Category Archives: Startup

Help Us Win A Contest!

We have entered a PayPal Developer’s Contest. First prize is $50,000 cash and $50,000 credit from PayPal. As you know, startups can ALWAYS use money like this and we need your help to get it.

To win, we need you to vote for our demo in the contest before 11:59 PM Friday night, March 5th. Sounds easy, right? It is.

You need to have a PayPal account to participate. If you don’t have one, click here and you can set one up. Pick Personal. It is fast, easy and free.

Once you have your PayPal account, click here or on the screen shot below to be taken to the contest. The first screen will look like this:

Click on the VOTE NOW link to start. You will be prompted to login to PayPal. Honest, this won’t take very long…

Enter your account name and password and then click Log In. If this is your first visit to the PayPal Developers Network, they will automatically redirect your browser to a screen like this.

Please enter a screen name (usually in the format firstname.lastname), check the Java and Social networking boxes and click Submit. You will then be directed to the contest page (finally!) shown below.

Please enter our contest entry number D1039 in the search box in the top right corner and click Search.

You will see our video demo (entry) into the contest on a screen like this:

Please click on the Vote button in the top left corner and you are done!

Except, of course, if you really want to watch the video. If so, click on the Play icon in the middle of the screen.

Please send us your feedback on our (very short – we were only allowed 2 minutes) demo. We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for your help!

Turning the tables upside down

Upside down house courtesy of Telegraph UK

In the scheme of things we’ve had an interesting week so far. Some downer moments followed by some great highs. Sometimes you just have to turn the tables upside down, you have to create the momentum, the mindset and the attitude shift to make things work in your favour. Learn the lessons from the setbacks and focus on what you can turn into key wins.

Daryl has just come back from a great Ebay/PayPal conference in San Francisco where he managed to make HUGE inroads with the right people that will help FundRazr greatly, solve many of our problems and create a potentially brilliant partnership…… that’s all I’m saying for now. On top of that he wrote up a mind dump of all the critical areas we need to focus on and get done, which was luckily the same as the one floating around in my head and I’ve now prioritised so we can become more effective. It’s still daunting but then so many entrepreneurs feel the same way.

The testing this week has been invaluable – thanks to Zeenat, Vincent and Jamie, Troe, Chris, Nate and Dave! The same consistent feedback is coming through, the patterns are forming on what we need to tackle and improve straight off, and in addition some excellent ideas have been suggested – we’ll be prioritising those too.

Clearly one thing that is always on our minds is funding so that we can keep creating this kick ass application and change the game of fundraising and payments in the social network landscape. That’s why I got a great chuckle out of reading this from founder of OnStartups Dharmesh Shah, I particularly like no. 5:

10 Things An Angel Investor Will Never Say

1. I really want to support entrepreneurs — but just those that are going to make me money.

2. I dread having to explain your business idea to my spouse (who can veto any deal).

3. I don’t really have enough stake in your company to spam my network on your behalf.

4. I was lying when I said that some of my best friends were VCs.  Even VCs aren’t best friends with VCs.

5. I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about 50% of the time.  What’s a socially-semantic mobile platform for non-virtual currency mean?  (Oh, it’s an iPhone/Facebook payment app).

6. The other 50% of the time, you have no idea what you’re talking about.  Anti-dilution provisions in a termsheet are not about beer.

7. How the public market did last week does impact my decision making.

8. I like to invest in cool startups because it helps make up for high school.

9. I don’t understand what half the things in the funding agreement mean either, but I’m betting that most of them are to protect me, not you.

10. I really didn’t put the check in the mail the day I said I did.  I was golfing that day.  I sucked.

11. I’m in it to mostly have fun.  If I wanted to do unpleasant work, I’d have my own startup.

It’s come off the back of Venture Capitalists doing something similar

Thunderbirds are going for launch

Courtesy of Nasa

Courtesy of Nasa

Software development is a fascinating realm, and I’m continually learning all the nuances involved in agile product development, iterations, technical specs and time to market.

I’ve read several blogs and been to some fascinating technology events where `crossing the chasm’ from early adopters has been discussed. It seems there are lessons to be learned everywhere and many of them the hard way.

This is particularly timely as we countdown to our beta launch in July. We’re all keen to get our application into the hand of real users for testing, feedback and improvements. Just to see how customers first react to FundRazr, their ease of navigation and flow through the steps and their user preferences will all be closely observed.

Reading one of my favourite blogs OnStartups I picked my fave favourite key points he had to make about launching:

1. Wimps wait.  Revolutionaries release early.

2. Don’t hug your software too hard.  If you love it, set it free.

3. You will more often regret when you were reluctant than when you released.

4. To succeed, you need to be remarkable.  To be remarkable, you actually have to release something.

5. No heroes and legends are created by software that almost shipped.

We’re totally driven right now and all working super hard to make this happen. We need to be given the competitiveness of this market and the rate at which technological improvements are being made.

Leveraging the Monday morning Mocha

leverageToday is important for two reasons.

  1. I had my first coffee infused drink of the year. After 4 hours of Frisbee tryouts yesterday my body is feeling it and the team suggested I have a mocha to provide me with the kick start I need for this  full on week ahead of us.
    This includes a proposal plan for a prospective partner alliance, our first customer sales brochure targeted at the political market to present at the Liberal party conference, and continuing on with the New Ventures BC competition and business plan completion.
  2. The word leverage is totally justifiable! Daryl & I have been accused of overusing the word `leverage’ when we discuss the FundRazr business model. However Eric Ries blog post talked all about leverage in product development. It may be a dirty word in finance right now, as he pointed out, but for us it’s fundamental.

Quoting Eric directly leverage is:` a force that allows startups to build products at parity with much larger companies – cheaper and much faster. It’s a key lean startup concept.
The idea of leverage is simple: for every ounce of effort your product development team puts into your product, find ways to magnify that effort by getting many other people to invest along with you.’

We’re building momentum every week right now and it often seems overwhelming but our small team is definitely up to the task and continue to impress me with the dedication they show to developing a quality product and meet the beta testing deadline.

If only the weather outside wasn’t so gorgeous and tempting right now!

Realising we’re human

In the wonderful world of online networking I joined a LinkedIn group called Onstartups a few days ago. From this I got an email update about conversations going on within this group from the creator Dharmesh. I clicked through to his blog – a site for entrepreneurs, written by a successful entrepreneur.

In the spirit of social media strategy I wrote a comment on his blog as I really enjoyed his post in which he discussed simple steps for any startup to take, and I was pleased to see we’d done so many of them already. It is also clearly written, concise and idiot proof. Something we all like.https://i0.wp.com/static.bethsoft.com/blog/bright_shiny.jpg

I then followed him on Twitter and subscribed to get his blog downloaded to Outlook which filled my folder with all his past blogs. I started reading avidly and every single post resonated with what we’ve been experiencing – this guy knows his stuff. Like me he’s also a huge fan of Seth Godin (except he’s had lunch with him and heard him speak at a conference) and Guy Kawasaki.

I felt his posts so hit the nail on the head that I sent one around to our ConnectionPoint team to show that when Daryl and I get distracted by bright new shiny things we’re not the only ones! I also call it being visionary 😉

The top 4 he quoted are below and whilst we’re not at that stage on most yet I can see how easily it could happen:

1. New technology/platform/language/framework
2. New market/customers/industry
3. New Feature/Application/Product
4. New Company

“What makes this problem a problem is that it is rare that going after the  Shiny New Thing is going to increase your odds of success (however you define it).  Most of the time, it’s a distraction.  The rest of the time, it’s usually a major distraction.  To really succeed and get things done, you’re going to need to stick to something and get the basic machinery “working” and plug away at it.  Good ideas take time.  Great ideas take even more time.” – so true!

Plus I liked his post on ‘Everything I know about startups’ which includes

1.  Your idea can suck.  Just get started.
2.  You can be in the middle of nowhere and still build a great business.
3.  Not having cash breeds good behavior.  It’s helpful to have constraints.

Definitely yet another great reading resource to keep me focussed (when I’m not spending time reading it I’m spending time doing all the things I have on my long list) – another point he highlights that we all face in start-ups, and another reason not to let shiny things distract us (unless of course they’re super shiny…)