Blog Archives

A 10-Day Game of M-100s

Over the last 2 months I have been adapting my eating habits and exercise regime. I am glad to say that, so far, I have lost 9 kilograms of my 32kg goal. That means I am 28% of the way there.

So, I thought I would play a game with myself.

Over the next 10 days, I will play the following game: Do M-100s (Mandatory 100′s) twice per day, everyday, for 10 days.

Of course, a game is not much of a game if I am not committed to winning, so if you don’t know already, I am playing another game: Win every game I create for myself.

Who’s going to join me in doing the M-100s game?

The Conclusion of a Great Chapter

Today is both a sad and exciting day. The end of a Chapter: I am moving out of my flat of the last 9 months and heading to Wellington.

It’s been a very interesting, challenging and fulfilling experience with some amazing people.

When I first moved in in July 2011 it was with Chirag and Nishant. And the following months were amazing — I learned to cook Indian food from scratch. I love indian food, so this has been a huge bonus. Getting to know these guys and being a part of their lives has been superb.

Then Nishant moved out and Luigi moved in. Luigi and I were great friends at that stage, and it was awesome to have him around more. We are both intelligent and world-change-aspiring people so the conversations were electrifying. We went through our ups-and-downs, and when we eventually figured each other out, it’s been a truly great friendship. It will be interesting how we stay connected after this, because we are so close.

I never expected to be so connected to this place and these guys, but it is rather sad that I am moving out. I will miss you guys!

And, I will totally miss my favourite coffee shop in Auckland. You all should go here at least once, and meet Brim the owner! (Yes, Brim, as in “Full to the Brim”)

Next stop: Wellington.

As with any chapter concluding, a new chapter begins. In a few weeks I will be moving to Wellington where I will be doing a bunch of things, but most importantly I will be close to my GREAT startup team, Copono. Here, there will no longer be boundaries between us and changing the world.

Promote CHCSW

Thanks for helping promote Christchurch Startup Weekend. You are doing a lot for NZ and NZ entrepreneurs by spreading the word and bring the entrepreneurial ecosystem together.

Please share any (/all) of the following messages:

  • Got an idea? FLASH PITCH it and win tickets to Christchurch Startup Weekend http://on.fb.me/ApkTsC
  • Are you a developer with loads of ideas and want to put them in action with a team? Come to Christchurch Startup Weekend http://bit.ly/yxqKPm
  • Love to design cool technology and interfaces? Come show your stuff at Christchurch Startup Weekend http://bit.ly/yxqKPm
  • Turn your idea into a business in 54 hours at Christchurch Startup Weekend. http://bit.ly/yxqKPm You coming?

Tweets:

Major links:

Christchurch Startup Weekend Website: http://christchurch.startupweekend.org/
Blog: http://christchurch.startupweekend.org/category/uncategorized/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AKLStartupWeekend
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/chcsw
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Startup-Weekend-New-Zealand-3857121
Pre-Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/228146050608653/
Flash Pitch: https://www.facebook.com/events/310827475634003/
Main Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/300968269949131/

 

 

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Mobile-Optimised Websites, and where they fail at AirNewZealand

Recently I used AirNZ’s iPhone App GrabASeat. It’s a great app by the way.

But, where the app is great, it fails at achieving its purpose.

Grabaseat is an app that notifies the app holder when flight deals (auctions) become available and it sends push notifications to your phone to alert you.

Now when you decide to buy the deal this is what you get taken to.

This makes no sense to me at all. The only place I am using this app is on my mobile, and yet I am sent to this joey of a website to make a booking. I have to admit, I have deliberately not booked twice because of this flaw.

AirNZ, I know a web developer that is craving to build your mobile-optimised sites for you. You just have to email me for the intro.

But, get onto it quick!

How important do you think mobile-optimisation is right now?

.@telecomnz “Please pay your bill. But, really, we don’t care about you.”

I have always been a great fan of the blogging style of Graeme Russell of AdageBusiness. He says it like it is; he makes a complaint (otherwise known as an “observation” ;) then he critiques it, and offers a suggestion.

Today, I am taking a page out of his book and making an observation about Telecom. So, let’s tell the story first:

—————–

I recently upgraded my phone from a Galaxy S to an iPhone 4S and in that move I switched from Vodafone to Telecom. I was very impressed with the Sales guy who I spoke to and I felt like a valued customer. Telecom has been a very valuable upgrade to me — fast 3G internet, great plan and so on.

But, today, I receive the ominous call “You need to pay your bill, or we will take further action.” Fair enough. But I haven’t been notified about the bill at all; no text message, no email, no letter in the mail. Nothing! I don’t even know how much to pay at this point. Great work Telecom for keeping in touch with your customers.

So, I call *123 to enquire how much I need to pay. Yay, it’s an automated answering service…but apparently it “doesn’t understand” me, and “can I repeat myself”. There is no option to speak direct with a customer service rep. So I try and fail multiple times to get through to a rep. Four calls later, finally I achieve success. Then I proceed to ask the rep what I want to know — what is my bill payment, and, how do I ensure I am notified in the future?

HE HANGS UP…WTF!? Seriously?!?!?!?!

I couldn’t believe it, I was fuming. So, I left work and walked 10 minutes to the nearest Telecom store to sort this out. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t walk anywhere for 10 minutes to deal with this crap — I write a blog post (see?).

And, there I finally encounter a decent human being that gives a crap! Thanks Misan. He gives me the info I need and deals with thing in 3 minutes…despite my inherent anger.

—————–

And, herein lies the tragedy. When I signed up to Telecom I was stoked with them. Now, I am not happy. So, Telecom, if you really care about your customers I suggest you sort this crap out — get rid of the “automated answering service” (which feels like talking to an idiot) and the poor customer service reps. And, we might have something in common: we care about each other.

Yesterday I was touting Telecom to everyone. Today, forget about it.

Yesterday I was a customer who cared about paying my bills on time. Today, forget about it.

Now, readers, what advice do you have for Telecom?

IFTTT – Automation for busy people

One of my greatest discoveries in 2011 has to be IFTTT (If This Then That).

Because I am exceptionally busy but I still want to be able to do certain things on the web, IFTTT has allowed me to do so many things in so much less time.

AU – TO – MA – TI – ON !!!

So for example, when I want to post articles that I like to Twitter…this is what I use IFTTT to do:

If
[I "star" an article in Google Reader]
then
[send a Tweet out with a link to the article]

To do this the old way I would have to (1) had to open the article on the web, (2) click the tweet button and (3) tweet it out if I was already logged in. Using IFTTT it takes me a tenth of the time and it can all happen from where I want it to happen (Google Reader).

IFTTT is amazing and it can do ANYTHING YOU WANT. Check it out and let me know what you’re doing with it in the comments below.

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Fun Marketing Idea for Sphero

I first came across Sphero when I watched Tech Stars TV a few months back. Yesterday, I watched an interview of their founders on This Week in TechStars.

If you don’t know what Sphero is “it is a Robotic Ball controlled with your smart phone!” Check it out here.

Now, this ball can do anything you want it to, and you can program any app to make it do anything you want it to. Ah…possibility…

So, I had an idea…

Wouldn’t it be cool if you set up a room with a Sphero in it, set up some obstacles (a maze or something). And then run a social campaign (using a live feed cam) that gets people all around the world to contribute one small action in order to get the sphero to do some thing or complete some objective?

I see Viral.

What else would you do with the Sphero?

Alternatively, for anyone with a cat. Completing the above setup and then creating random actions using tweets or something else, might be a great way to keep the cat entertained.

My First Startup Weekend in Auckland

In April, 2011, I attended the inaugural Startup Weekend event in New Zealand. It was held in Auckland and had around 45 participants, and 15 mentors / judges.

For those that don’t already know, Startup Weekend is a 54 hour event where entrepreneurs, designers and developers get together to come up with and execute a business idea. If you haven’t been to a SW I couldn’t recommend it enough. It is one of the most exhilirating, fun and learning-filled environments – where entrepreneurs flourish and thrive.

The first Startup Weekend was a minor failure for me and our team. Eight people got together because of an idea for a mobile app.

Then we got into the nitty-gritty research and talking to potential customers. What we found was that there was a WAY BIGGER PROBLEM. So we sat down and discussed the problem and what we had learned. We discussed for hours different solutions and prototype ideas. We must have discussed things for over 70% of the weekend. The rest of  time was spent coding up a quick protoype of an idea we all agreed on (last-minute) and preparing for the pitch.

When we finally pitched it wasn’t too bad (well executed pitch) and we could answer questions from the judges about the business. However, as a team we didn’t have a consistent understanding of the problem/solution space.

I consider this a failure of the weekend at achieving the primary goal: “Execute a startup idea in 54 hours”. But on so many levels this was a personal success.

With every failure comes multiple lessons and this is what I learned from the event:

  1. Every team needs a shared vision. The great thing about SW is that the team gets together because they all love the idea. But, the idea is subject to change when customers give feedback. What you need the team unified on is a Vision – and this must be related to the idea. I think if our team had been interested in the vision for the product, we might have still been together today; we are not.
  2. During SW, every team needs a leader. Because many SW teams are incredibly large, there are always a lot of opinions and perspectives to account for. This is one thing we failed to manage in our team. We discussed at length what everyone thought and didn’t have a system for making decisions. At SW, a leader could be useful. Someone who makes an executive decision quickly, so that the team can move forward. Now, you must realise that I do not agree with this in every day startups. I believe you need consensus in a startup team – because you are building a business on someone’s effort, they need to be bought into the decision. So at SW because there is only 54 hours, this may not be possible, so a leader may need to take command of this.
  3. Execution. Execution. Execution. Many teams produced prototypes, comprehensive business models and validation during the weekend. We did not produce much substance ourselves. Some might consider that SW’s purpose is to have a protoype to present to the judges by pitch time. I don’t agree with this at all. But, the team does need a thorough understanding of the problem and potential solution based on customer-sought validation and research. A comprehensive business model + slick pitch will always beat a team with a prototype that fails on the other sections. (A prototype is good, but not essential.) My point, though, is that the team should focus on validating their problem and potential solution by focusing on customers. This is real execution and how things work in the real world.

I spent $79 to attend this event, and I can’t explain exactly why, but that weekend was SO full of value that $79 seems insignificant now. (Plus you get 7 meals included in your weekend, insane!)

My weekend was so full of fun, energy, amazing people (participants and mentors) and learning that I had to be more involved!

And…that is when I asked to be involved in the organisation of the second Auckland Startup Weekend. This is what I learned there.

—————–Startup Weekend New Zealand—————–

Auckland: http://auckland.startupweekend.org/

Wellington: http://wellington.startupweekend.org/

Christchurch: http://christchurch.startupweekend.org/

Register Now!

Finding NZ’s Top Entrepreneurs…The Wrong Idea

I see it all over the place. Competitions here, there and everywhere searching for “NZ’s Top Entrepreneurs”.

Why are we doing this?

In the entrepreneurial space we already know who the top entrepreneurs are in NZ: Rod Drury, Derek Handley, Sam Morgan, Sean Gourley, Victoria Ransom, Sebastian MarinoGeoff Ross and many more. These are many of the people that inspire our entrepreneurs at the grassroots level today. But these are the same entrepreneurs that have investment, that have support, that are recognised and good as gold.

But one of the major complaints by many investors in NZ is the lack of deal flow. There just aren’t enough good entrepreneurs bringing up good ideas and building great businesses.

I suspect part of the problem is that investors, the media and the public want to find “the best”. They forget that the more good entrepreneurs you create, the more great entrepreneurs emerge, and the pie gets bigger for everyone.

Perhaps we would be better off supporting the education, development and support system for good entrepreneurs. This is a grassroots movement at the end of the day. And by bringing more entrepreneurs into the mix we increase deal flow for investors, we create more success stories, and we develop more revenue for NZ as a whole.

I would like to see the entrepreneurial ecosystem in NZ supporting more of the grassroots movement. Perhaps, instead of having competitions and support mechanisms that reward only those that are already recognised, we might see the available resources shared with some of our up-and-coming success stories.

This is one of the reasons I co-organise Startup Weekend New Zealand. You will hear more about Startup Weekend soon, but in the meanwhile between 24-26 February, Startup Weekend Christchurch will be happening, and it would be compelling to have you along.

Visit the website, and buy your ticket now.

Keep your secrets safe, if you want to fail

I encounter entrepreneurs pretty much every day, and almost all of them are protective of their ideas.

Unfortunately, this is the very first barrier they must overcome on their entrepreneurial journey.

The first and most important reason is that you can’t communicate your idea, what you need, and anything of value or use if you are holding your cards to yourself.

The second thing you need to understand is that your idea is worth $ZERO. I mean that! You are not the only person in the world with that idea. You are not the only person in the world doing something about it. And, in the end an idea is useless if you do nothing with it.

The third thing you must realise is that I DON’T CARE about your idea. I have a million ideas myself – all of them better for me than your idea. I am working on my own idea(s) right now, to this day, all day, every day. I don’t have time to think about your idea. I don’t have time to pursue your dream. I have time only for myself.

But, I want to help you! I want to see you pursue your idea. I want to see you succeed. I want to remove barriers for you. I want to make the journey easier for you.

Every seasoned entrepreneur I have ever known understands these points. They empathise with you and they feel the same way I do about helping you. Think about all the knowledge, experience, skills and perspectives you will never hear from these great people if you keep your idea to yourself.

There is a lot to gain from sharing your idea and your story with other entrepreneurs. They can add value. They can add perspective. They can add meaning. They can make your idea more mature. They can teach you everything you will ever need to take your idea to the world.

But, the question remains…Will you share your idea with us?

How can I help you succeed?