Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Meet my Mom: The Christmas Baby

It’s a great time of year, almost Christmas. It’s special not only because of the Christmas festivities but also because it’s my Mom’s birthday. I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce her to you, she is a very special woman.

The Early Years

Mom’s name is Linda and she grew up in a small town in Georgia. We’re talking really small — less than 3,000 people live there. She married my Dad at a very young age. It was not uncommon for couples to marry young back then, she was only 15. My Mom was a beauty — I’m sure my Dad wanted to take her off the market. By the time she was 24, she had 3 kids, I am the middle child (on the right below).

Mom when she was Young

As was common in the 60’s, my Mom took care of the home. She cooked 3 meals a day. Not small meals, we’re talking incredible meals that normally consisted of a couple of meat dishes, 3 to 4 vegetable dishes and biscuits. She also kept a spotless home. I remember every Saturday was cleaning day, the entire family would pitch in.

Here are just a few things I fondly remember about growing up in our home:

  • Sharing great meals every day
  • Dunking my toast into my coffee then eating it
  • My Mom rubbing my back until I would dose off to sleep
  • Watching I LOVE LUCY and other sitcoms at night
  • Hosting fish fry parties with friends while my Dad played lead vocals in their band
  • Picking vegetables from a huge garden, shelling peas and butterbeans
  • Feeling a sense of being safe and protected

The Middle Years

After the kids were off to school, my Mom started a home business. She was a good seamstress and made clothes for herself and others. I can remember clothes patterns in drawers scattered about the house. From those patterns, she would create nice looking dresses and coats. With a great sense of style, she put all her energy into making these wonderful clothes. Both Mom and Dad were Entrepreneurs, maybe that’s where I learned it.

When I was in middle school, my Dad built a lake house and we spent most of our summers water skiing. Mom was athletic and a good skier, she could ski slalom (on one ski). At age 12, I was the youngest kid on the lake to learn to ski barefoot. It took me an entire summer and lots of knots on my noggin to learn how.  Thinking back, I probably got my love of water and the ocean from my Mom, as she always feels at peace there.

During high school, my Mom opened a clothing store called The Outpost. It was the trendiest store in our town and was a big hit with young adults. I loved it because I got to wear cool clothes to school as a way of advertising. This was yet another example of her entrepreneurial spirit.

The Later Years

After high school, my Dad and Mom parted ways as I went off to college. These were exploratory days for my Mom as she never really got to sow her oats because she married so young. She lived life to the absolute fullest. That’s probably where I get my adventurous side.

Mom Middle Age

For work, Mom retooled her skill set and learned to cut hair. She became part owner in several hair salons over the years and built a good clientele of customers.

More Recently

My Mom turns 73 on Christmas Day and we are planning a visit so that our kids can see her. Here is a recent picture of Mom, my older sister and younger brother. My Mom’s still as beautiful as ever.

Mom Recent

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you!

About Us

Steve and Lynn Miller reached financial independence in 2012 at age 50 and now enjoy traveling, fitness, cycling, photography and lots of other hobbies. If you like this blog, you might also like Steve’s We Retired Early blog where he blogs about lifestyle freedom, financial independence, and cool mobile apps.


Chasing Ghosts in Colorado

Animas Forks: A Colorado Ghost Town

During our 2 week stay in Telluride, Colorado, we started looking around for nearby towns to visit. We happened to find a town with no residents. At least not anymore, it is officially a ghost town.

Animas Forks

Animas Forks was once a bustling mining town. Starting in 1873, the town eventually grew to 30 cabins, a hotel, general store, saloon, and post office.

Animas Forks

They even had their own newspaper “The Animas Forks Pioneer” that lasted about 13 years.

Animas Forks

Stepping inside of the old cabins was a bit eerie, you could imagine families huddled in the small rooms after a long day of mining. Winters would get cold here. One year Animas Forks received 25 feet of snow and residents dug tunnels to get from building to building.

Animas Forks Cabin

Animas Forks officially became a ghost town in 1920 when mining profits began to decline. Luckily, the town is well preserved and gets about 100,000 visitors each year.

Animas Forks

Getting There

Getting to Animas Forks is a bit of a challenge, unless you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle (preferably a Jeep). Animas Forks is located about 12 miles from Silverton, Colorado (about 2 hours from Telluride).

However, driving those 12 miles from Silverton can take about an hour because the road is narrow and rocky. Along the drive, you will see abandoned mines.

Animas Forks

You will also catch glimpses of beautiful waterfalls and incredible views.

Animas Forks Waterfalls

We drove an Audi 4 wheel drive up to the ghost town, but it was a slow bumpy ride. If we had it to do over again, we would have rented an ATV or Jeep in Silverton, that would have made the drive more fun and less rocky.

I’ll leave you with one final picture of our view on the way back down from the ghost town.

Animas Forks View

About this Blog

This blog chronicles the travels of Steve and Lynn Miller, a couple that retired early after selling their software company. If you would like to sign up to receive these blog posts via email, scroll to the top  right sidebar of this page and enter your email address.

If you like this blog, you may also like Steve’s We Retired Early blog where he blogs about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology.

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Podcast: How an Entrepreneur achieved Lifestyle Freedom

Steve Miller Entrpreneur

Jordon Bryant of ChambersDS App Academy just published this podcast with Steve Miller, who built a multi-million dollar software business and sold it in 2009 and retired. After being retired for several years and traveling the world, Steve is now creating mobile apps in between time he spends golfing, boating, cycling and keeping fit.

Ways To Listen To This Episode

About Steve Miller

The guest for this podcast is Steve Miller, an entrepreneur who built the multi-million dollar Pragmatic software and sold it to AutomatedQA, which is now SmartBear Software, in 2009. He has over 24 years of experience in software development, project management, and software architecture.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Steve:
  • 1:23 : Steve gives us a peak in his consulting days with Microsoft and how this influenced him in forming his previous company, Pragmatic Software.
  • 3:21 : The solutions, features and benefits of their software, and the pivots they had made to fully develop their company including branding and building up clients to make the business viable. These strategies resulted to winning awards and, in turn, made them more attractive to other companies.
  • 06:16 : How they ended up being acquired by creating strategic partnerships and pre-planning integrations with other vendors with products complimentary to theirs. We also discuss the value exchange that happens during cross promotions and partnerships, not only in terms of revenue, but also when it comes to building relationships.
  • 08:46 : We dig into how he came up with a SMART exit strategy and how he ensured that this buyout plan came into fruition. Steve shares the timelines, starting out by identifying the list of companies which would be a good fit, narrowing them down, reaching out to form a relationship to those which remained as potential candidates and finally achieving the goal of being acquired.
  • 12:07 : Steve explains what a buyout earn out is, as well as the things that companies are looking for before doing acquisitions. He adds that they are not just interested in the product but also, they are interested on what you will bring into the table. As someone who knows your product well, they would look at you to be there to support the transition initially. He also shared pay out terms during their buyout and how they exceeded revenue targets which resulted to bonuses.
  • 14:04 : What Steve is currently doing with his free time including travelling, exploring his hobbies, and finally deciding to enter the mobile app development world.
  • 15:10 : His amusing story of how losing his iPad spurred his genius and resulted to his first app creation, aMemoryJog. He also talks about how travel can change perspectives and about his long-term plans.
  • 18:41 : The structures Steve had in place when he started working with aMemoryJog starting from looking at the competitive landscape, creating a business plan after his analysis, and documenting his processes along the way.
  • 23:53 : Apart from looking at the App Store, Steve also shared his other validation techniques such as having the app reviewed with friends and family and leveraging on his network.
  • 25:21 : How detailing his specifications helped him in landing a good price and using oDesk and Elance services for his app development needs. Steve also shares advice to people seeking development.
  • 27:57 : Steve’s other marketing efforts including reaching out to bloggers to tap them to become beta testers in different silos to get feedback. He also shares how he plans to reach out to them using a template with a YouTube video and how he tracks response rates.
  • 36:10 : Other key take aways that Steve had learned from his first app that he will be applying for the second: driving social virality through sharing capability and establishing good PR.

Rapid Fire Questions

  • Would you put more emphasis on the idea or the execution? How would you weigh each of them why?
    • Everybody has an idea for an app so for me it’s 10% idea, 90% execution.
  • What is your biggest learning lesson on your journey so far?
    • It’s good to localize but you can localize too early.
  • What is your favorite business book?
  • What is your favorite app?
  • What is the coolest thing that you are working on right now that you want everyone to know about?

Links From The Episode

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