Startup Productivity Tools event 28th Nov

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This event was put on by Tech Meetups, an international setup with events all over the world – the first of theirs I’ve attended.

I was unfortunately late, so I missed the presentation from HootSuite, who aim to allow management of multiple social media campaigns. My loss.

PRESENTATIONS

ProdPad: As I arrived, Janna Bastow was presenting a tour through the set of tools offered by ProdPad, the startup she founded with her partner, and which they have successfully bootstrapped. ProdPad offers a suite of services clustered around the earlier stages of product development for teams – starting with ideas, offering tools for capture and management, for gathering comment and feedback on them, all recorded and transparent to all stakeholders – specific permissions can be given to users outside the organisation.

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Aside

PitchMark: full disclosure pitching without fear?

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This post from Newspodge brought PitchMark to my attention – a service that attempts to offer confidence to content creators and inventors by acting as a time-stamped repository of record, and backup legal support. The service isn’t free, but although it doesn’t look expensive, in the age of freemium everything it perhaps looks so at first. Close investigation of exactly what it offers will be important – the devil is in the detail with this sort of thing.

This is perhaps something that could be built-in, or partnered with, the Co-Founder Jamming idea.

Artisanal coding culture

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I am not a coder.

To qualify this statement, consider a parallel: I understand a fair amount about the techniques that are used to form, shape and join timber, both theoretical and from practical experience, as a designer and maker on a number of scales. But I would never call myself a carpenter, because I have worked alongside carpenters, and have a deep respect for what a skilled carpenter can do.

By the same standards, I’m not a coder, although I do have some understanding, some experience and I hope some of the analytical ability. I certainly have the same respect.

Artisanal coding cultures have had little chance to develop real depth; human culture has a pace that, speed up as we might, is still tied to the pace of organic life, and information technology, by that yardstick, is barely three generations old. On top of that, while wood has remained wood, and steel remains steel, digital culture has undergone successive revolutions – largely hardware driven – with software following behind, catch-as-catch-can.

Nevertheless (even while understanding much of the content on only the surface level), I am convinced that the c2.com wiki maintained by Ward Cunningham has material that will prove to be significant in the development of a coding cultural tradition. The interchanges there are distilled, terse, limpid and at the same time open to an almost metaphysical dimension to the practice – a preparedness to take a step back and consider the inherent qualities of how algorithmic implementation is.

Explore at will.

Project Proposal: Co-Founder Jamming

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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single startup wannabee, in possession of only some grand ideas and a sub-set of the necessary skills, must be in want of a co-founder.

(apologies … many and very humble apologies, indeed .. to Jane Austen).

As an aspiring startup founder, possessing only some of the skills needed to make any of my ideas fly, not even sure if one of my own ideas should be the first one I work on (see earlier post), I need to find a co-founder or two – or five.

How do I do this? Well, as far as I can see, I’m already going along the accepted pathway. Attending tech networking events, talking to people, putting myself about, writing to people, trying to be as noticeably helpful and interesting as is consistent with not seeming creepy. And it’s great – I am consistently impressed by how positive my experience at each event is, by how interesting/interested the people and their ideas are (posts passim).

But is it enough?

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Start-Ed: Free legal advice meetup Nov 20th 2013

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As the name suggests, this is not so much a networking event, as an opportunity for startups to get free legal advice. The organisers bring along some working solicitors, and team them up with a number of law students.  They sit around a large table, and you put your issue to them, then talk it through.

There were three tables on this occasion, and they saw us one at a time, on a first-come, first-served basis. There wasn’t any noticeable time pressure – you had as long as you wanted to explore your issue.

It’s a great idea -

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Trust metrics – your future distributed reputation?

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In my report on the Startup Speed Dating & Pitching event of nov 20th, I observed (without originality), that trust was the real currency of the sharing economy sector.

I had a discussion after the presentations with another attendee whose name I have shamefully forgotten (if you’re reading, get in touch!) about the future importance of trust metrics, and he came up with a very interesting example that makes it clear how such ratings derived from a particular service context can ripple out into a wider arena.

Consider the scenario (he said), of a boutique hotel, with relatively high prices. The hotel has, say, a 60% occupancy rate. Obviously, it would be good to improve this. But simply lowering prices will encourage budget tourists whose appearance in the lobby might detract from the supposed ‘cachet’ of the brand (yes, I know, I don’t want to stay there either, if they’re so snooty [actually, if I get rich, I might book their best suite and turn up looking like a slob, just for kicks] – but this is a business conversation, remember).

So, they’re stuck.

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Co-Founder Speed Dating & Pitching #4

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Another thought provoking evening out.

Two in-depth presentations, followed by a dizzying parade of 30 second pitches. Event details here.

Mobify

First presentation up was from one of the founders of Canadian tech outfit Mobify, Peter McLachlan. I didn’t know them, but it seems they have provided tools and support for many major brands to translate their web offering to mobile formats. We were treated to a compressed history of the outfit, a classic tech startup of three Computer Science graduates having some insight and then plugging away making clever things happen one after another – by their own admission, many of them blind alleys.

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Ideas, ideas … ten a penny!

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1% inspiration, 99% perspiration, right?

Implementation is everything. Right.

No argument. However, great ideas are still great ideas. I have ideas all the time. Maybe you do too – I hope so. But I can’t / won’t implement almost any of them. So, should they be stillborn, stay locked away in my head until they fade into obscurity? Somehow, this seems a waste – ideas are a uniquely human resource, after all. A little research reveals several sites which act as idea repositories, free for anyone to take and develop ([1],[2], [3],[4] – number 3 is my favourite). They are almost terrifying, the list of good ideas is so long.

A developer/team in search of a killer app could do themselves a favour and scan a thousand of these ideas before starting work on anything – but do they? I don’t think I’ve met a startup team who have been developing an idea that didn’t originate with one of them.

Why is this?

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Why Digital?

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Why? Why am I doing this? In a sense, it would seem as if I’m abandoning what people who have known me for a while would say was more a vocation than a career in architecture.

In fact, I see it as a way of satisfying the same drive by other means. For some architects, and I’m certainly one, the attraction of architectural work is that it allows you to first imagine and then make new bits of the world that work better – that are more beautiful, more humane, more efficient.

The world of digital technology offers these same possibilities but significantly, it allows the solutions to be unchained from the weight and drag of the physical world – offers scalability, ubiquity, relevance, impact beyond that of any but the most iconic of buildings.

More than that, the digital world is new, uncharted  - the space of the unexplored and even the unimagined is so much larger than the territory that has been mapped out, and unlike the real-world, this is a multi-dimensional, self-referential space, where each new invention can spawn whole universes of implied possibility.

It seems trite and trivial to say it, but I am convinced that we are merely in the low foothills of what a digital culture that includes the vast bulk of humanity will offer.

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