Archive for October, 2008

Brad Inman at the pub

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

A big thank you to Ed at nestoria for organising the pub meet up with Brad Inman last week, it was a great evening. Brad organises Real Estate Connect, the annual get together for real estate technology folk. It was exciting to meet Brad, the man behind Inman News, and hear his view on how technology is shaping the property market around the world.

We have been saving up our Airmiles and hope to get over to New York for the next conference in January 2009 as the first step to introducing the U.S. to Big Apple here we come….

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Words to Live By

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
Col. Theodore Roosevelt. Crop of :Image:Theodo...

Image via Wikipedia

I just read Nic Brisbourne’s blog – he has posted some great advice from Rob Majteles. You can see it here.

Having read the advice I had a look at Rob’s website. He has a great Roosevelt quote under “Words to Live By”:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena;
whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again;
who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course;
who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst,
if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly;
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Powerful stuff. Just what is needed in these tough times!

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Freemium and the credit crunch

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

There has been a lot of debate in the blogosphere over the past week about the crunch and its potential effect on startups. A Sequoia presentation has been circulating which is a must read for anyone involved in a startup – you can read it here. The presentation paints a pretty bleak and, in my opinion, realistic picture of the next couple of years and tells startups to focus on preserving capital and getting to profitability.

We have been debating our business model and the merits of having both a free and premium product (dubbed by Fred Wilson as a freemium strategy). The thinking behind a freemium strategy is that the best way for a startup to build a decent size paying customer base is to launch a free version and get viral growth and then convert your top customers to pay for the service by offering premium features.

The counter argument to the freemium strategy that has emerged with the credit crunch and looming recesssion is that start ups need to focus on getting to profitability, so they should not be giving away free product, but focusing on getting paid customers.

I have been personally wrestling with this debate and even left a comment on Fred Wilson’s blog questioning whether Freemium was a suitable strategy for these lean times, particularly the points made on slide 46 of the Sequoia presentation (importance of established revenue model, understanding of market uptake, customers’ ability to pay, profitablity, cash) . He came back to me saying he thought that Freemium is a great way, maybe the best way, to achieve all the suggestions on slide 46.

I guess what he means by this is that you will not get better marketing for your product than initially giving it away (or a version of it). You will get lots and lots of customers using your product that would not have otherwise done so. If your product is any good, they will tell their friends, some of whom will also try your product. The key is then implementing the Freemium strategy so that you can optimise the number of paying customers. If you have a great product and lots of people take it up, even a small percentage of that base would make up a large paying customer base which would have cost a lot of marketing money to acquire.

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First Tuesday

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Back in 1998 I read a lot about First Tuesday, and I finally got there last night 10 years later.

They are still using colour lanyards: Green = entrepreneurs Yellow = Service Providers Red = Investors, however, they were trialing a new web 2.0 mobile networking device provided by The idea sounds like a good one – you can look up who is at an event, connect with them and then arrange to meet them at a meeting point. In reality, the tech was not quite there yet, perhaps more web 3 than web 2.

First Tuesday attracts an interesting mix of people – the original First Tuesday founder Julie Meyer was there as was the founder of Multimap, Sean Phelan. Sean had some great advice on how to build a web business in a downturn, revealing that Multimap focused on its business to business channel in 2001/2002 when web advertising virtually disappeared as a revenue stream. This enabled Multimap to build a client base with little competition from other suppliers and then come out of the downturn in a strong position and build its consumer advertising model.

All in all a great evening and not bad value at £20 with a couple of glasses of wine thrown in.

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Monday, October 6th, 2008
Show and Tell sign

Image by Aleksi Aaltonen via Flickr

Last week I went to a new meetup called social innovation camp. I came away excited and inspired. I have always liked Google’s .org initiative and have been wanting to get involved in social innovation for a while. Last week’s session provided the inspiration to get me going. I talked to Adrian the next morning, he loved the idea and as a result has been born. I will post again in a few weeks time once we have crystalised our thinking on how we plan to try and make a difference.

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