Start Up Blog

4 mind blowing presentations on the future

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on May 17, 2014

I’ve recently watched a few presentations which really below my mind. Re-shaped my thinking on the next iterations of the technology revolution. Most interestingly, they all focus on independent systems, peer to peer and the end of the middle.

  1. Jeremy Rivkin – The zero marginal cost society.
  2. Mike Hearn – The trade net.
  3. Albert Wenger – World in Transition. (Why GDP decline is inevitable)
  4. Philip Evans – How data will transform business.

These talks aren’t short, but there aren’t any shortcuts in understanding what our future world might look like. I say, watch these instead of TV – you’ve got the time, it’s really all about how you allocate it.

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Yesterday

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 26, 2013

It’s not that difficult to be an expert on yesterday. The way it was done. The story of who won and why, or even the implementation of the known formula that works (worked?). Experts on yesterday have the rational and believable viewpoint. They can support their position on that pesky little thing called evidence. Of course evidence is always historical. We tend to find experts on yesterday in senior positions in organisations and they tend to proliferate and thrive in legacy industries. Places where protecting revenue is more important than growing it.

Ironically there is no such thing as an expert on tomorrow. There can only be viewpoints on possibilities and the willingness to experiment with those possibilities. What this means, is that the ideas presented by the tomorrow guy are often met with doubt and even derision. I guess we should expect this because most of what they predict simply wont happen. Statistically the tomorrow crew will be wrong more times than they are right. But within those ten crazy ideas they present one of them is usually what eventuates. And this is the time when what works quickly becomes what worked. Just ask Kodak management.

One thing I know for sure, is that experts on yesterday rarely invent tomorrow, and in times of significant change it pays to have a couple of tomorrow guys in your corner.

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The future is less

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on December 23, 2011

You’ve heard this:

If all you ever do, is all you’ve every done. Then you can only expect all you’ve ever got.

It’s changed slightly, actually it has changed radically:

If all you ever do, is all you’ve ever done. Then you can expect much much less than you used to get.

This is because there are a nearly 2 billion people in the BRIC nations who are prepared to do what you do for around 10% of your price. And in a ‘web everywhere’ world people can find them. Yes this includes nearly all of us – Architects, Engineers, Accountants, Lawyers, Graphic Designers, Coders, Developers, Journalists  – every single task that can be done remotely, and even some that can’t be.

For them 10% of your pay is a 50% pay rise. A pretty good deal from where they sit.

What to do – do more with the stuff that lives around the edges. Make meaning from the seemingly disparate. Add a creative edge by mashing things up in a new and interesting way.  And demand the people near you take notice of your ideas. If they don’t, then find a better place to share your creativity.

The trick to the future is to organise the factors of production, not be them.

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The art of the future

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 27, 2011

The art of the future is about taking seemingly disparate pieces of technology, information and ideas and linking them in a new and meaningful way.

The beauty of this truth is that it is something that can’t be outsourced to the microchip, structured in a spreadsheet, the singularity wont replace it, and the incumbents wont embrace it. The only way it will arrive is when you discover the pieces and show us why they belong together.

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Soundbites from the future

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 28, 2011

A few soundbites from the future:

Leadership: It’s no longer about being king of the mountain, it’s about being center of the circle. Prof Joseph Nye author of Soft Power.

Woman will lead the 21st century, or at least a feminine social and business ethic. The 20th century was very male centric. This has flipped with the rise of social facilitation.

The 3rd world is benefiting from the mistakes of the 1st world over the past 100 years. BRIC nations especially are innovating and creating new technology platforms, while the west holds onto fossil fuel era. BRICS are investing in recycling, eco, solar and fusion and the west is resisting.

Conviviality Culture: All we really long for is socialisation. Consumption was the substitute for social recognition in a n industrialised, systematic world. Geolocating is being used as tool for us as a collective to “assemble” so we can collaborate and take back control of our destiny and conversations. Mobiles tell us where we are, and why we are there. Not being listed or ‘located’ via mobile is like not being listed in the white pages.

But, research shows that only 5% of people are “happy” when socialising on line… which tells us that it used as a substitute or preamble to actually connect physically and meet. Socialising on-line is a facilitator to actual ‘real’ connection that we want to make as humans. The proof of this is in the growth of us geo-locating each other. We need to be together.

Although we are connecting on-line, we want to tune out, log off and turn off. We aspire to not having to check our emails or update our ‘status’. It’s onerous and heavy. People in their 20’s are telling us this – not just Boomers.

The magic of the ‘live’ event is being re-born. Live is better than free on line. The free on line is the digital sampling of the event with the real connection…. It’s about being there. We’ve seen this with live footage and concerts on youtube and the growth of live streaming.

Un-Social Networking: Martin Lindstrom of Brand Sense says we are suffering a little from digital emptiness.

Meaning & Value > Volume

The above equation is something that marketers, brands and businesses need to take note of. We are no longer living in a volumetric era. Production and efficiency is being replaced very quickly by value and meaning.

We now have 2 windows to do business with:

The Retailer window and the Digital window. And people are starting to buy back time. The digital window helps us do that. Time is the asset – not ‘stuff’.

People are re-thinking why they buy. Unlike previous generations young Australians are participating in community activity, many of which do not involve any economic incentives.

Beta Attitudes (the every-preneur)

People are doing small scale, networked and highly responsive activities. They are prepared to get involved and just see what happens. The engagement and involvement is a larger part of the project than the actual outcome.

Live gatherings are occurring as an antidote to digital culture…. Or is it a manifestation of digital culture?

We are seeing micro festivals. The stadium era is over. We are more interested in a niche fringe community than a mass event. Mass media, top 40, stadium ethic and the horrible idea of the Grand Prix is out dated. The micro cohort is where it is at. Customised local and organised by ‘us’. Grand Prix is over bearing and crass – it has no fit with our emerging culture. We’ve already seen this sentiment in Melbourne.

Micro, Niche, Fringe, Bespoke, Local and Artisan are all words that we are appearing before the word ‘festival’.

Google this: Bodega party in a box

SMS Slingshot: converging the digital world with a physical interaction http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKEFAFP4lC4 A great way to brand events around a city which is cool, a digital crossover and temporary.

Micro Salons are starting to appear first on-line, and then in person. The art of conversation is not being lost…. It is being reborn now that media is interactive and not passive. Sure language has iterated, been redefined, shortened, coded… but the conversations are real and the more meaning and ideas are being exchanged. We are more ‘conversational’ than ever!

A punk ethic is entering business. Businesses are not asking what’s allowed – they’re just doing it. Implementing first and answering questions later…. This is a big advantage for being small. Take the example of Zingara Cucina

The beta attitude is to forget focus groups and give it a try….. and be honest about it…. Be honest about the experimental nature of what we are doing. It’s not about saying ‘this is goal of the project’ but saying that ‘doing the project is the goal’ and maybe something great will come from it…. And we’ll iterate it as we go…. We’ll invest in doing and iterating…. The digital soft economy and low barriers to entry make it possible.

There are 5 senses, and we still can’t experience 3 of them on the internet – so we must complete the connection / transaction off line…. We have to if we want to get real… and we do want to get real because we are human. But have no doubt the other 3 senses will arrive on the web.

The internet is trying to mimic the real world. GEO-locating is the juncture that makes technology connections “real”.

APP Appeal

Retailers don’t know who their customers are, or where they are or what they bought…. E-commerce retailers know all this and they have a massive advantage because of it – their advantage isn’t just in cost infrastructure it’s in rich data and information.

Australia has the highest usage and penetration of social media at an average of 7 hours a month. This is ahead of the USA, the UK and Japan. Australian retailers say their customers are not ready, but the truth is that they are not ready, or even scared.

Smart phone penetration is now 45% of handsets in Australia. The internet is in every second pocket.

Retail Future

-       We need a sense that we are experiencing something.

-       The tactile store is the future.

-       Transaction must be replaced with entertainment.

-       Event based stores.

-       Artisan values.

-       Streaming production into the store on the screen.

-       Stores must become Maisons – like some luxury brands have done.

Here’s an example – A high end fashion brand with a craftsmans store in London that live streams the craftsman in action onto a big screen in the high street store in Hong Kong.

It’s about the smell and the emotion of the store.

Can you smell the leather from the haute couture hand bags?

Does the store have an emotional footprint or large ‘sale’ signs?

The tactile store has returned and needs to be part of any seriously long term retail strategy.

Crumpler have the in store production bay behind glass where their craftsman can be viewed in action and custom made bags can be ordered, and watched being made. And Haul plan to do something even better with their upcoming ‘Town Haul’ combining food beverage and fashion.

Burberry have fashion events streamed live onto iPads they have instore so that people can purchase the ‘new’ catwalk styles before they are available.

An Acronym for the retail future is: LIVE

Live, Intimate, Visceral, Exclusive (or Event)

Pop up shops – people thought they were a fad. A cute idea in a world of heavy innovation and entrepreneurial-ism. But it turns out they are not going away. Pop up shops make sense in a world of rapid change, and BETA culture.

Component Retail – brands will start shipping product components and raw materials to stores for to be assembled on site… as part of the retail experience. The customers will become the theatre at store level and the creators by virtue of this concoction. What we’ve seen in digital…’A mashup co-creation, mass customised society’… we will inevitably see in retail…. The retailers that survive anyway. We’ll see this a lot more on shop windows:

“Build it yourself in store”

Logistics will become a hot business as we move into component and on-line retail. It’s the business we’ll all need to facilitate the commercial world we are living in. Buy shares in Fedex…. Shipping will be the biggest beneficiary of changes in the business landscape.

3D Printing & Rapid Prototyping: The ability to fabricate everything from chairs, to furniture, to surfboards, to garden tools. It’s hard to believe but new printers are being developed that can take images off the screen and replicate them into an actual size unit. They currently use a layering technique and can ‘prototype’ objects using a range of materials (plastics, carbon composites et al).

To give us just a little bit of belief the ‘fantastical statement’ above this about: Only a decade or so ago a printer was a guy name Tony in who had a little factory Ringwood. Now it’s a thing that sits on your desk that creates stuff pretty much as good as anything we can buy which is printed. Manufacturing will go the same way – into the micro solution segment.

The manufacturing industry will be evolve and provide the resources so we can create our own version of the ‘thing’.

Brand stories are best when we can choose our own adventure… Exclusive balanced with accessible.

“BETA-PRENEURS”

We are entering a world of trial and error. Where it is actually OK to fail. Betapreneurs would rather fail in action than fail by not trying. Betapreneurs transfer virtual world skills into the real world and business.

New low costs of business and access to production and information are facilitating a ‘try it and see’ culture.

A result is the new Anarconomy:

Anarconomy: An alternative economy where there are no geographic boundaries and often no tax claims. We circumvent the system. We make our own rules.

Alternative currencies are starting to appear. Facilitated by digital arbitrage… where we know the cross rates of goods and services after currency conversion and shipping. So the alternative of a global currency will emerge. Probably as a function of the gold standard (global price of gold as the trading valuation mechanism) with some form of digital instant and unseen conversion from our home currency into some quantum derived from gold. Maybe Paypal will do it for us? Or will it be Facebook credits?

Where Youth once rebelled against commerce, today’s youth embrace it. They like brands so much, that they want to build their own. They are unapologetically ‘into’ business. It’s a conspiracy between brand love and low barriers that has given birth to a new entrepreneurial spirit. Web enabled – of course. But it’s commerce on their terms.

Now days starting a new business is as simple as a mouse click and a few phone calls – Instapreneurs.

Betapreneurs are analysing insights from their jobs and converting these gaps into new businesses.  These founders are imbuing their new businesses with the values of our time. They have a willingness to ‘open source’.

It’s also worth noting that 75% of the fortune 500 companies were started during a recession. (the Kauffman Foundation) So it’s fair to imagine the GFC is going to be the foundation of tomorrows business leaders. 

Betapreneurs are steering old industries into new directions because they have no legacy infrastructure.

Artists are by passing the ‘store buyer barrier’ and going direct. The gatekeeper is evaporating, this is a good thing.

Why didn’t (don’t) retailers have personal shopping assistants? It took Betapreneurs to invent the category. Yet it could be a big point of difference for department stores and easy to generate a solid return on the employees wages. Dear Myer, pay attention.

The Sticky Institute represents zine culture in a way that culture jams the old industry due to a lack of legacy infrastructure.

We should ask ourselves this question:

Do we have Fans or Customers?

The reason brands don’t have the former, should form the initial thinking for their new strategy.

John Morefield is The 5c Architect. It’s a crazy story of just doing and then discovering where it goes. And the kicker is that he isn’t actually an Architect.

New pricing models are being invented by Betapreneurs. Like the following examples:

Lentil as anything – a vegetarian restaurant where the user decides what to pay after their meal.

Restaurants where people bid for the best tables and seats.

Prufrock coffee who created the worlds first ‘disloyalty card’. The card to encourages his clients to sample the wares of quality coffee shops around London. If a disloyalty member tries all 8, he will make you a free drink at his Prufrock Coffee. It might just help them keep Starbucks out.  It’s the community that matters more than the trader. This is the new collaborative world we are in transition towards. A community who vest their interests in each other.

The 80’s and 90’s were the great periods of so called ‘think tanks’. They are now changing into ‘Do Tanks’.  Weekend workshops were products and services are conceived, prototyped and shipped by Monday morning.  Often known as Startup Camps.

Ogilvy UK has started their new idea shop. With a social bent. From their web page it reads: Idea Shop is Ogilvy Group UK’s pop-up ad agency. We give free ideas to small and medium businesses, community projects, arts groups, charities and individuals. We’re nice like that.

Ideas are becoming big business and now they’re often outsourced to fresh minds. Possibly overnight – check out ideas while you sleep.

Brands can’t be a-political, they need to stand for something. Make a call and have a view. Eg Twitter wants to ‘To become “the pulse of the planet.”’ They’re happy to facilitate revolution in Moldova, Iran, Egypt and Libya.

We are starting to understand the bridge between the screen and the real. The two must service each other, not compete or be viewed as separate worlds.

GENERATION D (Digital)

People born after 1995 have never know life without the internet. They’re turning 16 and are soon about to drive cars, enter University, Vote in elections, drink alcohol and enter the worksforce.

We’ve been brought up in a world that was:

-       Pre internet

-       Pre mobile phone

-       Pre Google

-       Pre Social media

-       Pre Wikipedia

They haven’t. Such services and the benefits they provide are expected, benchmark, the way life “is”.

Generation D don’t care if the product is physical or digital. They will pay for stuff that is digital, if its worth the price. Contrary to what we believe the don’t expect all digital things to be free….

If our brands can’t get the latest stuff to them now, then they know who else can. We can’t define how they should shop, or they will teach us the hard way, especially in retail. For example, it’s no longer acceptable for fashion from Europe or anywhere to be a season late. Just not good enough in a connected world.

Gen D’s parents are also excited by new technology. They’re not Luddites and facilitate their kids obsession with the internet and technology.

Generation D don’t ‘network’. Rather, they play and collaborate. Their view isn’t hierarchical, it’s cooperative.

There are 4 million teenagers in Australia. Collectively they have $200 million a month to spend.

-       These teenagers spend 50 hours a week immersed in digital media.

-       65% use the internet to game once per week (boys & girls)

-       They want to be the controller (in life & games Wii / Kinect)

There are 400 million social gamers on Facebook. They want to game and be entertained.  It’s a multi-minded proposition. They can cope with it. They grew up multitasking, multi-channelling and absorbing multiple and disparate messages from every angle.

Ikea’s ‘Easy to Assemble’ sitcom is a great example of brands crossing entertainment boundaries. It’s proof that Youtube channels need to entertain and not just provide information.  It’s really funny, not surprising given it was written by actual, bone-fide comedians. Foxtel & all forms of pay TV should be scared, very scared.

My Damn Channel is great example of the ‘brand ownership shift’ – the middle man is being cut out in almost every industry.

Forget the net – launch with mobile. New parlance to keep in the top of your mind is “Share of pocket”. Our phone is an extension of our brains, our ego and our person.

Often the destination is determined for us. Who is already there, and where can we go on this budget – just like Adioso are doing.

A few words about print… well it wont disappear – just change. Particular niches will continue to pop up and be valuable because the content took time to digest and curate – like And now it’s in print. Because print culture is much different to book culture, they’ll head in different paths. It’s already started: e-books, niche prints.

People might not pay for information, but they will pay for insight. Insight is deeper and more considered. There’s not many substitutes out there for real deep insight. The problem is most people want customer to pay for their information, the problem is that much of this ‘information’ is available in millions of other places free.

People got confused about how to make money out of the internet. They thought we should be able to demand payment. They forgot about demand and supply. Supply doesn’t automatically equal demand – especially financial demand. First value must be created, then it is extracted. It’s the opposite to the previous industrial world of buying and selling. Now it’s proving, then earning.

The future is about the marriage of content and commerce – and content comes first. A nice example is net-a-porter

We’ve created a ‘check in’ culture. Already 1.5 million retailers are using foursquare for profit.

Social media will create a virtual advertising stock market of the future. A live stock exchange of media buying. By knowing where people are, knowing who they are, who they are with, what they buy and do and what they are interacting with – people will sell their attention. It will be flipped where the people opt in to certain information they are interested in. The interactions we have with specific people will be traded on-line in real time.

Some ‘C’s worth thinking about:

-       Create Content

-       Connect through issues and passion

-       Curate the world for the target audience

-       Communities must be facilitated socially

-       Competition – does your brand play games?

-       Context – think time, tone and place.

The final ingredient of the future is passion. It’s the one thing that can’t be outsourced, offshored or automated.

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Stop thinking about technology

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 21, 2011

We need to stop thinking about technology. Actually we need to stop using the word technology. A chair made from timber is a form of technology. Digital does not equal technology. There is no technology. Only evolution and an increasing rate of change. People just lives their lives with the things around them. If the things are good and useful (new or old) they will embrace them. Lots of these things happen to have micro chips in them. So what. Lots of things have timber and metal in them too.

What we need to be is anthropologists. If we truly want to understand we need to listen and observe without interrupting. If we interrupt, there’s a chance we’ll influence the flow of the previously reality – and change it. So we wont know the truth as it would have been before we arrived. The truth and flow of human life is technology agnostic and there is much much more to it than ‘things’ we use to live.

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Invest 5 minutes in glass

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 7, 2011

This is an amazing piece from Dow Corning on the future of glass in our lives. It really sets the tone on how they will through their products make our lives better. It makes me wonder why more startups and large brands are not creating films about the future, and how they will shape it in a positive sense.

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Component Retail

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 28, 2011

Brands will start shipping product components and raw materials to stores for to be assembled on site… as part of the retail experience.

The customers will become the theatre at transaction.

The desire to create and customize will conspire to create highly interactive and profitable retail concoction. What we’ve already seen in digital…’A mash up of co-creation and mass customization’… we will inevitably see in retail…. The retailers that survive anyway.

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Top 10 list – Words redefining business

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 6, 2010

Here’s a little list of words that keep ringing in my head that I feel are changing the way we do business. I’ve written them each with a few thoughts beside them to stimulate your own view.

  1. Gifting - an emerging gift culture started with sharing information freely (Blogs, photos, ideas on the social web). This will start to iterate into a culture of providing actual goods to each other as gifts
  2. Gaming – human existence is defined by counting and gaming. Currency, bank accounts, salary, frequent flyer miles… and now smart phones will turn many brand relationships into games we can play. In many ways it will replace currency.
  3. Real time – the web used to be a repository of information written, found and filed for later retrial. It’s evolving into a what’s happening now forum. With live check ins (four square), live video (Qik / Ustream), status updates (Twitter). This will change they way we buy and interact on a commercial level.
  4. Geolocating – will permeate everything we do, and all the messages we receive.
  5. Community – it took the democratization of media via the web and fragmentation of media channels before we could regain our desire to interact at a community level, not just a consumer level. And we like it. We’ll never let people break down our communities again. It’s a social requirement we have built into our DNA.
  6. Apps – software is now personal. The difference with apps is that they are malleable. We co-create the code as we interact with them.
  7. Screen culture – TV isn’t dead, it’s just changed. It’s now web enabled and everywhere we go. Count how many screens you see today.
  8. Global currency - we now have perfect information on currency and conversions via the web. Our ability to arbitrage is being diminished. It’s only a matter of time before we create a global currency that crosses borders and oceans and automatically adjusts prices of everything we buy to a single lowest global price delivered. This has already happened historically as our world got bigger. First at a tribal level, then state level then national level. The globe is next.
  9. Related revenue – We’ll start making money less from what we actually do (writing a blog? / Google search?) and more from the stuff we do that lives around the edges.
  10. Project careers – Our careers wont be about having jobs, but a number of smaller iterations of projects that interest us. They’ll be higher paying, with breaks in between. This will be more profitable for all parties. Companies wont have the overhead drain of full time staff, and humans wont have the social drain of turning up to a place of work when there isn’t much on. We’ll transform what we do more frequently and fluently, we’ll be projecteers.

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