Start Up Blog

Sack Your Boss – Wednesday night

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 10, 2014

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The thing that I’ve learned in the past 10 years more than anything else, is how transferrable many of our skills are. I started out my career working in the FMCG industry – Fast Moving Consumer Goods – think supermarket style brands. And while I chose to stay in the industry for more than 10 years, when I decided to leave, and even applied for jobs in other industries I kept getting the same barriers put up in front of me. The HR people and recruiters would say:

“They are after someone which the industry X experience”.

Even the surfing Industry rejected me twice given I hadn’t worked in it already, even though I lived the life and had the all marketing experience in the world – their loss.

I got defined by where I had been, rather than what I was capable of, or heaven help me, actually passionate about. But there is also one little truth to this that they never mention when we’re told we don’t have the right background. And that is this viewpoint and decision is entirely about them. It’s about their needs to simply fill a hole. It’s about their needs to justify a recruitment decision simply. It’s about them not wanting train you or, heaven help us, actually teach you something. In short this so called industry experience requirement is about making their life easier. It has nothing to do with us.

But here’s the upshot – there are some simple techniques to ‘Sack Your Boss’. I know, I’ve done it a number of times. And once you hear some stories about how you can transition to becoming an entrepreneur or a different career path, you’ll feel inspired. So we are running an intimate event on how to do exactly that. There are only a few seats, it’s small by design so we can deep dive. I’ll be sharing my story as will Ben Rowe on how we escaped the tyranny of consumer goods. But the stories will resonate no matter where you work.

Come along and have a drink and a chat. It’s this wednesday night in Melbourne CBD at the Hub, it’s free, and should be a fun little night.

You can register here. See you there.

Going back to the well

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 29, 2014

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This year I’ve been working steadily on my new book and sharing ideas with people who want to know about the technology revolution. And while it is true we are always learning while on the job, I feel like people in the information business need an off-season as much as professional sportspeople and musicians do. Problem is we don’t tend to plan for it on an annual basis as much as other ‘seasonal industries’ do. Which could lead us into a dangerous pattern of already knowing what we know, or at worst obsolescence through ignorance. The ironic thing is that this exact behaviour pattern is what is causing large corporations to be disrupted. They are so busy doing what they do, making what they make and utilising the assets they already own that they rarely go back to the well.

If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer (like I am) then we need to ensure we don’t get so deep into our work wormhole that we ignore the world around us. Screens and offices are very dangerous places to watch the world from. It’s probably better to make, break and explore a few things outside of our work to ensure we keep our edge.

New book – The Great Fragmentation – out now!

Five for Friday v4

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 24, 2014

Here’s 5 pieces of information that got me thinking this week. Reading, viewing and listening pleasure for the impending weekend. Enjoy!

1. Are you suffering from Stuffocation? Author James Wallman takes about it here at Google.

2. Another reminder that the future is phygital – Both physical and digital have a place. One is not superior to the other. In fact, they are better together.

3. Crowdfunding the more important things in humanity – scientific research. Seems more important to me than a tricked up cooler. There’s hope for the internet yet.

4. This is BIG – Estonia has just become first country to allow for e-citizens. Just like corporations basing themselves in low-cost markets, humans can now do it too. Welcome to the Sans Nation State economy.

5. Isaac Asimov essay reveals the true secret of creativity – it’s about the cross connection. And guess what, creative industries and people don’t have a monopoly on it.

Yours in learning, Sammatron3000.

The people we want to meet

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 18, 2014

The people we want to meet, would probably be happy to meet us too, before everyone wanted to meet them. The problem with the people we want to meet, is really in the timing of when we want to meet them. Because we usually only want to meet them after they have done something notable. It’s not uncommon to read about a lunch with Warren Buffett being auctioned for more than a million dollars. Or for people having a list of people they want to meet who inspire them. But what’s interesting is that no one wanted to meet those people before their fame and success was evident. Yet they are the same person. Add to this that sometimes a persons success is not due to specific, unusual or dramatic insight, but probably more effort and circumstance.

Right now, there is a lot of pre-famous people out there whose advice no one seeks, yet. Right now, we all have friends and colleagues who give great council and thoughts, despite the fact they’ve never fronted the cover of a magazine or featured in a human listacle. Often the people we should want to meet, are the people we already know.

Five for Friday v3

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 3, 2014

Here’s another 5 things that are worth investing some weekend time postulating life, culture and commerce over.

1. Take the marshmallow test for grown ups. An intriguing look at an old study that was done on kids attitudes in the 1960′s.

2. Hey, just print your next car. More proof 3D printing laughs at the internet as childs play in terms of future global impact. This is the 2nd 3D printed car I’ve seen after the Urbee… Sh*t is gettin’ real.

3. Some timeless advice from 1956. Let Earl Nightingale open your mind to the secrets to happiness and success. The best advice in life does not have an expiration date. This is seminal.

4. Wanna get learned? Get your ears around the Econ talk podcast. My fav’ podcast that I’m not in…. actually I never listen to anything I ever record because that would just be weird and sycophantic.

5. The future of technology – don’t ask me, this pinterest page of a search for ‘technology’ has way more ideas. Read at your leisure…

Have a super weekend people.

Mindset & Tools

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 30, 2014

Digital Mindset

There’s a whole lot of tools we have at our disposal which didn’t even exist a few years ago. From a business perspective many of them present a counter intuitive option to the ‘Harvard Industrial Complex’. Yes, those established principals of what we thought we already knew about what worked in the market.

Trust the crowd to co-design our product? Are you crazy?

Get funding from future customers with out giving equity? How we going to do that?

Share revenue with content creating customers? Don’t be silly let’s keep it all for ourselves.

Co-opt with our competitors to grow the entire ecosystem? No way, let’s grow our market share instead.

Launch products with lower margin than those they’ll cannibalise? It’s uneconomic and stupid.

When the world changes, what once seemed ridiculous quickly becomes rational. Startups are now redefining what can work in a world driven by cheap and even disposable technology. It turns out having access to the new tools is not enough, we also need access to a new mindset.

New book – The Great Fragmentation – out now!

You say ‘ello’, I say goodbye

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 29, 2014

elli sign up page

While it is around 6 months old now, and still in beta, there has been a lot of noise about Social Networking Startup Ello. And rightly so. A decade or more deep into this social connection thing people are starting to realise, that corporations like Facebook and Twitter, are well, just corporations. They just have incredibly compelling and usable products, from which they’re motivated to deliver what all public corporations aim to do - increase shareholder wealth. Nothing new there. And while some of the founders may have had, and possibly even still have rather altruistic visions…

A more open and connected world

Change the world 140 characters at a time 

… once any company becomes public, its DNA changes somewhat, it mutates and we end up with what we’ve always had. Profit centricity. This isn’t necessarily bad, profits are good, and only companies with great (or addictive) products ever turn one. It’s more about understanding things for what they actually are, or in this case, have become.

Ello, on the other hand believes there is a better way. And I agree. You can read their manifesto here. In short they promise never to sell ‘you’. What they don’t mention is that they’ve already accepted venture capital funding as part of their growth plan. Call me a cynic, but in general people who provide funds usually want some kind of monetary return at a later date.

If any social network wants to arrive and actually be, what Ello is positioning itself as, then it can never be a for profit corporation. It also probably should never be controlled by a limited number of people, or even an organisation. It needs instead to be a gift to humanity, a bit like the World Wide Web. It needs to be open source, and uncontrolled. A bit like a language really. One thing is for sure, it can never be about a financial return on investment.

New book – The Great Fragmentation – out now!

Self editing & the thought police

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 27, 2014

Stasi spy

I remember reading the Cluetrain Manifesto over 10 years ago, and it is fair to say it changed my life. It made me see that technology was creating access. I believed for the first time that the proletariat (like me) could buck the system and the power brokers. The over-riding theme of the book was this:

Hyperlinks circumvent hierarchy

While I still believe this to be true, I think it is at risk. The reason I think it is at risk is that I find myself moderating my opinion now, when I never did just a few short years ago. Just thinking twice before firing off a tweet or a text just in case it could be taken out of context, or if ‘key words’ and meta data inside it could create unwanted focus on my opinion. And while I don’t think I’m particularly important, or anyone would care what I think or have to say, it says something about the world we are in. We now know that every word we type or publish in digital forums is being watched. While some might say it doesn’t matter if you are not doing anything wrong, it does matter if it changes what we believe and say because of it. It matters if it changes the shape of our thoughts and actions. We ought to be concerned.

Yesterday a piece was written in the Sydney Morning Herald about impending changes to security laws. It is worth reading …. and just yesterday we had a certain portion of Australia’s populace protest via twitter with the #heyASIO hashtag. Although it all seems somewhat futile now. Our new environment is very Stasi like – welcome to East Germany circa 1950.

It isn’t without a sense of irony that at a time when we have the most powerful communication tools in history – the web, the power is being thwarted by eavesdroppers. When strangers listen in, the conversation changes, and sometimes even stops. The thing that worries me most is what comes next? What gets encroached upon after that? If there is anything we need from entrepreneurs right now, it is startups which protect consumers from their digital footprints. It’s startups which reinvent the web in a way that ensures it can’t be controlled by authorities and it remains in the hands of humanity as a digital punk hood.

New book – The Great Fragmentation – out now!

Five for Friday v2

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 25, 2014

Ok – here are 5 things I’ve seen (not all new) which have kept me awake at night wondering about life:

1. Forget entering the Matrix, it is being built around us, right now. In fact, you’re already in it. The ever clever Cory Doctorow tells an incredible story about the world the computational cage being built around us. Watch here, it’s a must. And you’ll rethink privacy forever after.

2. Ideas actually look like something, they have a shape, seriously. This mind blowing Ted talk reveals the physics of ideas and what makes them possible.

3. If you think pace of change is speeding up – you’re right. Read this inspiring post by the guys at Future Crunch. They summarise our new world superbly and demystify why technology matters so much now.

4. Liquid metal man from terminator 2 just became a realityRead & see here how the technology that makes it possible just arrived. I’m sure it will be back.

5. Payments via phones & social media is a big deal. Read here why traditional banks and credit card companies might worry just a little. A classic case of today’s collaborator potentially becoming tomorrow’s competitor.

These stories that make it clearer than ever for me that we are all in the technology startup business now.

Value transfer or value creation?

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 23, 2014

There are lots of ways entrepreneurs can make money. Some even have a valid legal status, but with questionable ethics. But all businesses which survive have some kind of value transfer. The real question worth asking is this:

Was there more value in total after we got involved?

If the answer to that is ‘yes’, then we’ve done much more than just make money.

New book – The Great Fragmentation – out now!


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