I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes this last spring with a few of the team from Power Moves. They wanted to know what it was like to start a software company in Minneapolis.

It has been a rocky road for Fresh Vine – as all start ups. We’ve become profitable and outdone over 95% of startup companies. This interview was a nice time to reflect our experience up to this point.


4 Reasons Suburban churches should stay out of the city

I’ve heard that several prominent suburban churches in Minnesota announcing plans to open locations downtown. As an urban dweller – who is also a missionary and student of the church – I thought I’d share some major reservations about this development. At the core this is an issue of culture and world view.

A mentor taught me about the natural reach every minister has. Someone needs to be able to identify with the Pastor and/or staff of a church. It’s that identification that helps them enter into a transformative pastoral relationship. He spoke of the limit of age, and I believe this extends to culture & world view. Few foreign language churches impact outside of their linguistic group. Each of those churches is an important part of Gods work in the world. Yet, it would be unrealistic to expect a non-native church to impact beyond those who are within its cultural purview. We can express frustration about this, but there are only a few examples to the contrary. Even Jesus was intentional about limiting the scope of his ministry – with only a few exceptions.

We have many biblical examples of people leading their own (David, Jesus, Peter, and more). We also have examples of people leaving their culture to lead others (Moses, Paul, and countless missionaries over the millennium). Underlying these 4 issues is my concern that this cultural divide is all too easily overlooked.

I believe there are 4 major issues separating urban from suburban.

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Custom Link Shortener for SAAS Apps

Ever need a link shortener for a project your working on? Want something you can host? I put something together this weekend specifically designed for saas style companies.

Drop three files into your project, and then make short links to your little hearts desire. The application itself can be hosted on it’s own domain – or within a directory. It allows every link to be connected to a specific customer account, and user id.

You can also add custom variables onto the links themselves for location, person ID, and 3 others (a,b,c). Imagine an email with one link, but being able to track total clicks, and who clicked. Plus we also break down device data, and geo-code the IP address (though that seems a bit inaccurate – eh).

Easy to make custom landing and error pages (just use a folder and it’ll grab and display the content.

Check it out in action here – Landing – error – redirect to the coco site

Grab the Code Here:


Chosen to Pitch at Rise of the Rest

Rise of the RestI’ve been working on a startup, Fresh Vine, for the better part of a decade. Up until this point we have kept what we’ve been doing pretty close to the chest. It wasn’t out of some grand strategy of ours. Rather its from person struggle to not be the slimy person always talking about themselves.

Reality hit earlier this summer. Fresh Vine is amazing. Yes there will always be more to do, and a future that is brighter then today. But we’ve been breaking the odds ever since we started. We’re going to have our best year, and last month was our best month ever.

I made the decision to throw our hat into the Rise of the Rest ring for their $100,000 pitch competition here in Minneapolis. To my delight, I found out earlier today that we were chosen to pitch along side 7-9 others.

It’s time we transform the way that organic non-profit communities run. It’s time to give them tools that will make the corporate world jealous. It’s time to help more of them change the world – one person at a time.

Get Tickets to the Pitch Event and After Party!


jQuery Cache Images plug-in

I’m in the middle of migrating the Check-In application for Fresh Vine from Adobe Air into HTML5 wrapped in QT. One of the things that I love about Fresh Vine is how graphical it is, and that so many people add in their profile photos to their accounts.

One of the challenges in making the HTML5 version of the Check-In is to have it work perfectly offline – including these images. They all have unique URLs that come with the profiles when we sync, so that laid out the challenge: How do we store these locally and reference them.

Turns out making a simple jQuery plugin took care of both of those issues. We are able to reference the images by their URL (no second key) and it allows us to re-use them (since we have default images that we don’t want to download/store hundreds of times).

So maybe you’re playing around with HTML5 and want to be able to use remote images in your app, but store them offline into localStorage – then this is for you. Check it out!

It is pretty much where I want it at. All that is left is to add in an automated quota increaser, and to allow for binding on elements/parents. That last part would make the plugin stupid simple to use since you just attached it to your container [ $(‘#container’).cacheImages(); ] and it would take care of the rest, even with dynamically inserted stuff. But that’s for another night.


Why I gave up my Bike Helmet – and you should too


I enjoy biking into work. It is only a mile and a half, but it is all urban biking next to and in between cars. It’s a fun way to get around town, and it feels great. I also never wear a helmet. There are looks that people give me for it, but it is a conscious decision I’ve made.

Last year I stumbled across research that showed wearing a helmet while biking does little to protect you. That individuals who wore helmets ended up in more accidents than those who did not. It’s very interesting, and counter to the cultural story we are told about bike saftey. There are two articles from earlier this year that describe the issue much better then I can. I encourage you to read them here and here  (also linked to below).

A few quotes for the lazy:

If there was conclusive proof that bike helmets reduce the total number of serious head injuries compared to other normal activities, then I’d reconsider my stance. But if I’m not the kind of person who wears a helmet when I take a walk or get behind the wheel of a car, then there’s no logic to me wearing one when I’m on a bike, particularly if I’m confident in my urban bike safety ability.

Meanwhile the proof is pretty strong that vehicles give me more space when I’m biking without a helmet. In a city biking, that’s the kind of injury I’m most concerned about.

Why it MakesSense to bike without a helmet


Other data shows that despite increased voluntary helmet use by adults in the US and Great Britain, the overall number of cyclist fatalities hasn’t been affected.

On the whole, when large numbers of people begin wearing helmets, we really don’t see a benefit in the head injury or fatality rates.

Stop Forcing People to Wear Bike Helmets

Photo Credit: Henry


Help me Tell Others About the Church Software Guide

Church Software Guide for DummiesThere have been pastors I’ve spoken with who have felt a bit lost when considering software for their church. With so many options out there that it’s overwhelming. It is with that in mind that we created the Church Software Guide: Everything you Need to Know.

The goal is not to dig in deep, but to explain for you the types of church software you should consider. There are nine categories that will have some benefit for your church. Check out the guide, and please pass the link along to your friends in ministry.

If you have a blog please consider writing a short post to encourage people to check it out. If you’re on twitter/facebook/google+ post something encouraging people to check it out.

Thank you so much! We’re really proud of the hard work that went into that guide.


Ignore SSL Certificates in QT

I’ve been rebuilding our check-in application for Fresh Vine this past week in QT. Moving away from Adobe Air has been a while coming since it seems like they are abandoning the environment. Developing our app in HTML5/JS/CSS will allow our team to fix/improve the app more rapidly.

As a part of my dev environment I’m using a locally hosted version of our API (using the Hosts file to direct it local). The issue is that QT checks for the validity of SSL certificates, and I am using a self signed cert in development. Being that my remote file requests come from javascript, I could not simply catch the exception and manually override it. I needed to keep QT from looking for certificates all together.

The below code was difficult to find, so here is to hoping it helps someone else. It alters the configuration of the SSL handler for QT in your app. We are going to comment it out before production to ensure no funny business happens, but for dev this is perfect.

Hope this helps some other poor soul out there strugling to dev out locally. Please don’t leave it in when publishing releases.

The goes at the top of your app’s *.cpp file.

#include <QSslConfiguration>

The goes in your primary app function. I believe the default is main(). I placed it after  `QApplication` and before we instantiated our viewer (`Html5ApplicationViewer` in our case). Setting the PeerVerifyMode allows you to disable any checks for the cert.

int main(int argc, char *argv[]){
    QApplication app(argc, argv);

    // Ignore SSL Errors [Comment out before production]
    QSslConfiguration sslConf = QSslConfiguration::defaultConfiguration();

    // Load the viewer to hold the application
    Html5ApplicationViewer viewer;

Your First 100 Customers: Ideas for Lead Generation and Closing


A group of 50 people collaborated during MinneBar around how to get sales rolling in our start ups. We generated two separate lists to reference when an afternoon becomes open. Make sure to come back to this for reference in the future. If you have more ideas make sure to leave it in the comments and I’ll update the lists.

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Distance to Disruption


We wrote the first lines of Fresh Vine full of audacious dreams. Creating meaningful, intuitive, and powerful software. A tool designed to help communities decentralize their leadership and empower volunteers. This would activate resources towards their mission they had never been able to use before. Leaders loved our dream, our goal, and our approach.

That is not what happened.

We’ve had to become far more subtle in our disruptive approach.

[Read more…]