Trust metrics – your future distributed reputation?

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

Another thought provoking evening out.

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


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!

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?

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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Change is afoot…

One week’s posting on one tech-news site only (zdnet), brings forth three pieces from different authors that illustrate the extreme fluidity which increasingly characterises things digital:

Why I’ve all but given up on Windows…

How I switched from gmail…

Low-end laptops – the rise of the Chromebook

Without expressing any opinion on any of these in themselves, the wider point is that on many fronts – OS, hardware, services – there is potential for radical shifts on a timespan of a couple of years, even for things that have been so ubiquitous as to have brands among the most recognised worldwide.

Disruption is the name of the game for ambitious startups, so turbulent times should be good news – statistically, at least – for startups.

First Project Proposal – Wikitect

OK, so the primary purpose of my venture into the world of tech is to become a part of it. I am confident of the skills, creativity and work ethic I have to offer, but somewhat short on substantive CV matter. In the long term, this blog will hopefully serve as some part of a distributed resume – an aspect of a career bootstrap process.

One plank of this will be to publish project proposals – ideas for ventures of various kinds, more or less deeply considered – to give a flavour of the way I think, the areas I’m interested in, the thought processes I use.

Going public with ideas is an interesting undertaking – taking us straight to the heart of one of the startup dilemmas – are our ideas so precious (my precious…) that we need to keep them secret until we can unveil them in glory (or at least as an MVP), or is the need to find collaborators, to develop traction, so important that it requires us to come out in the open?

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Letter to

After October’s Don’t Pitch Me.. event, I had a brief chat with the founders of I spent some time thinking their situation through, all of which ended up turning into this letter*, which is posted here with Liz Rice’s (co-founder) permission….


Enjoyed your presentation last week – thanks. I think you have great possibilities. I’ve been thinking about it a little, and thought I would share some thoughts which might be of interest.

You may know of Joel Spolsky, a tech/entrepreneurial blogger (founder of StackOverflow). He gave a talk at another Meetup recently about the need to identify an essential characteristic of a startup, which he identifies as Amazon vs Ben & Jerrys – the nub of which is; land-grab, go-for-broke, market share at all costs, own the territory and worry about earnings later versus steady, organic growth, careful with the money, self-fund, focus on quality. He has it as a blog-post here.

The point is, that I think you need to decide which you are.

Further, my opinion is that you need to be huge.
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Diving in…

As a newcomer to the London tech world, an outsider, coming from a resolutely nuts-and-bolts, deeply physical approach to my work in the field of architecture, I’m using this blog to record my activities, experiences, thoughts and ideas, plus excerpts of conversations with people I meet (always on the basis of explicit consent!).

Why am I here? Why am I doing this? Frankly, I am hoping that some of the things I say here will prove interesting to a few people so that my journey into the world of tech ideas, startups, entrepreneurs and investors will become more fruitful. As to why I’m here, it’s simple; I’m taking a step away from architecture, aiming to make a second career in the tech world [just using the abbreviation ‘tech’ is a sign that I’ve made some small move already – it is hard for me to use insider jargon without some sort of mental cringe – something I’m going to have to get used to…].

Yes, I’m another wannabe. I’m happy to admit it because, frankly, it would be foolish not to.

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