Trip to SXSWi

The Geek Party of the year is here: SXSWi kicks off on Friday and I’m going to be there. It’s going to be great to finally visit Austin (which I’ve heard so much about) and SXSW looks set to be absolutely amazing. I’m going to be there promoting PlayNice.ly (grab me for a beta invite code) which is a bug tracking system for developers.

Let me know if you’re going to be there, it’d be great to connect.

Merry Christmas!

A friend of mine recently told me that I was a bit of “Grinch” when it came to Christmas. Ever since I’ve been making a real effort to get into the Christmas spirit and thought I’d take the opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I’m planning to write a post over the next week or so with my predictions for the coming year. I look forward to your comments.

Early Adopter Annoyance

A tough question for many startups is how to transition non-paying early adopters into paying customers. Trying to squeeze money out of people who have taken a risk with your service and provided valuable feedback along the way is hard.

The reason for this blog post is that I’ve recently been through that early adopter annoyance. I signed up to a free beta for a product that looked interesting and for a number of months got a decent service for free! Being enthusiastic about the service I provided good feedback which (I’m told) helped the service to improve. A few weeks ago I was informed that the free beta would be stopping and everyone would be migrating to a paid plan. There was the offer of a reduced deal for beta users to ease this pain. My immediate reaction was to feel annoyed, I put this down to something going from being “free” (free can evoke powerful emotions) to paid for and the sudden change in value to me. I supposed my relationship with that company also changed from being more of a helper to someone that they wanted to get money out of.

Now, I want to make clear that I don’t have any distain for this particular startup or think that their service is bad value for money. I think that startups have to be very careful when going through this transition phase. Early adopters are often very enthusiastic about a particular product. If you can keep them happy then they will often evangalise about your product much more effectively than you ever can, for almost free!

If you’re transitioning to a paid for service then make sure you keep your early adopters happy!

ArgentVision Trial

One of the startups I’m involved in is running a trial. We’re looking for people with elderly relatives (65+) who live in England. If you fit this description and are willing to help out then please get in touch here.

Please also help out by signing up to the Facebook group and following ArgentVision on twitter.

Innovating Around Innovation

I’ve been having a lot of discussion with various friends around how to encourage people to innovate. More specifically, we’ve been discussing how to encourage people to share their business ideas and move them forward so that they might become a basis for a viable business.

We’ve come up with several approaches to try out our theories. The current focus is on idea generation but soon I hope to move onto idea development and getting teams together. For the moment there are three aspects which I will cover in more detail:

Twitter Business Ideas

I’ve been playing with Ruby on Rails recently and decided to write an app that saved all tweets with the #businessidea hashtag. People can then vote on their favourite idea. I’ll be launching an alpha version very soon. I’m encouraging people to tweet their business ideas, I’ve already started!

Twitter is a perfect platform to share early stage ideas, it’s very easy to use your favourite mobile device or even SMS to record your ideas. Something that we’ve pretty much agreed as a group is that the idea alone is useless, it’s the execution. Thus, it is pretty pointless holding all your ideas close to your chest. I certainly won’t be tweeting all my ideas but I certainly be tweeting those that I think other people can use/gain from. I look forward to seeing your ideas on Twitter!

The Innovation Network

Most of the credit for this idea goes to Nick but I did help set it up! This is a google site (a wiki) that we’ve given a select group of people access to. We wanted to create an environment that was a bit more closed to see if it would encourage better participation (see halfbakery.com for a completely open version). Here we have an inbox of ideas that people then comment on and expand.

This has been quite successful and now seems to be gaining momentum. We’ve reached a critical mass of about 10 people and the ideas are coming thick and fast. If you’d like to participate then drop me an email. We’re trying to get a broad range of skill sets so tell me a bit about what you might bring to the network.

There are several ideas that look like having a lot of potential. We’re now thinking about how to take them forward. I’ll keep you posted!

One Ton Challenge

This is another idea that Nick had a lot of input in. The basic premise is to come up with a business idea that generates £100 a month with minimal time and money input. The idea should be scalable so the profit per month can be ramped up with relative ease. Originally we were going to do this amongst friends but the idea has somewhat changed direction and we’ll be launching something aimed at students.

The thinking behind the idea is that everyone is trying to become the next google. Our belief is that people should focus on selling “stuff” to really get a handle on how to be an entrepreneur. We’ll be updating the website soon and hopefully launching the competition towards the end of the Summer.