Jeff sits down with TA McCann on this edition of NextCast. The two discuss the future of contact management and social data aggregation, and systems to create optimal health through data. TA shares stories of how he got into tech after years as a professional sailor -- and you can watch the NextCast Extra show to learn how showing up for a 6 am run earned him a powerful mentor.

Here are some of our favorite points from the interview:

  • Relationships are everything. Regular, powerful, and succinct communicationis essential whether you are a CEO looking for an investor, or a product manager working with users or customers. “In tech, too often you immediately start building something without knowing the customer by name,” TA explains, which means working without feedback from the people who use your product.
  • Similarly, an entrepreneur looking for an investor needs to create relationships before they need the money. Find an investor who's right for you and your business based on their history; then contact them and ask for advice and insight before ever asking for money. Show them you can take their advice and prove you are a worthwhile investment; then let them decide.
  • TA's tips for startup success are simple: “You gotta build something.” He goes on, “Start building and shipping product as early as possible” to get customer feedback and make improvements. Focus on building your tribe by communicating with users, customers, and investors and reacting to their feedback; crisp, compelling, and regular communication is key.

About T.A.

Hey, I am T.A. McCann.  I am an entrepreneur living and working in Seattle WA.

I am currently a VP of Product Strategy, focused on Contacts at RIM.

I was the founder of Gist.com (sold to RIM in February 2011) as well as Jump2Go and 3 other web based companies.  I am an active advisor to several startup companies in Seattle including VenpopZooppaThinkfuseand an angle investor via Fouders Co-op and SKV.  I also spent 4 years at Microsoft in various roles on Exchangeand Mobile Service Platforms.

I am also very active with Startup Weekend and Techstars.

Prior to all this startup activity, I was a professional sailor and competed in 2 America’s Cups (won one, lost one) and the Whitbread Round the World race.

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