, Jessica got up and recounted a bunch of stats about how cool our summer 2009 batch of Y Combinator was.

this company is taking on Google Analytics…(MixPanel)

and this company already has 1 million downloads…(Bump)

and this company will change banking forever…(WePay)

and on and on…


Becoming more formidable

2014-12-05 by Jason Freedman


“The founder who handles fundraising should be the CEO, who should in turn be the most formidable of the founders.”

-Paul Graham in his epic Fundraising How To guide

 inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable.



As a startup founder, the idea of pitching was always compelling.  I just knew that if I could get in front of the right people, I could personally persuade them.  So when I was getting ready to pitch FlightCaster during the 2009 YCombinator demo day, I knew it was my time to shine.

When I got up to the stage, I was able to tell a story and wow the audience. In fact, one of the other founders told me afterwards that he felt like I could sell anything,

It was a good moment.

Continue… Reborn. Actually, better.

2014-12-03 by Jason Freedman



I bet a lot of you remember that app called It was a little startup that hooked into your various calendars and would allow people who wanted to make an appointment with you to self-schedule times in your open slots. It got all the little user experience pieces right such that I found that lots of people were simply sending their private link every time they wanted to schedule an appointment.

But this was like five years ago, and then Blackberry bought them. And then as so often happened, they stagnated. Finally, several years ago Blackberry discontinued and all of us went back to the myriad of crappy ways that we manage scheduling.

There are a lot of methods and apps out there that people use. I wanted to take a few minutes and alert you to Calendly. It’s basically reborn. They could very well object to that statement because the reality is the UI and overall experience is much better. But for those of you who were fans, you will recognize it immediately. Continue…

Sort of Obstreperous

2014-11-25 by Jason Freedman


I fucked up with one my co-workers here at 42Floors.

I had to apologize and take it all back.  At least I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity.  My big transgression?

I tried to tell him what to do. Continue…

Surviving the Series A Crunch

2014-11-19 by Jason Freedman

'So, it's taken you six months to finally finish the report on our financial crisis and your solution is: 'We need to make more money'.'


I just had a crappy conversation with a good friend of mine. It’s the third crappy conversation I’ve had in the past week, so it’s probably time to write a post about this.

My friend did Y Combinator with me, raising a-million-and-a-half with a good valuation from good investors. He’s now coming towards the end of that runway. He called me to talk about fundraising. We actually use his product and like it. So I’m not only a fan of his personally, but I like what he’s doing.

I asked his to give me the rundown on the metrics.

$50,000 a month in revenue, growing 9% month-over-month

Headcount of 8, mostly engineers

All in, $90,000 a month in costs, $40,000 a month burn

$160,000 in the bank, 4 months of runway left

From his perspective, things were finally on track. After some strategy shifts in product and working through some cofounder issues, things were finally feeling really solid in the company. Anecdotally, he knew that customers were really happy with him and his revenue number kept growing. Fifty thousand dollars a month is proof that real people were paying for his product. And with $160,000 in the bank, he felt like he still had plenty of runway left. Fundraising took a month or two during the seed round and he’s got four months left, so thus the reach out to begin the process.

For a few minutes, I walked the fine line of congratulating him on all the progress before diving into the meat of the issue. And that is this:


You’re only doing medium well. And medium well might not get you anywhere.


The Math of Split Testing Part 3: The Chance of being Similar

2014-06-24 by Aaron O'Connell

Sometimes we want to verify that a new design will convert at nearly the same rate as an old design. Split tests of this type are not intended to find conversion rate wins, but rather to ensure that the new design is not “too much worse” than the old design. Here, we demonstrate how to analyze a split test of this sort and present an approximate formula to quickly calculate the chance that there is an acceptable difference between the conversion rates of the new and old designs.

Let’s say that we think that the design of our website is starting to look a little outdated and needs to be redone. In this scenario, we’re not really looking to increase conversion rate. We’d be happy to keep our current conversion rate and just make the website look a little more hip. To verify that our new design (branch B) converts at a similar rate Continue…