One month until Facebook’s IPO. Time to open a decent NASDAQ-friendly trading account.
Do you like Google’s minimalistic style? I do.
And, by the way, my 2¢ regarding Google Drive launch: it is as amazing a promotional website as it is simple. I am switching to Drive right now, good bye Dropbox and Box.net.
The only alternative worth considering for business now is SkyDox due to its amazing team and great business-oriented product.
Contract with Bupa? Yes, please.
The Power Of Active Lifestyle (Or Why You Should Go To Brighton)
It’s not only hard work that makes you productive, successful and happy.
One may argue that there is nothing better than working on something you are passionate about, without even a glimpse at the watch; Entrepreneurs often consider the 60-hour work week to be the secret ingredient of success.
Since I’ve spent the last week in the best British town (Brighton, obviously), I’ve finally managed to compare productivity at the seafront with productivity in the City of London. And this is what I’ve realised:
If you want to get things done, the perfect place to work would be a ‘City of London’-style location. Productivity increases dramatically when everyone around you speaks business.
If you want to invent something new, forget about the City. Go somewhere where you would spend a holiday, have a great time or take out your running shoes and run. Or cycle. By the end of the day, you are likely to have ten new ideas and perfect understanding of all the issues you were cracking your head on.
In fact, a combination of physical activity, fresh air, pleasant views and relaxed atmosphere might be everything you need to come up with ideas that will make you successful. Scientists explain this phenomenon by improved blood flow to the brain as a result of physical activity. Whatever is the case, it just works.
Here is a summary of the lessons learned:
Physical activity is, apparently, a key to inventing new stuff, whilst being in a business environment is a key to a proper execution of your ideas.
Everyone has an hour or two each day to do something useful and different. Put on your running shoes and spring along the seafront, or cycle somewhere you’ve never been to or, best of all, go play tennis.
It’s almost guaranteed that your brain will start to work even better and produce something incredible.
At the end of the day, you will have a great time and enjoy incredible views as a bonus:
View form The Cliff over Brighton Marina to the sea
Lunch @ Seafront Cafe
$1 Billion Isn’t Cool Anymore?
It looks like the dollar is losing its value rapidly (at least in Silicon Valley).
Remember the famous quote from The Social Network Movie (video)?
A Million Dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A Billion Dollars.
Well, it turns out that one billion dollars isn’t cool anymore either, at least if this number represents company valuation. Evernote is raising at $1B valuation, Instagram was acquired for $1B, Square values itself at $4B. The most interesting part? All of these companies are less than five years old.
And this list is far from complete; those are just companies that announced their $1B+ valuation this week.
It doesn’t make any sense that yet another mobile-only social network called Path is valued at $250M and gets all the press. In my humble opinion, really useful services such as GoSquared or Recurly should be worth at least 10 times more than some buggy non-profitable apps created by ex-Facebookers; but for some reason, they are not.
This said, I am still trying to figure out why on Earth B2C companies that actually produce losses are worth more than B2B organisations that make real money from Day 1. Are Americans just keen to give away their money to ‘cool’ start-ups and make Silicon Valley look like the next Hollywood?
Meanwhile, the rest of us (outside the Valley) are dreaming of building a company worth $10-$15 million.
My First Blog Post (Ever)
And here I am, thinking about one of the most remarkable business weeks in my career, trying to learn a few lessons from success, and to set out the difference between something one feels they know how to do, and something that they can really do.
For starters, I’ve learned one lesson recently that is as important for a business person as wind for a sailing boat. In other words, without having this knowledge, you risk ending up somewhere in the middle of the ocean, far away from the shore, with just two paddles to run the entire boat. Here it is:
Think about the Route to Market first. No matter how freaking good your product is, it’s worth nothing when you are not able to sell it. And when you have your marketing plan, think about execution: do you have personal qualities to build a team that will make your business idea happen?
That’s a ridiculously easy mistake to make, and it might cost you a fortune if you don’t spot it at the right time. It was exactly a week ago when I learned this lesson, and since then I keep finding more and more examples of how frequently the Route to Market is not being considered.
Here is a crucial task for those considering building a more or less traditional business: imagine yourself building the company of your dreams with 40 professionals with more experience than you probably had. Do this precisely, in detail, from hiring to firing. And that’s the time to question whether or not you have the right skill set and personal qualities to run a traditional offline business. If you honestly answer “I can do that”, I bet you are rather successful already. But, for the majority of prospective entrepreneurs of my age, the answer is likely to be negative: you simply cannot manage a bunch of people who have more years of business experience than you are alive.
That brings me back to understanding that classic Internet businesses are more suitable for Generation Y entrepreneurs. And here is another lesson learned, thanks to the overpriced Hollywood-style acquisition of Instagram:
That’s the thing about consumer technology: it’s easy to rip off, hard to sell to strategic acquirers and monetization is often a mystery. (Source: Post on Techcrunch by ALEXANDER HAISLIP)
And here is my vision, and my open letter to those working on IT projects:
If you are in business to make money and don’t have a bunch of Silicon Valley investors on board who are ready to throw away a few dozen of their millions into an Instagram competitor that no one is using, then stop building consumer products. The chances of you having a movie made in your honour and being a part of the next cool thing in 10 years are slightly better when you are in B2C market (about one in 5 million, I reckon). But the chances of you earning millions and living a pretty damn good life is much better if you are doing something boring for those corporate guys who are prepared to pay you real money, not ‘likes’ or ‘shares’.
I believe that this works on a big scale, as described on TechCrunch, but I want to share my personal experience as well, which doesn’t have the word “million” in it, but describes a fundamental challenge of IT business that is often overlooked:
- Every time I listen to my passions and start building a B2C product, this is a massive waste of time, efforts and money; you just cannot have a reasonably big amount of people sending you enough money on regular basis to make a living; this is especially true in the Internet, where there is a free alternative for almost any product or service. And it doesn’t matter that your product is 20x better - people just don’t like to pay if there is a free alternative. At the end of the day, £20 per month is considerable amount of money for individual.
- In contrast, every time I start doing boring stuff for corporate clients, I get paid enough to pay the bills and development of the next product. Businesses are less price sensitive, and they are likely to commit for much longer period that individual customers (for businesses, it’s often more expensive to seek for a 10% cheaper alternative and switch, rather than to pay this 10% convenience premium). At the end of the day, £2000 is not a big money for a reasonably sized business, especially if they see a clear benefit of using this particular service.
When combined with examples of firms spending millions and failing on B2C markets, and 37Signals-alike companies who bootstrap and succeed in B2B, I would like to summarise my views in one sentence:
Build a B2B product if you want to earn money, build a B2C product if you want your friends to know that you are doing something cool.
And yes, this might work differently if you live in Silicon Valley, but most of us don’t.