Like Jason Calacanis I’ve been thinking about retiring from blogging for a while.
I’ve been blogging now for over 5 years, 1626 posts, 3 companies, 3 children and 10 kilos. I’ve really enjoyed the experience and have had so many fantastic opportunities come out of it. I’ve met some great people.
There are a few reasons for retiring from regular blogging. Most of the goals I set out when I started I’ve achieved, and there are not enough hours in the day to get through what I need to get through - especially with a young family and growing business.
I remain passionate about developing software companies from New Zealand and creating a step change in our broadband connectivity. I’ll continue to drive those issues forward as much as I can.
I’ve tried to share my journey and some of the things I’ve learned as much as I can. I’m proud that it has motivated other people to do big things and share experiences so that we can make the boat go faster.
My favourite aspect of blogging has been revealing that we’re all just people and that business can be a lot of fun. I think my favorite post was the one on bed time stories.
I fully encourage people to take up blogging, and I look forward to following the stories of other entrepreneurs going global and sharing their highs and lows.
Thank you and goodnight.
It’s just sad
And so it begins …
Funny!Should we phase out IE6 support?
Do you think we should phase out IE6 support?
Our reasoning for why we should is here.Setting media goals
Here is a story I wrote for the current Start Up magazine:
As part of strategic planning, start-up companies look at their target customer acquisition, costs and revenue. These are of primary importance, but it is also important work on less tangible work streams, such as media strategy and profile.
Creating a profile is important for attracting early customers and investment.
Many start-ups report that advertising is ineffective. The cost to broadcast your message widely can be prohibitive, so building an effective media strategy will be a key part of getting noticed.
Working effectively with the media is not something you can turn on immediately. It takes a while to build relationships and get experience. For start-ups without media experience, it is a good idea to work with a communications consultant. For a few thousand dollars each month they’ll help you shape your message and help get it out there.
There are newspapers, trade publications, lifestyle magazines, radio and television, blogs, podcasts and conferences. So take a broad view of what works for you and where you can start.
Learn to crawl before you run. Start with local media and build your way up to national media. Handling an interview is something you need to learn – your communications consultant can help you with media training. You will make mistakes but over time you will get better and better.
Some simple things you’ll learn quickly – stick to your key messages, nothing is off the record, controversy sells, don’t bullshit, don’t ask to see what goes out before publication. No matter what is written you still wake up the next morning.
The benefit of profile can be hard to measure but what you can measure is that you are executing on your plan. Setting media goals is absolutely measurable. For example you may set a goal of a positive article in the national print media each month.
Leaders of start-up companies need to be able to communicate. Often this does not come naturally for technical people. But practice, practice, practice and you will get better.
As a stretch you could include in your plan some radio goals. Speaking live to radio is frightening to many people so it is a good skill to work on. Radio is all about finding expert commentary, so you can get started by being an industry expert, rather than talking about your own company. They are always looking for credible people so don’t be scared to make contact.
In New Zealand the morning business television programmes are the premium exposure points for your start-up. So make that a goal 12 months out and work towards it. Local stars Ponoko have been features in the Wall Street Journal and Wired.
Each time you appear in the media you should review it with someone who is strong enough to tell you truthfully how you went. This will accelerate your experience.
As well as gaining experience from your 12-month media plan, the execution will toughen you up. When you step in the spotlight to promote your business people will fire arrows. It comes with the territory so you need to get used to it.
So set a media plan with measurable activities every month. After 12 months the benefits will be obvious.Glazier mafia
The latest Start Up Magazine this month seems to feature everyone I know. You can’t walk out of the building without running into a tech entrepreneur.
Peter Griffin did a great article of Silicon Welly. Laughed at the Glazier Mafia bit, but it is amazing how many businesses you can trace from our humble beginnings in Wang House.
I’ve been meaning to catalog them for while. Can anyone remember any more names of businesses that started from people at Glazier?So far I’ve got Utlilyx, Viatx, Context Connect, AfterMail, Intergen, Xero, ActionThis, Navitas, Provoke, Ponoko, Get Staffed, Plan HQ, WhatsInPlay, Mindscape …
Intergen must have over 200 people now. That’s awesome.
Our very own Craig has been learning and positioned himself well on the front cover. Dock 10 points for not wearing any branding.
It is is fantastic being part of a community that helps each other as much as people do in Wellington. It’s also fun when the band reforms (it’s like a geek version of the Dunedin music scene) as you get to work with people from 10+ years ago.
Great to see how much people develop and learn, and apply their skills.
Subscribe to the magazine at www.start-up.co.nzSaaS - reinventing the channel
The channel conflict noted in this article reveals one of the big challenges/opportunities for new SaaS vendors
Under an online model, there are often issues with your existing ‘real world’ channel.
- Does the old world channel add value in an online world? Does it get you sales?
- How do you pay a sales channel if there is no up front license fee? Often SaaS pricing is sharp because they have eliminated some of the channel and distribution costs.
- Ongoing commissions for sales is a very expensive sales cost for SaaS vendors. The real cost of SaaS is driving more innovation and outstanding customer care, so a recurring fee model just for a sale is to much cost.
Flipping it around, existing real world channel needs to think about how they share in this new online world as the inventories of products they earn margin on will erode.
In the business software space this creates a huge opportunity for buyer aggregation points. The retail browsing shop of the 21st century.
In the New Zealand small business SaaS market this is where MED and NZTE can really help out. Providing a location where NZ small business owners can discover great products that can make their businesses better.
This what small businesses have asked for. (Don’t worry, I’m onto it.)iPhone data plan aggregation
It was uncomfortable watching a peer like Mark Rushworth having to defend the impossible on Campbell Live. He was earning his money tonight and did a pretty good job. Rite of passage that stuff.
Comparing data pricing to what I saw in the UK last week, one of the big contributors to sky high data prices must be international broadband prices.
For the iPhone is the breakthrough mobile device it should be then I think data pricing needs to be at the Sky subscription level. Say $75 per month. UK mobile data was about that for 5GB.
Say that $150 of the $250 monthly cost is international traffic then $100m of investment in more international capacity, at a 10% cost of capital, could be covered by as few as 5500 customers.
It just reinforces the business case for driving international connections to a cost plus model. An unconstrained digital lifestyle and the small business transformation that is possible with abundant connectivity is just not possible in New Zealand by the current market. Not great for brand NZGoogle Docs is not a team collaboration tool
I’ve been trying to use Google Docs in anger over the past week and found some huge limitations.
Documents are shared individually. There are no team folders.
You would think that once you set up a domain everyone in your team would be able to see a folder structure of shared documents. Nope.
Again, surprising how the really big smart companies miss out doing even the basics well.Living on 3G
Coming up to the end of a quick week in the UK and I’ve been living on 3G.
Our team in the UK are on a £25 5GB per month plan which they use at home as well as work. This seems to be enough for heavy road warrior use.
3G does not feel as fast as wifi, it’s just slightly sluggish but quite acceptable. The big benefit is that it is ubiquitous. On the train, any cafe, you’re connected. It’s fast enough for demos.
The price, 5GB of data and ubiquity is such that you just use it without thinking. That’s how it should be.
The new devices are just small USB sticks. I assume they’ll be embedded like wifi next year.
Good to see that Voda NZ is going wide with 3G so that it will be available all over New Zealand.
Ubiquity is key (as well as reasonable price/data caps of course).
Berg Insight reports the number of mobile broadband enabled PC laptops is set to rise to almost 50 million by 2013 so mobile broadband is a huge enabler for SaaS offerings.
As I’ve been traveling for the past week I’m on email, Xero (of course), so able to stay on top of teh admin. You can be completely connected to the information you need while out growing the business.
So I’m really looking forward to 3G arriving in NZ. It really does transform the way you work.Not an Olympic Sport
Unfortunately Segway Polo did not make it as an Olympic Sport this year.
Apparently the China team have been training hard and will be making an appearance at this years Woz Challenge Cup. (Thanks @gnat)Good advertising
In contrast to the LTSA advert I didn’t like the TV One Business ads are brilliant. Saw them in print last week and now on the web.
Clever humor with the tie into the messaging of the sponsor. Excellent.Pants optional
Nice little viral promotion from Wellington Open Source heros SilverStripe.Web Inspector
Apple are allowing developers to really push the envelope with Web apps.
Check out http://developer.apple.com/webapps
I hadn’t noticed that Safari 4 has some great debugging tools. You can even see the latency of your resources being loaded into the browser.
The faded blue is latency. Very cool.
You enable the tools here …
Lots of new toys to play with.Baby boomers’ OE
Another article up on NBR online …
Great to connect with so many smart people and some old friends last night. It’s pretty cool to present at Haymarket. Last night the sky was clear and it was very hot. Such a great view of London.
The KEA events are a great way to connect with other New Zealanders.Visiting the Queen
I went east towards the UK this trip and had to stop in the cell in LA. Flights through Hong Kong were too solid to go the preferred, but longer, left route.
One of my skills is being able to be first to leave the plane regardless of what seat I’m in. Those skills are important in LA as you may end up queuing for an hour to stand in the Transit box for 30 minutes.
This time the transit immigration people didn’t turn up so that meant going through normal immigration.
Being so close to a shower I went outside. Big mistake as the queue back in through security was a 40 minute exercise. Made it with 10 minutes to spare so got a quick shower.
Love that the Koru Club wifi key (through unnecessarily complex) is the same all over the world.
Air New Zealand now allow movies from when you arrive at your seat to wheels on the tarmac at the other end. Fantastic.
The key to overseas trips is to start 4-6 weeks earlier on your appointments. Nothing worse than being on the otherside of the world with downtime. In London you can do 4-5 meets a day. Breakfasts and dinners are meeting time. I’ve got 20+ scheduled meetings this week, with a free afternoon for follow ups and lucky meets. You just have to use the time.
Looking forward to meeting up with people at the KEA event tomorrow night. Looks like its a full house so that will be a good event.
It’s great to tap into local connections and resources. Deloittes have a fantastic facility we have access to which is great for meetings and workshops.
Doing business in the UK is fun and exciting. As you fly in over the city you can just see the size of the huge market. The people are friendly and smart. Things are definitely up a few notches up here.
It’s great having a full time team in country. With other businesses we’ve flown through with a once over lightly. We can have our local people manage the local relationships which makes a big difference.
8:00 start tomorrow and an hour of humid and sticky travel to get there. Time for sleep.New red socks campaign
The NBR asked if I’d submit a few articles for NBR online. He’s the first.
This came out of a KEA workshop hosted by Stephen Tindall a few weeks ago. I think he coined the ‘Broadband could be our new red socks campaign’ idea.Big software economics
Rare glimpse on the economics of software companies with scale.
It’s believed the Mac BU currently employs around 180 people whose products — including Office, Messenger, and Remote Desktop Client — combine to generate over $350 million in revenues each year.
Say the average person’s annual cost is, say, $US150k. That’s 27m. Even with a lot of marketing spend that’s a good return.
When pressed for details, a spokesperson for the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant would say only that the company expects to release new versions of Office for Mac every 2 to 3 years.
I was hoping the days of 3+ year releases were gone. Seeing the progress that web office companies like Zoho are making in months - imagine how far they’ll go in 3 years.
OSX is being updated every few months. 10.5.4 is almost here. 10.5.3 had quite a few new features. So complexity is no excuse.
I’ve been playing a around a bit with web office tools. The collaboration features are awesome, but they are still clumsy to use. As Silverlight, Flash, AIR, Java and other web hosted runtimes roll out over the next year I’m sure we’ll see office parts that you can embed. You would have to think that’s all going to accelerate well within the 3 year horizon.
It staggers me that the biggest horizontal categories are so ripe for innovation and the door is open so wide. And the rewards for getting it right are so large.
The use-case of office documents are they are ‘hot’ for probably a day - maybe even just an hour of intense collaboration. Once a document is done, 99.99% of them never change again.
Probably 5 times a day I’m hunkered over someone else’s PC collaborating on a document. Or I’m emailing changes around that have to be in series or we have a version control nightmare. That slows collaboration and minimizes review cycles. Worse it’s embarrassing to have to go around again at the last minute. An emotional, painful response. Something you seek when looking for high value problems to solve.
It would be so good if we could use all that processing power on the desktop to deal with the rendering of multiple users attacking a document at once. Easy rollback of changes. Full tracking ability and difference detection. The bandwidth requirements are minimal as it only needs to keep a track of a few people typing and where their mouse is.
Use the power of the computer to empower across the world what people are doing next to each other everyday. It’s such an obvious scenario.
I hope that’s what the Office and MacBU teams are working on.
We are seeing innovation in this space. Zoho seems to be in front technically, speeding past Google. The experience the web guys are gaining in collaborative editing will be invaluable. But I wish they would work on fat client versions as well. They seem reluctant to charge. Hard to find any pricing info on Zoho. I think they should charge so they can accelerate investment.
These numbers show it is a high value space. New entrants getting close to the sacred cow will hopefully drive faster innovation in Office.Nokia’s dilemma: operator friend or foe?
DougalW flicked me an interesting Telco 2.0 article on how the industry is changing from the perpective of Nokia.
Worth a read.
Lot’s of good stuff.
Nokia has to yet to build an acceptable telephone. And it’s taken Apple to come along, release a cruddy 2G phone with zero “computer” features (download an app? nope!), and fix one of the deep problems of standard telephony: the voicemail user interface.
… going forwards, Nokia needs to become a different beast: an original services manufacturer. It’s the services that the users value most, well above the budget for a sexy new handset.
Which operator (until recently) had the highest ARPU and customer satisfaction? Answer is…. Nextel. Motorola built a custom push-to-talk service, where the handset, network and software worked together perfectly to solve a core communications need. The era of that particular product is past, but the lesson lives on.
Milestone. First blog here was 5 years ago today. Saturday 21 June 2003.
(It would be the weekend if we weren’t in IT.)New #1 Bag
In the technology industry, one the things that define you, is your bag.
For travel I have big boy, mid sized and overnight Samsonite wheeled suitcases. I wheelie suit carrier, and a one night away, fits in overhead locker, wheelie case. (Never travel with what you can’t wheel.)
My laptop bag is an issue.
My #1 bag expired a few months ago. It was a Line7, canvas bag with rubber handles. It had a big, but dated, Xero logo embroidered on it which was great for starting conversations and flashing 120 people at a time on the plane.
I was saddened when the clasps went as it it took me a long time to locate last #1 bag. But our logo had changed so I knew it was time.
I saw some OK bags in Sydney a few months ago and splashed out on 2 that we could brand up. After a 3 hour flight I had bag buyers remorse. They weren’t quite right.
My current squeeze is a WAS bag generously sent to last years Small Biz Expo exhibiters that was lying in my conference bag collection. WAS bags are made up from the billboard skins of the their ads. I needed to find a bag quickly and as I was heading into this years expo season so I thought I’d get points with SarahT. (It worked). It’s safety orange so is off brand.
The time has come to find a new #1 bag.
I need your help.
Rowan brought a nice bag from NY but his taste is german cars is at the opposite end of the spectrum to mine so is not suitable The bag is such a personal thing we need a model to assist with selecting.
I’ve plotted my bag related personality on the model below.
So I need a dark coloured, mid+ sized, primarily canvas with leather trimmed, brandable, executive laptop bag.
Probably a great opportunity for some rails guys to turn this in a web 2.0 start up.
So please help, send me links to your best bags.