Microsoft IT-Girls 2012 (formerly known as DigiGirlz) was held to a packed theatre on Monday 2nd April 2012 at the Microsoft offices. Over 150 girls from 16 schools participated in a full (and pretty exhausting) day of workshops, presentations and careers panels, to learn more about the career opportunities for women in ICT. The audience featured a balanced mix of private and public school students across Sydney, with some school groups travelling for over an hour to attend!
Workshops included “The Future of Innovation”, “The Future of Entertainment” and “Experience Windows 8”. It was amazing to hear the laughter and “oohs and aahs” during the workshops, and very encouraging to see a group of girls ambush our Windows 8 workshop presenter after his slot to see more of this new operating system! The girls asked lots of questions during our careers panels and it was great to be able to showcase that there a multiple paths that lead to a career in technology.
So many schools had responded to our invitations that we actually had to turn a few away as we couldn’t overcrowd our venue. Having said that – the theatre was pretty packed, with several students sitting on the floor – learning for next time: book a bigger venue! We are looking forward to turning this into a nationwide event and have already started discussions with other Microsoft state offices so that girls outside of Sydney can participate in this amazing experience.
One of my Favorite responses was:
“Today was a very enjoyable day. I learnt a lot about the technology we have today and the upcoming technology that Microsoft is aiming to make public. The experience has shown me that I can have a career in technology and be successful at it. “
“Today was a very enjoyable day. I learnt a lot about the technology we have today and the upcoming technology that Microsoft is aiming to make public. The experience has shown me that I can have a career in technology and be successful at it. “
Well done to everyone involved!
Applications close TODAY!.
Here's a few last minute hints from the AngelCube team.
Thanks for your interest in AngelCube, Melbourne's #1 startup accelerator. A big thank-you to all the teams that applied so far, and a friendly reminder to those still interested that applications close this Friday 23rd of March. Each startup that joins AngelCube will receive $20,000 seed capital, six months free office space with us at Inspire9, an intensive three month program, travel opportunities, pitch opportunities and of course mentorship from tech entrepreneurs & investors. You can read more about the program & terms here and view key dates here. Applying is simple. There's no powerpoint, no video pitches and no 5 year financial models required. Our advice with the form, is you have to be in it to win it. A lot of applicants have found this year's form daunting, but our advice is you shouldn't. Simply state what you're working on, try and provide as much evidence as possible e.g. links to products, your LinkedIN etc but don't be daunted by hard questions. What we're really after is great people, rather than great ideas, so don't feel we'll judge you only on your answers to the form. We know these aren't fun, but we'd encourage you to roll up your sleeves and give it your best. We'll spot the talent when we see it. Also too if you're out of town; don't be afraid to apply. We'll accept teams from all over the country provided you can relocate to Melbourne for 6 months. To apply fill outthis formand we'll notify you if you'd made it to the shortlist. Approximately 20 teams will make this stage, with up to 8 being chosen to participate in the program. Also, this year your application can be submitted any of our partners in the accelerato.rs network too. See here for details. For more information visit the website, email us anytime at email@example.com, or @ questions to us via twitter. We look forward to helping make Melbourne a better place to build a startup. Best of luck! Andrew Birt, Adrian Stone & Nathan Sampimon Co-founders Angel Cube Pty Ltd.
Application close this Friday - March
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I know how excited everyone is about Windows 8. There has been a massive increase in applications for BizSpark lately with great ideas that are targeting the Win 8 platform – so with that in mind I am very happy that I will be joining the team to visit 8 cities and bring the goodness that is Windows 8! I am going to be popping in to check out the ideas and see how I can help Windows 8 developers get their ideas to market through programs like BizSpark.
Melbourne Saturday, 31 March 2012
Sydney Saturday, 14 April 2012
Brisbane Saturday, 28 April 2012
Hobart Saturday, 12 May 2012
Canberra Saturday, 19 May 2012
Darwin Saturday, 26 May 2012
Adelaide Saturday, 2 June 2012
Perth Saturday, 16 June 2012
Pop over the LaLa Ninja for the post, links etc.
See you there!
Focus: How to make it as a Start-up in Queensland
In the lead up to the launch of our Microsoft Innovation Centre in Queensland we are hosting an industry forum with some of the most influential members and leaders of the Start-Up community in Queensland. Come and spend a lunchtime session on March 28th 2012 with our panel, focused on how to make it as a Start-Up in Queensland.
We are excited to announce our panel for this session which includes:
· Steve Baxter; Founder of River City Labs and Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder of PIPE Networks.
· Kyle McGinty; Executive of Digital and Technology Recruitment at Mitchell Lake and Organiser of Silicon Beach Brisbane.
· Christopher Tia; Principal at Lean Market Research, Organiser of Brisbane’s Lean Start-Up Group and former Business Incubation Manager at ilab incubator.
· Mark Bathie; Founder of Freegler.com and former Chief Technology Officer and Founder of Codesian.
The session will run as a Q&A forum with the opportunity for attendees to ask questions and generate discussion around what it takes to be a successful Start-Up company in Queensland. Registration is essential as there are limited places for this session.
Time and Date: 12pm-1:30pm on March 28th 2012.
Venue: The Queensland Microsoft Innovation Centre, Microsoft, Level 28, 400 George St, Brisbane 4000.
Registration closes on March 26th 2012 please contact Emily Easterby if you require more information.
For the 3rd year running, we are excited to be once again be hosting our annual event for Female Students considering a career in IT.
Microsoft is committed to ensuring that every student has the opportunity to reach their potential. Technology not only enables people, but can also be a fantastic career opportunity; especially for young women. However, while female workforce participation rates are equalising across a number of industries, the IT and Computing industry in particular is one that remains quite male-dominated.
On Monday 2nd April, students will be attending Microsoft IT-Girls, held at the Microsoft office in North Ryde, which is the headquarters of Microsoft Australia. Microsoft IT-Girls is designed to help young women gain a better understanding of a rewarding career in IT and Computing. The agenda will be packed with workshops where girls will get hands on with the latest technology, learn about technology courses offered at universities, and listen to first hand experiences from a range of Microsoft women, from interns to senior managers, and Microsoft Australia’s Managing Director, Pip Marlow – one of the most influential women in the Australian IT industry today.
On Monday 2nd April, students will be attending Microsoft IT-Girls, held at the Microsoft office in North Ryde, which is the headquarters of Microsoft Australia. Microsoft IT-Girls is designed to help young women gain a better understanding of a rewarding career in IT and Computing.
The agenda will be packed with workshops where girls will get hands on with the latest technology, learn about technology courses offered at universities, and listen to first hand experiences from a range of Microsoft women, from interns to senior managers, and Microsoft Australia’s Managing Director, Pip Marlow – one of the most influential women in the Australian IT industry today.
If you haven’t taken part in these events before, then you’ll be in a for a big surprise, as it shatters the image of IT as being a geeky, male-only preserve. As it’s thee weeks away, we’ve still got some spare spaces (we have set a maximum number of 15 attendees per school due to high demand). Oh, and it’s free BTW – you just need to sort your transport (North Ryde train station is right around the corner)
Contact Katrina Wong if you’d like to book seats for your school, or you want to find out any more.
Geoff McQueen is an Aussie Entrepreneur who recently made the shift to San Francisco to base his Startup AffinityLive, a startup that solves the problem of managing work for service-based companies. Affinity Live just got featured in TechCrunch: http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/29/affinitylive-debuts-to-help-businesses-manage-operations-in-the-cloud/ Geoff is also an investor and Mentor for Startmate.
I asked Geoff to contribute to our Picknic Startup Series of posts and he has given me permission to repost his recent post from his blog here on “Why Freemium Fails For Business Sales”. Some very important lessons in this post on what to consider when you decide on your business models.
Why Freemium Fails for Business Sales
I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon with the 2012 class of StartMate companies in our Sydney incubator. As someone who’s spent their career working in business to business technology, I was excited to see 3 of the 8 companies focusing very strongly on solving real pain points for businesses. Smart teams, real problems, solid technology – full of win.
While their target markets – property, film and IT management – were all very different, the common challenge faced by all enterprised focused startups who want to get big was the same - distribution. I know this only too well, as this is the thing we spend more time thinking about withAffinityLive right now than anything else.
One of the tempting ways to try and ramp up distribution is freemium. The theory goes, if I make my product free, I’ll remove a big barrier to adoption, word of mouth will have a stronger effect in driving user volume, and we’ll be able to show VCs a nice hockey stick graph that goes up and to the right.
My concern is that for almost all of the SaaS companies that target businesses, those who try freemium realize it was a mistake, hopefully before they kill their business. Freemium is almost always a very very bad strategy for selling to businesses.
In planning our AffinityLive sales and marketing model, I spent a lot of time talking to people who’ve been there and done that. Most of the conversations were very off the record, but one source I always point entrepreneurs to is the experience of the guys from Chargify. They originally had a freemium model, and the reasons they abandoned it – and the backlash they sustained in the process – were blogged about extensively and very honestly by founder David Hauser. It should be compulsory reading for any entrepreneur targeting the business market.
There’s a lot that has been written by people with a lot more experience in the matter, but just telling you not to do something as trendy as freemium isn’t going to cut it. We all want to see our products used, and most engineers start solving a problem for ulturistic reasons, which explains why freemium has so much appeal.
So, rather than just saying don’t do it, I’ve listed the four attributes that can make freemium a successful strategy for your business focused online service. You don’t need all 4, but you’ll want to have most of them baked into your product and business model to have any hope of making freemium work.
As I see it, here are the criteria to required to make freemium work for business (ie, non-consumer) facing product:
There’s a lot of attention and excitement around freemium today, even as the pioneers of freemium have actively moved away from it. Don’t be another engineer or entrepreneur who just wants to be popular – if you’re selling to businesses, avoid freemium unless you’re that small percentage of products where it actually works.
Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural DEMO Asia. DEMO is the launchpad for emerging technology and trends. This is a premier platform for the best and brightest companies throughout the continent seeking to launch their products in front of a global audience. It is also an excellent launchpad for companies throughout the world hoping to launch in the Asian marketplace.
At DEMO Asia, a hand-selected group of 72 companies from 14 countries made their public debut to global press, savvy investors, corporate acquirers, strategic partners and buyers. Adobe, Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Motorola, Symantec and Yahoo! have all acquired promising DEMO companies that have become household names today.
One of the recurring trends throughout the event was these three pieces of advice from many of the sages:
Think Bigger “We have enough Daily Deal sites” said one Sage – requesting teams to think differently and start to solve some of the bigger problems. Solver Harder Problems If your a programmer, technologist of engineer the call to action for all attendees was to look at the problems you want to solve and then step it up a notch to solve something harder. Be Disruptive This theme was also recurring, and perhaps because there was more than a couple of solutions all looking to solve the same problems. With so many pitches over the 2 days, and even outside demo Asia, the way to really shake up the market is to be disruptive!
“We have enough Daily Deal sites” said one Sage – requesting teams to think differently and start to solve some of the bigger problems.
If your a programmer, technologist of engineer the call to action for all attendees was to look at the problems you want to solve and then step it up a notch to solve something harder.
This theme was also recurring, and perhaps because there was more than a couple of solutions all looking to solve the same problems. With so many pitches over the 2 days, and even outside demo Asia, the way to really shake up the market is to be disruptive!
It seemed that there was some aspect of gamification, badges, awards and social competitiveness in almost all of the apps demoed across the 2 days. the features included virtual dollars and rewards, achievements and competing for badges, rewarding people for providing data on sales, or even helping someone to find a local Sushi shop. Alot of the focus was still on events, food, and social interaction. As the guys from GameMaki declared – Life is a game!
Some examples are Burpple, iKnow, George Mobile, Eyeland, Gamemaki, WildFire, Heyawanna.com, DropIcon, Sage.By, Squiryl. Teamie which applied the gamification for Students, urbancook.me had it for geo location based recipe searching and Tradespark used it to customise search results fro suppliers using your social network and recomendations www.tradesparq.com.
Another trend was the for development tools to allow developers to rapidly create and deploy applications and games for multiple platforms. Its seems that developers worldwide are struggling with the learning curves and challengers of multiple platforms to deploy applications. Two of my Favorites were http://www.gocta.io/ (who are looking for beta testers) and http://monaca.mobi/. Both use Cloud based IDE’s to produce runtimes to target multiple platforms.
Further to this there were several simple drag & drop style interfaces to help create mobile applications like http://www.cloudyrec.com/, but none that I saw were quite as advanced as the 2 above. The mobdis.com. team mentioned their goal was to make app development as easy as creating a powerpoint deck – this scares me a little! (I have seen too many really bad powerpoint presentations).
Adeo Ressi of Founders Institute pointed out that is doesn’t matter where you are located if your business idea is good the money will come to you. This was also apparent by the number of investors from outside the region attending the event, I met with VC’s from Vietnam, the UK, France & Germany as well as many from the US. Trends are showing that the Asia Pacific Region has strong growth and investors are ready to invest in good businesses in the area.
I was also interested to see the transition of both investors, mentors and entrepreneurs to the region with examples like Silicon Valley based VC firm Plug and Play setting up in Singapore as well as Vinnie Lauria of Golden Gate Ventures who has successfully exited several startups and is now teaming up with Singapore Chapter of Founders Institute Director Jeff Paine to establish a new fund based in Singapore.
Glaringly obvious in Singapore is how much the government is driving the success of the Entrepreneur community. The 2 major sponsors of the event were Government, the incubators and test beds that supported the event we also government funded. The government further supports the startups directly by covering 90% of insurance policies for companies that fund small businesses and also help to keep the interest rates low for those who do borrow. This is similar to the way the US government initially helped the Silicon Valley ecosystem get up & running – find some very interesting discussions here on the value of the government supporting a growing Startup ecosystem: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6318.html. I am seeing small scale hints at activities like this in both Queensland with the MIC and in the Illawarra region with StartPad and iAccelerate programs kicking off there. I hope we start to see more of this type of investment in the growing Australian ecosystem soon!
Well of course the Australian BizSpark Startups Style Rocks and Tap It (see Below) were my favorites! But after them, my next best would have to include (in no particular order):
Splaype – an add in for Skype that allows you to engage with young children. I am not sure if its just because I would use the application or because I was meant to be Skyping my son at the very time the pitch was on or because of the many times I have seen him just walk away from whomever he is talking to on Skype because he gets bored? Anyway, all good reasons to have a tool like this to make the conversation more engaging on both sides! I downloaded it duringt he presentation and am looking forward to using it. I will be interested to see how it gets monetised.
SageBy – takes the idea that your time is valuable so if you are spending it waiting, why not use it to….Pay by waiting… aka. complete surveys! The survey market is already quite large with micro payments for your time – by gamifying this process and giving rewards, these guys have made the process that little more interesting. I signed up during their pitch – a sure sign that I liked it!
Sofshell – Think ShamWow for Shock absorbent materials! I just loved the pitch! It was absolutely the most entertaining of all of the pitches across the 2 days. There was smashed Watermelons, bowling balls dropped on iphones and the presenter even hammered his hand! Wow! Now I just need to think of a reason why I would need Shock Absorbent materials?
Chatworthy – I love the idea of generations from now, my Son, his children or his children’s children could use a tool like this to put together a snapshot of my trip to Singapore in 2012 and any related events. I look at a travel journal my mum kept for her trip to London 40 years ago and its incredibly hard to get a true picture of what it was like, the language used, the clothing worn, the technology available. I foresee more apps that use the masses of online data we are all tracking and turning them into something of value for future generations… I do wonder where they are storing all that data though and privacy issues about doing so…
CairnSmith although only a 90 second pitch I wanted to see more – a way to visualise & interact with 3d designs? Using Augmented reality, this is what the team at Sheer Industries has built! Imagine stepping into an empty room, but seeing it fully furnished with the use of Cairnsmith! Check them out at http://demo.asia/2012/demonstrators/sheer-industries-group/
Transcribe.me Last but not least – the First presentation at Demo Asia from our friends in New Zealand, which I am lucky enough to have a “sample” copy of the app installed on my phone! The app takes dictations and then utilising real humans they deliver a fast transcribed version of your audio to your inbox. These guys were smart, not only did they pitch their great idea well, but they “ate the dogfood” while at Demo Asia for everyone to see. They recorded each session at DemoAsia2012 to showcase the power of their applciation. This will get them ongoing brand awareness and as people look to replay their sessions and hear ones they missed, they will further build awareness. Clever work guys!
UNKNOWN: Note that there was one more that I really liked, but their demo’d application doesn't match the company names listed in the DemoAsia Presentators list, and it reminds me of a comment by one of the sages that its really important to present a consistent brand – even more so when there are 73 other companies competing to get their messaging across. I am not 100% sure I agree that the app name should match the company name etc as its important to build a business as well as a brand, but there needs to be a better solution – perhaps the DEMOAsia team needed to list both the company & app names?\
Overall, my other highlight was the chance to meet other Microsofties from the region, in particular the BizSpark Champs from New Zealand (Thiago Almeida), Singapore (Eugene Fabian) and Malaysia (Peter Lam). All of whom I have chatted to and emailed many times, but nothing is like meeting face to face! It was awesome to meet such energetic team mates who are all doing great things in their local startup communities! I look forward to meeting up with them again soon and if they are ever in your region be sure to day hi!
Microsoft BizSpark together with Founders Institute and Startup Weekend selected 10 companies from BizSpark across the Asia Pacific region to pitch in the incredibly short 90 second Alpha pitches – and all of them did amazingly well:
Agate Studio is a game developer company creating wide range of games in various platform, such as PC, Web Games, Social Games, Console, Feature Phone, and Smart Phone. Established in 2009, the company is growing quickly and became one of the biggest game developers in Indonesia with 60 crews. Now Agate is expanding the business, not only on game development, but also game academy and game publishing. With their spirit, Live the Fun Way, they are having fun in game business to make the world become much more happier world through games.
Appota.com (aka AppStore.vn), is a mobile-application-based and web-based mobile content store, to help Internet mobile users can download mobile content easily with OTA solution, cross-mobile-OS supported, easy to purchase and variety type of content (not only application). Try and enjoy from your mobile:http://appota.com/
Coworkify is a Facebook application that provides job marketplace and management tool for coworking spaces. To users, Coworkify is a tool to sell and buy small tasks from each other while discovering new people with different skill sets. To space owners, Coworkify is a platform that encourages people to explore new work style while accepting new members and helping the owners manage existing members. Coworkify is a Startup Weekend Kyoto 2011 grand prize winner and a DEMO Asia 2012 Alpha Pitch startup. http://coworkify.com
DocuBuzz leverages emerging mobile and cloud-computing technologies to build content-centered-collaboration tools that are dynamic and agile, yet simple enough to be adopted and fully-deployed by non technical end users. Taccto (www.taccto.com), our flagship application, allows users to interact in real time around their digital documents using modern tablet devices. The application also automatically records, indexes and archives all such interactions for easy future reference.
HobbyMash is a web app that helps hobbyists connect with both each other as well as relevant groups and events.
MobiPoint provides an online channel with a database of buyers (which shows who purchased which product) to retailers to increase customer loyalty. When a store joins MobiPoint, their customers get receipts with QR codes to scan using the MobiPoint application to get loyalty points. This eliminates the need to carry membership cards.
Rofarez Solutions is a web development company based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Their mission is to provide custom ‘cloud based’ business solutions to SMEs and leverage the power of cloud computing to help them achieve their business goals via a ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) model. Their product DappleWorks, is currently under a BETA release and is scheduled to go into production in 2nd Quarter 2012. Product website: http://www.dappleworks.com
StyleRocks is a revolutionary, world-first website where you design your own jewellery, exactly as you want it, for between AUD100-AUD400. By changing the traditional way people design and purchase jewellery, it's bringing jewellery customisation to the masses. Partnership with Australia’s largest wholesale jewellery manufacturer means quality is assured, while enabling savings to be passed on to the customer. Purchase from StyleRocks is motivated by either commercial occasions or the personal ones, such as anniversaries or birthdays.
Tapit was founded in March 2011 and is headquartered in Sydney, Australia. Our vision is to revolutionize the way people use their mobile phones by simplifying the delivery of content using NFC as the enabler. Tapit works with innovative agencies, brands, handset manufacturers and carriers to bring this vision to life.
TranscribeMe converts voice to text, to allow our customers to easily share and search through valuable voice recordings. The voice-to-text conversion of complex audio is done perfectly by our team of crowd-sourced expert transcribers, delivering vastly higher quality results than automated speech recognition, at a fraction of the cost of traditional transcription services. The TranscribeMe smartphone app makes it easy, fast and affordable for our customers to record and transcribe meetings, interviews and dictation.
ibCom have a framework that allows developers to quickly create apps, without having a deep understanding of backend stuff, like SQL or Azure. iBcom allows the designer to focus on the human rather than the technology. They are running an event in Melbourne on 1 March so if you are in the area – be sure to check it out!!
While we are on the topic of awards & recognition – don’t forget to nominate yourself for the Telstra Australian Business Awards! There is a fair bit of work involved in completing the business evaluation as part of the submission, but I think it would also be of great value for you to do and get an idea of where you sit along side your Australian counterparts!
Telstra Australian Business Awards
Prestigious and coveted, the Awards program celebrates the country’s entrepreneurs and innovators. It offers a unique chance for small to medium businesses to be recognised for their hard work, commitment and of course, success.
The Awards operate in every state and territory and are open to all Australian small and medium businesses to enter, offering five Award categories.
Businesses that enter the Telstra Australian Business Awards receive a 70-page report evaluating their business performance against independent benchmarking of core business indicators. These include business planning and performance, customer and financial management, HR, sales, marketing and product development. The Business Health Check helps entrants to grow their business knowledge – growing their business tomorrow by knowing where it is today.
Finalists and winners are catapulted into the spotlight and can win a share of $500,000 worth of prizes. New business opportunities flow as your public profile increases and you network with other leading SMBs.
All finalists and winners join the Telstra Australian Business Awards Network, allowing continued networking in a private and exclusive online environment.
So with great national exposure, a competitive advantage and an opportunity to grow your business world, there’s a lot to celebrate.
2012 Nominations are open. Entries open Monday 6 February 2012 and close midnight Monday 2 April 2012.
Are you running a fast growing or innovative start-up? If so, you need to enter the StartupSmart Awards – the premier awards ceremony for start-ups in Australia.
The submission deadline for the awards is 1 March, 2012 so don’t delay!
At StartupSmart we are passionate about discovering and shining a light on new ventures that are destined to be tomorrow's leading businesses.
The StartupSmart Awards for 2012 will be judged by some of Australia's leading entrepreneurs including Philip Weinman, Fred Schebesta and Amanda Gome.
As well as gaining the recognition of customers, suppliers and even potential investors, the fastest-growing start-up will win a $10,000 Private Media advertising package, to be presented at an awards ceremony in Melbourne in late March.
The awards include a list of 50 of Australia's fastest growing start-ups. The number one ranked business will walk away with the top prize.
Separate awards categories include Best Online Strategy, Best Product, Best Service, Best Green Start-up, Best Young Entrepreneur, Start-up Hero, and, for the first time, Best Start-up Investor.
There’s even an award for those of you still in the planning stages of setting up a business. The Best Start-up Idea winner will have their business plan analysed by industry experts.
Each of the top 50 and category winners will be profiled extensively on StartupSmart. Our sister publication, SmartCompany, will also cover the awards.
Our awards are easy to enter and will take just 10 minutes to fill out. Just by entering, your business will be mentioned in the popular StartupSmart Daily Newsletter in the lead-up to the awards, with a link back to your website.
Entries close 1 March, 2012. What are you waiting for?
Today I am pleased to officially announce BizSpark Plus, an extension of the Microsoft BizSpark Program in Australia. This program allows accelerators to offer each of their startups, up to $60,000 worth of Microsoft Windows Azure compute and storage over a 24-month period, at no cost.
In Australia a number of accelerators, have joined the BizSpark Plus program, including:
· Angel Cube
· Blue Chilli
· Founder Institute
· York Butter Factory
These BizSpark Plus partners were chosen for their exceptional ability to impact the Australian market through their influence in the entrepreneurial community and their proven success with early-stage startups.
The goal of the BizSpark Plus program is to help startups grow their business by offsetting cloud computing costs and enabling startups to spend time and money elsewhere so they can focus on solving their business challenges, learning from their users, hiring more developers, investing in marketing and promoting their business or gaining new customers.
Since its inception, the BizSpark Program has expanded its community to reach over 45,000 startups worldwide to help accelerate their success. BizSpark members gain access to a growing global network of over 2,000 partners that assist startups through financial and legal assistance, mentoring, networking and business advice.
Over time, we will be extending additional offers through our BizSpark Plus Partners. For more information about the program, visit http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/plus.
Today I am honoured to have a guest post that s a little bit different. It’s from a female non technical founder, who shares her experiences as a “Mumpreneur” as she worked towards launching her Business Art Buds. I met Anna when I presented at the Social Media Women event last year, and am particularly honoured to see some of the tips I gave to the attendees beings ones that she has also taken on board & mention in her list below.
Anna mentions some great places to look for support/events/advice in the Startup community here in Australia. In addition to those she mentions I always suggest Startups join some of the great online communities we have here in Australia to Support startups such as http://www.the-entourage.com.au and the online discussion group: http://groups.google.com/group/silicon-beach-australia - these are a fantastic way to connect with other local startups and hear about upcoming events. The Anthill Online Magazine is also a great resource for keeping up to date & getting great tips for your business: http://anthillonline.com/ and www.TheFetch.org is a great source of all the events happening in your local city.
Thanks Anna for sharing your personal experience and lessons learnt – I hope everyone enjoys reading this as much as I did – and be sure to check out http://shop.artbuds.com/ to pick out some amazing artwork for the special little people in your life!
I think running a start up business is like having a baby. There's a lot of build up, preparation, anticipation and excitement until the actual birth/launch. Hopefully a beautiful afterglow and sense of achievement follows. Then there are lots of compromises, troubleshooting, lack of sleep and stress but somehow love and passion keep you going. The rewards do feel worth it if you are consistently nurturing and dedicated.
Yep, it’s definitely a real up and down path, full of challenges and accomplishments. There is a lot of advice and support available, but in reality nothing is set in stone. You take bits and pieces of information from a range of sources and you learn as you go. Common sense also goes a long way…
So as a mother and start-up entrepreneur of ArtBuds – Contemporary Art for Kids, (http://shop.artbuds.com/) I’d like to share my experiences of running an online business with a toddler in tow.
Let's start with the 'before' baby and running a business persona. I have always thought of myself as a great multi-tasker and action woman. If I had a goal I would generally achieve it. This included realising my teenage dream of living in Paris, to leaving my comfortable life and long term job to move interstate, to running my own brand insights consultancy whilst undertaking a Masters in Art Therapy. I also moved to Madrid with my Spanish husband and created a job for myself in a market research agency, despite not speaking Spanish or having a professional European network.
But this was all in my own time, in my own office where I had choices to work in silence or with music, have lunch or work through, stop and start at my own pace. Even working within the constraints of professional deadlines doesn’t quite prepare you for skills required to negotiate nap time, the level of patience for toilet training, the anger management needed when dark red lipstick is applied to cream carpet, texta on the walls…Now I have to multi-task around my toddler’s needs and routine which is generally much more noisy and unpredictable than you can ever plan around.
But just as kids are not robots, the online world moves so rapidly that we have to be agile and keep abreast of the trends, or more importantly create the trends.
My lesson: Giving birth is life changing, so my life and attitudes have also had to change. Whilst being goal oriented is necessary, it can be a bit rigid. It feels more liberating and productive to let go of what “used to be”, and focus on the now. I prefer to live in the present and adopt a broader forward thinking approach.
Although I would love my business to be further along its life cycle, it’s still really in the early stages. In the short 5 months since launch we’ve been tackling SEO and all its permutations, social media, content creation, video production, product development, PR and marketing angles, networking, market research and partnership opportunities.
There’s still so much to learn, and I think it’s realistic to say the business is at the same developmental stage as my toddler. Toilet training! It's a bit daunting, anxiety provoking, potentially a bit complex but a necessary and natural step we need to master so we can mature and advance. It really is time based and could take a few weeks or months, but we'll move onto the next stage when the time is right.
My lesson: It's all about being adaptable and flexible and dealing with the situation at hand, which sometimes changes tack without warning. Rather than getting anxious it’s also about being patient and remembering to celebrate the small steps that will help to maintain momentum when it gets a bit overwhelming.
My daughter goes to pre-school 5 days/fortnight. This roughly equals 10-15 hours of quality block time to work, sans any noise and toddlerville antics. Except for public holidays, school holidays or if she is sick, where those 10 hours a week can easily dwindle to no hours of clean lovely quiet time.
My priority has always been to put my daughter's needs first, otherwise why be a parent and why work from home to be with her? This is easier said than done! I am also conscious not to overuse the TV as a babysitter... so it's always a fine line providing a quality parenting environment and getting my work done to a decent level.
My lesson: Aim to work more efficiently and smarter not longer more stressful hours. It's taken a while to really learn this, and remains an ongoing challenge.
Whilst my husband and I take responsibility for all the important aspects of our daughter’s development and wellbeing she also spends time absorbing knowledge and new experiences from various people. She goes to pre-school, my mother helps out and on occasion we get in a babysitter or friend in, so we can remember why we got married in the first place.
Similarly, as it was advised to me early on, it's best to keep on top of all the important aspects of the business, and get support for the smaller tasks. I now delegate some tasks to a small team of uni students, but the important parts, like the finances and customer contact I retain direct responsibility.
My lesson: Don’t be too precious, delegate and get help wherever possible, so I can focus on the key aspects of the business. It’s also nice to feel like part of a team.
It is amazing how innately babies and children are programmed to know what to do. When my daughter was about 5 months old she started to rock on all fours. She would do this movement every night for about 2 months, avoiding sleep at the excitement of preparing her little body for the bigger reward – crawling, then walking.
It's so easy to have high expectations with the immediacy of social media. Through social media, you may have great buzz one day but the next day it’s another story receiving attention. My mentor warned me about this at our very first meeting. There might be spikes of interest along the way, but it’s about finding strategies that build and sustain these levels of interest.
My lesson: Keep focused on creative ways to build online marketing strategies that incorporate social media, but do not only rely on this for PR and marketing traction.
As a qualitative researcher I've spent many years talking to consumers, and advising companies about their brands, products and services. Think I could do this for myself? No way! It's too personal, I'm too close to it and I don't have the skills or expertise at this early stage.
My lesson: Get a mentor! You don't need to do it all, there are lots of experienced people who can help you. PushStart are fantastic and free.
I believe the ‘supermum’ ideal is a farce, no matter how many successful mothers appear to “have it all”. I’m still unsure what that means…but it’s just not possible to give quality parenting time, focused business time, not to mention partner time, domestic affairs and general life - without something giving way.
It’s almost a no-brainer that to fit in quality time why not work at night after the kids are in bed, or at obscenely pre-dawn hours, to get it all done. Well I did do this, for about three months. Then I got really sick with a terrible virus but still kept trying to do it all, until I eventually broke my big toe and got mouth ulcers and infected gums. Charming. Then under strict medical orders I had to rest for 2 weeks without doing anything, or risk serious illness…a really excellent situation for parenting and running a business.
My lesson: Make health a priority, without feeling guilty for taking time out to exercise and unwind. It provides crucial headspace and clarity. Some of my best ideas are from walking along the beach in the morning. It’s so obvious but also quite difficult to remember and action this.
As a new mother, when your baby cries a lot it can feel really debilitating. With sleep deprivation and no previous experience it can sometimes be hard to cope. Fortunately in Australia there are so many great organisations, nurses, doctors that can help during this time. Unfortunately, many mothers aren’t aware of them, or don’t want to appear helpless and suffer unnecessarily.
Similarly, as a new start-up with no previous experience, it’s impossible to glide along without any hiccups. There are so many organisations and experts willing and ready to offer support, and generally at no cost. It can also get overwhelming and sometimes isolating if you’re working from home. Reaching out to some of the numerous experts and general start up community by attending industry events and meetings can be so enriching and normalizing. Some great (Sydney based) ones include:
My Lesson: Get out to as many networking events as possible. You meet inspiring people, make great contacts, learn a lot and/or feel reassured you’re on the right track, and make potential friends in a similar situation. It feels good to get out and wear some heels too!
This is the trickiest one of all for me. Drawing from my art therapy experience (http://shop.artbuds.com/pages/meet-our-team), transference and counter transference (http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/6/1/57.full) is evident in any relationship we encounter. It's impossible not to get stressed as a parent, or running your own business, but projecting this anxiety, anger and potentially resentment onto a little person can have serious long-term ramifications. Their formative years are so crucial to shaping how they behave and who they become. I am reminded by the expression, "give me a child till he is 7 and I'll give you the man".
Just in case I lose my way, as can easily happen being a first time mum and new to online start-ups, my daughter guides me. Recently I had a lot of tasks to complete. I was feeling under pressure and my patience was being tested. I did many things that I shouldn't have: allowing too much time watching Cinderella and other Disney films, and losing my temper too often. Putting all this together - she said she was Cinderella and I was the stepmother! (NB: no offence to blended family stepparents).
My lesson: I love my business, but my daughter will always remain my best creation. Getting this into perspective has really allowed me to be a better mother and strive towards more efficient time management. As Zappos entrepreneur and motivational guru Tony Hsieh (http://about.zappos.com/meet-our-monkeys/tony-hsieh-ceo) advocates, find the happiness medium and success will follow. I know I’m on the right track when my daughter says, “Mum, you’re not the stepmother anymore, you’re the mummy and I love you”.
Nokia Workshops - Syd: Feb 16th & 17th, Melb: Feb 20th & 21st and Brisbane Feb 23rd & 24th
Be what’s next, register here for the Nokia series of workshops and learn how to create amazing Windows Phone apps and games that delight and entertain. Over the course of two days you’ll learn how to evolve your existing .NET development skills and become part of the lucrative mobile revolution.
The workshop is free of charge and you’ll have an opportunity to show off your creative development skills and be in the chance to get your hands on a Nokia Lumia with Windows Phone handset with a great App Challenge.
Nominate your Apps to be Featured
We know that having apps featured on the Windows Phone Marketplace helps drive downloads and your success. If you have an app that you’d like to nominated to be featured then head to http://wp.livews.net/pages/eventdetail.aspx?mt=B29FE415-756D-4926-8091-0BA29EDDA8A5&eid=aa62acf6-dc9d-4606-b4c4-0ed31f846774 .
Please note this offer is made to Australian based developers who registered in the Marketplace under Country/Region Australia.
Refer a Developer Buddy
If you have an Australian based developer or designer buddy you think would be interested in Windows Phone development then please refer them to http://wp.livews.net, they can request free Windows Phone Marketplace registration and devices for app testing.
This is your opportunity to network with Australia's largest community of young entrepreneurs, while rubbing shoulders with the speakers, panel members and investors...
Click here to watch a video of the last Unconvention!
Australia's top entrepreneurs, investors, top tier business brands, government officials and 400 high-growth companies are all coming together for what is Australia's largest event for entrepreneurs under 40. So why do you need to make sure you're there with us?
All of the Unconventions held in 2011 were sold out well before the event date, and these events are now under 3 weeks away...
CLICK HERE to see the details for when the event is in your city!
They've almost hit capacity for the Cofounder Speed Date event on Monday 20th, but we've manage to get our hands on 5 half-price Tech Founder tickets to give away to BizSpark developers!
Niki Scevak of Start Mate has been confirmed as the guest speaker, and there will be free beer and pizza at the event.
In other words – its going to be AWESOME so if you are looking for a Co-Founder be quick & register now!!
To get the half price tickets, go to www.cofounderspeeddate.com.au and use the promo code "MS212". Be quick, there's only 5 discounted tickets, so it's first-come first-served.
I was invited today (yes on Valentines Day) to the Launch of a cool new app called CoFounda that is designed to match you up with your Startup Soul mate!
“One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face is finding the right cofounder for their idea or project, the process can be a long, arduous and demotivating task, our goal is to change that” says Dan Filmer, CEO cofounda. New Smartphone app cofounda is set to change the way people connect with each other both locally and globally to share ideas and work towards making them happen. It’s currently only available on Android & iPhone – but the Windows Phone version isn’t too far off! Cofounda combines Geo location technology and instant messaging to assist members to connect with potential cofounders, consultants, resources and services that will assist in making their startup journey successful. Users are able to chat in real time with those that have complementary skillsets and interests vitally important to their ideas success
Congratulations to Mat, Angela, Dan & Jarrod on the successful launch!
Aurelius Digital is pleased to invite you to its next angel investment dinner. We had an outstanding group of entrepreneurs pitch at the AngelCube special event in November and equally, we are very excited about the strength of startups that have applied to pitch at the upcoming event. Again we are bringing pre-qualified investors together with pre-qualified entrepreneurs. Word of mouth continues to drive high quality deal flow to the dinners, enabling Aurelius Digital to identify the best new ventures in the market. The dinners continues to have one of highest investment success rates of any angel network anywhere, which we attribute to the model and to the calibre of the people in the room. The event has kindly been sponsored by Xero.
Wednesday 29th February 2012 – 6:30pm start
$150 cash per person on the night direct to the restaurant (or $159.99 using credit card via Eventbrite). Includes three beautiful courses - beer, wine and soft drinks are included in the price for the whole night.
The Botanical – 169 Domain Road, South Yarra
Number 8 tram runs from Swanston right to the door of The Botanical or it’s a very short cab ride from the city.
Seats are strictly limited so please reserve your place ASAP via Eventbrite
Ever had that problem where you ordered a Taxi & keep waiting, and waiting, and waiting? The guys at Go Catch have had that happen to them 1 too many times and so have set out to solve that issue for us all!
We first met Ned and the Go Catch team (then know as Taxi Mate) at our Sydney Azure & Phone 7 BizSpark weekend, that they went on to Win with their App using an Azure backend created across the weekend….
Since then we have been eagerly awaiting the launch of the Phone 7 Application & in great news – today is that day!
So get your hands on this top little app that will help you the take the stress out of booking your next taxi!
Congratulations guys, the app looks great!
I have noticed a marked increase in BizSpark companies that are interested in or focusing on game development or computer interaction so I thought i would remind everyone in case you missed it that the Kinect for Windows Sensor & Software Development Kit are now COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE! Whooohooooooo! For just $296.00 you can have one of these hot little kits in your hands.
Microsoft Kinect for Windows
Kinect has changed the way people play games and experience entertainment. Now, Kinect for Windows offers the potential to transform how people interact with computers and Windows-embedded devices in multiple industries, including education, healthcare, retail, transportation, and beyond.
The release of the Kinect for Windows sensor and software development kit (SDK) for commercial applications opens up the limitless possibilities offered by Kinect technology. Together, the hardware and software offer a superior development platform for Windows and a higher quality, better performing experience for end users.
• Utilize Kinect skeletal-tracking, sophisticated microphone array, and other sensor technologies
• Explore the limitless opportunities to transform products, processes, and businesses
• Link computers to Kinect devices running Windows 7 and Windows 8 Developer Preview
• Run applications built with the Kinect for Windows Commercial Software Development Kit (SDK)
• Use the Kinect for Windows SDK (download at www.kinectforwindows.org) to build applications with C++, C#, or Visual
Studio Basic by using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
The Kinect for Windows sensor unit is intended to be used with the following:
• Kinect for Windows Commercial SDK (download at www.kinectforwindows.org)
• An application that was developed using the Kinect for Windows Commercial SDK and associated runtime software.
Note: The sensor unit does not ship with any software, and will only operate with an application developed for Kinect for Windows.
What’s in the Box
• Kinect for Windows sensor
• USB/power supply cable
• 32 bit (x86) or 64 bit (x64) processor
• Dual-core 2.66-GHz or faster processor
• Dedicated USB 2.0 bus
• 2 GB RAM
• Requires Windows 7 or Windows Embedded Standard 7
Need a cofounder for your startup? Want to work in a startup, but don't have any ideas of your own?
A common challenge that we see in the local Startup community here in Australia is the difficulty in finding a good cofounder for your startup. This year, we will be working with the guys at CoFounder to run regular "speed dating" style networking events to connect tech founders with business founders.
Whether you're looking for a cofounder to help with your startup idea, or you want to find a startup to join, Cofounder Speed Date is the fast and fun way to meet cool people with the skills you need to build a successful startup team.
You'll get to meet 13 potential cofounders and listen to a guest speaker from the tech startup community. Beer and pizza is also included. For details and tickets, visit cofounderspeeddate.com.au
Microsoft BizSpark are proud sponsors of the Startup Weekend events – and this upcoming one in Adelaide looks sure to be awesome! I’ll be heading down to visit Adelaide & be on the Judging panel on the Sunday evening. Hopefully I can get my hands on some Kinect SDK kits too so there can be some uopportunity for development with all the goodness of Kinect NUI and VUI happening! I am also hunting around for some cool prizes to give away, so watch this space.
Startup Weekend is an intense 54 hour event which focuses on building a web or mobile application which could form the basis of a credible business over the course of a weekend. The weekend brings together people with different skillsets - primarily software developers, graphics designers and business people - to build applications and develop a commercial case around them.
More information: http://adelaide.startupweekend.org Buy a ticket: http://adelaide.startupweekend.org/tickets/
ANZA presents our first webinar of 2012 on February 16 (February 17 in Australia, New Zealand and Asia) with one of Silicon Valley's most well-respected leaders and venture capitalist, Bill Reichert. Register here.
In Silicon Valley, Bill Reichert needs no introduction. He is the Managing Director of Garage Technology Ventures, a seed-stage and early-stage venture capital fund.
We're encouraging ANZA members from around the globe to sign up for this free, 1-hour webinar on February 16 (February 17 in Australia, New Zealand and Asia). Whether you're an early-stage startup or a growing company with solid revenue and loyal customers, you will get fresh insights and new ideas for global growth after hearing this presentation from Bill. There will also be ample time for Q&A, and we look forward to a lively conversation.
Find out Bill's "Top 10 New Rules for Unreasonable Success" and his tips for CEOs/founders on management style, building the best team, the 24-hour rule for testing your plans, sources for innovation, reverse marketing strategies and more.
Register now to attend. We expect the spaces to fill up fast, so make sure to reserve your spot.
Get a head start on the conversation. Follow Bill on Twitter @billreichert.
The ANZA network has many members like Bill Reichert and his colleagues at Garage Technology Ventures. When you engage with ANZA for our market research, business matching and Fast Track services, it's network members like Bill who we reach out to on your behalf. Click here to read more about ANZA services.
Do you consider yourself a gaming entrepreneur? Or maybe a software design aficionado? Or perhaps creating viral videos is more your thing? Well, at Imagine Cup 2012 we've got it all — and more! Join the world's hottest student technology competition! This is the competition of competitions. The opportunity to share your creativity with the world. There are several Aussie Comps and Online Challenges you can enter - all increase your chances of nabbing a spot at the Worldwide Finals.
Alternatively, do you know any talented young student developers, or other science, technology, maths, design or business students? Let them know about Imagine Cup! The world’s hottest student competition gives tertiary students the chance to combine inspiration with technology to tackle some of the globe’s toughest problems and compete for cash grants and other prizes! If you know any young minds who fit the bill, forward them this: www.microsoft.com/australia/imaginecup/ and encourage them to enter Imagine Cup 2012.
Microsoft Brisbane | January 24th 2012
In early 2012 Microsoft and the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation will host a Trade Mission to the US for Queensland based partners to experience the future of the mobile enterprise and productivity. The mission is an exciting opportunity for Queensland partners to attend 3 days of workshops, events and roundtables with leading industry professionals at the Microsoft Redmond Campus at the Executive Briefing Centre.
The Trade Mission will be a launching activity of the Microsoft Innovation Centre that is currently under development in Queensland. This exciting opportunity has been developed in collaboration with the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation and specifically tailored for emerging IT Professionals and ISV’s and Start-Up’s based in Queensland or looking to expand their business into Queensland.
Objectives and outcomes:
· A stronger understanding of Microsoft’s productivity vision
· Engagement with product teams for development of applications and services
· Gain a further understanding of the mobile enterprise vision and roadmap (Including: Windows 8, Cloud, Windows Phone)
We would like to invite you to an information evening on the 24th January 2012 at the Microsoft Brisbane office, for some evening drinks, to hear about the exciting activities planned for our 2012 Trade Mission, an opportunity for you at ask any questions that you may have on our upcoming trip, as well as brief overview of the plans and vision for Innovation Centre.
If you will be attending, please RSVP to Emily Easterby or Scott Duffield.At this event we will also be asking that in order to secure your place on our Trade Mission that you can make a commitment by the first week of February.
QLD Innovation Centre Manger | Microsoft Australia
USA Trade Mission- A Queensland Microsoft Innovation Centre Activity
Trade Mission Information Evening
5:00pm – 7:00pm
Tuesday 24th January 2012.
Hamilton Island Board Room, Microsoft
Level 28, 400 George St
Jason Cartwright, the founder of BizSpark startup Contructiv has written this post (also listed on his blog) about some of the lessons he has learnt with the first year of starting his business Contructiv. Thanks Jason for sharing the good the bad & the ugly of this first 12 months!
Just over 12 months ago I had the idea for Constructiv. It was around 1am when I woke, I knew if I fell back to sleep I’d likely forget it, so I got up. I grabbed the nearest exercise book and started writing. Designs, workflows, feature lists were all amongst it. Around 7 pages and 2 hours later I fell asleep.
Constructiv is a chance for individuals to be recognised for ideas and an opportunity for business to see them. I quickly fell in love with it. The idea quickly became like a virus, consuming almost every spare second I had. My active mind was constantly thinking of building the product.
After thinking through some early details, I decided to go for it. There was really only two potential avenues to execute on the idea, get someone else to build it, or build it myself. I decided to get a local developer to help out as my background was in multimedia and UI, not the back-end programming that would be required. As a married guy with kids, life understandably got in the way, but the process cost a couple of months. I’m thankful he was honest and admitted it wasn’t going to happen at the time rather than it drag on and delay for any longer.
Living in Albury Wodonga the talent pool isn’t exactly deep and I did my best to get the word out amongst friends to help me find an alt. I wanted local as I want to build a relationship with this person who could potentially come on-board as a co-founder if things worked out and it became a business.
The internet is an amazing resource and I always take the approach that I can learn anything I don’t know. I often look at people and other roles and question, what is it about them that makes them so special that I couldn’t do that job. The answer is almost always nothing. Sure there’s some natural talent when it comes to physical things like sports, but if you’re willing to put in the hours, you can learn anything online.
Early on I decided to build on the Microsoft stack, it had a large developer base internationally so I figured that many people can’t be wrong, right? Fairly soon after deciding on Microsoft, I looked into Bizspark, an initiative from Microsoft to help out startups. If you’re application is accepted (mine was), they provide access to their MSDN software catalogue for free. They also provide a base level plan of Azure for free. This was a fundamental turning point in the creation of Constructiv and is the reason I have a beta site working today. WIthout it, it simply wouldn’t have been possible, certainly not in the timeframe. I am concerned about the cost of Azure once the free period ends, I’ll need to get creative about how to finance that.
Bizspark requires an ABN, so I registered online, for free, then shortly after had my ABN.
One of the key ingredients from BizSpark was Visual Studio 2010, something I’d never used before. Coming from Dreamweaver it was a bit of learning curve, but a quick course on Lynda.com with a free voucher and I was comfortable with most of the concepts.
As a front end develop, I had extensive knowledge of Adobe’s Creative Suite, but very little experience as a programmer. I was potentially embarking on a journey that would require tens of thousands of lines of code. While I look back now, to build it from scratch would seem like a daunting task, it never felt like it at the time.
Breaking a large project into smaller digestible chunks was something I was good at. I often found that when I focused on a specific function of the site, that created more questions (and development) than it solved. Ultimately this extra development resulted in a more functional, usable site, so constant scope evolution is a great thing.
I spent the next few months teaching myself ASP.Net C#. There were many times where I needed to make decisions like WebForms vs MVC, often stumbling into a religious war that I find ultimately irrelevant. I’m laser focus on the end goal, so I want to build a beta of the site that does what I envisaged, how that happens is almost irrelevant. Sure one programming technique over another may result in scale issues down the track, but if it works out, investment or revenue will afford extra developers to rewrite or fix it.
I decided to go with WebForms as it had the visual UI that I was used to, along with the programming in code behind I would need to build the functionality required. While covering technology on techAU, I heard of and been sold on the idea of Microsoft’s Cloud architecture Windows Azure. That would soon power the back-end of Constructiv.
I remember watching Foundation Episode 3, where Kevin Rose interviewed Phillip Rosedale, better known for creating Second Life. He explained his philosophy of being open and transparent about building a project and suggested that the benefits would far outweigh any potential downsides. I completely agreed and registered a Squarespace blog and began writing about the project.
Shortly after I grabbed the domain Constructiv.co from Hover and the site was live.
I’m not going to lie, building Constructiv has been crazy. Remember I’m building this around a regular 9-5 to pay the bills, my Australia technology blog – techAU.tv, flying around the country to press events, holding down a girlfriend and occasionally seeing friends and family. Most day I get between 4-6 hours sleep.
Something that has been lodged in my brain is Garry Vee’s saying of “you can cause a lot of damage between 9 and 2”. Most ‘busy’ people still go to bed around 10pm, but to get this built and learn at the same time, I’ve needed to put in 18 and sometimes 20+hour days to fit everything in.
You may think I’m crazy for working these gruelling hours, the fact is I love it. I’m seriously addicted. When I’ve taken time out for the movies or the like, it’s actually a horrible feeling. It’s like the time is ticking by and I’m wasting it.
Watching TV now happens via the Slingbox Player on my desktop (if you don’t have a multi-monitor setup, get one). While a lot of late nights and alone time can be isolating and lonely, it really doesn’t have to be in this ultra-connected world we live in. I’m also rarely doing a single thing at once. I constantly watch This Week in Startups, This Week in Venture Capital, Foundation and a number of other startup-related podcasts. I find it’s incredibly motivating to see the amazing products and services other guys are building around the world.
I love to watch Gary Vaynerchuk presentations on YouTube, he’s one of the most passionate, honest people I’ve ever seen and hope to one day meet. He’s like the Tony Robbins of our generation, but not rehearsed rubbish, genuine motivating, thoughtful discussions.
I’ve also watched The Social Network more times than I care to admit.
Something else that provides constant motivation is the thought that someone else out there is working, harder, smarter and faster than me and tomorrow they may be my competitor. When my head finally hits the pillow, I love the feeling of ‘today, I kicked that guys ass’.
I know that I would never make it as a production line worker. I love new and exciting challenges, then solving them and getting that feeling of achievement. It turns out, programming aligns really well with this problem solving creativity. Having small wins along the way is critical in motivation long-term.
The most recent example of this was getting Facebook Login working tonight, a problem I’d worked on for days. Overcoming that challenge was an important milestone in the development. From day one, I knew having the largest identity provider supported was a must-have feature.
Pulling these insane hours isn’t great for your health, but as someone who’s about to turn 30, I take the approach that I’d much rather work my ass off now, than when I’m 60. So I push the body to the limit, I’ve replaced my chair around 3 times in the hope I could have long coding sessions without having back and neck pains. Even with the latest addition of a $550 chair, that still happens.
I hate to think of the amount of cans of V I’ve consumed during the year, pushing your body to and sometimes past its limits means you have to do crazy things. There’s been days where I’ve had 6 cans, which is about 3 times the recommended daily intake.
Exercise is almost non-existent other than social time with friends. It’s not because I’m lazy, but because I know my body craves rest to rebuilt muscles after a workout, sleep time I couldn’t afford. So I ditched the workouts. Thankfully I still only weigh 95kg, ok for a 6’3, 30yo male.
My eyes constantly amaze me, there’s days where I’d spend less than an hour not looking at some kind of LCD display and they seem to have adapted. I don’t wear glasses (yet), but the only time they do complain is around 2am when I’m tired and don’t blink as often.
After starting the business, I created an account and transferred $1,000 into it. I also created a Pledgie donation and added it to the side of the blog. A few passionate early fans helped out with $120 of donations. It turns out the great thing about spending your own time building something is that you have a very low burn rate.
There’s been a few costs along the way like hosting and domain names, business cards etc, but there’s still more than $1,000 in the account. The downside of course is the time it takes. Had I taken the money, hired developers, I would have burnt the cash and had no knowledge for future product development. More importantly, knowing what I know now, I can have intelligent conversations with additional developers that come on-board in the future.
I never had 20k to throw into this project, but what I did have, was time. So that what I invested and I’m over the moon with that decision.
The past week I’ve engaged the services of a friend locally to help build the Windows Phone app, which will be the first mobile version of Constructiv. I’m incredibly impressed with the speed at which he takes my designs and implements them. The funny part is I told him about the idea shortly after I came up with it and he seemed unconvinced. After seeing a full working site, he seems to understand the concept now and is getting on-board. He’s not being paid, I offered, he’s helping out for free.
I never knew I was cut out for startup life, but with around 12 months of busting my ass, I love it. Working towards a product that can potentially change lives and improve the products we all use, it’s an amazing feeling. I’ve got no idea if, but what I do know is I’ll learn from it either way.
In the short term, I’m knocking over a few final must haves features, but then will get to work on a marketing strategy to gain attention for the site. I’ll take the feedback from the beta and constantly evolve and iterate the service as the users need. It’s 12 months on and I’m more in love with this idea than ever.
My theory is, Constructiv doesn’t exist because its not an easy problem to solve.. that’s motivation to go build it. At the end of the day, I wanted a service like this to exist, it doesn’t so I went and built it.
Connect with us
WATCH LIVE ONLINE
9AM - 5PM PST, TUES, DECEMBER 13
Join us LIVE from the Microsoft Redmond Campus to learn how to get started building applications for the cloud from Microsoft technical leaders Scott Guthrie, Dave Campbell, and Mark Russinovich!
On Tuesday December 13th we will be holding a special Windows Azure event for developers. At the Learn Windows Azure event you will learn how to get started building applications for the cloud. The entire event will broadcast live from the Microsoft Redmond Campus so you can watch from anywhere around the world.
We will cover the following topics at the Learn Windows Azure event:
· 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. – Getting Started with Windows Azure
Learn how to get started building applications for Windows Azure with the Windows Azure SDK & Tools from Microsoft Corporate VP Scott Guthrie.
· 10:45 – 12 p.m. – Cloud Data & Storage
Join Microsoft Technical Fellow Dave Campbell and learn how to use SQL Azure and Windows Azure storage services in your cloud applications.
· 12:15 – 1:15 p.m. – Channel9 Cloud Cover Show Live
Join Steve Marx and Wade Wegner for this special live edition to see some fresh Windows Azure demos and hear answers to common Windows Azure questions.
· 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. – Developing Windows Azure Applications with Visual Studio
In this session, Jay Schmelzer will show you how to use Visual Studio to its full potential to develop, debug, and deploy cloud applications.
· 2:45 – 3:45 p.m. – Building Scalable Cloud Applications
Do you want to build applications that are highly scalable, loosely coupled, and highly available? Then tune in for this session to learn about key Windows Azure services and patterns from David Aiken.
· 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Expert Panel Q&A featuring Scott Guthrie, Dave Campbell, and Mark Russinovich!
Submit your questions over Twitter with the #WindowsAzure hashtag and have them answered live during the event by senior Microsoft engineering leaders.
The Learn Windows Azure event will start at 9 a.m. and will conclude at 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. You can watch the entire event live on Channel9 at http://ch9.ms/lwa.
A limited number of seats are also available to attend the event in-person at the Microsoft Redmond Campus. Registration is required to attend in-person. Register now to reserve your seat for the in-person event or receive a reminder for the online event.
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