Archive for 2009
The past 30 days
Before partnering up with a cofounder its worth finding out what their negotiation style is like.
Is it adversarial?
Is it manipulative?
Is it logical?
Is it strategic?
Worse, is is sulky, sullen and angry (a form of manipulation) until you acquiesce?
A lot of your cofounder’s negotiation style will stem from their home life, so it is worth looking there as much as asking questions.
In the near future we will talk about the wars that came before.
The wars between the behemoths of the technology industry as they fought for dominance.
The wars where they fought to deliver physical products directly to your door as quickly as possible.
Cheaper than the other guy
You will meet developers who will do it for less than the other developer.
There is a valuable lesson in hiring inexpensive amateurs to fuck everything up for you.
Your developer will want recognition.
And your job is to give it to them.
I’ve yet to see any business fail because the founders were persistent.
Too often they fail due to distraction and lack of consistency.
Used case for sale
If you are only building your product to match with current uses cases of how users work, then you are already falling behind your competition.
Annoying Your Customers
Perhaps I am just being overly sensitive to this.
I have noticed that there is a prevalence of late for website sign-up forms to ask for not only the usual information such as a user name, but the ever ubiquitous and completely useless date of birth and now, this week, your gender!
And it isn’t just optional either, it is mandatory.
You will have a gender, damn it!
Yahoo! Mail, Google, Skype, SightSpeed, Windows Live, and at least two popular social bookmarking sites and a Firefox plug-in all have a mandatory “gender” field.
Why do you need to know my gender?
For marketing purposes?
I don’t want to be marketed to.
For sales analysis by your staff?
That benefits you, not me.
So you can uniquely identify me?
Choose something else.
My personal details are my own to reveal not yours to own.
I find being forced to reveal gender, sexual orientation, date of birth, or most other details about me, involuntarily, is an annoyance and offensive.
And I am not the only one I am sure.
The information I divulge is entirely up to me, not you.
Requiring name, date of birth, or gender does only two things: it annoys your customers off, ensuring they won’t be giving you their business, and if they do go to all the trouble of informing you of this information, you now have a polluted database because they just signed up with completely false details showing that they are a female Doctor/Baroness/Sir born on January 1st 1901 who loves the movie “Go fuck yourself!”* whose first pet was called “And your dog!”
I love telling people in customer support at my bank that one when they ask for my secret pass phrase so that they can “verify my identity.”
Customer Support: “And to whom am I talking to right now?”
Me: “Justin Lloyd. The account holder.”
Customer Support: “You’re a man.”
Me: “You are very observant.”
Customer Support: “Can you verify your date of birth for me?”
Me: “Yes, January 1st, 1901.” (or whatever earliest date that their dumb computer system will take)
Customer Support: “And can you answer the question, What is your favourite movie?”
Me: “Go fuck yourself!”
Customer Support: “And how may I help you today Baroness Justin Lloyd?”
The moral of the story is, if you are in business and in the habit of collecting data to benefit you, you’re an idiot and your data is worthless.
* Actually I use an equally interesting, equally childish but completely different “favourite movie” now.
Phone designs, like fashion, move fast.
And they mostly move in herds.
Incremental changes to design are quickly emulated.
Technological tweaks are rapidly assimilated in the next generation of a competitor’s handset.
Are you tweaking? Or are you innovating?
Change is slow.
And change is hard.
And change comes at a cost.
And change must be paid for.
And change can have an uncertain outcome.
And yes, change can be painful but it needn’t be.
But change, change is what drives us, as entrepreneurs, forward into a tomorrow that is different than today.
I’ll take change over the status quo every day.
Your next developer will think your previous developer was an idiot.
If developers all agreed on how to solve a problem, technology wouldn’t move forward.
Any port in a storm
What I want to be able to do is take a picture of the IO ports on my TV, stereo, laptop, phone, computer monitor, printer, and so on, directly with my iPhone, then have the phone tell me which cables I need to hook up the two devices.
If you create products (or a service) for any length of time, you’ve dealt with the product feedback troll.
The person who needs to voice their opinion about your product (or service) in a non-actionable way, or in a way that is not useful to improving your product.
The art of dealing with a product troll is to practice feedback triage regularly, determining which opinions are valuable and which opinions are just noise.
Users are an acquired taste
The biggest issue I have with apps on iPhone OS is not the apps themselves, but discoverability of the apps.
This is going to become a huge problem in the near future, e.g. 3 to 5 years.
And whilst there are ways you can increase your ability to acquire users, the biggest issue will always be how do users find out about your app in the store?
It burnsssss usssss!
Product market fit isn’t some mythical thing that happens to other people by random chance because they found the end of the rainbow.
Product market fit is something that every start-up is capable of achieving, but the process is Sam and Frodo crawling semi-naked over razor sharp rocks in an inhospitable landscape until they reach the fiery end.
You will insist that your technical co-founder installs the kitchen so you can show off the luxury of the fixtures to potential investors before the roof is on the house and before any other room in the house is finished.
And that’s okay, because we all need to learn the proper order of things and how much we can fudge before it fails.
Droning on and on and on
Someone (probably Amazon) will attempt to deliver packages to your door by flying drone in the very near future.
Doesn’t matter if the drone automated or not.
Direct to your door.
In under an hour.