Archive for August, 2015

Fluffy Links – Monday August 31st 2015

Monday, August 31st, 2015

via Azeem. Look into my eyes not around my eyes. So it seems you can alter your state of consciousness by staring into someone’s eyes for 10 minutes. Might explain puppy love in teens.

and also via Azeem: (only one study, mind) computers can predict psychosis in people with 100% accuracy by listening to speech patterns.

Piece in The Economist about Cambrian Explosion. Earth pretty much was a lifeless rock for billions of years then bam.

“Penn Station did not make you feel comfortable; it made you feel important.” Sad what they did to it.

Friday 18 September 2015 – Cork City, the front of Cork College of Commerce is brought to life with wild 3D projections and accompanying music. Part of Culture Night.

Some fantastic resource from Facebook that they’ve shared with everyone. Managing Bias.

Droners – a marketplace to connect drone operators with people/companies looking for drone footage.

Listened to a really good three part podcast: BBC World Service on Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia: Sands of Time.

No woman, no drive. Saudi comic gets 13 Million views taking the piss out of the ban on women driving

Fluffy Links – Monday 24th August 2015

Monday, August 24th, 2015

via @simond on Twitter: Automattic ( and Google doing Accelerate.LGBT event in Dublin Sept 17th

How to hack the Amazon Dash buttons, internet of Things in reality. Seem to be only cheap if you have Prime.

Free access to all the articles on Harvard Business Review until the end of August if you reg. Tip: Use Print to PDF

Got reminded of this the other day. Amazing still today. 1000 true fans from Kevin Kelly.

UFree? Quick and handy app for groups to decide on what day to do something.

Fan of Andreessen’s “Software will eat the world”? Now it’s in an online workshop here.

Any form > Google Spreadsheet with @cloudstitch.

Awesome! Mac icon Goddess Susan Kare’s original artwork for the Windows 3.0 Solitaire game on physical playing cards.

So iAd Producer exists for making those rarely seen iAds but it’s also great for prototyping apps @lindadong’s guide.

Listened to a BBC documentary on Anger the other day. It’s superb. They mentioned Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone. Didn’t realise how vitriolic it is until they pointed it out. Such a fuck you to an uppity woman. I love it more.

Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging your next meal


Monday, August 17th, 2015

1740 words, 6 minute read

Play this

and then start reading and we’ll come back to it.

I is for Iterate.

  • Want to do a big event? Do a small one first and iterate on it.
  • Want to bring out a suite of business services? Start with one service and iterate.
  • Want to make an app? Why not start with a simple website and iterate into an app.

Everything I do today with my business is because of smaller things I’ve done in the past. Sometimes tiny individual things that then build and attach to each other until you get something like the Sockies that saw 650 people turn up in the RDS Concert Hall.

This year at the SME Awards, most of the crowd never had been to the other awards shows we did and were expecting something entirely more formal. When the sweets started to be fired at their heads by Rick O’Shea, they realised this was not the usual awards show. We started giving out sweets years back at our events as a “fuck you” to more formal events and in a way as a bribe for the crowd to like us. We learned that this also really makes a crowd relax and we don’t have the budget to pump relaxing gases out of the air ducts.

Startups iterate. The youngfella that started Snapchat might have been green when he started but years later and many iterations of Snapchat later, we have a billion dollar company. You can be sure he has people around him that have a wealth of experience too.

David Hieatt and Hiut Denim have a mantra of “Do One Thing Well” and boy do they. Companies should work on something and do it well. Be comfortable with all the elements that ensures it’s done well and then maybe expand out or up.

When I first discovered the web in 95/96, there was Geocities. I started making my own awful websites back then based on copying the code from other shitty Geocities sites and amending them. You can learn a programming language by going through a text book with code snippets and do academically well but going through code made by others and seeing a subtle philosophy in code can be far more valuable. The dirty hacks in code that make it do what the textbooks say can’t be done or should not be done.

Take something, make changes and improvements and eventually what you’ll have is something entirely different to what you started with.

I watched an interview with Eric Clapton years ago (can’t find the link) and he went through blues song after blues song and showed how he picked bits a la carte from the songs and made his own songs from them. Legendary Clapton songs.

Layla’s famous guitar riff is from this song by Albert King called “As The Years Go Passing By”, it’s a sped up version of a riff in this track, it’s hard to spot without being told. Clapton points it out here.

Bruce Springsteen’s keynote at SXSW a few years back was an excellent piece on influences and iterations. In this clip he talks about The Animals being a massive influence. Commenting on their song “We gotta get out of this place” “That’s every song I’ve ever written. That’s all of them. I’m not kidding, either. That’s “Born To Run,” ”Born in the USA,” everything I’ve done for the past 40 years.”

Apple is all about iterations

Apple learned from what they did in the Mac. Good UI, good hardware, they make the iPod. Learn from the iMac and the iPod, make the iPhone. Take some of these learnings for the Macbook Air. Make the iPod Touch a testing ground for iPhone stuff. The iPad is an iteration of the iPhone and other product elements. They also iterated on products made by others but did them better.

The Apple Watch while a different form factor is an iteration of all the elements up to now. Chips, software, glass. Apple is not afraid too to cannibalise their own successful products. The iPod is becoming a product no longer in demand as the iPhone does it all. Same possible for the iPad with the bigger iPhones. The Apple Watch will eventually kill the iPhone and Apple will have no problem with that.

And remember, people always say the 3rd version of an Apple product is the one where everything is just right. That’s because Apple gets stuff out, learns from real world use and actual mass production and then … iterates.

Mulley Comms

Swallowed a spider to catch the fly, swallowed a bird to catch the spider…

Mulley Comms is all about iterations. The company started with me being asked to give tech talks and I’d mention Google Docs, Google Alerts to see who talked about your company online, using blogging software to run your website and way back then I’d mention this social network called Facebook that had 8000 users in Ireland who were college students.
From these tech talks, a few brave organisations asked me to come in and give training on blogging. The first few scared the shit out of me. I’d never done something as formal as these. From those, I covered other elements and as digital and social became more used expanded out the training offerings.

Take what I do, add something new to it. Run with it, perfect it. I don’t cover blogging as much now given social networks are also popular for businesses to use for marketing. My Lead Generation workshops are bits from other talks, split into new areas.
Social Media Crisis Comms workshop is based on other elements and other talks. I’ll probably be doing training on Snapchat in a few years.

Mulley Comms Events

The SME Awards is the latest awards show that I run. The SME Awards came from the Web Awards and the Social Media Awards. I noticed a big increase in the number of SMEs entering these awards and looked at what other business shows were offering and brought out a better, cheaper and fairer offering. The SMEs would not happen without the Sockies, which would not have happened without the Webs.

The Web Awards came about from my frustration at the “sponsors win prizes” awards shows that are so common in Ireland. Sponsor a category, you win in another. These sponsor win prizes events also charged a pretty sharp sum to enter them. Not everyone that has a great site can afford more money to enter these shows. So the Web Awards were started. While the Web Awards will have 600 people at it this year, it started small enough. The Sockies had 650 this year. Next year the Web Awards will be split into two events

The Webs of course were able to be smoothly run from the experience (sometimes very negative experience) of running the Irish Blog Awards. The Blog Awards were nice and comfortably small when they started off with around 100 people. Towards the end we were seeing 450 people turn up. Nobody in their various clones of the Blog Awards every matched that and good luck trying to make money from passionate amateurs!

Dealing with people, dealing with judging, dealing with venues, dealing with estimating numbers was all learned from the blog awards. When I started it, I’d never considered a Web Awards or Sockies or SME Awards. Now from the SME Awards and Sockies, there are about 5 additional events I want to do per year.

A huge value of starting small and iterating up or out is it’s easy. The barrier to entry on doing something small isn’t that difficult. If I wanted to do a big ballsy Sockies from the start I wouldn’t know what to do and I wouldn’t have gotten the audience.

The same thing works in procrastination which I’ve blogged about before (Google it. not bothering to link). Chop a task into smaller pieces and get the smallest done. That stimulates the brain in nice ways and pushes you to tackle bigger bits.

Want to do a big event?

Do a small one first and iterate on it. Why not do a free event. Rent a room upstairs in a bar with the condition people will come along and buy drinks. Have someone speak at it for 30 minutes, maybe it’s you. Invite 100 people to it but your objective secretly is to get 20 to come along. 20 is good if that many turn up. Use Eventbrite to ticket the event which is free to use for free events too. Eventbrite also allows you to export the details of those that booked a ticket so you can follow up with them for other events. The dozens of free talks I did were the things that iterated into becoming the conference.

Want to bring out a suite of business services?

Start with one service and iterate. Bring out a service and start selling that service. Get real clients, paying ones. Learn about the right pricing for it, how to support it, what parts of it piss you off or your clients. What can be removed from it to make it more profitable or more efficient from people. From there you might start to see other areas aligned to this offering that clients might avail of.

Want to make an app?

Why not start with a simple website and iterate into an app. Buy a domain, get cheap hosting, use WordPress to run it. Learn SEO and a little bit of HTML. Have an offering that is given once people hand over some contact details or join a mailing list. Learn to deal with the public, talk to them about what interests them, what they’d pay for.

Learn how to work with developers and refine your design language so you can efficiently tell them what you’d need. Then maybe work on that app.

This post is an iteration

This post is all about iterations. It started with an idea of iterations. Remembering what Bruce Springsteen said at SXSW was the first thing written down. Then the backstory of the Web Awards, then Mulley Comms. The bits at the top were nearly the last things done. Iterations!

Tiny iterates to small that iterates to medium that iterates to …

Sources I stole from:

Austin Kleon

Twitter changes character limits in DMs – Potential for this

Sunday, August 16th, 2015

I wrote a blog post called Iterations, it’s going live on this blog tomorrow but people are getting it via DM tonight.

Twitter DM character limit change
Over the past few days for many of us on Twitter, the 140 character limit for DMs (private messages) has been replaced with a 10,000 character limit. That’s about 1500 to 1800 words. A good but short blog post.

For brands, this removing of the brevity limit might turn into a pain in the hole as a customer asks the most long winded questions ever whereas before they had 140 characters so brevity worked in your favour. I liked Twitter for that as I get emails from some people that are 4-5 paragraphs long and don’t need more than a “Yes” or “No” reply. Not now!

Reading a long DM is actually nice and easy too.

Still, I think there are many uses for these loosening of restrictions

  • It might be a perfect bounce back for customers as you can DM them a few pages from the manual that they’ve not read and that keeps them occupied for a while.
  • It’s a very handy way for an analyst to send on a briefing doc to the media. Slightly faster than email and keeps the buzz going on Twitter.
  • Authors can release short stories or a preview of their new book in the form of a chapter sample.
  • For those on crappy connections, you could request a pared down copy of a webpage from a Twitter account. Like the old Email2FTP services.
  • You could with a little work run a training course to people via DM. SEO Nick runs an SEO course via email. One part per day. Buffer is currently doing the same with an email a day on social media strategy. DMs could offer the same.
  • And with a bit of scripting this could turn into a handy service for organisations to distribute information privately to people. See below:

A Man for all occasions

More on that last point. In Unix the Man command serves you pages from the user manual.

man FTP – gives you the page(s) on using FTP for example.

There have been lots of comparisons to various web services now just doing a version of various Unix commands. You could do the same with Twitter and long DMs. Ask the Twitter account of a company/org for certain things and get a few pages of notes back. Think now about organisations like Samaritans or Spunout or other organisations around issues that still carry a stigma like family planning issues, mental health or eating disorders.

I know a few organisations on Facebook do not get interactions or even subscribers because people are afraid friends or family will see their interactions. It can easily be programmed now for someone to send a private message to these organisations, without following them and ask information from them. A manual of commands could even be sent on the first DM to the organisation.

So maybe you DM (private message) Spunout with the word “Help” and they send you back all the commands that allow you to get information. From there you pick a topic.
d Spunout depressed, d Spunout cutting, d Spunout threesomes

Commercially this can apply to a company too. You could DM Eircom with speed and your account number for support or information. The commands could reflect the tree that you get when you ring a support line.

I’ve already noticed that DMs are now paragraph in size with some people and surprisingly this can make conversations more efficient not less so.

Happy DMing

Google’s Alphabet Street

Friday, August 14th, 2015

So, Google Alphabet

  • Alphabet = [Google] + [Calico, Nest, Fiber, G Ventures, G Capital, Google X]
  • Google = Google Search, Ads, Maps, YouTube, Android are still under the Google umbrella in Alphabet. The rest is shit Sundar Pichai doesn’t want.
  • Alphabet saves face as the founders and Eric are now not running their creation.
  • Sundar Pichai can gut the company more too and it wasn’t them. Nobody ever got the axe under the rule of the three amigos – Larry, Sergei, Eric. Actually, a few were left go during the crunch but not massive numbers.
  • Maybe now, silly projects like Google Glass don’t need to be crowbarred into being an integral part of Google and can be left to be fun toys for the billionaire’s boys club
  • You’ve started, will you finish?

    Monday, August 3rd, 2015

    There seems to be a growing trend that in order to be happy everyone should work for themselves, everyone should start a startup. Many people are happy to exchange 39 hours of their week for money from a company, they get to do their job and be left alone. That’s probably most people. This is for the others.

    2015 and startups

    This is an unrefined rant written on a Sunday morning that turned into a whole Sunday and some of a Bank Holiday Monday. It’s about starting businesses and is built around small independent thoughts on startups that I have attempted to weave together into a fabric that has a nice flow to it with edges won’t catch on anything too pointy.

    It is also a test for myself to see can I still write interesting things since mostly I’ve abandoned blogging.

    My company

    I’m coming to this from a position of strength or maybe not giving a shit. My company is 7 years old and is doing okay. Not great, mind. I don’t have any full-time employees as I don’t want to expand it. I also am the “burn it to the ground” type where I fire clients or tell people I don’t want their business.

    Having full-time employees would mean I’d have to work for their future and not just mine and I’m too pigheaded for that. To me I find there’s comfort in knowing I can shut this down at anytime and walk away. I gave this 5 years now it’s 7 and I’m almost disappointed with this.

    It’s an accidental business. Blog posts on tech got me speaking gigs, they got me training gigs and the day job had to be given up to keep doing it. That’s my “founder story”. Iterations, which I’ll come back to.

    Even before then, I started the Blog awards which created the Web Awards which created the Social Media Awards which created the SME Awards. All of those helped me find some great people that I work with at events. Lots of mistakes were made but that helped with refinement. Iterations again.

    Without the blog awards none of the rest of the events would probably have happened. The Sockies 2015 generated revenue of about €40k but the profit to be honest wasn’t much and it created one motherfucker of a VAT bill. A proper manager would I’m sure make it a valuable entity but see above! But we got 650 people giving a standing ovation to the Yes Equality social media team. That’s a fine reward.

    So that’s my business. It shudders and survives despite of me, not because of me. Not a month goes by where I don’t bounce money around to balance things. Not in an Anglo way though.

    On to the rant

    So where is this rant coming from? I’ve seen a few people starting startups so they can get some kind of buzz from that. There are better and cheaper legal and illegal ways of getting a buzz dear reader.

    I’ve seen other people start businesses because they have an idea that they think is a winner and people have encouraged them to go for it. Others start because they’re unemployed and this is their chance at something. This bit sounds like a riddle but some have listened when they should have ignored and some ignored when they should have been listening.

    I’m sharing my advice for those that want to start or are starting and it is based on my jaded views of the startup “journey” in Ireland. There are more blog posts on startup advice than there are people with a David Gray CD I suppose but this is my cover version!

    If you think the TV show “Silicon Valley” is what starting a business is like, you’re in dreamland. Don’t bother. Go back to the daydreaming of doing Darth Vader death grips. That show is far too close to home for some people I’ve encountered. Ever watched Dad’s Army? That’s more like it.

    Working for yourself means you are going to be on less than minimum wage, that you never leave the office mentally, even if you do physically. It’s. Going. To. Be. Shit. And yet so rewarding as you do it on your terms, such freedom. Stressful freedom!

    I’m not a fan of turning a hobby into a business because it ruins the love and you lose your hobby, the thing you can get lost in when all else turns to shit. For me starting something as a part-time gig was a nice measure of whether I wanted to keep doing it.

    Of late, what bothers me is those that start because they just want to be in a startup now and they have people encouraging them to leap without looking and are marketing their status as “pre-idea” and “pre-team”. Aren’t we all pre-idea and pre-team? You’re no more a startup than someone that speaks at a TEDx can say they’ve given a TED talk.

    Tell me: What do you want to do with this business?

    So many come to my training courses and a day later call themselves digital marketing experts. Oh you do training in that? That’s unique isn’t it? Is your training better? Faster? Cheaper? Different to be of value? Aa few 100 more within 10 feet are doing the same. Saturated market.

    An Irish facebook? Fuck off. An Irish Snapchat? Fuck off. Yahoo and Google tried that, they failed. You will too. Some people will tell you this failure is good, see the failure section later. They’re wrong.

    Now, going back to the digital marketing training idea. if you were to offer all this training online, you now have a global market and it isn’t saturated. That has potential.

    To move a few steps ahead you have to have some original take with your idea. What are the junctions in life where money, tech and people intersect? Some junctions are traffic jammed or slow, yes? How can you aid this flow?

    Start with software will eat the world by Marc Andreessen

    Start with Ev Williams on making a common thing easier by taking out one step

    Those two links are really all you need for now. Find other links after starting your startup. I’d suggest you never wait for that one idea and then go all in instantly. The natural high from finding this glorious idea inebriates you to think “this is it, I’m sorted”. It’s not, you’re not. It can easily be that half glass of booze that was so nice last night and you can’t stick today when you look back.

    Write down the idea, whiteboard it, examine it, figure out the use of it, figure out who would use it. Ask questions of people who might be users. Let it percolate over time. Outside non-startup pursuits will help you even more here. TV, reading, exercise. That hobby. Do the same for other ideas. Sometimes solutions or thoughts from other ideas fit perfectly with those other ideas. You might start to see the patterns in time. Now you’re trucking.

    That idea? It’s rarely a flash of light gifting something from the heaven that’s fully formed. It’s some rough stone you might see and you start to chip at it and then polish but you find other stones around too. A point will come when you finally see this idea properly and you might even find it seemed it was always there but you saw it in the wrong light until now.

    Built a startup at a startup weekend? Oh wow, that’s an amazing responsive site and Twitter account you have. Oh look, I can do that in the control panel of my Blacknight account in under 3 minutes. But I didn’t have fun eating pizza and beer.

    Pain points/pinch points

    Is there something in your life that could be made more efficient or could be automated? Is there something out there right now that does lots of things but it’s only one part you and most others use? Unbundle it.

    Is there something during your day that pisses you off and you despise doing and would be willing to pay someone else to do? I’d rather not get a taxi and have to endure some smelly, racist person that won’t shut the fuck up about Irish Water. Hailo! Uber! Servitude as a service

    Are you looking at a business and there are many elements of it that make you want to scream because they could do a much better job with some changes? Could they adapt fast enough to your offering and match or better it? Are they a Nokia? WhatsApp does text messaging better and for free. Worth $13.5 billion now. SMS was done yeah?

    If people are willing to spend big money – a small market is all you need to start
    Willing to spend tiny money or none – huge market is needed for you

    Feedback from friends is a fallacy

    Don’t ask people whether they think your idea is any good. They’ll lie and tell you yes because they’re nice or spineless or they’re idiots so will tell you yes. Depending on the idea, it might be something your buddy would never use for work or pleasure so why spend time explaining it to them?

    Find people who roughly understand what your solution is and see can they contextualise it for their work. “That would work for me if it was able to do this first” is much better than “Amazing, let me know how it works”. NDAs waste everyone’s time. If you thought of this idea about 50 other people are working on it too.

    Okay, so now can you just fucking start?

    Okay, idea sorted. Don’t fall into the trap of going to the “startup supplies” store and getting all these things before you start. You’re now just prepping for study by tidying your room, reorganising your notes, spending two hours on a study playlist kind of thing. Except afterwards you’re much much poorer. You’re just one more autobiography of a business person away from starting aren’t you? Just start.

    Start and as you’re starting you’ll quickly find what you need to keep going and what other stuff just gets in your way. I give out to people every day for having crappy sites and mine is crap. I’m too busy helping others but work comes in due to word of mouth so that’s grand.If I only had my website and not got an existing reputation then I’d be SEOing that site to the hilt and blogging on it and sharing it everywhere.

    For me my main thing that I needed was a money person, I got a good accountant for that. I had a laptop, broadband at home, a mobile, access to a car, cash in the bank. Google docs looked after my software and I had a site. For the first two years I used a slow old clunky laptop, it needed to always be plugged in to work. It did me grand.

    Bootsrapping aka being cheap

    Be a virus, live off a host for a while – Web, FB, Twitter. Use all the platforms that are out there. Don’t buy equipment. Don’t buy software. Just use the free stuff that’s out there even if with limits. Have meetings in the lobby areas of hotels with good wifi. Buy a tea to stay for ages, do work after the meeting. Cheap domain name and hosting for the site. Mailchimp for mailing lists.

    If you need hardware, rent it or borrow it. Use the manufacturing workshop of other businesses at night and weekends. It might feel like you’re only reselling for now and you possibly are but your overheads are low aren’t they? You can work on the process then, refine it, swap out and in elements to make you more money per interaction.

    Not got a logo, not got cards, have a one pager website, don’t have fancy offices with bean bags and slides? Good. Wait later for these go-faster stripes.

    TheJournal, a site I dislike for their wholesale robbing of content in the early days and quizzes these days still ploughed on, they were out there, they used staff from the web generation, they had a better site, they knew how to use website optimisation, they knew how to write catchy headlines. They got how to use Twitter and Facebook as distribution channels.

    With that, they had a huge advantage. I remember seeing people quoting Journal pieces on Twitter which were based on Irish Times copy. Years later and their headlines are still better for the same stories.

    They are now massively influential and have the systems to start pushing out original content and are doing a better job than “traditional” media with the printing press millstone around their neck. They could have waited for more newswires and building more sources, they didn’t. They could have built more automated systems, they didn’t at that moment. They got out the gap and live tested it all.

    Get out and talk to customers

    Most startups I’ve encountered failed because of arrogance and/or poor or no sales. I’ll say this later too: If you are going to be your own customer and you only need one customer then keep doing what you’re doing. For everyone else you’ll need to talk to people. Step away from your air-hockey table and ring some customers or customers of a competitor. Not comfortable with people? Hire someone that is or get a buddy to help. Get them to do an online survey. Customers and potential customers will teach you so much about your own offerings even if in the end they don’t buy from you.

    Iterate the motherfuck out of it.

    The Apple Watch is shit right now. It will replace the phone in 5 years. It’s basic now but it’s first. It has a base of a million plus users in less than a year who will stay loyal to it. Version 2 will be better, version 3 much better. Apple are making money and learning with live data from crappy version 1 though. They waited long enough to have an okay version 1 that will not be disliked and they’ll move on from there.

    This okay version 1 is still years ahead of the existing competition and it will be a year before Google/Samsung bring something out but by then version 2 is out. They do it with every product they have. Done is better than perfect, so says Facebook.

    Positive hits

    Do find small little easy to find measurements for your company. Milestones, milepebbles so you can see you are going in the right direction. The same way you can beat procrastination by splitting a task into easier parts, you ought to try it with your startup work. Even if what you think the most constructive thing you did is water the plants, they’re now done. Start with tiny tasks that take a few minutes and widen it out. I didn’t get X done today but I did get W, Y and Z.

    Failure 2.0 is dangerous.

    The myth of failure. “Most startups fail” They do. “It’s okay to fail” This is true too. But the current thing seems to be that it’s okay to phone in sick when running a startup and if it fails nobody was responsible as startups always fail, the odds were against you. This is just pulling the “It’s okay to fail” card. Failure is valuable if there’s responsibility and a need to learn from what worked and didn’t work.

    In this space we have “startups that failed” and we have people who “failed to do anything worthy with a startup”. Hugely different. Irish Smoked Salmon. Smoked Irish Salmon.

    Failing but developing as a person and enriching your experience is what you want if you did fail. The other is grasping nettles again and again and again and “failure experts” telling you that at least you know nettles sting and hard luck and best of luck with the next patch of nettles. And you’re still in that nettle patch two years later. Move one step forward, move another, get pushed back, ask why, ask how to prevent that next time, move one step forward. Is that failing? A long enough timeline and all businesses fail but was it a failure 80% of the time or just the last 5%?

    Startup Ecosystems

    There is finally a startup ecosystem in Ireland. Ecosystems can be healthy things but in the rush to encourage everyone to be in startupland, there are some dire companies that should not exist. Many can only exist in Ireland because they’re bankrolled by the State in one form or another. Ecosystems of course have predators. They are happy to push the idea that everyone needs to do a startup, the more the merrier. Volume is good for them. Plenty of people will now mentor you for a fee or take the fee from an Enterprise Board. Hypocrisy alert, I do this! Sharks with beards, baseball caps and a can of craft beer telling you “whatevers” in exchange for something. Beer, money, board place, equity.

    Some developers will build a site or an app for you and extract as much as they can from you for it. It really isn’t up to them to tell you your idea is useless. Useless or not they need to build and make money. There are some I know who politely tell a potential client to go away and have a think and then come back if they still want to do their idea.

    Do you need a fancy website, do you need an app? For some an app is hugely important, for others it’s pure vanity. If you need an app for the sole purpose of proving to people you’re a big deal, walk. We’re still waiting for iPad apps from Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat. Other things have their resources.


    This “pivot” term that’s used by startups today is mostly bullshit. Today it seems to mean a startup that started with a really bad idea is about to go under so they’re starting something new to get away from that bad idea. Which is a good idea if your new idea is a good idea. That’s where Twitter came from. Mostly though it’s just moving your company on to expensive life support and give yourself the space of a few months before calling it a day.

    Where the really good pivots work though are in working on the original idea you find a roadblock of pure granite that means you don’t go further. However on working on smashing through the granite you might come up with new tools or tech and suddenly you’re making something for others to smash granite.

    Or when talking to potential customers about your idea they end up presenting to you (without realising it) a bigger more lucrative issue and you realise can solve that.

    But that comes from talking to potential customers, really really getting the industry and the issues and fixing it. And fuck all companies do that cos that’s too much work for them especially so many introverted tech people. But tweeting and going to startup wankery events and hanging around with people that will never be customers is enough, right? No.

    You might not need a sales strategy (you actually do) but you definitely need a “meet potential customers and see what issues they have” strategy. Some non-customers can be of more value than customers that do give you money.

    The Hard Things About Hard Things is my favourite half-a-business book.
    The first half is a thriller that everyone that wants to start a business or has a business should read. So inspiring. The second half is just blog posts lashed on to pad the book. A billion dollar business was born from a failing other business that the guys had created, they took IP from that business and created Opsware. You’re googling the rest of that story.

    Flickr and Slack are “pivots” too. Businesses created from other businesses that weren’t doing well or were going nowhere. They were learning even while failing and reset their targets and made Flickr and Slack. Same guy too.. I love these types of pivots because the idea is road tested, poacher becoming gamekeeper in a way and a lot of time it creates a great energy in the startup. Leaner, tougher, looking for revenge.

    Killing in the name of … sanity

    Sometimes though, it might not go anywhere so just shut it down. It’ll steal full breaths off you for weeks but it will be the best decision. If you’re stuck for a gig at this point, do the circuit of giving talks at startup events and do some startup consultancy on the side.

    Incubation centres

    You needn’t worry if you’re in an Irish incubation programme, you will never fail, nobody ever fails in those. Nobody fails. hardly anyone passes. In a State funded one you’ll just get acquired for an undisclosed sum. A euro. Or pivot. Lumped in with a butcher, baker and selfie-stick maker. It’s a bit like school, you even get homework and given out to! So it feels like you’re working for them when they should be working for you. Incubation centres are good if those running them are well connected and will connect you. Worth a repeat: make them work for you.

    Do also note that those in there that tell you that you’re doing it wrong may not have experience of doing it right. You will be given guidance on building automobiles from people that still have horses and carriages and a “man” to work them. Did they ask for equity? What’s their motivation for helping you? What do they get? Job satisfaction? Run.

    While in there you can spend 6 months working on a business plan and get pushed down routes that area dead ends. Only a few years back anyone that wanted to do a web app startup were told middleware was better. Now if you tick Cloud, App, Internet of Things on the form, you’re probably in. Or instead of that business plan let the accountant do cost analysis on your idea in a few days and you build something for a potential customer with the freed up time. Everyone wins an award at the end too. They do graduation ceremonies in playschool now. No difference.

    Incubators are a core part of this “ecosystem” idea now. Pretty soon we’ll have an incubator for incubators. Just like you do that whole making a playlist, tidying your room to avoid doing study, incubators, funding structures and initiatives are a handy way of avoiding real work by State orgs. You know, like fixing the tax laws so someone that’s self employed pays more taxes than their own employees who might be on less or the same wage as you.

    Accelerators are things for cars, normally balanced with a brake. Speeding while you’re still learning to drive, great idea.

    Conferences and events

    Startup events
    Startup lads bant free drinks. LOL. Pivot. StartupBullshitBingo. Did you watch that latest episode of “Silicon Valley”?

    The ecosystem is now replete with obnoxious events on all the time that seem to be more support group AA meetings than anything more. Events on how to fail or something like that. Sponsored by an idiot bank, probably. Startup events on a boat, a plane, a tent,a treehouse, a van, a telephone box.

    I do wonder about those that are in startups yet give almost weekly talks about startups to startups. Not busy in work then? Life support startup? Intercom people talking at startup events makes sense. Stripe too. Their customers go there as do potential new customers. Do your customers attend startup events?

    Go to conferences where your potential customers are. If staff don’t come back with real leads, chop off one of their fingers. Yak style. Conferences cost time and money. Or start your own event or workshops for customers or potential customers.

    Makey Uppey Job Titles
    Chief Movement Creator. Director of Online Happiness. Co- Chief Hoody Wearer. Alloys on your 89 L Toyota Starlet. Director will do. The ones with money can see you’re bored with your gig. Careful.

    Well that meandered.


    In summary

    • Work on loads of ideas.
    • Start.
    • Start it as a part-time gig if you want. Switch when the day job is financially interfering with your startup.
    • Be really really cheap with everything that allows you to be cheap but not with wages.
    • Don’t implement most advice you’re given but listen.
    • Skip startup events, you should be too busy.
    • Incubators are safe and warm and keep you from the real world.

    Read this too if you want:


    Just fDIY