Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tech Crunch 50

Tech Crunch 50 is an event where 50 pre-selected entrepreneurs have 5 minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of judges who evaluate and criticize their business ideas. This year they streamed the conference live and I thought it would be worth while mentioning a few companies that stood out and who are providing services or products that I will use.

- Lissn is a communication tool to help connect the people of the world through live, real-time conversations. Lissn lets the user see what the most important discussions are in the world, their local community and amongst their friends.
TechCrunch Lissn pitch video
Lissn website

Clixtr turns smartphones into smartcameras by leveraging location based technologies and the rapidly improving quality of camera phones. Clixtr users create events, upload mobile photos, and, for the first time ever, create real-time event photo streams with the users around them. Photos and events are public and can be followed live on the web or directly on mobile devices.
TechCrunch Clixtr pitch video
Clixtr website

Chyngle - Chyngle is the first mobile location-based service to provide a venue branded ultra-local experience for users to interact and exchange value with each other and their surroundings within what we call Ultra-Local Environments Chyngle website

Red Beacon - Red Beacon allows consumers who need a service performed to find and interact with local businesses and professionals.

Tech Crunch Red Beacon pitch video
Red Beacon website

Thursday, September 10, 2009

True Innovation

Below are 3 great discussions by 3 great minds on innovation. They will challenge you to question your process, environment and what you think about the conventions of innovation. Godin, Kawasaki & Semier are the rockstars of innovation and I think they bring home the bacon in these 3 speeches; here's what I took away.

Seth Godin: Quieting the Lizard Brain
- You're all creative but your job isn't to "be creative", it's "to ship" or bring your product or service to market. Thrashing early benefits your business because it means you won't sabatoge your work right before your about to send it to market. This human tendency is a primal impulse that we must fight so that we can be successful.
- We are all creative. We try to change the status quo, we come up with a creative idea but never commit to it or execute.
- Being a genius is getting the lizard brain to shut up long enough to over come resistance.
- Do a lot of thinking, scenario analysis, arguement & discussion up front because once you get over the initial hump you are going to finish (ship.)

Seth Godin: Quieting the Lizard Brain from 99% on Vimeo.

Guy Kawasaki: 10 Steps to Innovation
1. Make Meaning. Decide you want to change the world for the better. This will make you money, bring you success.
2. Create a succinct mantra. It should be based on why your product should exist. It should be 3 words in length.
3. Jump to the next Curve. Define business in terms of a benefit you provide instead of what you do. True innovation happens because you jump to the next curve not because you get 10% better on your current curve.
4. Roll the D.I.C.E. Is your product: Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Elegant?
5. Don't Worry, Be Crappy. Don't make your product perfect, at a certain point just ship it. Get it out and then start to make revisions.
6. Let 100 Flowers Blossom. Unitended people will use your product in unintended ways. Embrace it.
7. Polarize people. Create passion in people. Some people will love your product or service, some will hate it. It's ok not to be loved by everyone.
8. Churn. Improve your product/service. Create better versions by listening to how people want it to change.
9. Niche yourself. Find a specific market, be unique and be valuable.
10. 10 / 20 /30 Rule. Great communication is simple communication. When creating a ppt deck use 10 slides, present yourself in 20 minutes and don't use a font smaller than 30 point.

Ricardo Semier
It's been 100 years, why haven't we invented a car that parallel parks by turning the wheels 90 degrees perpendicular to the curb? Why hasn't office structure ever changed, why do we still work 9 to 5 sitting in a cube? Why do decisions have to be based on metrics instead of intuition even when intuition works so surprisingly well and metrics are such poor indicators? Here are a few other points made in Semier's 45 minute talk.
- Intuition: When playing chess Big Blue can calculate 4 million possible chess moves in the one minute time limit it has to make each move; yet it still loses to a chess pro who can only think 4 or 5 moves ahead. This analogy equates to business because the human mind has the capacity to make great decsions but corporations do not tolerate decisions made on intuition.
- The capitalist model rewards growth but growth has never been related to the success of a company.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Tool For Artists and Entrepreneurs

Kickstarter is a 2.0 tool currently in beta that is allowing creative folks to fund raise for their entrepreneurial efforts.

PC Fights Back

Why do brands resonate with people and how are they conflated with culture? This recent Times article PC Fights Back takes a closer look at how Microsoft is battling Apple after the past few years of Apple Ads laying a smack down on the Evil Empire. Faris talks about how Brands are like myths and Ducksworth points out that “brands enable us to make sense and create meaning for ourselves in the social world of consumption in which we participate.”

Lee Clow and Jobs have done things less conventionally and they have manufactured a brand that is based on both innovation and great story telling. But how does perceived power vs. real power play into the equation? What I mean is that Microsoft has a commanding 90% market share of the computing industry and they have stayed out of the marketing game. So much so that some say they feel bad for the poor geeky PC guy who get's tossed around in all the Apple ads. So even though Apple seems like such a dominant brand, history will tell a different story.

The fact is Apple is currently innovative, Microsoft was, but it certainly doesn't have a brand presence anymore. The story we tell and the brand we manufacture as advertisers is only as strong as the product it is supports.
McCann's “The Wow Starts Now” could have been a great story had Vista actually wowed people. Now Crispin's strategy is that a PC is for everyone and it's reasonably priced. Great, the problem is that Apple is innovating and we're not seeing anything new from Microsoft. It doesn't matter how creative Crispin gets, their story is still going to have trouble packing a punch.

Good brands incite aspiration. All I'm asking is that Microsoft step up to the plate and get back into the innovation game. Is that too much to ask?