Name + Nickname: Michael Norton + @TheRedHype

Tagline: Actually Pretty Legit

Hometown: Seattle // San Diego

Current location: American Airlines

EP: What are you currently doing with your life? (Ah…a question for the ages, this.)

MN: For the past eight months or so I’ve been traveling throughout the United States and Canada. I facilitate a Startup Weekend event in a different city each weekend. During the week I explore the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. I immerse myself in startup communities to learn from and work alongside a wide range of people. I want to understand the challenges which are common to all of us and those which are unique to each city. I give as much as I can to each community out of the experiences I’ve accumulated along the way.

EP: You’ve been to Fargo before. What are you most excited about revisiting?

MN: Oh, many things—mostly people! I’m eager to sip some coffee at Twenty Below. I’m excited to experience Fargo about thirty degrees warmer than it was last time I was there. I hope to catch some great live acoustic music, eat some “ugly food,” hang out at the Prairie Den, laugh a lot, and dream with a lot of wonderful people at Startup Weekend! I wouldn’t complain about visiting a certain Scandinavian style Sauna again.


EP: In all the events you have facilitated, what are some mistakes you see over and over which participants should avoid?

MN: One of the biggest mistakes we make is fearing mistakes, or making a big deal out of them. For some of us that fear is paralyzing and we rarely act. For others it manifests as an unwillingness to be wrong or change. Startup Weekend is a great place to practice testing our assumptions about new businesses ideas.

If you haven’t been to a Startup Weekend before, I highly recommend you take 15 minutes and read this attendee FAQ page. It’s extremely helpful to set your expectations and prepare for the weekend.

EP: Next time you participate in Startup Weekend, what idea will you pitch?

MN: The best ideas often arise out of our own real problems. My biggest challenge over the last year has been sustaining meaningful relationships with an overwhelming number of amazing people.

Determined to attempt an unscalable thing, I’ve hacked together workflows for sustaining personal relationships with a combination of productivity tools like text expansion, templates, macros, simple forms, complex spreadsheets, metadata in my address book, and smart social media monitoring. I’m considering what the ideal personal relationship management system might look like and whether it’s different enough from a CRM to warrant proposing a unique product.

On one hand I suppose my own lifestyle has provided a bit of a unique use case, and most people may not need something quite so intense. On the other hand, perhaps that just makes me the perfect test customer for it; if I design a product that meets my needs it’s likely to meet the less relationally demanding need of everyone else as well.

EP: What are some side projects you’re working on and feeling energized about?

MN: I’m super excited about several projects! If you’re into drones, tools for exploring business models, integrated home monitoring systems, or podcast interviews with international illustration artists, you should follow me on Twitter or something.

I’m helping my brother Patrick at Citizen Recording in San Diego. Citizen primarily records music, but we produce content for many other applications as well. We want to work with more authors and publishers on audiobooks. We’d like to work more in the video game and film industries. I’m also developing offerings that go beyond sound recording into branding, merchandising, marketing and other services which independent musicians need.

I enjoy trading thoughtful letters with pen pals. I like fun stationery and nice writing utensils. I’m about to launch a fun Kickstarter campaign in which I offer to send people postcards and more from the interesting places I visit. I’m calling the project Ink Paper Stamps. If such a thing interests you, follow along here.


Mr. Red Hype will be facilitating North Dakota Women’s Startup Weekend on April 22-24! We can’t wait to have him. Look for him at 20 Below Coffee or meet him at the final presentation, Sunday April 24, at 5:00 PM.

Feature photo courtesy of Startup Weekend Michigan.

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Marisa Jackels