How I got Google to listen to me

Can Google hear the little guy?

This is a story of perseverance.

When Aaron Stanton was a student at the University of Idaho, he had an idea. He tried to bankroll the idea on his own, but soon realized he would need much deeper pockets to make his idea work.

And, he thought, who better than the folks at Google to help bring his idea to reality.

A couple of years ago, he made some half-hearted attempts to reach the company by telephone and e-mail. But he got nowhere.

Then this past Christmas, his father got sick and nearly died, and Stanton, 25, of Boise, knew if he was ever going to make his dad proud, he'd better make his move soon. He decided to go to Google, show up unannounced and make his pitch. He bought a plane ticket for a flight on Feb. 11 and the die was cast.

"I figured the worst that could happen was I got down here and found myself spending a week in Mountain View," Stanton said in a telephone interview from California.

Once he was there, he would pitch his idea to the folks at Google. It's an idea he thinks fits right in with the Google spirit and business model.

"So I figured I'd get down here, walk in through their front door, ask for a meeting and one of two things would happen: They could give me a meeting and five days later I'd come back and make my pitch and then I'd go home, or they'd turn me away at the door."

On Feb. 5, Stanton had launched the Web site www.cangooglehearme.com and put together a basic Web page and posted one entry. Stanton said he didn't intend to create a blog about the process of meeting with Google, but that's what happened.

Before he left for California, Stanton spent a few days preparing his presentation. So when he boarded the plane, he carried his Flash presentation with him on his laptop and in many backup forms, including versions that worked on a Mac, Windows and Linux. He has it on a CD, flash drive and a version that he uploaded to the Internet.

"I figure that if you're going to show up at someone's front door, you might as well come prepared," Stanton wrote on his Web page. "Anything less would just be rude. I've got the camera with me, so I'll try to make a video update once I'm down there."

On Feb. 12, while he was walking on the campus, he met up with a job applicant who had an interview in Google's lobby 43.

"So I followed him into his lobby and he let me talk to the receptionist, and then I went up and introduced myself to her and told her I was in town for a few days, and I was hoping to have a chance to talk to someone about a business idea I had and could I set up an appointment," Stanton said.

The receptionist, however, told Stanton that it is not permitted to just walk in and set up a meeting, and that he had to fill out a form on the Internet to request one. Unwilling to give up easily, Stanton went to a few more building lobbies on campus and asked for a meeting, but was summarily turned away by each receptionist.

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Linda Rosencrance

Computerworld
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