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HyperX Pulsefire Dart In-depth (as Hell) Review: Wireless Tech that competes that ISN'T Team Blue or Green...Who'da Thunkit...
***I hope you brought your scuba gear boys and girls, we're diving deep.***
About Me: Hand Size: 19.05 x cm x 10.8 cm Current Top 3 Mice: Steelseries Sensei Ten, Endgame Gear XM1, Wicked Bunny Rapid RGB Mouse Pad Used For Testing: Wicked Bunny Sprint (cordura fabric like MP510) Mouse Grip: Relaxed Fingertip, Fingertip
Pulsefire Dart intended Grip styles: Palm and Claw
*NOTE* For anyone asking, "Why would you request a mouse that was obviously not made for your grip style?" I have a simple answer: I like to experiment with unique shapes to see if I can find that "Holy Grail" mouse that was somehow beamed down from space just for me.
Packaging/Unboxing: The packaging for the Pulsefire Dart is average. The outer box isn't made from thick materials and the inner tray holding the mouse doesn't have dense foam for protection. The only thing keeping your mouse from being damaged is the thin box, thin inner tray, and a thin plastic cover that enshrouds the mouse and wireless dongle. Notice that the key word was "thin". I feel for a mouse in this price tier the packaging should be beefed up to prevent damage during shipping. I also feel that the box looks rather plain compared to other competitors. The main colors are white and a bland red color. I think if the box was black and a more vivid blood red the colors would contrast nicely. That would add more "punch" to the packaging and really pull customers in. I do however like that they didn't go overboard with gaming-lingo fluff, that's huge points in my book.
The unboxing experience on the other hand was definitely the most interesting one I've ever had with a mouse. From the moment you break the top seal you can tell this packaging is different. It doesn't use traditional tabs but has springy, origami-like hinges connecting the main box to the lid. After I pulled out the inner tray I thought that it was one piece, but after a few seconds I realized pulling the top and bottom parts of the tray outward opened the whole thing. AND flipped the top of the tray completely over, again, like some kind of origami wizardry. This was very clever and surprised me in a good way. I would honestly trade some of the cleverness for more robust packaging though. If you are the kind of person to store your boxes the top of the main box does not stay closed due to the design. Once you collect everything out of the box you are presented with: the mouse, USB dongle and dongle holder, USB-C extender cable, a card telling you where to go for support, quick-start guide, thank you card, Kingston Tech. internal battery pamphlet, and a red sticker telling you to download the software.
Being thwarted by a box...:[img]https://i.imgur.com/jtvCknR.mp4[/img]
Mouse Dimensions and Shape: The dimensions of the mouse are 124.8mm L x 43.6mm W x 73.9mm. Realistically the grip width is ~65mm. The Dart always makes my hand feel relaxed, even in claw, but I know it's secret. I know that it can kick ass when it needs to. The first time I was caught off guard by a flanker in a PvP game and had to make a wide and fast flick I thought I would undershoot my target, luckily I didn't, but if my hand was more tense I would have. The reason for that is there is a ledge right below the left side grip that zigs outward and sharply zags back towards the base. Like this <. This gives great support to your thumb and nestles it in place, while also keeping your thumb dead center (height wise), no compromises. However it prevented me from grabbing the mouse from the bottom like I prefer, but it felt surprisingly nice to have less tension on my arm as a whole. I've been using mainly ambi mice for awhile and it felt almost like sacrilege playing competitively with a relaxed hand. The mouse was obviously designed for palm or claw grips. Unfortunately for me the mouse was barely too narrow to palm and pure claw just isn't my style, though I did prefer claw to palm on the Dart. I managed to find a comfortable grip just by taking my relaxed fingertip grip and rotating my wrist outward. This is not the best mouse for my grip (since I use my fingers to vertically flick), but it proved to be comfortable nonetheless. I think this mouse is perfect for small hands to palm and medium hands for both palm and claw. I believe it would even fit those that have up to ~19.5-20 mm hands in claw, if your hand width is at max 11 mm and under. A hybrid palm may work if you only rest your upper palm on the mouse. Also, for long hands I recommend to be under 10.5 mm in width for full-palm or palm-claw. This mouse feels right at home while arm or arm/wrist aiming.
Left side angle:[img]https://i.imgur.com/cpPpzAS.jpg[/img]
Right side angle:[img]https://i.imgur.com/rTlCDv2.jpg[/img]
Top down (tilted backward):[img]https://i.imgur.com/E6IAXNs.jpg[/img]
Ledge and side grip texture (sneak peak at one of the cons, can you guess?):[img]https://i.imgur.com/0P99iNt.jpg[/img]
How I grip the mouse:[img]https://i.imgur.com/TfIBEp8.mp4[/img]
Coating and Side grips: The top coating is matte and out of the box it feels a touch slippery. But, once your hand warms up and a bit of your natural hand oils get on the mouse it feels nice and grippy. The coating does show fingerprints, but somehow they are barely visible. Light has to hit them from a very specific angle to see them, and even then they are still hard to see. The sides of the mouse are more reflective but acts as more of a boarder around the side gripes (you don't really touch them).
The side grips are interesting. They are supportive and firm, but also have some cushion. Unless you're gripping really hard though you may not even notice. They are unique because they are made from a grippy leatherette material. Don't think that it will feel exactly like real leather though, it is more textured than that (thankfully). I was on the fence if I was going to like them because I was so used to silicone side grips being the norm (if the mouse had them), but after giving them a chance I actually prefer them over silicone. They feel like a more premium option than just a strip of silicone wrapped around a mouse. These especially helped with grip after I washed my hands and came back with dry, slick hands. The best part of the side grips is that they look like they are integrated into the shell and shouldn't fall off overtime like a few of the older Steelseries 310 series of mice did. Nice job on these! The only small gripe with them, as seen above, is that the texture attracts dust. Fortunately cleaning them isn't a huge chore.
Hard to notice oil spot:[img]https://i.imgur.com/usQFkHt.jpg[/img]
Mouse Clicks: Solid. These use 50m Omrons that are implemented VERY well. They are a bit heavier and more tactile than the the GPW implementation. In my opinion they feel much better. No accidental clicks here. They have a deeper and fuller sound too. Compared to the XM1 the travel distance is noticeably longer but the clicks aren't as stiff, not to mention the clicks on the Dart don't have that hollow sound. There is no noticeable pre-travel with a slight amount of post-travel (imperceptible in use). Side-to-Side play is outstandingly well handled (unlike my early copy of the Xtry M4 and MM710). The reset speed is good, not the fasted in the history of ever, but definitely right at the line of being jitter-click worthy. I did want to add that the front 1/3 of the mouse clicks lose some of that speed and tactility. It still feels good but I much prefer that little bit of extra speed and tactility on the back 2/3 of the clicks. If your fingers don't stretch out past the scroll wheel you should be just fine. I'm not sure if these are Chinese or Japanese Omrons but in my week with it I had no issues.
Left and right click:[img]https://i.imgur.com/wAMW9Yg.mp4[/img]
Jitter click test:[img]https://i.imgur.com/OqnPFmv.mp4\[/img\]
GPW, XM1, and Dart sound comparison (each has 50m Omron):[url=https://imgur.com/xnglZig\]\[img\][http://i.imgur.com/xnglZig.mp4\[/img\]\[/url\]](http://i.imgur.com/xnglZig.mp4[/img][/url])
Side Buttons: Tactile. Clicky. Well-sized. Feel the same (rare), and have just enough depth to help with mouse pick-up. These are some of my favorite side buttons that I've used on a mouse recently. They are stiff and completely negate fears of accidental presses. One interesting note is that if you press them in the corners (where the two buttons meet) the amount of force needed to actuate the switch is less stiff. The only less-than-perfect thing that I can think of is the reset speed of these are just average, not completely spamtastic but not slow either. Overall, stellar!
DPI Button: This button doesn't feel as great as the clicks or side buttons. It feels very spongy and actuates when the button is pressed most of the way in. This doesn't bother me as I never switch my DPI and I rarely remap it, but for those that do this might bother you. It's far enough away to avoid accidental clicks but close enough to map to a useful function (claw grippers mainly).
Scroll Wheel and M3: The scroll wheel ENCODER for me is subpar for a gaming mouse (the scroll wheel itself is of nice quality). It sounds quiet when scrolled slow, but sounds scratchy when rolled fast. Similar to the GM300 it works well for internet browsing, but for gaming it's just too easy to scroll. The steps are not very well defined and I was always "crossing my fingers" when swapping weapons. The M3 button is light, and easy to press. It also sounds nicely muted and is quiet. It doesn't reset particularly fast, but for throwing tactical grenades in Call of Duty or dodging in Destiny 2 it was perfectly fine.
The scroll wheel sits on a rocker allowing it to be actuated from the side (similar to tilt-actuation but not quite)...but it only tilts to the LEFT! I find this to be a very peculiar choice, especially on a right-handed ergo mouse. The mouse naturally slopes down and to the right so you have to roll your middle finger "uphill" to the left to actuate it. After getting used to it I was able to play just fine, but it never felt completely natural.
Scroll wheel sound test (sorry for background noise):[img]https://i.imgur.com/bdkuJXh.mp4[/img]
M3 sound test:[img]https://i.imgur.com/UkG3h4u.mp4[/img]
Mouse Feet: The mouse feet are rounded and very smooth. They look like teflon feet but handle more like PTFE feet (less control, more speed). They are not Hyperglide fast but feel more inline to the G-Wolves stock feet. There is one big foot on the bottom and 2 smaller feet at the top. They feel incredibly smooth and quick (not overwhelming so), but have just enough control that I never felt like I had to fight the mouse on quick direction changes. As good as the stock feet are I think this mouse would perform even better if they got rid of the 2 smaller feet up-top and went with one large mouse foot. There is no foot around the sensor and I think adding one would also boost performance. The mouse feet are unfortunately thin and will have to be swapped out sooner rather than later. As they are stock I find them to be quite good and don't need to be changed day 1. At the very least I would like to see thicker feet.
See how thin they are?:[img]https://i.imgur.com/V9cEw82.jpg[/img]
Cable and Strain Relief: The cable is a standard rubber cable. It retains kinks from storage and isn't very flexible. If the Pulsefire Dart dies in the middle of your gaming session and you have to charge it while playing... PLEASE for the love of all the PC gods have a mouse bungee! The USB-C tolerance on the cable and mouse housing is alarmingly tight. I usually prefer the connectors to be snug, not feels-like-I'm-gonna-break-something snug. Luckily this loosens a bit after a few charges.
The strain relief is angled correctly, rubberized, and helps to lift the cable up to prevent cable drag on the front of the mouse. Nicely done!
Aftermarket cables can be used with the Dart in case yours breaks or you just want one with more "pop". Good decision. Weight and Balance: The Pulsefire Dart on my scale came in at 113g. That is hefty by today's standards, but not unusably so. Don't let the weight fool you though, this thing can actually move and stop on a dime when it needs too. This mouse is that one..."big boned" individual who can catch a moving ice cream truck from 8 blocks away. You see a headshot, the Dart sees a fudgesicle. There are no removable weights so this is as light/heavy as it gets. It felt very planted and helped steady my hand when I was in a stressful 1v1 situation.
In relaxed fingertip grip the weight felt nicely centered, while in claw or palm the majority of the weight feels right under your palm.
Weight on my scale:[img]https://i.imgur.com/eIWe5zB.jpg[/img]
Sensor, Sensor Placement and LOD (Lift Off Distance): The always stellar PMW3389. Their implementation of the sensor is fantastic. It feels like my wired 3389 mice. No complaints!
The sensor is placed in the center of the mouse which I much prefer over being towards the back. Great job here as well!
The LOD is non-adjustable, which is a miss-step, but atleast it's low. I doubt anyone would complain about it.
Charging and Wake-up Time: The mouse can be charged by inserting the USB-C cable into it directly, or my absolute favorite method... through a Qi charger. This isn't proprietary at all and you can use any Qi wireless charger that it will fit on. I happened to have a cheapo $5 one that I bought on sale and it worked perfectly! HyperX has a more elegant double charger for your mouse and phone, but if you are a thrifty person my solution works just fine.
The wake-up time is reliably instant. ***enthusiastic golf clap\\*
USB Storage: None.......Why?!?!
Polling Rate and Overall Stability: I used the Zowie polling rate checker for this test. This was actually very interesting. When playing any games with the app open the mouse felt pretty good, nothing questionable here. Then a few days later I forgot to open the app and started playing Kovaak's. For some reason the mouse felt sharper, more direct, more accurate. My curiosity got the best of me and I opened up the Zowie polling rate checker. It confirmed my suspicions. With the Ngenuity app open the polling rate holds a rocky ~962hz. The deviations are minimal, usually within a few hz or so but definitely not in the same league as Logitech or Razer. Lo and behold, when I closed the app the polling rate went up to a DAMN STABLE 1000hz. With the app closed this mouse easily holds it's own against Logitech and Razer. Immediately after finding this out I always turn it off during competitive play. This is a bit unsettling since it is not mentioned anywhere. I have not seen any reviews that actually caught this. This tells me that most people didn't notice, and indeed I don't think most would. Even if you aren't able to tell I would still play anything competitive with the app closed. It doesn't hurt to have more performance even if you can't tell right?
Polling rate clip w/ app opened and closed:[img]https://i.imgur.com/kQv1ZtJ.mp4[/img]
To get this performance it is recommended to have the receiver at most 20 cm (~7.874 in.) away from the receiver. Not a problem for desk use, but may pose a problem for couch play.
Human Latency Test: I used humanbenchmark.com for this test and the results were quite impressive. For reference this was done on an MSI Optix mpg341cqr 144hz monitor over 25 gb down and 5 gb up internet. My best run was: 162, 175, 179, 176, and 153 ms (that last one was probably luck). That is insane. This mimics my current wired main and even beat it a few times. Before anyone asks I did test this with the app open and closed. The performance difference was negligible (001-002 ms difference on average) and was too close to tell if one was better or just placebo.
Battery Life and Charge Time: The battery life is supposedly 90 hrs with RGB off and 50 hrs with the default RGB brightness. That sounds about right. I ran this mouse at 50% RGB brightness, 1000hz polling rate, and never turned the mouse off. It lasted in mixed use for about a week. In theory the mouse should last over a week and half without charging if the lights are completely turned off (if your use-case is similar to mine). I find it easier to keep this mouse charged with a Qi charger as it is much less of a hassle than unplugging the cord from the receiver and plugging it into the mouse.
The charging time seemed to be a few hours. I could not find exact specs online but it seemed close to other wireless mice with similar specs.
RGB: The RGB is pretty standard on this mouse. Nothing fancy. It does not allow for both zones to be customized, so no matter what color or mode you choose both zones will be the same. I have heard that used to be the case in the beta version but as of now it doesn't allow it. There is 4 different modes: Solid, Cycle, Breathing, and Choose Triggered Effect. The RGB looks good and all modes work well...until you look straight down at the mouse. The RGB light for the logo is poorly placed and creates a "hotspot" on all brightness levels. Even at 25% I can still see it but it's not nearly as noticeable. Setting the RGB to any light colors looks worse than darker colors. However, when seen from an off-angle the lighting looks good and the logo is completely saturated. I don't think the diffusion on the mouse shell is bad, just the light placement.
Hotspot close-up pic:[img]https://i.imgur.com/RMVFxHc.jpg?1[/img]
*UPDATE\* Since this review I was informed that the RGB got quite a few refinements in the July update. I have not spent a lot of time with it but the effects do seem smoother overall, and the expanded onboard support for different colors and modes is a welcome addition.
Build Quality: It is refreshing to use a mouse that I don't feel like I can crush in my hand. It doesn't flex, the buttons, clicks and scroll wheel don't rattle. The side grips feel nice and aren't just a cheap tacked on afterthought. It just feels like a complete product rather than a rough-draft. The materials used definitely make it feel like it's worth it's cost. Now, there is one thing that I have to point out. My review copy does have a little sensor rattle. It is minor and I could not hear it in use. This may have happened in shipping or it could just be on my copy. My recommendation is that if you hear this return the mouse for a new one since the rest of the mouse feels incredible, and I haven't heard of this happening to any other reviewers. If this is a common problem please let me know in the comments.
After discussing the issue with a HyperX rep. he let me know that the sensor rattle is not a common occurrence and it might have been mishandled in shipping or may have been a one-off defect. ***breathes a sigh of relief***
Rattle test (listen for the sensor rattle):[img]https://i.imgur.com/v05JW3h.mp4[/img]
Software (June 2020 Beta 2): Most of the reviews that I have seen have bagged on the Ngenuity software, however most of those reviews are over 6 months old and I think a lot of the older bugs have been worked out (buggy battery indicator, forced crashes, etc). You can adjust all standard features in real-time like: make a preset; adjust your polling rate; select RGB modes; make macros; adjust dpi in steps of 50; set your low-battery warning; etc. nice and fast. I also had zero issues with the app lagging or crashing. The one thing that hasn't changed is that it is an app instead of your standard software and has to be open for certain features to work. Like Gamelink. This allows you to link a game (or multiple games) to a preset and when you open the game/s the custom settings will change only when one of those is open. It switches right back to default after the game is closed. A very useful feature, but again...the app has to be open. I'm not a fan of this as I don't like any software running in the background while I play games, especially this software, after finding out that while open it negatively impacts performance. That has to be fixed asap since they make it clear that they want you to keep the app open or atleast minimized while it's in use. The one saving grace to this is that the mouse does save your RGB and button assignments to the mouse, you just have to manually go in and change it every time. This is sad because I like the Gamelink feature, but I would rather do that than lose performance.
It is also missing LOD adjustment or surface calibration. These aren't the end of the world for most people since the LOD is low and it tracks great stock. The biggest puzzler is it does not have a way to adjust when the mouse goes to sleep. Actually, the mouse doesn't go to sleep AT ALL while the app is open. The mouse goes to sleep within 1-2 minutes when the app is closed. On a positive note the app allows you to actually delete dpi levels. Just right click on the dpi level and click delete. Simple and easy... I like simple and easy. It has a huge unused square in the lower right corner of the app. I think that area could easily be used as a "quick access" area to allow you to pick whatever you want to get to or see easier and place it there. For example, I would like to put the battery level gauge there so that it is much easier to see.
I would also like to see the option to remap the DPI button to a polling rate switcher to save battery life on-the-fly, accompanied by a split-second color change to show the polling rate. I.E. Blue for 1000hz and Green for 125hz (or whatever polling rate you choose).
I did have one hiccup while gaming with the software open. In my second day of use the mouse suddenly stopped working for 5-10 seconds, then it came right back. If for some reason the app or mouse executed an update, causing that freeze, that needs to be changed. Updates should not happen while games or crucial software is running. This problem never happened while the software was closed.
Bottom Line: If you're using the Dart for competitive play make any adjustments in the app and then close it immediately. If you are playing or browsing casually and don't care then by-all-means keep it open. (no pics to save space, if anyone would like to see some let me know in the comments)
HyperX has released a new July update that fixes and refines quite a bit of RGB and mouse functions; it also added a few quality of life changes. I have not spent a whole lot of time with it since it was released soon after I finished the review. However I do know that the performance dips are still there, so again, keep the app closed during comp. play. If that is fixed soon I will definitely update again. Thanks HyperX for continuing to refine your software, hopefully soon you will tackle the performance issues.
Aesthetics: I really like how this mouse looks. The shape from a top-down angle looks very interesting and was exactly why I reached out to review this product. Nothing about the Dart feels or looks cheap. I like the understated look this mouse has when the RGB is off. I think it could be used in a dress-casual office with the RGB off or low. I would be hesitant to use it in a super professional setting as the logo is still quite visible and "edgy" looking even with the RGB off. I like the diagonally-cut mouse clicks as well. It's such a little thing, but it's often those tiny details that add up and make all the difference. I like the different uses of black and grey that help to break up the look to give it more character, while still managing to be understated. I prefer mice like this that let their performance do the talking rather than their overly designed edges. I'm very impressed with the uniqueness of the shape and how it's implemented here, kudos to the design team!
Price: The price varies throughout the year. It retails for $100 but is on sale as of this writing for $85. I really like how they give you the option to either add the wireless charging pad or not, which can retail anywhere from $40-$60, instead of just bundling it together and making your decision for you. I also really appreciate that you have the option to use a 3rd party wireless charger for those that already have one, or just want one that would match your setup better (it's black).
If I Paid For This Mouse Would I Be Satisfied?: I've gone back and forth about whether or not I think this mouse is worth the asking price. After thinking about it I really think it does. While other companies are innovating on saving weight, HyperX seems to be innovating on materials and design. Both have their merits for sure and I am a fan of mice on both sides. For me it came down to the wireless tech, if it couldn't hang with the chart-toppers than all the cool designs in the world wouldn't matter. It IS a gaming mouse after all. Luckily it most definitely does. The unique shape and impressive build quality definitely help sell this mouse as well. The sensor rattle issue is a downer but I truly believe it isn't widespread and I would just exchange it. The scroll wheel encoder and left only "tilt" actuation is a definite negative for me, but not something that would make me return it. The mouse has it where it counts, under the hood. The mouse clicks, side buttons, and wireless performance make or break a mouse for me and this thing delivers in spades. I'm a sucker for satisfying clicks and buttons... Yes, the software is still a sore spot for the Dart. It is better than it was before, but still not 100% there. That said, in my opinion the rest of the pros overshadow that one flaw.
Could This Mouse Be My Main?: That really depends. If I was allowed only one mouse on my desk I would say no. The mouse just wasn't built to perform optimally with my grip and aiming style in competitive games. With the big ledge and bulge on the left side it prevented me from using my fingers to make fast vertical micro adjustments. Even with my (even more) modified fingertip grip it was usable but didn't allow me to perform my best. I can't fault a mouse that wasn't built with my grip in mind. For those of you wondering, the weight was not even close to being a factor. Whether I play well with a mouse or not is all I care about, not a number on a scale. If I claw/palm gripped, and/or arm aimed I would be all over this thing, full-time, with many over-time hours...
If I was allowed 2...most definitely. I really enjoyed it for general tasks and non-competitive games. It kept my hand relaxed and since it has an ergo shape it let my forearm muscles relax and didn't put as much strain on my wrist and elbow. Since I DO happen to run more than 1 mouse I will be keeping it around for a while.
I think small, medium and large hands can claw this mouse; while only small and mediums hands can palm it. If you happen to have hands that are similar in length but narrower than mine you might be able to get away with palming. I feel that this mouse was made for arm aimers or players that use a hybrid arm/wrist style. Unfortunately for those that use their fingertips for vertical flicks (in my experience) the shape prevents you from optimally doing so. There are just better mice more suited for that. This mouse is a great all-rounder for those that want to use it for work and click-head time, but unless you fit the perfect criteria I would recommend having two mice. The M3 actuation may throw some people off since it can only be pressed straight down or by pushing to the left. If you don't think you can get over that then definitely look elsewhere. The mouse has a subtle design and those looking to have a glow stick in there hand or an edgier looking mouse may also need to pass on the Dart. The scroll wheel may also be too light for some who rely on it for jumping or swapping weapons, though it is great for general use. The mouse clicks are superb and I can't imagine many disliking them. On the other hand the side buttons are on the firmer side (which I love) and may throw some people off. The Dart is more for the player that could care less about weight and wants to actually feel quality beneath their hand, a rarity these days. And of course skip this mouse if you have to have another color besides black for your setup.
Recommendations For a New Revision and Software Fixes (info in pics to save space): Mouse fixes:[img]https://i.imgur.com/wmBUa9Y.jpg[/img]
Current charging and wireless solution vs. my recommended solution:[img]https://i.imgur.com/ihofczW.mp4[/img]
Closing Statement: This mouse is damn near close to perfect. Besides my personal nitpicks this mouse only has one actual build flaw, the sensor rattle, and I truly think that is just on my copy (if I am proven wrong I will update). The software seems to have come a long way and shows that HyperX is working to be better, but the performance drop and left out features means they need to keep going. With that said I 100% wouldn't let that deter you from buying this mouse. Especially since all the important stuff can be saved to it and used while it's closed. I can without hesitation recommend this mouse to those that have the right hand size and grip style for it, even high-level competitive players.
Thank you to HyperX for sending this mouse for review, I had a lot of fun with the Pulsefire Dart and I can't wait to see what other unique products you have in store. Keep it up!
Buying Link: Use these links for the cheapest places to buy this mouse: Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/HyperX-Pulsefire-Dart-Software-Controlled-Customization/dp/B07X828YG9/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?dchild=1&keywords=Hyperx+Pulsefire+Dart&qid=1594662712&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyU1pJVkxHR0pYTjIyJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNDkyODQ2MkZPNFlKTTNZMFRMVyZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMzU2MjAwSE8wMFg1WUgxQ1M3JndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ== BestBuy:HyperX Pulsefire Dart Wireless Optical Gaming Mouse with RGB Lighting Black HX-MC006B - Best Buy 📷
Shop HyperX Pulsefire Dart Wireless Optical Gaming Mouse with RGB Lighting Black at Best Buy. Find low everyday ...
I'm also including their ChargePlay Base charging dock that I have heard great things about... and...well...it just looks cool. https://www.amazon.com/HyperX-Chargeplay-Base-Indicators-Compatible/dp/B07WKC2N6D/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=HyperX+wireless+charger&qid=1594662850&sr=8-1 For those looking for a cheap wireless solution, honestly just google or amazon search "wireless charger". You can find some really cheap ones out there.
Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions or would like to see additional pictures or clips of the mouse or software. Also feel free to point out any mistakes that you may find so I can avoid spreading misinformation.
[60 DOD-7] Career: Business - Starting, Building, Failing, Succeeding - Lessons Learned Over 25 Years - Part 1
Death. While it is inevitable - its mystery vast, like the deepest reaches of the universe - its dark presence cast a long, darker shadow over me….
Hah, just kidding.
I can write engagingly about things not related to death. I'll show you.
But first, to make for some smooth, easy reading, here's a table of contents:
- Strengths and Weaknesses.
- Your Mindset.
- Starting a Business.
- The Mechanics, Part 1.
- Good Resources.
- $1,000, What Would I Do?
- Some Additional Pointers.
- The Mechanics (And Perhaps Tools), Part 2.
- A Content Business in 2020.
- An Internet Business in 2020.
- Auditing, Measuring, Understanding.
- Scaling Your Business.
- Quality Assurance - So Important.
- Failing (Boo-hoo).
IntroductionI would like to tell you that owning a business, or even owning businesses, and succeeding, is the most rewarding thing in the world and so, so much better than working a job, for someone else.
The only reason I can't tell you that is because I never experienced the latter. I've been my "own man" since day one. With that said, I can tell you that being a founder, a CEO, and starting, failing, succeeding, and running the show is an amazing experience. It's a great adventure, and you're the writer, producer, director, and star.
If you love what you do, if you love being in the trenches, then there's nothing better: getting paid, perhaps even handsomely, to do what you love and getting to do it your own way.
This is intended to be a very hands-on guide, with examples, and in part 2, if there's interest, actual tools and documents we use.
What's more, to facilitate your own business building, I will walk you through some of the things you should be aware of. Perhaps then you can avoid the multitude of mistakes and failures I did not avoid. Maybe you can do it bigger, better, and faster.
That's a beautiful thing.
Understanding Your Strengths and Weaknesses and Why It MattersSpend time learning about your strengths and weaknesses. As MRP suggests, be honest and objective. Now is not the time for delusion. I'd get others' perspectives to answer these question for you, as well. In order to succeed, you must be honest with yourself, you must "lose the ego" as every tom, dick, and harry has already told you, and you must intimately understand what you're actually good at and what you're actually not good at.
Are you a sales guy? A problem-solver? A leader? A good manager? A critical thinker? A product guy?
Importantly, what aren't you?
Journal this a bit for a few reasons: first, you'll better determine where your focus should be; second, you'll understand where you need help; third, you'll have your first glimpse of insight regarding how you'll (potentially) sell yourself in the future, to investors, should you choose that road, or that road choose you.
What were my strengths in the beginning?
- Highly motivational.
- Strong problem-solving skills.
- Natural sales.
- Inspiring leadership.
- I was willing to put everything into it.
- I simply would not give up.
- Lack of discipline.
- I was a stubborn mother-fucker.
- Shitty manager.
- No understanding of business fundamentals.
- Missed deadlines often.
Today, I still excel where I once did, but I am now the most disciplined mother-fucker out there, and while I may still have an outsized perspective of self, at least I'm aware of it, and more importantly, I'm aware of the downside and potential to be blindsided by such strong self-belief. What's more, I'm no longer so stubborn unless my gut tells me to be so, and I have a vast understanding of the fundamentals of business. I'm a very good manager, and profoundly obsessed with getting better every day, and I'd rather my wife chew off one of my testicles than miss a deadline.
Some of my inherent strengths have helped me immensely, though be aware that your greatest strengths can sometimes paradoxically be your most impactful
My 25-year year education occurred not in a classroom, but in the real-world of founding, building, growing, failing, and succeeding with businesses multiple times. There are pros and cons to that. What I learned has been astounding: the depth, the broad strokes, the specific skills, all of it. That said, I wish, for instance, that I had taken, say, one business class, ever. I wish, too, I had learned earlier that the fastest way to get from one room to another is not to run charging with your head down to blow open the door, but instead, to simply turn the handle and walk through the doorway.
Wishes notwithstanding, I have no regrets. Nor should you. Regret is for assholes.
But it's important to know your actual strengths and weaknesses. I never went thought this exercise in the beginning and as a result, I did not play to my strengths and work on my weaknesses. Instead, I stubbornly "walked my own path" when there were plenty of better, smarter, more efficient paths to walk. What took six years - my first monumental failure - could have taken one.
How you can progress, much faster: Do this exercise, plan accordingly, and hire so that you can focus your efforts where they belong, avoid focusing your skills in the wrong area, and (1) automate or (2) delegate literally everything else.
Your MindsetDo you want investors? Or do you want to "make a nice little business" or perhaps "have a side gig"? It doesn’t matter, the plan should be the same.
I'd encourage you to think that your primary goal is to sell your company within 36 months, for a lot of fucking money, and that it will require (and benefit from) investors along the way. Why? Because most businesses fail. If I recall correctly, for every one business that works, four don't. And I'm not talking about Teslas, Microsofts, and Googles. I'm talking about landscaping companies, consultants, mechanics, coffee shops, and the like. Your chances of failing are greater than your chances of succeeding. It's that simple. That's why you should be "into it" from the very beginning; no half measures and no half-assing it. Once you let half measures and half-assing into the equation, you're chances of failing some time grow that much bigger.
- If you can pass muster at shark tank, your chances of succeeding are better.
- If you can get an A-round in the door, your chances of succeeding are better.
- If you can convince five smart guys to be on your board, your chances of succeeding are better.
- If you sell your company, your chances of succeeding are better.
- You've put in the work.
- You've addressed the fundamentals.
- You have a good plan.
- You (ideally) have traction.
- You have a vision.
Those "fundamentals" that savvy, accredited investors require are required for a reason, and no business should ignore them.
In my strong opinion, the single best resource out there for how best to get this right can be found by googling the brief for investors - find the N-F-X site - and paying particular attention to the section regarding traction.
By getting these strategies - to land money and sell - just right - you are in the right mindset - again, even if you don't get investors or sell yourself ever.
Ten years ago I would have told you that the mindset was (1) you have it, (2) you know you have it, (3) no one else does, and (4) that you were going to win, period. I still believe it and think it helps - I feel this way all the time - but that's not the right strategy for everyone, and further, I'm in my 40's now and understand that I can leverage that feeling while integrating sound fundamentals. If you have to pick one versus the other, sound fundamentals will always prevail.
I think you should go into things with a sober perspective. Of course, if you're in a really competitive, cut-throat environment, like I am, then you do need a big bite along with that bark. And the reality is, every business, no matter size, is in a competitive environment, and as the pandemic continues to unfold, automation keeps taking hold, and machine learning expands, the competition everywhere will get that much harder.
That said, I believe now is the best possible time to start a business. So much change, so much opportunity. It's a brave new world, and that world needs new ideas, new strategies, new services, and new products.
Starting a Business.Starting a business can be fun, exciting, and adventurous. At the same time, it can be born of necessity, the outcome of negative circumstances, or - perhaps like many now face - the only chance you believe you have left since the job market is in deep shit.
From my experience, the starting phrase is highly rewarding, whether you succeed or fail. Most of my fondest memories come from this phase, the most memorable of all from this phase for those companies I founded, that failed.
Go forth with the following in mind…
- Build your own "brief" as outlined above, focused on traction, and actually create every one of those items. Give yourself a whole quarter if you need to; skip the fucking pressure. Contrary to what every newb founder believes, no one's about to launch your product or steal your idea, and if they actually are, then you're ten-steps behind anyway.
- Watch every single investor video at the brief site. Those are real-world investors telling you exactly what they look for. Don't build your company around what you look for, build it around what they look for.
- If you rely on a paycheck, don't jump too soon. Put together a plan, implement a smart strategy, and test - before you go elsewhere. The "test" is the most important damn thing because it moves you from fantasy land - what you believe - to reality - what customers will pay for.
- Read "Nail it Then Scale It" - while there are others of the same ilk - this is the best of them. Learn and understand and become intimately acquainted with its concepts, especially when it comes to that test I mentioned.
- Find that minimum viable product (MVP) fast. The fastest, most cost-efficient, minimum product you can sell and succeed with. If it will take time to build, then simply create the messaging around it.
- If it's a service and you can roll your MVP out the door tomorrow, examine the competition, and find your competitive edge. What differentiates you versus them? Build around that competitive edge.
- Address the pain points the industry has. Even if your market is saturated, that does not mean that customers within the market are satisfied. Chances are they're not. Conceptualize your product, or build your messaging, or massage your service to play to those needs, those pain points, and those gaps in the market.
- Test your MVP. Google AdWords is essentially the greatest vehicle for testing the world has ever seen.
- Don't even have a product? Even better, because that means as a startup dude, you didn't fall in love with your product, didn't spend a fortune on it, and didn't end up frittering away time and money only to learn that no one else likes your stupid fucking product. Still test, just test a fake product, one that happens to not yet exist, and track your performance carefully through Google AdWords.
- Don't skimp on Google AdWords and don't do it yourself. Get someone to help. That someone can be relatively inexpensive and found online, think upwork, fivver, etc.
- Don't fall in love with your product. Your product is probably not even what you think your product is. Just ask Stewart Butterfield. He loves video games but I imagine he loves being a billionaire more. Twice. (And he's a Canadian like stoney, how 'bout them apples.)
- Don't fear "your idea getting out." That fear is very common. It inflicted me early on. You lose much, much more than you gain by keeping things (painfully) close to the vest. Most of all, you lose perspective. Valuable perspective. Real-world perspective. Perspective that is not your own fucking perspective. Perhaps if you're an executive at google, ready to move to apple, then the advice might be different. But I'm confident you - dear reader - are not an executive at google ready to move to apple.
- Read "Getting Things Done" while you're at it. The two most effective people I've ever hired both independently recommended the book to me, and while I'd already read it prior to those recommendations, it is still fantastic and something I revisit every few years. Your ability to be a successful manager will help you more than you can ever imagine. Dotting i's and crossing t's, while sounding boring, is the first step toward successfully managing people and projects - and unless you're planning to (1) raise money, (2) steal the money, and (3) abscond to the beaches of mexico - you're going to spend a lot of time managing people and managing projects. This book will help you improve every single day.
- Focus on learning how to hire well. Hiring is so important it cannot be overstated. The most important part of hiring? Train well and fire fast. So many new business owners and gaytrepeneurs take way too long to let people go. One mistake? No problem. Ten? Well, he'll learn, right? Fuck that. Spell out the rules, and when they're broken, put it in writing. Break 'em three times and they're out the door. Make sure (1) your employment agreement and (2) your employee handbook spell these things out clearly up-front. Be straightforward as fuck with everyone you hire. Do the exact opposite of sugar-coating; in the end, employees will greatly appreciate it.
- Finally, get everything in writing and be painfully clear up-front about everything. Leave nothing to chance, especially if you're going into business with an associate, a colleague, or a friend, or if you're getting money, or if you're planning to have customers. If you think you're being too clear and straightforward, be even more so. Ambiguity during the startup phase is not your friend, and in so many circumstances, the other side will win when it comes to a lack of clarity.
- Ignoring everything else in life because your identity is now directly tied to the outcome of your business.
- Incessantly telling everyone, at all times, about your amazing game-changing stupid-ass business.
- Thinking you are right about everything, because, well, you're fucking not.
The MechanicsDo you know how to build a business? Do you know what to measure? Do you know what to pay attention to and what to ignore? Do you know your leading indicators, your trailing indicators?
If you don't, no big deal. I had no fucking idea myself for the first ten-years of my career.
Alas, I'm going to tell you, show you, and give you some fun tools to play with - the latter part contingent upon getting any interest from our dear readers. So if you want hands-on examples of things I'm talking about below, let me know in the comments or by DM and I'll include them in part two.
As you surely know, the main priority of a business is to make money. Everything else is secondary to that, though the secondary elements can be quite important (help the world, feed the poor, produce sustainability, etc.).
But first, you need to make money.
You're going to need the proper tools to maximize your chances:
- Bookkeeping - Xero is inexpensive and you'll avoid getting caught in the shitty-intuit-software trap.
- Calendar - Easy - Google calendar or Exchange or whatever works, though it must be shareable.
- Note taking - I live in the world of note taking. I notate everything, and because ideas can come at different and interesting times, I've setup my system to accommodate my needs. I am hooked on MS Onenote even though from a mobile perspective it is weak compared to evernote or keep, which I also use. And I have Google Homes everywhere - bedroom, office, home office, bathroom, car, etc. - your ability to jot down what you're thinking at any time is important - in this case, simply speaking your mind anywhere and at any time is uber-effective.
- Basic office - Google Docs - Docs and Sheets - portable, mobile friendly, shareable, API available.
- Project management - Basecamp, monday, asana, etc.
- Comms - Something extensible that works everywhere - Slack is good - Microsoft Teams is probably good, too.
Once you have that in place, you need to focus on being organized, punctual, and methodical in your daily behavior and especially in your management.
What will you need?
- NDA & non-compete.
- Employee handbook.
- Employment agreements.
- Customer agreements.
- Management dashboard.
- Vision, mission, plan.
- Initiatives tracking.
More on the mechanics…
Starting on day one - and I promise this will make you a much better business man for the rest of your life - treat every single task as an opportunity to improve and build your future empire. What's more, allocate 20% to 30% more time to get the task done thoroughly, as opposed to quickly.
Instead of creating a task like this: Create a report.
Do the following instead: Create an AdWords performance report showing traction kpis (5-26-20)
- Start date: Today.
- Due date: Six days from now.
- Description: Create this report to show leads, calls, goals, automatically compared to last week, last month, last quarter, and last year. Integrate between Google AdWords and Google Data Studio.
- Dependency: Setup Google Data Studio account.
- Dependency: Screencast in Loom.
- Observers: Claudia, Tom.
- Link: Agenda.
- Tags: reports, adwords, data studio, loom, training, video, management.
- Estimated time: 7.3 hours.
- Actual time: TBD.
Because (1) you need a report so that means you'll almost certainly need the same report in the future, (2) you may need to do this report this time, but you want to delegate it to someone in the future, so the Loom video capturing everything you do is the ultimate training session, and finally, (3) your goal should be to [a] automate and [b] delegate everything - so rather than treating this as a one-off task, treat it as an opportunity to build standard operating procedures (SOP) for the future, for the next time someone who's not you needs to get it done.
This methodical approach to getting things done, memorializing them, converting to training, building SOPs, and thinking ahead will take more time in the here and now, but next month, when you've trained a $5/hour guy to build the next report, follow the same SOP, or do something similar, then you've saved yourself a fuck-ton of time, and, beautifully, you are now scaling aka winning.
In that vein, there are two more important tools:
- Zoom - for video conferencing - always incorporate video - and recording - to further enable training.
- Loom - screencasting, to train and help delegate.
In the next part, I will talk about quality assurance - which is arguably the most important aspect of scaling your company's growth - and how the ideas mentioned above tie into it.
So that' some practical every day advice - I'll go into greater detail on these mechanics (and potentially tools) in part two.
There are a few other things you can learn - I've bolded the really important ones from books and articles I've read over the years.
Books and Articles I've Read
- Getting Things Done.
- Nail It Then Scale It.
- The Lean Startup.
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
- The Feeling Good Handbook. (Especially helpful if you're failing.)
- Rainmaking Conversations.
- Influence: Science and Practice.
- Crossing the Chasm.
- The Art of Delegation.
- The Power of Business Process Improvement.
- Capital in the 21st Century.
- The Leadership Challenge.
- Profits Aren't Everything, They're the Only Thing.
- Empowerment Takes More Than a Minute.
- Blue Ocean Strategy.
- Learned Optimism. (Helpful for me when I was tackling anhedonia.)
- Harvard Business Review. (This has been the most helpful for me.)
- Agile Methodology. (My companies migrated all departments to agile last year, it's been a significant change.)
So with all this knowledge, how would I go about spending that $1,000?
$1,000 in My Pocket, What Do I Do?Right off the bat, I'm breaking the rules and spending $10,000. But that's okay because my companies have deep pockets and the $1,000-to-$10,000 ratio, if not low, is legitimate and still stands for "spend very little to test and prove."
I don't have to envision a potential scenario because I'm going through this right now. This is precisely what I'm doing.
First, some background: A few years back, for a new company I raised 7-figures on an 8-figure valuation, convinced I could build a 10-figure company, and confident I would build a 9-figure company. Then, the crazy-ass disease I'd been dealing with morphed into damn-near-certain death and things, well, they… delayed… and…. progressed… rather slowly. However, I pivoted and although I was really kind of fucked for damn near three years, I have been turning it around and moving in the right direction with it, as my other companies have done surprisingly well and made insane progress.
Overall though, in every sense of the word, it has been a challenge.
But while doing so, like the aforementioned Stewart Butterfield, I stumbled upon something intriguing. A "business from within a business" - that itself had started from one of my other businesses - in the realm of machine learning, robotic process automation, and AI.
I dug into it, noted no intellectual property issues, no patents. Knew it was a big-deal.
So here is exactly what I'm doing - and I encourage you to copy this - this strategy incorporates 25-years of my experience into one solid play:
- Building out a quick generically-branded website with a general name (not associated with any other companies I own).
- Developing two marketing strategies: (1) Going after prospective customers in our industry who'd benefit from this, and (2) going after agencies in general who'd love to leverage what we're doing.
- Running Google AdWords campaigns for both to prove that people will bite, in the following prioritized way: (1) Pay for something, (2) take the next step (e.g. I want more information), or (3) express interest.
- Since I don't have a product built yet, and since it's not going to impact my actual companies, my team will simply reach out to buyers (and this is a goddamn great idea so there will be buyers) and tell them we cannot fulfill right now but to stay on our mailing list to be notified when we're ready. Then, these same people will also become my pilots - I'll iteratively build the product around solving their needs.
- At the same time, develop a feasibility study by hiring a few external specialists to analyze a couple areas of our suggested product that do not yet exist. Four areas exist now, the fifth is not monetized and available only by opensource, the sixth does not exist outside of the original research paper. It's the combination of the six that represents our unique product offering.
- File a patent application - this is not the balls-to-the-wall version that will cost me $50,000 - not yet justified to spend major dollars to be "real" - but it's holding our place in line.
- Create a 30-second video showing the "product" in action - and not one of those stupid fucking cartoon character explainer videos. Those are juvenile, ridiculous, and to be avoided.
- Put together a brief - just like what I referenced above - showing the traction associated with our pilot study campaigns, the results of our feasibility study for integrating all six technology paths, and the intellectual property patent data… and then raise money. (My guess: I'll get 5 million on a 25 million valuation - if the feasibility studies are favorable which may or may not happen.)
Some Final Pointers…
- Don't tell anyone how much money you make, ever. Except your grandmother. If your grandfather's dead, emigrated here with twenty bucks in his pocket, had a life-long dream, and didn't fulfill it… but you did… then you can tell your grandmother. Thankfully I learned the "don’t tell people how much money you make" mantra early. My family felt strongly that doing so is tacky and in poor taste. It's hard to effectively describe what an enormous downside there is to employees, colleagues, friends, family members, wives, and others, even having an inkling. It’s not good in ways you would never expect.
- Prioritize your health and fitness first, and bake that into your business strategies and mindset.
- Never stop learning. While I dropped out of college, the "education" I've had over the years has been more like 10 PHD's, 25 BA's, and 100 more of the BS. The real world, my friends, is where it's at. Avoid the temptation to become an over-educated nerd. Learning does not necessarily equal education.
- Don't hire your relatives. Even someone like me, who has hired scores of relatives… well, I can tell you that it never turns out well. Sometimes you learn that quickly, sometimes it takes a long-ass time. But in my experience, it's 100% a bad idea.
- Same thing for friends, and good god did I hire a lot of them. Early on - like dumbshit trump - I thought "loyalty and trust" were paramount - and essentially ignored everything else (e.g. experience, qualifications, expertise, etc.). Just like with family above, 100% of the time it ended poorly. Well, no, that's not true. There's one exception. One of my inhouse attorneys started that way - but what he does is very straightforward.
- Don't fucking go into business with your wife. Holy hell, if you have done so already, please chime into this thread and tell me about it. I'd rather put a bullet in my brain than endure that torture but it's my understanding that dudes out there actually pursue such a strategy. Sheeit.
- Don't express your political opinions to your customers, ever. If your customer base is all republicans, or all democrats, then you can make an exception. Otherwise, you'll turn off a significant number of prospective customers with your rhetoric.
- Don't sleep with or fuck around with your staff, ever. In fact, you'd do well to learn all the goddamn rules about "sensitivity training" in general, especially in the particularly litigious good old USA.
- Don't disparage your competitors. I can almost assure that you'll be the only one in your entire industry to take such a stance. There's a big group of people who appreciate that.
- Focus on customer service and transparency. Mastering those two skillsets is better than the most amazing sales and marketing campaign you can create.
- Be organized and hone your own fantastic management skills. If they're not yet fantastic, make them fantastic. I did. I promise you that being able to "manage" - you, your time, your projects, your tasks, your calendar, your employees, your outsourcers - and doing so with discipline - is vital to your success. And it's all about KPIs - key performance indicators. Remember, by virtue of starting a company you are diving into the CEO role, and a CEO without management skills is basically nothing, or, the wework loser live and in the flesh.
- Always, always, always do what you say you'll do. Early-on, I didn't. I had my own vision of "time frames" and they were often at odds with reality's own vision of "time frames," usually by about 200%. People in the world of business absolutely love dudes who do what they say they'll do, every time, all the time. Conversely, dudes who don't get a reputation and that reputation is not a good one.
- Finally, learn to separate up-time from down-time and don't stew over what's happening with your business. Your business is not you. A knock on your product is not a knock on you. And go into assuming that in the world of business, people are assholes. All the damn time. Because I have spent my entire career working with high-net worth, megalomaniacal assholes, the ages of, say, 27 to 35 were challenging for me. These dudes are tough and I let them negatively impact plenty of weekends, vacations, trips across the world, christmas days, new years eves, and the like. And I took it personally and it really got under my skin. While I've grown out of being bothered by it, you would do well to never be bothered by it at all, from day one, and instead, view it as part of the process of living, growing, and evolving.
I'll be posting part 2 in the next couple of days. If you have questions or comments, ask away.
Edit: Brief for investors is at thecompanybrief dot com and can also be found at nfx dot com.