Quipol Blog

Stories, announcements, and irreverence from Max Yoder of Quipol.

An End and a Start

It’s with a heavy heart and an excitement for the future that I share this news: on April 1, 2014, I will close Quipol’s proverbial doors and shut down the social polling application.

Thousands of you have built polls to learn from and interact with the world, and I want to thank you now for your patronage, your feedback, and all the excitement that you have brought to my life.

I owe you an explanation, so here it is: We’re not out of money, and we’re not out of passion—on the contrary, this journey has ended so that another one can begin.

One and a half years ago, I started building a new application with three other gentlemen, with the hopes of bringing a new level of simplicity, elegance, and usability to business-based education and training. I wanted to take everything I’d learned at Quipol about dead-simple workflows and ease-of-use and bring it to a market filled with products where the opposite was the rule.

The result is a product called Lesson.ly, and it’s working. Over the past year, we have released and iterated upon initial versions of the application, signed client after client, and partnered with an amazing lineup of investors. We are now set to bring a new vision of training and education software to the business world. I would love to run both companies, but there’s just not enough time in the day.

For inquiries about exporting your data, email max@quipol.com before March 25, and we will get you your information.

Again, thank you. If you have any questions, I’m here to help.

—Max

When you hear the insane notion of “legitimate rape” being aired by a Republican congressman — a member of the House science committee no less — it makes you wonder some days how we became the world’s richest, most powerful country, and, more important, how we’re going to stay there. The short answer is that, thank God, there’s still a bunch of people across America — innovators and entrepreneurs — who just didn’t get the word. They didn’t get the word that Germany will eat our breakfast or that China will eat our lunch. They didn’t get the word that we’re in a recession and heading for a fiscal cliff. They’re not interested in politics at all. Instead, they just go out and invent stuff and fix stuff and collaborate on stuff. They are our saving grace, and whenever I need a pick-me-up, I drop in on one of them.

I like Google’s apparent approach to its iPhone apps’ icons. It seems like they’re using the same black border around their logos to create a family out of disparate services.
It’s the Pokémon effect. You “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” because they make a nice collection and seem to belong together. Maybe I’m the only one with this compulsion, but I definitely downloaded the Shopper app just to even-out that pretty row. Maybe, one day, I’ll use it.
P.S. My background image is tops, huh?

I like Google’s apparent approach to its iPhone apps’ icons. It seems like they’re using the same black border around their logos to create a family out of disparate services.

It’s the Pokémon effect. You “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” because they make a nice collection and seem to belong together. Maybe I’m the only one with this compulsion, but I definitely downloaded the Shopper app just to even-out that pretty row. Maybe, one day, I’ll use it.

P.S. My background image is tops, huh?

Math, Art, and the Subject-Expectancy Effect

We teach kids that anyone can be an artist—that it’s a creative, flexible, and accessible medium. We teach math more cautiously: it’s presented as a difficult, rigid, and refined world. I can only wonder if these approaches are truths, or self-fulfilling prophecies.

Excuse the non-sequitor; I’ve had education on my mind.

How Sentiment Works

  • STATLER: Boo!
  • WALDORF: Boooo!
  • S: That was the worst thing I’ve ever heard!
  • W: It was terrible!
  • S: Horrendous!
  • W: Well it wasn’t that bad.
  • S: Oh, yeah?
  • W: Well, there were parts of it I liked!
  • S: Well, I liked alot of it.
  • W: Yeah, it was GOOD actually.
  • S: It was great!
  • W: It was wonderful!
  • S: Yeah, bravo!
  • W: More!
  • S: More!
  • W: More!
  • S: More!

(More) Support

If you’re not at peace with failure, entrepreneurship is going to hit you like a ton of bricks—and it’s going to hurt.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to blaze your trail anyway; I’m simply saying that you should make sure that you have a strong support group in place before you do. A co-founder, your parents, your girlfriend, a mentor, your little sister who thinks you can do no wrong—keep your confidants involved with the process and be open with them about your feelings.

Because no matter how smart you are, you’re going to fail over and over again in big and little ways, and that support group will be the one thing that preserves your perspective and keeps you from cracking.

If you haven’t noticed, this is a note that I wish I would have read before I started Quipol. Luckily, over time, my support group formed itself.

"Who the hell is in charge? A bunch of accountants trying to make a dollar into a dollar ten? I want to work; I want to build something of my own. How do you not understand that?"

Hot Damn, I Just Invented Sheet Glass

I don’t begrudge anyone who wants to be disruptive. On the contrary, I applaud their ambition. But disruption is hard to come by, and, as entrepreneurs, it can’t be our sole motivation. As I’ve stated before, too many talented people are sitting on the sidelines waiting for that disruptive idea that never comes. And that’s a shame.

My take on this reality is that we need to be more incrementalist in nature. We should applaud and recognize when talented people set their sights on obvious, noteworthy problems that are in need of more elegant and more usable solutions. It’s my belief that these pursuits are just as likely to throw markets into a frenzy as their purposefully disruptive counterparts. Their core advantage, however, is that the bar is not set so dauntingly high. With incrementalism, we can invent without the weight of worry that we’re not being clever or unique enough. We can compete with reality—not the legends of Edison and Jobs.

When I discuss the importance of incrementalism, I usually reference glass—that stuff in our windowpanes, our computer chips, our cookware, and our neon bar signs.

Here’s why: As far as we can tell, man-made glass came into existence around 3,500 BC in Eastern Mesopotamia and Babylonia. It took another 5,200 years for the French to come along and develop plate glass, which resulted in lower production costs and more reasonable glass prices. It wasn’t for another century, though, circa 1838, that the British pioneered sheet glass, and prices plummeted to the point that, as Bill Bryson puts it, glass could finally be “produced economically in limitless volumes.”

If you read about these two advancements, you might say, “Dang, those Frenchies and Brits sure disrupted the glass market!”

I’d argue otherwise.

By the time the French and British began their advancements, the craftsmen of days past had already figured out how to rid glass of its pesky greenish tint; they had already created formulas that gave their glass considerably greater flux, lightness, and durability; they had already invented Cristallo; and they had already discovered and progressed the glass grinders and polishers.

The French and the British simply recognized the advancements of civilization (e.g., compressed air technology, more efficient furnaces), and they exploited them in their glass-making exercises. When put into context it was a slow and steady growth that gave us what has become one of our most essential substances.

Critics will probably argue that incrementalism is just a re-framing of the disruption conversation. That’s not really my concern. My concern is that we lower the bar for innovation and foster an environment where someone can get out the greenish tint, the next guy can add the ash to increase the flux, the next guy can create the hot-enough furnace, and finally, someone can put it all together and go, “Hot damn, I just invented sheet glass.”