Start Up Blog

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!

The evolution of labour & where the rewards are heading

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 21, 2014

Geo dome

There is a clear evolutionary path for the type of labour that humans have done in our time on this planet. The over riding theme is that work is hard. Survival takes effort and the easier we can make survival, the better our lives will be. All of the tools we have invented from spears, to wheels, to spanners to computational devices have made more possible with less. Famed inventor R Buckminster Fuller called this phenomenon ephemeralization. He said that with enough knowledge, we’d be able to consistently do more with less, until we could eventually be able to do everything with nothing. The exponential growth we have seen with technology has to this point proven his idea to be true.

If we look at our labour, every curve jump in technology has changed what we do. It has also changed where the greatest economic value has come from our work.  A basic function of scarcity. The history of labour in short from can be summarised as follows:

Physical Labour: Lifting heavy things. Using our arms, legs and backs.

Intellectual labour: Using our minds and mouths. Organising the factors of production.

Emotional Labour: Art, love, performance, creativity, and the beauty of human irrationality.

While there has always been overlap, it is clear to see where the greatest revenue streams have been. Each step change in technology has removed additional forms of labour scarcity. I believe that emotional labour will have the greatest economic value as we rapidly approach the technology singularity.

While this is an over simplification, if we want to earn more, and or run successful businesses we need to do one of two things:

1. Remove human labour. (The industrial revolution removed large amounts of physical labour. The data industrial complex we are now living in removes intellectual, left brain labour as we outsource this to the microchip. If our startup removes the labour we take the financial upside of the structural shift we create.)

2. Move ourselves up the hierarchy, closer to the emotional level. (That is, the bits of human endeavour which are yet to be replicated, or we don’t want to be replicated by machine.)

While we are on the topic, the real value in emotional labour is the irrational bit. The creative stuff, and all other manner of thoughts and behaviour which we can’t quite understand or justify. This is where the value of tomorrow lies. The over riding thought we should have is this: If what we do for a living can be replaced via automation or technology, then it will be, eventually. The further we are from what technology can replace the lower our income risk. And those are the very things which make us human.

My new book will change your life whether you read it or not  – get it now!

Five for Friday

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 19, 2014

Starting this week my posts on Friday will be 5 cool things to read, listen to or watch over the weekend. So here it is the inaugural  5 for Friday. Enjoy!

1. Podcast with Kevin Kelly: Best podcast I’ve heard in a while – 3 part series with polymath Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired magazine. Here he is hosted by Tim Ferris. I learned a ship load from this.

2. Why leaders eat last: A great talk by Simon Sinek who finally uncovers why we are so disgusted with Bankers earning bazillions and the truth about what the deal is with leaders. Inspiring and jaw dropping anthropological story telling.

3. Why we should, stop what we are doing and get involved in bitcoin – Nice summary of why it is such an exciting space. here we need to remember that all currency is ‘made up by people’. In fact, each form of currency closely replicates the technology of the time. Coins in the bronze age, fiat currency spread at the dawn of the industrial age. And so it is the time of a digital currency.

4. The top 10 business secrets in the world. All but one of these is a reminder that the thing that makes these firms win is not the secret itself, but the myth. To me these prove success has many moving parts in the marketing mix, the secret sauce is rarely one of them.

 5. A podcast on The truth about idea generation - and even some information on how to get some and what to do with them. Via that amazing podcast #BBB.

New book – The Great Fragmentation – out now.

Colors, Apps and Cognitive Shortcuts

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 17, 2014

airbnb app icons old & new

I have my apps set up so that they will automatically update whenever I am connected to wifi. It’s pretty handy to have the latest version of something, assuming of course they make it better than the previous version.

But what I’ve noticed recently, or more aptly haven’t noticed, is that apps have a habit of changing their logo, or colour scheme. Which most often means I can’t find it, and all of a sudden I have the chance to drop the habit of using their service, or even worse finding a replacement. It’s worth remembering that the shape and the colour of an app’s logo is the cognitive shortcut we look for when we need to use it. And more often than not a logo or colour change is really only serving the people who make it and not those who actually use it. Unlike aribnb (who recently changed their logo) get front page stories when someone in their office sneezes, most app developers and curators are not so fortunate.

Just because we become bored with something we see a zillion times a day, it doesn’t mean our customers want to relearn what to look for.

New book – The Great Fragmentation – out now.


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