ITNorthWest Voice

This is a blog for all the technology entrepreneurs based in the North West of Ireland - musings about our business, companies, interests, trends and any other random thing that hits us.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The coffee shops of Mayfair: Web2.0 and venture capital

The coffee shops of Mayfair: Web2.0 and venture capital Some interesting insights on web2.0 from the likes of John Batelle (web2.0, FM), Judy Gibbons (Accel, 02, ex-MSN) and others. Worth a read.

Ireland - Entrepeneurial Hub?

Ireland - Entrepeneurial Hub? Michele spots a piece on ENN relating to Irish Startup barometer - lots of activity.....

Nick Denton: Startup kit

Nick Denton: Startup kit a good list of apps/info you need... for a startup

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bradenton Herald | 11/25/2005 | Google ignites hiring frenzy

Bradenton Herald | 11/25/2005 | Google ignites hiring frenzy This is also beginning to happen in Ireland - the big guys are all based here (favourable tax, English speaking, Well educated, Guinness), and access to top notch engineering talent is ramping up with competition !!

Sacred Cow Dung: MYTH: "VCs care about what your application looks like."

Sacred Cow Dung: MYTH: "VCs care about what your application looks like." "If you want to attact venture capital, you need to focus on (1) The Market Opportunity and (2) The Execution Strategy Your actual product is NOT mission critical (at this point)."

Monday, November 28, 2005

evhead: Ten Rules for Web Startups

evhead: Ten Rules for Web Startups Evan Williams shares "10 rules for startups".... great list. I liked #2 - no rss name here

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Startup - need a flash desk....

Xooglers: Room to grow A lesson to any startup "Yes, the desks were wooden doors mounted on metal sawhorses." and the Company - Google.

The Future of Web Apps - Web2.0 Event London

Carson Workshops Summit - The Future of Web Apps Looks like this will be a cracking event..... Maybe a BarCamp London on Feb 7th or 9th would top this week

Web2.0 Ireland

The Irish Web2.0 scene is beginning to develop nicely - check Web2.0 Ireland blog (James and Emmet are just getting things going - goal is to do a "techcrunch ireland") - check Web2.0 Ireland. org - non-profit, supported by Enterprise Ireland - goal is to create a community of contributors 2006 looks promising.....

Monday, November 21, 2005

Tablane -- Funny things happening on the way to our forums.

Who'd have thought? For the last few weeks we've been running an AdWords campaign on Google for our new browser. To start with, I picked various obvious words like 'browser', 'tabbed browser' and so on. Then when Flock came out, I added that. (They haven't got a registered trademark yet, so this was allowed). Including Flock boosted our click-throughs, especially when our AdWords text said that our browser wasn't like Flock, but traffic was still fairly meagre to be honest. Anyway, negative advertising isn't big or clever. I took a step back. Our browser is based on Microsoft's Internet Explorer. This is deeply uncool, as many a breathless blogger will tell you. So last week, I changed our AdWords text to describe Tablane as 'Internet Explorer made cool!' and traffic has shot up. More accurately, traffic from Content has shot up. This is because, at a stroke, many, many more third party sites (or Content in Google-speak) suddenly appeared to be carrying our AdWords text. I think this is because including the words Internet Explorer made our text much more relevant to many, many more of Google's AdSense clients. So, warming to this line of thinking, I then included Internet Explorer as a keyword string, and, you guessed it, traffic has ballooned even more. And the really interesting thing, is that for every impression Flock is generating, Internet Explorer is generating fifty!! This doesn't mean, however, that our download rate is increasing by the same degree, which means that our return on AdWord spending is, in fact, getting worse. I put this down to the fact that we are still in beta, and most people are cautious about downloading unknown beta software on to their PCs. So we need to fix that. But this got me thinking about what business Google is actually in. A couple of months ago, I would have said 'Search', but of course, Search is really just a very expensive and complicated traffic generator. When I began the AdWords campaign, I thought Google's business was about carrying advertising. This is partially true, but, if little ol' Tablane is anything to go by, the advertising revenue being generated from click-throughs off the Google Website itself is only about 5% of the revenues from AdSense partner sites. So, in fact, Google is really the world's biggest Internet advertising agency. I bet Brin and Page never put that in their business plan.

Friday, November 18, 2005

John Battelle's Searchblog: VCs vs. The Platforms

John Battelle's Searchblog: VCs vs. The Platforms Interesting development .... GYM (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft) competiting against VC's for deals....

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Who Has Time For This?: How To NOT Write A Business Plan

Who Has Time For This?: How To NOT Write A Business Plan Some great advice from David Cowan at Bessemer...... do check out the pitch submitted from Sproutit.com also check out tips from John Zagula at Ignition

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Post Money Value: Microsoft Lesson - Rude Q&A

The Post Money Value: Microsoft Lesson - Rude Q&A Rick jogged my memory on this term "Rude Q&A" bottom line - be prepared for the ackward questions.... keep a check on all "ackward" questions, and ensure you share "answers" with your team...

Software Only: Open source and the end of traditional sales and marketing

Software Only: Open source and the end of traditional sales and marketing Open source business models are interesting - this post hits some great points. For some additional information check out this article by a SAP ventures person

Monday, November 14, 2005

Tablane -- Towards a market?

We released the 3rd Beta of our browser Tablane on Friday. This one has come on quite a long way since 28th October. It's robust and almost ready for a full release. We're tweaking how we organise and e-mail Collections, and then we'll be ready in the New Year. Some eagle eyes spotted that I had changed our AdWord text on Google to 'No, not like Flock'. This cheeky experiment, especially given that we were appearing every time someone searched for Flock, produced a noticeable spike in traffic, eliciting about 50 extra downloads. We changed this after 24 hours because we are trying lots of different approaches to see what works. We are now experimenting with making a virtue of the browser being built upon the Internet Explorer engine. On this note, the dispute between those who wear OpenSource sandals and the high priests of Microsoft, has always smelled a lot like sectarianism and as such is best avoided. We've gone for an IE base to our innovation initially because IE has the overwhelming majority of the PC market. The problem with this though is that IE users are overwhelmingly not people who get excited by the extensibility of the Mozilla or the security issues posed by ActiveX. They are busy people with only a passing interest in technology. They use the Internet to buy stuff, help the kids with their home work and send e-mails. If we are to connect with them, viral marketing via the Internet isn't going to make Tablane famous in a hurry. And would they pay for a browser, even as cool as ours, anyway? Maybe, but let's not smoke our own. So, by the end of January, we will release a commercial version of the browser for public download. We won't book that villa in Mustique right away though. We think a more demonstrable market lies within the Enterprise. This goes against current consumer oriented thinking, but hey. We don't think it's a browser story alone anyway, but has lot to do with simply, cheaply and securely pooling research data within groups. We think there's a similar market in Publishing where, for example in the Educational sector, informational books are released with lists of URLs that need to be kept up-to-date. On the other hand, the browser works really, really well on widescreen laptops. Could we do a distribution deal with a manufacturer? What pain would that take to achieve? In other words, we will still need old-fashioned channels to market. So we need more depth to our product. We need to be able to articulate clearly what problems we are fixing and get our pricing right. Time to build a demo of the server environment our browser begs to talk to. Think RSS plus client synchronization rules from a technical starting point...

Friday, November 11, 2005

The joys of Enterprise Sales....

SandHill.com | Sales & Marketing | Dealing with CIO Reality Take note "The CIO of one of the largest retail banks in the US recently told me that he has about 60 new projects under evaluation. About half of them will pass technical, functional and investment hurdles. He will then fund 4 to 6 over the next two years. That means that 25 or so projects that meet all objective criteria will not go forward."

A VC: Traits Of A Great Investor

A list of traits any investor should have. Read more

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Raising Initial Funding (west coast style)

Raising_Initial_Funding.pdf (application/pdf Object) A west coast friend (in the US) of mine emailed me this presentation a while back.... we just need to tweak this for the West coast of Ireland process... :-)

jobster blog: keeping it small

jobster blog: keeping it small Jason at Jobster articulates how they are dealing with the "keeping it small" mentality (it follows up from a Forbes article in relation to Google)

Hey Norton! - Ken Norton's blog - Leading cross-functional teams

Hey Norton! - Ken Norton's blog - Leading cross-functional teams The role of product management is not recognized in the majority of Irish Tech companies - Ken puts together a great presentation on the "art" of product management

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Small Business: Invest in R&D, it's a good call - Sunday Times - Times Online

Small Business: Invest in R&D, it's a good call - Sunday Times - Times Online A good piece on R&D and Irish Technology companies. It profiles Alatto who are a company to watch - i expect one of the big guys will acquire this company.... especially when you see the likes of this mobile activity

Internal Microsoft Memo - call to action

Dave Winer - Microsoft 2005 check out email and memo...

Noam's "Founder Frustrations" blog

Noam's "Founder Frustrations" blog great piece on founder equity.... and VC investment

Tablane -- Eating Our Tails

There are now thousands, tens of thousands, of references to our browser company Tablane on Google, MSN and Yahoo. Good news you might think. The references fall into two categories: References to about 7 original blog entries, including this one, and our regularly changed Google Adword copy turning up on a big bunch of 3rd party sites. None of the 3rd party sites carrying our Adword entry have any direct editorial bearing on Tablane at all. Meanwhile, the original blog entries are being linked to and replicated across dozens and dozens of blog aggregation sites, with little or no fresh editorial overlay. If every advertiser on Google is getting distributed this way, and if every reference is being stored on Google servers, what are the implications for Google's qualitative performance over time? Similarly, if the dense smog of blog data is spawning aggregators of aggregators of aggregators, what are the implications for deriving any sort of quality from blog trawls. I was lucky enough to hear Tim Berners-Lee speak in Galway on Monday at the Information Juggernaut event hosted by the Digital Enterprise Research Institute . The theme was the 'Semantic' Web, briefly summarised as being about linking data objects, rather than documents. The concepts are fascinating, but I couldn't help feeling that this innovation as it takes hold will only deepen the digital gloom. What does it matter if Google or any other technology can generate a search response in milliseconds, if you then have to spend half an hour trawling through duplications, reduplications and rereduplications of content looking for the original, the authentic and the interesting? The quest for quality of data is presenting itself to us as the real Internet challenge. Our browser product is one tiny step towards this objective, because our Collection technique, is, in fact, a method of assembling an editorialised result of search. Sharing and collating these editorialised views is our real business opportunity. How to exploit it? Hmmmm.....

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Elusive Great Consumer Experience

The Elusive Great Consumer Experience From Accel Partners Insightful article from Accel Partner on consumer experience, and some of the triggers they like to see.....

Rodrigo A. Sep�lveda Schulz: RSS #018: Meet Marc Fleury, founder & CEO, Jboss Inc.

Rodrigo A. Sep�lveda Schulz: RSS #018: Meet Marc Fleury, founder & CEO, Jboss Inc. Good advice... "I asked him for his advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: “believe”, “keep at it”, “be paranoid” and “believe in yourself” because everyone is going to have an opinion different than yours."

GoogleProductDevProcess (PDF)

GoogleProductDevProcess.pdf (application/pdf Object) interesting....

The Venture Capital Squeeze

The Venture Capital Squeeze "'Bring us your startups early,' said Google's speaker at the Startup School. They're quite explicit about it: they like to acquire startups at just the point where they would do a Series A round. (The Series A round is the first round of real VC funding; it usually happens in the first year.) It is a brilliant strategy, and one that other big technology companies will no doubt try to duplicate. Unless they want to have still more of their lunch eaten by Google."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Tablane -- end of week one

How's it going? Not too bad so far. We've had about 275 downloads of our first two beta releases, and the traffic figures on our Web site are steadily rising. The weekend was definitely a time of most activity, so we'll see what happens over the next couple of days. We had precious few expectations of how many downloads we should get by this point. Hopefully, with the better help material, and a third release coming shortly, people will start to pick up on some momentum. The most interesting thing though is using Tablane to follow how the principal search engines are picking up on references to the handful of blogs which have mentioned us so far. Another way of tracking the progress is to see how quickly they have picked up on the AdWord announcements on Google. I've changed the wording of this now three times in the last week. Using Tablane I can search Google, Yahoo, Ask and MSN simulttaneously and compare their results. After one week, Ask comes up with just 17 references. Ask picks up the Adword change almost immediately, but has almost no references to blogs and other references. Anyone looking for Tablane via Ask would still come up with an obscure book on copyright law. MSN picks up 119 references, Yahoo 772 and Google 983. But the numerical figure is a fairly crude comparative yardstick. Yahoo is way behind on picking up Adword changes on 3rd party sites suggesting that their crawling lags behind MSN and Google. But out of the big two, MSN I would say has a nose ahead in terms of the quality of references. With Google you appear to get everything with the word tablane in, but with MSN, the links seem to have more direct relevance to content. It's a hunch so far, but we'll see over time whether we find ourselves turning first to MSN to pick up on new and better mentions of Tablane. What it certainly points out is that one should never underestimate Microsoft's ability to compete.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Teaching the Startup Mentality

Teaching the Startup Mentality Where do all the MBA graduates from Irish uni's go to ?

New Tech Start-up Programme Announced by EI Enterprise Ireland has just launched a new programme targeted at potential entrepreneurs who want to establish new tech start-ups in the West, North West or Midland regions . Successful companies who have gone through this include John Brosnan of http://www.netforttechnologies.com. A key benefit is that successful eligible applicants who get through the selection process could receive up to 50% of their previous years salary for 12 months to help you concentrate on getting the business off the ground. Other benefits include excellent opportunities to network with peers and potential investors etc not to mention potential to get value for money space at 1 of 5 colleges located in the regions. If interested, please mail international.enterprise@enterprise-ireland.com for more information. Alternatively post back here and I can pick it up with you.