A Great Simian or just a Monkey

Month: May 2014

Dinewhere

Great Simians is announcing a new studio company, Dinewhere

Dinewhere is a mobile app (and later webb) that will solve two things:

  1. Restaurant discovery
  2. Great prices
  3. Includes only curated better casual and fine dining restaurants

Dinewhere will be released to a limited group in September and dependent of the result from that group, to the hole world as soon as possible. Do sign up to be one of the first to try Dinewhere out.

Discover only those great restaurants

How many times have you not been in the office or at home and though “Where should we eat tonight?”….and always end up at the same restaurant as you usually do. In 30s you want to find a restaurant that suits your need and also be able to book a table at that restaurant. You have tried Yelp, Foursquare, Open Table, Tripadvisor, Google etc but the variety is to wide, too many choices. You just want the a great casual or fine dining restaurant in the area you want and then book it. Well, that is Dinewhere.

Dinewhere will offer a curated list of great restaurants for you. All curated by the team as well as by the users. Filter and sort by location, type of cousin, area, ratings etc. Simply no bad restaurants.

With just a few clicks you will have made the booking.

Fine dining at a great price

This is as straight forward as it gets. We will offer great discounts on the restaurants we have partnered with. Only the best restaurants at great prices, sounds kind of nice doesn’t it?

We will have those great prices for all restaurants that are available in Dinewhere. Also it is for the entire menu, so no fixed menus or just on some choices.

Too good to be true?

With the risk of sounding as a sleezy salesperson with that headline I still believe that above two points of value delivered will be a great product that really solve two problems. They are also totally independent of each other.

For some, the discovery feature is the greatest value. To find a great restaurant really fast and since it is curated you know it is a verified great choice.

For others, the price Dinewhere can offer compared to what you would pay if going without doing the reservation through Dinewhere is in it self a great value proposition for the app. Eat fantastic food, have a great experience and pay less.

The name Dinewhere?

Dinewhere will be a global product. The team will launch in Singapore first, this to be close to the users and the restaurants (since it is a Singapore company) and to be able to iterate when the very first beta is launched. As soon as possible Dinewhere will aim to launch in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, Barcelona, London, Paris, Stockholm etc. No committed plan in terms of cities is in place yet, so stay tuned for the decided list.

With this in mind the name and especially the URL becomes kind of a fun game with words. For Singapore the URL will be: dinewhere.in/singapore and for Hong Kong it will be dinewhere.in/hongkong etc.

Dinewhere is a product that will help you find a great place to eat at a really great price. Dine where?

Internet Trends report 2014

[slideshare id=35210772&doc=internettrends2014-052814-pdf-140528064345-phpapp02]

This is a yearly must read for everyone working with the internet in anyway at all. It is a die hard fact driven report delivered by KPCBs Mary Meeker. It is a huge amount of slides and data, but hang in there, it is worth it!

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Zendesk IPO a success

Congratulations to a great IPO Zendesk, but also to Singapore based Zopim that got $10.9M in shares in the $30M acquisition

I do not regularly write about IPOs and companies that go public, but as a long-time customer and fan to Zendesk and as they also is a, by origin, a company from Denmark it is close at heart to write when something actually turns out as good as Zendesks listing on NYSE.

Even Instagramed my Zendesk T-shirt

Even Instagramed my Zendesk T-shirt.

As a summary Zendesk raised $100M through the IPO and climbed almost 50% the first day of trading (for stock info on Zendesks site). In the turmoil after several not as successful IPOs it is great to see an enterprise startup (even though they have been around for some years) have a successful start.

If you have not read about this yet anywhere else it is most probably for the simple reason that Zendesk is an enterprise company and not a social company without a distinct business model, rather a company that have had a clear business model for many years.

Zopim from Singapore probably also happy

According to the S-1, Zendesk acquired Zopim as well as earn-out ($5M in upfront cash and $13.9 in earn out after 2-3 years) with the structure of some upfront payment, but also with $10.9M in common shares, those shares are currently wortht $20M. If it is a good deal for Zopim is probably not yet seen, since common stock usually have a lock-in on 6 months (do not now the details in this specific case).

Zopimi is one of the bigger exits from Singapore and was also Zendesks first and only acquisition.

Why I do not like MVP – minimum viable product

I will be blunt, for me MVP is a glorified way to build a product that lacks both revenue-model as well as business-model.

It is all about tech geeks that want to build cool stuff. An inside-out approach. Some might succeed, but millions will and have failed!

I have probably already pissed quite a few startups and entrepreneurs off by writing the excerpt like above, but let me dig a bit deeper and explain what I mean with this. First a Wikipedia definition of MVP.

The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

My biggest problem with the term is that it focuses on minimal and not on viable. I love products that are maximum and viable. In that way I do not mean that they are too complex or hard to learn (the classic example is SAP), but rather that a product in my view is like an onion, in layers. It is not only tech, it is everything from relationships, business model to choice of technology. By just hitting keys to produce code, I actually think the road to success will be longer, when lean etc is supposed to be quicker.

I sincerely think that every product should solve a problem and that a vision on the problem solved must be a part of the core of the company. This is the same reason why I have a hard time with the buzzword pivot, see my rant about Pivot in my earlier blogpost. The road to the end-goal is most probably not a straight line, but the goal to solve the problem and by that help others to a better life (or what ever it could be) is a major thing to keep focus on.

Focus vs distraction

We all know how important it is as a startup to keep focus and even here I see potential distractions with the MVP concept. You try out the MVP on a subset of potential customers and they might reject it, you go back to the drawing board and update the product accordingly, and the clients reject it again. Now you start to realise that the product actually does not solve a problem, you just have a damn cool piece of tech, now what? You probably try to find a new market for your brilliant piece of tech, but is that really the best way to go, find a market for the thing you have build, this instead of building something for a market you know exist?

Also from a company point of view this might be interesting. The companies that are most interesting is a product with low market risk, but high tech risk. So when solving a real problem it is more likely that you actually also get attention from investors etc. High tech risk with high market risk is naturally not a top priority to invest in for investors on a regular basis.

Yes, I am a boring B2B guy

MVP it is very often technology driven. That is all good, but since I have a background in the B2B segment it does not make sense for me. To start and develop a product without doing the homework on the market opportunity? and how to sell it and to whom? I can see the popularity of MVP in the age of social and all these snazzy apps without business models.

B2B and MVP

What I have realised is that the enterprise segment is much cleaner and much straight forward. This due to several reasons:

  1. To pay for value is natural
  2. A typical B2B customer is more loyal

If a product does not fit your need or created value, you are out and it will be hard to get back into the account (if you are not IBM, MS, Oracle etc). This gives that you do not want to screw things up early and a MVP approach might not be the best. To add even more on top of that B2B and enterprise clients are much more loyal, so if you do make it and get an enterprise client, they are likely to stay around. Retention in todays subscription-model based world is of essence. Great customer satisfaction = great retention = grew revenue.

So should we go back to the waterfall model?

For gods sake, no. I just think that a more complete beta or v1 is a more viable approach when approaching customers with a product that you want them to pay for one day. Iteration and to listen to customer feedback as well as to pursue your own vision for the product does not conflict with me not liking the MVP model.

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h3>Never mind the buzzword

I just think that a product of today can be developed in a lean way without the MVP approach, the tools available today makes the process of building a product efficient. When you have a vision and a problem to solve (or similar), do your due diligence and market research. Then involve customers as early as possible to validate your idea and to get buy-in. Start to build relationships and the execute the hell out of your business. That should do it.

And when I come to think about it, don’t even care about all the buzzwords, rather just create your 10 slide deck (product, team, marketing and financial) and then just focus and execute on that. A much cleaner and buzzword-free approach.

Also want to put in some credits to this post. Peter Lindberg and Jonas Nockert are two persons that have heavily inspired me to write this. An important note is that they do not agree with me on everything and maybe even disagree with most of it, but they have sincerely inspired me with their knowledge and insight on the subject. Thanks to them and other that I have discussed this with.

Startup Asia 2014

I have been wrong, very wrong. And I am extremely happy about it!

For two days I have been at the Startup Asia 2014 conference here in Singapore. I had low expectations, without a reason I must admit, and in so many ways I am positively surprised.

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h3>The Startups

There where a huge bunch of startups mingling, in booths, on stage, battling in the arean and pitching investors. the quality of the startups was over all well above expectations. As a Swede I have a tendency to look for design and technology execution. And Asian (in general) do not have design as a key priority. Many of the products were very beautiful and with a very intuitive design. Also the technology execution (to the extent that I was able to judge that) was well above expectation. Impressed.

What also impressed me was how aggressive the startups where. Since I had an Investor badge hanging around my neck, I was approach many many times, sometimes in very aggressive ways and some where even pushing other out of the way. This was a really positive experience. The determination and dedication is everything.

Only one thing really bothered me. The local focus. I would say that the Singaporean companies are the ones who think most locally. This even with products that are global in it’s genes. This is a really big issue. During these two days most failed to have great answer to my question to this and only one passed flawlessly, and that was a startup that involved physical products and personal delivery, but she sincerely understood the potential and how to execute on that strategy, impressed (follow up meeting already booked).

One other thing that is a bit worrying (please note that it is just a reflection and not a statistically proven theory). Many of the startups I talked to who was funded by government grants or other government supported funding, gave me a feel of comfort. They lacked the spirit and attitude and also felt a bit too safe. It was like they did not have the pressure to make things happen. As a startup I think that is one of the most important things, focus and make things happen fast……if not you are out of business. Fat and happy is not really compatible with startups.

The sessions

To next year I would recommend to bump up the authority of the speaker a notch. The first keynote speaker was a guy from Vietnam how talked about running a company in Vietnam and how big he was in Vietnam. All good, but either the business nor the execution was that interesting. It is certainly a great company, but as a keynote I would have put the Razor CEO on the prime spot instead. Or any other star that has taken over the region or the world, not only his domestic market.

There was some interesting sessions, but too few highlights and way to many downers. The Tech In Asia staff did a good job as interviewers, it also gave some sincerity to the stage, since it was their own brand and their own conference. The team doing the interviews where also very different. Willi with his direct and on the border to rude (which often was more fun the rude) interview style that at least often got some interesting answers, Gwendolyn with her grace and passion and also Vanessa Tan with sincerity and informative questions. Well done!

Conclusion: Bump up the speakers, keep the interviewers.

Pitches from startups

This was the outstanding most exciting experience of the event. I think in total I got something like 30 pitches during these two days. 20 by being approached on the fly and 10 during the speed dating. I was a bit concerned about being the last company out the door, seemed like the session of death, almost like being the last speaker at a conference. Would the startups still be alive or awake? had all of the startups done their pitch to too many investor prior to us? Since we are new to the market, will people know about us enough to prioritise us compared with others?

The answer is simple, we had the best slot ever and some really good startups pitching. A huge benefit of being last was that we could stick around and actually let a few other (without queue numer) pitch as well. One of the best pitches was from that part. First follow up meeting tomorrow at 09.30. Thanks also to Darren and his team who managed the speed dating. Not only during but also his responsiveness prior to the event.

We have a few follow-up meetings and who knows what that will lead to and will most certainly be joining the speed dating next conference as well.

Conclusion

I much better event then I ever would have imagined. Great startups, great people, great product and a great execution of the event. This event will grow even bigger until next year and already looking forward to it.

I was wrong about the quality of the startups, I was wrong with my low expectations on the event, I was wrong on the attitude of the startups.

Heartware – makes your life better

Think if a product could tell you to avoid things that your body reacts bad to or if you want to know what triggers your anger, or to identify things and places that makes you happy. That is all something that Heartware can help with.

Heartware is an impressive product, even though still in early prototype stage, Heartware could actually make your life better. The potential for areas when Heartware really can create value is huge.

A few examples:

  1. Individuals with disabilities like autism, stroke, dementia etc
  2. Military personell to track reactions, emotions, stress etc
  3. Fitness training, how did you feel before, during and after the training.
  4. Improve work performance by predict your patterns to avoid stress etc
  5. Save your happy moments, camera takes photos when you are happy and also stores the location
  6. …..and as you probably realise, many more.

The basics about Heartware

Kerbie HeartwareHeartware really changes how wearable tech is perceived. While many companies focus on the hardware, Heartware focuses on the value provided to the end user. This is simply by providing the things you do not already know. No hardware on it’s own will do that. Heartware uses the hardware as an enabler to collect as much data as possible about the person wearing the device. It is what is done with the data and the models that are applied that will make it successful. The predictions and recommendations as well as alerts to caregivers, family (first two primarily is used for medical reasons) or just to your self to let you now that you should avoid certain things or the opposite, things you should do to improve your life.

Heartware not only collects a vast amount of data from your body, it also takes photos. Since photos are best seen when put in context, the Heartware camera only takes photos when your emotions (or other data points) go out of range. This so you actually can see the moments that you were happy or angry and maybe what triggered that. The use cases can be many, but just to explain the spectra. If you play with your daughter and are very happy, you probably won’t take out your camera and shoot off a few shoots, you simply do not think of it, the same while just talking to your better half or when out for a walk in the forest, things worth remembering, but easily forgotten, not anymore.

Secondly it can be used for people with medical disabilities. As an example if you have a family member who has autism, that person often might have difficulties expressing feeling and when feelings are strong it is hard to explain what triggered this. Heartware can now support these situations very well.

I have followed the team and am sincerely impressed with what they have done so far, so I can just imagine what they will do in the future with this product. Also, all examples and thoughts above is my own, and might not reflect the market approach the team has in mind, so consider above thoughts from an excited fan of the team and product.

If you are interested in following the Heartware journey, just sign up at the Heartware site and you will get notified as soon as things evolve.

Heartware – A way to understand yourself better

Great Simians at Startup Asia

If you are a startup and in Asia do come and pitch Great Simians at the Investor Speed-dating at Startup Asia on Thursday, both me and Carl will be there and we sincerely look forward in meeting a lot of startups and great fellow entrepreneurs.

For more info on the event, visit the event page for Startup Asia in Singapore 2014.

Also looking forward to listen to some interesting speakers at as well. Especially looking forward to the session from Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State, Ministry of Trade & Industry as well as the talks on specific countries from entrepreneurs from those countries such as Japan and Myanmar etc.

Also the entire Wednesday afternoon that is focused on hardware will be interesting. One of the speakers is the co-founder of Razor that I anticipate will be the first really big exit and IPO from Singapore. Expected to be above 1BUSD range when listed on one of the stock exchanges in US (yes, probably US and not in Singapore, probably due to demand I guess).

There are also some sessions on Bitcoin in Asia which will be interesting I hope.

But most of all I am looking forward in meeting tons of people and see a lot of new startups. If you are a startup that are looking for funding, do look us up or come and pitch us at the Startup Investor Speed dating session. Our slot is on Wednesday 2:30PM.

Photo from Tech In Asia

Don’t glorify the word Pivot

Last year pivot was the buzzword no 1. Startups who came to the conclusion that they where on the wrong track simply change their business model to do something else.

Now I start to see people around the web that tries to build an image of pivot to be something else. Something that has been around for ages. Let’s takes this list as an example, it is posted on the Guest blog by Martin Zwilling.

  1. Zoom-in pivot. In this case, what previously was considered a single feature in a product becomes the whole product. This highlights the value of “focus” and “minimum viable product” (MVP), delivered quickly and efficiently.
  2. Zoom-out pivot. In the reverse situation, sometimes a single feature is insufficient to support a customer set. In this type of pivot, what was considered the whole product becomes a single feature of a much larger product.
  3. Customer segment pivot. Your product may attract real customers, but not the ones in the original vision. In other words, it solves a real problem, but needs to be positioned for a more appreciative segment, and optimized for that segment.
  4. Customer need pivot. Early customer feedback indicates that the problem solved is not very important, or money isn’t available to buy. This requires repositioning, or a completely new product, to find a problem worth solving.
  5. Platform pivot. This refers to a change from an application to a platform, or vice versa. Many founders envision their solution as a platform for future products, but don’t have a single killer application just yet. Most customers buy solutions, not platforms.
  6. Business architecture pivot. Geoffrey Moore, many years ago, observed that there are two major business architectures: high margin, low volume (complex systems model), or low margin, high volume (volume operations model). You can’t do both at the same time.
  7. Value capture pivot. This refers to the monetization or revenue model. Changes to the way a startup captures value can have far-reaching consequences for business, product, and marketing strategies. The “free” model doesn’t capture much value.
  8. Engine of growth pivot. Most startups these days use one of three primary growth engines: the viral, sticky, and paid growth models. Picking the right model can dramatically affect the speed and profitability of growth.
  9. Channel pivot. In sales terminology, the mechanism by which a company delivers it product to customers is called the sales channel or distribution channel. Channel pivots usually require unique pricing, feature, and competitive positioning adjustments.
  10. Technology pivot. Sometimes a startup discovers a way to achieve the same solution by using a completely different technology. This is most relevant if the new technology can provide superior price and/or performance to improve competitive posture.

This is not something new or something related to pivot or lean for that matter. This is common sense and also part of basic leadership as well as in the foundation of building a company. Not related to either pivot or lean.

The bullets above are great and every startup should have them in mind, but to try to glorify pivot by making these bullets connected to the word pivot, that I do not understand.

If my name would be Karl Pilkington I would fly in as the new superhero Bullshit Man and call it Bullshit.

Eric Reis the front figure of lean startup have said this:

Pivot = A change in strategy without a change in vision

Course correction would be a better term and to stay with the vision but iterate the strategy is not new either. The way towards the vision is almost never crystal clear, so the change in strategy will most certain happen many times during the lifetime of a startup.

Let me finish this post with a quote by Adeo Ressi of Fonders Institute:

It truly is always darkest before the dawn in entrepreneurship. Don’t throw in the towel even when it seems the worst… It’s part of the journey of success.

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