8 Weeks Away From Having To Get A Job

The latest episode of TechStars shows the entrepreneurs at week six of the program. It seems that most of the teams are settling in. This episode was filled with many great sound bite gems. It was the Fred Wilson and David Tisch show in this regard. My favorite is this one…

"They're about 8 weeks away from having to get a job."

I love this quote by David Tisch because it highlights a real problem for most entrepreneurs: having a short runway money-wise. Many, many teams face this dilemma.

Here are a few others…

"Don't make it too complicated." Fred Wilson (about the product)

"He is mind numbingly frustrating." David Tisch (about OnSwipe CEO)

"Do they have the entrepreneurial DNA to create an interesting and innovative company?" Fred Wilson

"I've been disconnected with his ability to relate with me as a person." David Tisch (again, about the OnSwipe CEO)

The Themes of this Episode

1. Name issues continue
This week three of the teams officially change their names. Homefield became Shelby.tv. Urban Apt transformed to Nestio and Socrated metamorphosed into Veri. Generally better names. The name change of the latter actually made Fred Wilson proclaim that this made them go "from the outhouse to the penthouse." Wiji's name, although not loved, sticks. For now.

2. CEO leadership

This theme showed up all over the show. Particularly questions about whether the CEO's had the right skills to be a great leader. The questions range from whether a CEO can sell, if another one has the ability to connect with people and yet whether another one can really build a business. We'll see the answers to this soon and I suspect at least one or more of these CEO's will pull through.

3. Pivots

According to Bloomberg, 1/3 of TechStars companies pivot during the program. With Homefield and To Vie For looking at pivots it seems this class is on target with this. Some of the mentor's concerns with the Homefield pivot to a web-wide video recommendation site was that it's a crowded category and whether they had false passion for the category. To Vie For was also looking to pivot but to what? That still remains up in the air. As the CEO said, they're having an identity crisis. Looking forward to seeing what happens.

Pivots are common but tough to navigate. And sometimes they're something more akin to what I like to call Startup Schizophrenia under the guise of a pivot. Preparing a post about this. In the meanwhile, pivots are looking very possible for a number of our TechStars companies.

We'll see how this all plays out.

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TedxBoulder: Time & Change

Last year marked the first for TedxBoulder. Held at Chautauqua, I'd say it was a grand success with a wide variety of interesting topics and speakers. With all the work the organizers have done this year is shaping up to be just as if not even more stellar in its second outing.

The first TedxBoulder was pretty stellar. All of the talks were thought provoking. My favorite below. Even if you're a guy or think you're not interested in Harlequin Romance novels you need to watch this. You're welcome.


This year's theme is…

Time & Change

There will be talks, music and general As I've come to expect, there will likely be a few fun surprises through out the night. Maybe even a bit of free swag. And I hear there's going to be some fun after parties. 

I think there are still a few tickets left. Might want to get on that because  it's a Ted event and when Andrew Hyde and company are involved things tend to sell out.

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What I Read Today

I think the biggest relationship in my life is with…content.

I love reading it, writing it, writing about it. Naturally, it consumes a good portion of my day. Since I have no idea how much consume (except that it's probably massive) I thought I'd record everything I read today. (Emails, tweets and facebook posts that weren't articles or blog posts were not counted) For example, reading a DM from someone who wanted to talk about being a community manager and reading the FAQ on WordPress installs didn't count. Although, if it was a blog post that came directly into my inbox I did count it. Anyway, those are my rules. Here are my tools.

Tools: Evernote and Instapaper were the biggest tools to help me record all my various reads.
How I found my content: Emailed blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

- REM breaks up. Everybody hurts…sometimes.

- And another one just because I'm so sad about the breakup.

- Heard about new funding for TechStars companies first from Andrew Hyde courtesy of an email in my inbox with this post.

- Two posts by Mark Suster on anger including a story about floaties in the pool. Not the kind you wear for buoyancy.

Whew. That's  a lot of reading. Time for a wee break. Here are a few photos I took today.

Back to some good reads.

- Found out that my friend Alex's company Next Big Sound is in the running for the best young entrepreneurs. Vote for them! I'm sure they'll throw us a big party if they get selected. Um, right?

- Starting Your Dream Job by Wendy Lea. Read this one because I saw my friend Josh Fraser mention her and found out she was one of his advisors through this article.

– Another announcement about new funding for TechStars companies courtesy David Cohen. Wanted to see if there were more details.

– One of the most prolific writers I know is at it again with We Are All Weird. Love the title. Love the author (Seth Godin).

– Really enjoyed, Blissciple about Grace Boyle's upbringing in TM (Transcendental Meditation). I adore Grace and have spent a good amount of time in her town and around the TM community so it was an especially fun read.

- A letter to the CEO of Netflix from DVD's on Mashable. My favorite line: "Oh Reed, how soon you’ve forgotten to think like a customer."

- Most economically vibrant college towns. I read it because Ryan McIntyre shared it on twitter and it's about Boulder.

– A post about Argan Oil on Aging Ungracefully. If I were editing what I read I might take this one out because it makes me seem shallow (which I'm not) or overly concerned with aging (As a single woman, I am a little). But I'm not censoring so it stayed.

– How to Market Your Business Using Video. This came from Trada's Cracker Jack Marketing team. Who also happen to be my friends. Loving this new series.
 
- Why Wait. Another Seth Godin goodie. This isn't the first time I've read it. I kept in my inbox to remind me to keep pushing to deliver even though the deadline is far off.

– Yet another article on Netflix er, Qwikster's new name.

- An interesting post about the role of content in social media.

- A late night post about the coming Facebook Apocalypse left me wondering what impact this would have on companies who use this platform as a critical path for connection with their community.

– Loved this Techstars send-up by Jason Mendelson so much that I thought you should watch it too. It's at the end of this post.

Tally
Total # of posts: 19

# of posts about…
- Entrepreneurs: 6
- Marketing: 4
- TechStars: 3
- R.E.M.'s breakup: 2
- Facebook Apocalypse: 1

Whew. That was a lot of reading. And posting. I think I need to take a break. Time for a book.


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TechStars Ep. #2: Naming and Gaming and Rookies, Oh My!

Warning: Spoilers ahead! Don't read if you don't want to know who's zooming who on the TechStars series.

My DVR1 300x300 TechStars Ep. #2: Naming and Gaming and Rookies, Oh My!I watched the show live but DVR'ed it as well so I could watch it again. As you probably know already, TechStars feels like family to me so seeing their name on my DVR list rocks. These guys make the me even more proud to be a member of the tech startup community. The show is really well done and pretty realistic. Props to Bloomberg.

As for my list of shows–yes, I am a romantic at heart who loves romantic comedies and Glee. Who doesn't love a little singing and dancing? Now that that's out of the way. On to my thoughts on the second episode of TechStars on Bloomberg TV.

Let's focus on themes from tonight's show. As the program gets started, this show focused a bit more on some of the potential pitfalls the companies might fall into. So, the themes reflect that. In case you haven't seen the show here it is.

 

1. Rookie Confidence

The show highlighted this theme nearly from minute one. Many entrepreneurs have tons of confidence when they start their first entrepreneurial venture. You need to have this in order to push through the tough times and take the risks required. Confidence is good, cockiness can get you into trouble at times as the episode shows. As the mentors said a number of times, having humility is super important. Having humility keeps you grounded, realistic and helps you build strong relationships with others. All of the TechStars graduates I know are really humble and down-to-earth so I'm betting some humility will show up soon in these teams as well.

2. Names Matter

Wiji was praised having "great product, humility, boundless passion and energy and something that's really fucking cool" according to mentor Roger Ehrenberg. Which is absolutely true. They're great guys who are wicked smart and created cool technology (I've seen it in action). And, everyone universally hated their name. David Cohen put it on his Top 5 All-Time Worst Names list while Ehrenberg thought it sounded like a disease "Oh, my Wiji."

Yep. Names matter. You've seen all the brouha-ha about the name of Netflix new spin-off Qwikster right? Getting the name right can be tricky but critical. Luckily, the team recognized this and went back to their original name which is pretty solid. Based on the amount of research I had to do to locate these companies using their current names I'm pretty sure we'll see a number of  name changes along the way as well.

Bloomberg Fact: A third of the companies change their name at some point during the program.

3. Know Your Market

Team Home Field was contemplating a switch from a focus and passion for sports to building a media business–an industry they don't know–on the advice of their mentor Fred Wilson. I hear they're doing well so I'm curious to see where they go with this. By the way, eats Reece Pacheco (the CEO of this team) the screen like it's for dinner. He's very compelling to watch.

Both Urban Apt and To Vie For (who has a great name by the way) were also facing the challenge of working in an industry they didn't know well. Being an outsider to an industry can definitely allow you to find fresh new approaches to old problems because your lens isn't jaded or rigid. But if not careful, you can shoot your business right in its bottom line. Thinking you can change an industry from the outside sometimes comes from naivete. Other times it's more arrogance. And sometimes, you really can. You have to learn the balance between a fresh perspective and relevant knowledge of the market. I think some of these teams have the chance to do this.

I love what David Tisch (loosely) said about this: You have to know how to do it and why you're the one to do it."

4. Gaming is a BIG Trend

At least two of the companies talked about it tonight (To Vie For and Socrated). Although they knew adding this dimension would help their company, neither was very experienced with it. This prompted Gary Vaynerchuk to really, really, really, really, really, really highly suggest Socrated get an advisor on their board who has experience with companies like Zynga. That was 6 really's if you're counting. One of my favorite moments of the show. I asked Tisch what he thinks about this trend on the Facebook chat after the show

Screen shot 2011 09 20 at 8.02.44 PM1 TechStars Ep. #2: Naming and Gaming and Rookies, Oh My!

 

 

 

 

His answer is spot on. Looking forward to see how these companies use gamification to support their overall goals.

Front Runner So Far?

Wiji. Just to reinforce that? They got to visit their dream mentor and were featured on ABC News today for their Minority Report like view of the future. Super proud of these guys. Looking forward to seeing some of these other companies really start to rock. Although it's not the same as being at the Boulder Theater with everyone, I'll be on my couch next Tuesday cheering at the TV whenever Jason and team comes on the screen.

Props Go To…

All of the teams. I applaud these teams for allowing a camera to follow them around documenting their TechStars experience. Startups are hard at their foundation. Add a challenging program like TechStars and a camera on top of that? That's gotta be a pretty intense experience. I'm grateful they were willing to put themselves and their companies out there so we can learn from them. Well done all.

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There Is No Pink Tech Ghetto

Screen shot 2011 09 18 at 12.42.57 PM2 There Is No Pink Tech Ghetto

This tweet kicked off a storm of reactions all over the interwebs. I won't capture all of the reactions here but will highlight one interesting post in particular.  Tara Hunt, CEO of Buyosphere and missrogue on Twitter, wrote a great piece on Women 2.0 questioning if there's A Pink Collar Tech Ghetto? This part of her post is particularly interesting.

Screen shot 2011 09 18 at 12.55.07 PM1 There Is No Pink Tech Ghetto

I love Tara's sentiment. And, I'm not ready to add "pink" to the list of verticals. I don't necessarily think that women are limited to a pink ghetto in tech. In my circle of friends & acquaintances there are a number of women founders of tech businesses. In 60 seconds I can think of women entrepreneurs in: Blogging, Education, Food, Housing, High Speed Video and Social Media. Hmm. Those aren't only "pink" verticals.

All of these women (who I've met personally) are simply focused on their business and having an impact. I guarantee you they're not worried about whether the work they're doing is too "female."

- Holly Hamann of The Blog Frog just partnered with ABC news to launch the Million Moms Challenge. Yes, there babies are involved but the goal is to help raise awareness about moms and babies in developing countries. That's about humanity and um, aren't we all concerned about that?

- Deanna Bennett's Rent Monitor helps make it easy to be landlord. Full of small business owners operating with limited budgets often while doing it as a side business this is important. And I'm pretty sure the housing industry isn't female dominated.

- Emily Olson's Foodzie provides a great channel for small producers & growers in the food industry to get more exposure, distribute their goods and grow their business. (I'm a part of their monthly tasting box program and man do they know how to select good food).

- A learning through creativity site, Kerpoof was doing such amazing things that CEO Krista Marks sold the business to Disney while still retaining the reins of the business. Last I checked, that was a pretty awesome feat.

- Char Genevier is the brains behind the technology at Social Engine which aims to help social media managers. The whole business is predicated on helping people in the social space have a bigger impact with their chosen audience. And? Half of the ones I know are actually men.

- One of my best friends, Kim Curtis, is the CTO and founder of a dRNOME, a high tech video storage company whose technology provides high speed video analysis and encrypted storage.  I'm sure she'd talk about this but…she's too busy focused on her product so that coaches and athletes can perfect sports performance and government agencies can improve in their ability to protect our country.

Like my friend, I don't think most of these women have given much head space to this topic. They're too busy having an impact in an area they're passionate about. Funny thing? This is just a small slice. There are plenty more like them. Are some of the women fronted startups about dating or clothes or makeup? Sure. But that doesn't mean women are limited to some sort of pink ghetto. It just means they're like any entrepreneur who follows their passion in something that interests them.

I'm not mad at Jolie O'Dell. She was simply venting her own spleen. The heart of her frustration I think is wanting more for women. I can agree with that. Sure there are inequities in tech. I just want the conversation to change. As in my favorite movie The Matrix you can't focus on bending the spoon. There is no spoon. My challenge to everyone?

Stop focusing on the pink tech ghetto.

Try to realize the truth.

There is no pink tech ghetto.

Stop whining about the problem of women entrepreneurs. Go find them. Support them. Highlight their impact. And? Focus On Having Your Own Impact.

All the women in this post are creating something that can have a lasting impact. That's what really matters, not whether they work in pink industries or whether their startup would wear a pink t-shirt if it could. Whatever your gender…

Having an impact is what entrepreneurship is really about.

That's what I want to talk about. So, if you're an entrepreneur I'd love to feature the impact you're having on this blog.

P.S. Wearing pink is not a requirement.

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Things That Are Macgyvered #68

If you know me at all you know that my dad is engineer who finds it fun to rig things together so that they work better. One day when he was visiting I came home to find every cord in my house duct-taped down and fixed the broken spring on the lid of my garbage can with a paper clip. True story. Lie detector me.

Although this makes me blush I have to admit that I am just like my father. In this regard. I do not wear pocket protectors. I love to Macgyver things. It's a fun and useful skill. I once received a bracelet that didn't fit right so instead of getting rid of it I Macgyvered it by making it a necklace for my Buddha. Problem solved. I've been known to attach a heating pad to my back with a binder clip so that I could still work. I've even Macgyvered a bad dating situation. My definition is anything that helps you get out of a sticky situation.

Macgyvering is really more of a spirit than the letter type of thing.

Given the number of times I tweet, say this word or take photos of things that are Macgyvered I thought I'd start a new type of post.

Things That Are Macgyvered

Macyvering is not always linear.  So although this is actually the first post, in the spirit of Macgyvering all things I'm calling it #68. Who knows? Maybe the next post will be #3. The inspiration for this inaugural post came from my friend Chris (aka Ruckus on the Twitters). Since they didn't have an accurate name tag for his needs at the TechStars Smackdown last night he Macgyvered one to suit his purposes. Well done my friend.

IMG 2750 Things That Are Macgyvered #68


As you can see by my friend's ingenuity you don't have to be able to diffuse an explosive device to be a Macgyverer. If you got out of a sticky situation, that counts as a Macgyver in my book. And I know there are plenty of examples of Macgyvering in the startup world.

Have a picture or story of something you've Macgyvered? 

Send it along–I'd love to share it.

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TechStars Mayhem: Celebrating a Community

IMG 2764 TechStars Mayhem: Celebrating a CommunityBoulder is an outstanding place to live because of it's an entrepreneurial enclave. Being nestled up right against the Rocky Mountains doesn't suck either. Last night was a big one for my fair city with the premier of the TechStars show on Bloomberg TV.

TechStars feels like my family. Even though I'm not a graduate of the program, some of my clients are and I count many friends among their number. But that's not why it feels that way. There's something special about it that not every company has.

 

TechStars is more than a company.

It's a movement.

It's a community.

I commend David Cohen, Brad Feld, Jared Polis, Nicole Glaros, Andrew Hyde and the many mentors for creating such a strong community where the attitude is welcoming, generous and always fun where they never take themselves too seriously. Although they had turned down opportunities to film the program before, they finally took Bloomberg TV up on the opportunity during the inaugural NYC class this past winter. The result is a 6 week series.

Techstars hosted a fun night of mayhem at the Boulder Theatre to commemorate the premier. I was lucky enough to be able to attend. It was a lively evening of sound bites and on camera drama. Just before the premier we had a chance to see the hilarious short I'm a VC written by Jason Mendelson featuring the Foundry Group. If you haven't seen it before or are like me and never get tired of seeing Seth eat sushi out of a car window, here it is.

 

This tongue planted firmly in cheek short film is something I could watch over and over again. Um, and actually have.  If you look closely you can catch cameos by some of Boulder's local entrepreneurs. After that it was on to the first episode of TechStars.


 

Some of my favorite moments:

- "You're not here because of your ideas. We didn't fund your idea. We funded you." David Cohen and "At the core of what we're doing is picking people. We're betting on people." David Tisch. This is such a key element to the TechStars program and to entrepreneurship. It's also one of the things people are most likely to neglect to consider when forming their startup. Which is a bad idea. People first. Then the idea.

- When one of the companies likened David Cohen to The Oracle in The Matrix. My favorite movie of all time and a pretty apt way to describe him from my experience.

- Mentor whiplash. Not the first time I've heard that term but always makes me smile in recognition when I hear it. I'm hoping they talk more about it this season as learning how to be discerning with all the advice you get to discover patterns that emerge and make decisions to move your business forward is critical for entrepreneurs.

- Any moment when David Tisch is onscreen. That man is the king of the sound bite. I had heard that he is bright and very direct in his assessments. I also learned that he's funny. I can't wait to see more of him this season.

After the show premiered David Cohen and Brad Feld held a Q&A session. Their answers were incredibly insightful and of course, funny. Sadly I missed getting one of the funny moments of the night camera. It's right after the clip below. Let's just say the answer involved something about porn and knowing an entrepreneur when you see one. You had to be there.

Anyway, here's the clip which has some great advice for inspiring entrepreneurs who want to apply to the program. Apologies for the shaky camera work and any ensuing nausea. My arms were getting tired from holding up the camera at that point. Watch it for the advice.


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Why Technology Has Doomed My Dating Life

Scene: I'm all dudded up and ready for my date. As soon as I walk into the restaurant I immediately whip out my iPhone so I can begin checking in and recording the evening.

- Check–in on FourSquare to get points. Find out I won (or lost) a mayorship.

- Soundtrack my  new song so I can remember to buy it in iTunes.

- Fork my food on Forkly so the app can make recommendations for me later.

- Hash the three people I ran into on Hashable.

- Take photos of the great decor so I can Instagram it.

- Tweet an OH about the funny thing my date or the person at the next table has said.

Screen shot 2011 09 11 at 4.52.31 PM Why Technology Has Doomed My Dating Life

 

IMG 2669 Why Technology Has Doomed My Dating LifeOf course, then my phone starts to blow up with people on Forkly who "Want" my delicious drink or people who "Like" my photo of the beautiful bathroom or friends who make follow-on jokes about my OH. This is when I hide my iPhone in my back pocket and sneak it the bathroom so I can reply to those friends or write down a funny tidbit for my next blog post, And, of course, hope I don't drop the phone into the toilet.

In between all this digital activity I try to get to know the person next to me. Which I probably don't do very successfully. Unless they're a geek too and are as socially focused as I am. I'm not complaining about all of these digital distractions. I actually enjoy doing these things. I love the social connection, the creativity of the photos and pithy statements to go with them and of course…those points.

While the digital downpour stops about 1/4 of the way through the date,  it doesn't leave as much time for connecting with my date, who wants to get to know me. I'm guessing he probably doesn't appreciate it nearly as much. It probably feels like he's on a date with 30 people. Um. That's not fun. One date actually complained about this out loud. We weren't a match. But that was because he was Mr. Grabby Hands, not because of our difference in technology. But that's whole other story.

Back to this one. I'm sure other dates haven't loved it but were just too gracious to say something. It's no wonder I have a hard time dating anyone but the most understanding geek.

Yep.  Technology. My use of Technology has doomed my dating life.

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Lucky Girl #1

For the past 15 years I've had a daily practice of writing down things I was proud of myself for doing and what I'm grateful for. I call these acknowledgements (proud of ) and gratitude & abundance (grateful for). Whenever I do it my attitude is much better and my world just seems to magically improve. When I get into the habit regularly I find that I start to look for things to happy about so that I can record them. And then, viola! Magical and amazing things seem to happen.

I typically like to record all the ways I'm happy or lucky at the end of each day in a cute little notebook. This private celebration works pretty darn fine. But given my love of community and the fact that I spend like a bajillion hours online each day I thought it might be fun to share them here in a public and creative way.

So, I'm starting a new kind of post I'll call Lucky Girl.

It might be short. It might be a photo. It might be a pretty easter egg. Well, it probably won't be the last one since sharing edible food over the internet hasn't happened…yet. For now Lucky Girl will just be focused on gratitudes. I hope this inspires you to find ways that you're lucky as well. OK. Enough preamble. On to the inaugural post.

Lucky Girl #1

This first gratitude is actually in 3 parts. Most gratitudes will typically be about one thing. Wait, how do I know what's typical? Anyway, here it is.

1. Tara. A dear friend and one of the most smart, hilarious and down-to-earth women I know. Time with her always makes me smile? Don't know her? On the Twitters she's known as @tarable.  Also? Tall Tara.

2. Happy Noodle/Bitter Bar. This is the place where I'm Norm. Just switch the beer for high-end well crafted cocktails. Amazing food, great place to dine alfresco, great libation specialists like Mix Master Mark, one of my favorites. And? How can you not love a place whose name is such a study in contrasts?

3. Mayorships.

Dog Tiara 3 Lucky Girl #1I stole the Mayorship of Happy Noodle/Bitter Bar on FourSquare. I meant to get a screen shot to commemorate my win but I got so excited about bragging about it on Twitter that I forgot. Yes, yes. It's a little thing on a site that most would say really doesn't mean alot. But it was fun. Let's face it, getting rewarded even for something meaningless still feels good. It's a small accomplishment. Now, if it only came with a tiara. And one of their yummy libations. I mean wearing something sparkly while drinking something sparkly? That would be just awesome. But…this is about gratitudes.

Today I got 3 of them all wrapped up into one short hour.  A three-fer. (Yes that's the technical term for it) Can't ask for anything better than that. Yes, indeed.

I'm a Lucky Girl.


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Blogging: 10 Years Later

It's been 10 years since I first heard about blogging. Those days I worked at an interactive agency during web 1.0. Back then updating content on a site practically required a degree or at least a minor in programming, so there were very few bloggers out there. OK. Maybe I'm being a bit facetious about the minor in programming but you definitely had to have some knowledge.

I only knew one blogger: Patric King.

He served as the Creative Director on several projects I led. A bang up designer, his voice was very clear–sarcastic, direct with a pretty good amount of bite to it.

His posts always sounded just like how he talked.

Although he worked hard to craft his blogging voice it never felt forced or contrived.

I loved it.

I loved that he  gave himself the freedom to articulate his thoughts even when they weren't NSFW. Which happened quite a bit.

These are some of my favorite posts:

- The one where he makes a packing list sound interesting.  And? You get a good sense of his personality. Through a list. Now that–is good writing.

- This beautiful aching rant is so intimate and raw. It's also right around the time the company we worked for was coming apart at the seams like the rest of those internet companies during the dot bomb. It reminds me of those early heady days on the web.

- Or, this short ditty about names. or, god save my fragile ego.

Sadly, I've fallen out of touch with pk (as he's also known) but thank god for the internets where his voice lives on for me. Although I wouldn't start blogging until a few years later he was my original inspiration.

pk was my blogging hero.

He was my champion for having my own unique voice.

And we all need one of those right?

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