Start Up Blog

Arrogance = your opportunity

I bought this reasonably cool pair of board shorts for surfing this summer.

boardshorts

They cost me a whopping $80. Which is what I call ‘insult pricing’. It’s a pretty simple equation actually. The key players in the surfwear industry (Billabong, Quiksilver and Ripcurl) charge these prices because they can. They don’t have any ‘credible competitors’ in this board short subsegment of clothing.

In recent years surf brands have been hit by many competitors in other areas of the market which they used to ‘own’. Especially in t-shirts, from the myriad of streetwear companies, to the uber cool on-line players like Neighborhoodies and Threadless. Interestingly the shorts in this photo would cost >$5 to make. There is significant margin in the product. Such high margins often begets competitive entry into the market place.

The arrogance of said surf brands has invented an opportunity for a nimble entrepreneur to steal part of this market. And the way to do it is exactly the way Threadless have. Go online and build a community to design the uber cool boardshorts / shorts and sell them globally at a fair price. In fact, surf wear is so clichéd and over branded these days that I avoid wearing it. Most of the designs are very rank and have really lost their edge. I only use surf brands for surf equipment. The only reason I bought the pair in the photo is ‘lack of options’.

If anyone knows some one already doing it – let me know
If anyone wants to do it – let me know as well. I think it’s worth ‘investing in’.

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Top 10 reasons for outsourcing digital work

Here’s startup blogs top 10 reasons for outsourcing digital work offshore. Which we do for some work at rentoid with great success. I’m hoping the naysayers, will see by the end of this post as to why it is ethical as well.

  1. It’s an efficient resource allocation
  2. It increases the wealth of the service provider (the person overseas)
  3. It increases the wealth of the offshore country
  4. it facilitates cross cultural interchange and understanding
  5. Makes it possible for ‘non techies’ to start a ‘tech based’ business
  6. Can be the difference which makes a startup idea financially viable
  7. It stimulates greater innovation in the tech sector by creating a greater intellectual resource pool
  8. It invents ‘time’ so people can bootstrap a business while continuing other employment
  9. The outsourced work is not dangerous – we are not sending kids down a mine or employing child labour.
  10. Add your reason in the comments!

Get out there and outsource, make conections, make stuff happen and make new global friends to boot!

Needle in a haystack & websites

While thinking about web front page design, yesterday Cyber Guru Ross Hill had this to say:

“To find a needle in a haystack, one doesn’t have to burn the haystack, just make sure the needle lies on top of it.

If our people can’t find it. Then quite simply it isn’t there. It doesn’t exist, and they may not return. After all that hard work to get them here, that’d be a real shame.

This is why our homepage designs must rock

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Evernote.com – great home page

Posted in brands, business, design, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, marketing, startups, web 2.0, websites by Steve Sammartino on November 7, 2008

Here’s a visual from the website for www.evernote.com which has a super home page. Clean, clear simple communicaiton of what they do.

evernote

I use it on my iphone and it rocks. Get on it.

Steve – founder rentoid.com

Love & brands

In order to be in love we need to feel loved. Often we mistake love for other intense emotions such as lust, obsession and even fear.

So if we were to translate this to business parlance it might read like this:

If we want people to love our brand or company, we simply have to make our audience ‘feel loved’.

So then the next questions we should be asking are:

-          Will they love this product?

-          Will they love our value equation?

-          Will they love our guarantee?

-          Will they love our designs?

-          Will love our ‘contact us’ policy or phone staff?

In fact, let’s just start every audience related question with the words ‘Will they love….”

If we do this and focus on being more than good, more than liked and only accept moving towards stuff people will love. Then one day, they may just love our brand.

Best business card 2008 – Goddess of Revenue

I recently met Kim Chen from tjoos at Startup Camp Melbourne. Smart girl.

The thing that impressed me the most was her business card. Job Title = Goddess of Revenue. Love it.

So it’s a bit hard to read above, but being a ‘Goddess of Revenue’ says so much. The first thing it says is that Kim ‘gets it’. It says she knows that fun is important, but revenue is vital.

Then on the flipside is more useful stuff.

The kind of stuff which just maybe gives her a permanent place in someones wallet or purse. A good chunk of simple, yet useful information.

It’ll be handy next time in Sydney on business…. and her simple business card made me remember Kim, it even got her a story on this here blog.

If we are going to the trouble of printing business cards – we should make it worth remembering.

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Silicon Beach with yours truley

Silicon Beach Australia [siliconbeachaustralia.org] was formed with no plan, just a question:

“How can we bring the Australian technology community together?”

“Silicon Valley has a supporting ecosystem that makes Internet innovation thrive, so what can Australia do? How can our big island with the best beaches in the world, harness the passionate, intelligent individuals who care to do more?”

It’s a very cool initiative and hopefully something which will harness the intellectual capital our country is renounced for. Instead of losing it to countries who appreciate and embrace innovation.

One thing is for sure – it all starts with conversations. I was fortunate enough to be invited into the conversation yesterday for their 3rd Podcast to discuss a bit about rentoid, and all things entrepreneurship…

I was fairly candid with things like my corporate exit, business philosophy, the financial crisis and just the way I like to go about things. You can check it out by clicking here.

The Best Social Networking tools

We often wonder which are the best social networking tools to promote our business. In many ways it’s all and none.

There’s no shortage from which we can shoose from a business perspective: My space, Facebook, Bebo, Youtube, Blogging, Twitter, Live streaming TV, Ranking sites like Technorati, delicious and Stumbleupon, Virtual world spaces like second life.

The list is endless. In fact wikipedia lists the most notable (well over 100) here.

The best ones to engage and use aren’t those necessarily with the most people, the most features or the most anything. The best ones to use are those which you use properly. The way in which they were intended. There’s no point having your brand or startup on any of them – unless you engage the crowd in the conversation ‘they want to have”.

What does this mean?

It means be there often – turn up, and talk.

It means listen to them – it’s their place not ours.

It means share the information people want to have shared in ‘that’ forum.

It means, give first to them, and expect nothing back.

It means learn from their wisdom.

It means show your personaility and have an opinion.

It means create value to them, whatever value means in that forum.

It means be part of a dialogue, not a monologue.

In real terms all these tools are, is a personification of yourself, startup or brand. Don’t engage in behavior you wouldn’t engage in while in the real world. We mustn’t act like an Amway Sales Agents on line. If it’s bad form in the real world, it’s bad form in the on-line world.

If we just put our brand on all of these spaces and don’t get involved – it’s a waste of time for all parties involved. We are much better off embracing one or two forums and using them often and consistently. Going there, isn’t the same as being there. They are not shortcuts to brand fame. In fact, they take longer, but can be of greater value.

Given that the web is a conversation – we must embrace it and have manners. If we’re patient it’s worth the effort.

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UGC & Crowd Sourcing – Beware the Homer mobile

There is plenty of buzz around UGC (User Generated Content), Crowd Sourcing and Mass Customization at the moment. And the truth is I am a sucker for it. I embrace it, love it and really believe it is an economic revolution. In fact many of the new features we’ve implemented on rentoid have been at the suggestions of our members…. but there is a downside.

We need to be aware that not every consumer knows what they are talking about, and not every idea we get from the crowd happens to be a good one. The crowd can get it wrong occasionally. Yep – there are people out there with ideas that just might send you broke if implemented.

If we are building a forum for people to create & share their own stuff on like Youtube or Etsy – that’s when it’s a cool idea to let the crowd take over. That’s when it’s cool to build the forum and get the hell out of the way. But when it comes to them designing and creating products for others – we need to keep our heads. In fact if there is one piece of advice startup blog can give is know which business you are in:

A) Are you building a forum for them to connect on?

or

B) Are you building a product for them – with their input?

If you are doing the latter – that’s when you need to be wary of the Homer mobile.

Instead, what we need to do when we want the crowds input is look to our “lead user group”. The lead user group is our base of fans who are knowledgeable, expert, style leaders or simply influential. These are the people we need to listen to when UGC is part of the mix, but not the whole story.

12 seconds

I really like the idea of ‘small’ – Making the macro, micro. 12 secondsTV does it: www.12seconds.tv

As far as marketing insights are concerned it proves that categories don’t converge – but split.

We recently used it for rentoid to kill a few birds with one stone:

  • Rewards passionate fans with a bit of fame,
  • Create an important dialogue
  • Generate some ‘realworld’ market research to boot.

The cool thing is that we’ll publish what people think about rentoid good and bad – so then we have to act on any mooted improvements. Check it by clicking here:

So in the spirit of involvement - I’d love to get a 12 seconds.tv spot from the startupblog crew – ‘yes that means you’ with any piece of business / entrepreneurship or life advice you feel approporiate.

Put your 12 seconds link in the comments and I’ll put it up as it’s own post with a link to your blog / startup / business or whatever.

Get on it.

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