All Posts in business

September 22, 2012 - No Comments!

Thankful

A few days ago I arrived back in Melbourne from an amazing business trip to America (namely San Francisco). The trip was part of the AngelCube program, which I attended due to co-founding Kickfolio (more here). In the US, we met with an amazing amount of entrepreneurs, spent time with potential investors and mentors and connected with some incredible future clients.

There was one word that kept circling in my mind during and after the trip - Thankful.

I'm thankful to have inspiring people around me who pushed me to find a way to make the trip work financially (before I was even a co-founder of Kickfolio). I'm thankful for my wife, whom encouraged and worked hard to allow me to enjoy this experience to the fullest (even though it would be the longest time we've ever spent apart in nearly 10 years). I am thankful for my co-founders who challenged, inspired and kept me going during our days on the other side of the world.  I am thankful for the friends who kept up to date and enjoyed my photos/anecdotes throughout the trip. I am thankful for the great support we received from entrepreneurs we had only just met on American soil. I am thankful for the dedicated mentors and investors who asked the hard questions and pushed us to better define our startup at every turn. I am thankful for the time invested into us by everyone, especially when there was no physical/monetary benefit to be gained.

I am thankful to the many that continue to inspire me indirectly everyday.

And most of all, I am thankful for the opportunity of choice. The choice for anyone to pursue their dreams with an almost infinite amount of direction, ambition and inspiration.

View the photos from the trip.

 

May 15, 2012 - No Comments!

How To Start A Kickass Startup In Only 5 Steps

"How To Start A Kickass Startup In Only 5 Steps" slide deck cuts through the rubbish, breaks down confusion and gets straight to the important areas of focus when building a great startup.

Transcript: How To Start A Kickass Startup In Only 5 Steps

1. Write down 30 things that annoy the shit out of you.
2. Find a way to solve any of those problems with tech.
3. Tell anyone the problem and your solution, then listen.
4. Build it or rinse & repeat, depending on feedback.
5. BONUS ROUND: If people give you money to build it, you win.

March 30, 2012 - No Comments!

Your Startup Idea Is So Awesome

Transcript:
OMG, Your startup idea is so awesome.
OK, it's shit.
Tip: It's not because of the idea.
It's because your idea needs execution.
Execution will unwrap your idea.
Execution will rip apart your idea.
Execution will prove your idea.
Your friends opinion of your idea means nothing.
Your mums opinion of your idea means nothing.
Your dogs opinion of your idea means nothing.
No, I will not sign and NDA to hear your idea.
There is no perfect idea.
Your idea is not unique.
But your execution may be.
Here's an idea: A drawing game amongst friends.
Pictionary did it.
Pictionary sold for $29 million after 16 years.
Draw Something did it.
Draw Something sold for $210 million after 5 weeks.
Same idea, different execution.
Stop Idearating. 'Iterating your idea'.
Start executing.
How? MVP.
Go Lean Startup.
Just build something. Please, I beg you.
Then you can tell me about your startup.
OMG, your startup idea is so awesome.
OMG, your startup is so awesome.

August 10, 2011 - No Comments!

10 Critical Steps To Naming Your App

So you've just come up with the greatest app idea and now you need a name. Do you take the old pen and paper route or do you look for what's available in the digital world? Let's walk-through the 10 critical steps to naming your app.

The Simple Idea:
Side by side discussion platform.

1. Know The Idea Inside Out

Take the time to get to know the idea in detail. Bounce off the people in your team, the path the business is travelling on and who you are planning on marketing to. This will help you formulate the brand in a much better light for the target audience.

The Detailed Idea:
A side by side discussion and debating platform similar to a commenting system. Marketing will be directed to corporate and general users. The team will be focusing on early iteration, organic growth and rapid feedback development.

2. Keywords Are King

Once you know the business idea inside and out formulate a list of keywords that simply describe the app. For this I use the notes on my iPhone, but it really could be any piece of software that allows typing. You could use a pen and paper, but it's not that easy to copy and paste from a physical notepad.

Keywords:
Discussion, Debate, Conversation, Agree, Disagree, Like & Dislike.

3. The Digital Brainstorm

Now that we have our descriptive keywords, work with them one by one in a tool like nxdom.com and browse the Thesaurus. I used nxdom to string together keywords with random beginnings or endings and often find something I like. While this tool is supposed to find available domains occasionally a claimed one surfaces - just make sure you check for available names with a domain service like Hostmonster.

During Brainstorm:
"Dogfight" was found during research (similar to debate). This lead me down the path to a dog themed name.
Winner: barkles.com

4. Add On The Non-Descriptive

Having no luck with the descriptive keywords or wanting something non-descriptive? Add in some random words (or even just some letters) to get some interesting results. Try with ending letters such as 'ly', 'es', 'ing', 'on' and 'le'.

5. Check The Social

Once you've found an available domain name celebrate a little, then quickly move on to checking the social platforms to see how available it is. As long as you have the domain name, it won't matter too much if you slightly change it up for your social networks. Use a service like namechk.com to see which services have your name available.

Twitter: @barklesapp
(All other social services have been aligned with barklesapp)

6. Does It Fit?

Now just before you get too fixated on the app name, take a step back and work out if it's right for your idea. Pay attention to the readability, the memorability and also how easy it is to spell/say.

Back To The Detailed Idea:
A side by side discussion and debating platform = 9/10.
Readability and Memorability = 9/10.
Spelling & Saying = 8/10[pronounced: Bark-ools]

7. Talk To Your Team

Take a moment to share the proposed name to the team. They will often give you unexpected feedback that can help your decision going forward (i.e. Companies that already have a similar name, words that rhyme and connotations that you weren't aware of).

8. Secure It

Secure the domain and all the social services you need in one swoop.

9. The Logo

While many may point out that a logo isn't part of naming your app, I beg to differ. 9 times out of 10 your clients will see your app name in logo form before anything else. If your logo is hard to read or confusing your well-chosen name will be lost.

10. Putting It All Together

These 10 steps are usually completed within a couple of hours to a few days depending on your team. Take the time to get a great name, domain and logo so your app has a stronger chance at surviving amongst the million and one other companies (even with just a coming soon page).

How Did You Name Your App?

Share your feedback in the comments below.

May 18, 2011 - No Comments!

Are You The Blue Sheep?

The Blue Sheep mingle with the rest, but also lead.

The Blue Sheep is easy to spot amongst the herd.

The Blue Sheep know when to step forward and back when sharing opinions.

We live in a society that is ever-changing and rapidly developing every day. With that amount of speed, it's easy to get caught up in the trends and marketing hype that inspires us to share information, causing us to modify our thoughts and opinions to cover the biggest field. So how do you know if you're being true? Focus on being the Blue Sheep.

The Blue Sheep Run And Graze

You will notice the Blue Sheep by how strong they run with their opinions. These opinions can shake up the flock, and cause tension amongst the ranks, but can often be the 'right thing' for the herd moving forward. With truthful opinions (e.g. Justin Bieber is actually incredible with what he has been able to accomplish - truth) the Blue Sheep can easily alienate themselves from the paddock - and that's a good thing.

An opinion should inspire a discussion and move the team further.

Blue Sheep also know when it's time to pull their heads in and graze with the other White Sheep in the paddock. They realise that it's important to have a balance between having a strong opinion and letting others speak. If the normally unspoken White Sheep step forward and start sharing their opinions - let them.

Discussions are multi-voiced. Shut up and listen.

The Blue Sheep Lead and Never Deceive

Sometimes the White Sheep will believe (or convince) themselves to be the Blue Sheep, offering leadership at a time of need. These confused Sheep are hard to spot at first, but over time when the grass stops growing, their blue dye fades. Pay attention to the Blue Sheep with 'physical' experience in the field vs 'graduates', as the field is where you will end up playing in. This goes for choosing advisors, investors, staff and even friends.

Shouting louder doesn't make you a better choice.

True Blue Sheep will usually be very open and honest about the grass that lay ahead. Optimism is in abundance, but don't mistake that for hyperbole. When the Blue Sheep is leading correctly, the White Sheep will follow with admiration and respect, knowing they can speak up at any time. If you are the Blue Sheep, lead your team well by focusing on strong, honest communication.

Learn from anyone, no matter which patch of grass they graze on.

In essence anyone can be the Blue Sheep, but not all will. Blue Sheep training comes from within and can be modified and reinvented every second of every day. It can take a lifetime to be seen as the Blue Sheep by others, but starting early will set you up stronger for the later years. Are you the Blue Sheep?

May 5, 2011 - No Comments!

How To Become Influential

In the past year I have been able to connect with some pretty influential people. It was as simple as leaving a thankyou on their page and getting a response, or receiving a follow from someone I had Retweeted earlier.

Years before I felt I didn't have the 'chops' to talk to these people as I was at a small level of influence in their network. Thanks to the constant power of the internet, this is no longer the case.

Note: Social Influence scores are indicated by Klout.

It's About Engagement

Engagement. We hear the word often, but only a few actually keep it in focus for long periods of time. Yet, it's the constant engagement with our friends, fans, followers and people we are following that is actually the most important path when building our social network. Talking only about yourself will lose you friends, fans and followers because you are not engaging with anyone.

WHAT TO DO: Share other people's articles, reply to everyone and be personal.

WHAT TO STOP: Buying fans, sharing your posts exclusively and ignoring people.

Gary Vaynerchuk says it perfectly in his book The Thank You Economy (a must read!) with the line "No Interaction Left Behind". Even with his busy schedule of speaking engagements, web videos and more he still takes time to connect with everyone he can. Which is why it is even easier for someone who is relatively unknown to connect with another with higher social influence. It's no wonder Gary's score on Klout is very high:

Show The Real You

Another factor of social influence is to be influential in some way by showing the real you. It sounds self-explanatory, but only a few actually do this well. Being influential is as simple as sharing an article of interest, showing something exclusive to your fans or sharing your opinions about a hot topic. The people who can get this right will have the biggest impact, even if they only have a small amount of fans.

WHAT TO DO: Share interesting articles, show exclusive content and be opinionated.

WHAT TO STOP: Faking your persona, hiding from the world and sitting on the fence.

Jason Calacanis is extremely influential to me. He constantly connects with people by sharing videos through This Week In Startups, in which he works with a small (but growing) team to interview and connect with early to established Startups and also covers topics from founding to failure. He is very opinionated and real, and although I don't agree with everything he says, he stands strong with his views and that allows him to be bold when moving forward.

Be Humble And Confident

Being humble and confident at the same time can often be a challenge. But challenges are worth every second if you can better yourself. By listening to those around you and understanding where they are coming from with their views, it makes it much easier to work out where to go to next with your personal brand, business and attitude. Honesty is the key.

WHAT TO DO: Be confident with your choices, listen to feedback, thank people for helping you.

WHAT TO STOP: Thinking you're better than anyone, ignoring people who are 'smaller' than you, being afraid to say sorry.

Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) is very confident in his approach when dealing with other artists, fans and followers. He is constantly connecting with his fans with live video feeds from his house, studio and on the road through his Ustream channel and Facebook page. Even though he has a massive worldwide following through his incredible music career, he still shows he is only human when chatting to his fans live. He answers live questions from his fans and shows behind the scenes work directly from his computer. Occasionally, he will be opinionated when mentioning another artist stealing samples or not releasing a good record - which he will apologise for later after it causes a massive media frenzy of problems and mixed emotions.

How else can you be influential?