Start Up Blog

The Foxtel hack

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 9, 2012

I’ve been a vocal opponent (and customer) of Foxtel. A service that, as the web evolves is loosing its reason for being in my life. So I decided to disconnect my service and here is the interesting story of what happened.

I called the number and the options to choose from (1,2,3,4) for the appropriate issue. This surprisingly included ‘Press 4 to disconnect’. This was the first clue things aren’t right down at Foxtel. Any business that has this issue come up often enough to include it in the first 4 options of customer interaction has some issues.

So I click it and get put through to the ‘Customer Retention Center’ and they ask me why I want to disconnect. A few of the reasons I tell them include:

  • I’m sick of seeing better offers advertised to new customers. (Screw the existing ones hey!)
  • They have reduced the services and kept the price the same for my account.
  • I can’t get movies on demand (which I’m prepared to pay for) without signing up to a more expensive packaging (WTF, the tubes are already in my house?)

They apologise, tell me I’ve been a good customer for a few years, so they offer me a $30 discount per month. Which is 30% off what I’ve been paying. I retort with, ‘if I’m such a good customer why do you only try and keep me once I’ve already decided to leave you?’ Seems to me they have things back to front at Foxtel.

So I took the discount for now – I’m moving house in 2 months and it is all over for me and Foxtel then.

My advice to any Foxtel subscriber out there is to call up to disconnect and get the discount anyway and hack their already flawed proposition, before it gets hacked entirely by market forces.

twitter-follow-me13

Plutocrats of the web

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 9, 2012

It’s all shifting in front of our eyes.  A new plutocracy is arriving. Some of the roles have already been filled…. Maybe there are some new ones to arrive that we just can’t forsee yet. But to enlighten us a little, let’s consider 3 examples:

THEN NOW
Yellow Pages Google
White Pages Facebook
Department Stores Amazon

The real question for entrepreneurs is which ailing legacy industries are still waiting for their shake up?

twitter-follow-me13

Why e-Commerce is different

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 10, 2012

At first we got confused about how to make money out of the internet. We thought we should be able to demand payment. Silly us, we forgot about the first lesson in economics – that pesky demand and supply. Supply doesn’t automatically equal demand – especially financial demand. On the internet things work in reverse. 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.

twitter-follow-me13

The new usability experts

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on December 19, 2011

Are not who we expect them to be. It’s not Jakob Nielsen or even Steve Krug. In fact it is Joe Citizen.

Without even realising it, the average web surfer or smart phone addict has become an expert in usability. This doesn’t mean we could ask them what a sight should look like, how it should work or to advice us of any design imperatives. it’s a little different than that. But have no doubt, they are the experts. And their expertise is different. it is more like this – they know what sucks. They will not tolerate a site that sucks for more than a few seconds.

twitter-follow-me13

We have entered an age of mass usability expertise – and this has been driven by social media. As entrepreneurs and aspiring startup geeks we have to remember the training our users are getting. They are being trained on what is ‘best practice’ by the worlds best – brands like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google, Foursquare. Brands with the greatest UI’s ever seen are training the everyday person on what good looks like. Even if it is occurring at a subconscious level. It is happening.

The impact of this is significant. For me it puts flow first, and features second. The flow of the site and intuitive nature must be put above all other technology and feature desires we have. If we fail with our usability, there wont be a second chance to win back the experts who’ve already decided we don’t cut it.

Bigger than the internet – 3D Printing

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 30, 2011

3D printing is really starting to blow my mind. As far as I can tell it is taking the information we are currently living through and making it physical. It’s the missing link. The start of being able to create everything from nothing – ephemeralization. Converting the first 20 elements into stuff, by organizing information, ones and zeros. About 20 years from now, you’ll remember talk about 3D printing, the same way we remember hearing stuff about a connected world through computers in the mid 1980’s. I think it will be more disruptive and bigger than the internet.

In order to just make sure you are across what is happening here’s the most famous Youtube Clip about 3D printing which is from the Discovery channel. In the coming weeks I’ll be posting a large article about all the implications on the world. And before you watch the clip below here is a list of some things that have already been printed by such machines:

Bicycles, cars, tools with moving parts, furniture, drone aircraft and even balls bearings.

It’s coming and it is going to change everything.

twitter-follow-me13

The web is the people

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 23, 2011

The web has changed a lot since the early 1990’s. if we think back to the dominant behaviour in 10 year blocks it tells us a clear story about how the web is being ‘organised around the people’. Which means that the people are certainly not organising themselves around the technology. It sounds obvious, but it’s worth remembering as we embark on any business project.

the 1990’s – the web was all about browsing. Finding places to go. Websites – the WWW era.

the 2000’s – the web was all about search. The Google god, SEO and ensuring we had page 1.

the 2010’s – the web (so far) is becoming more human. Social interaction & guidance. It is segmenting, grouping & geolocating.

And we can see this in the evidence we find in how the web is being trafficked. According Hitwise web traffic to portals is down -21%, traffic for web search is flat and traffic to social forums is 52% up. Just like life, people don’t want to leave their stream if they can help it. We’d rather stay with the ‘life juice’ that our human relationships provide. Another simple example is what is happening to brands in social forums. Most brands have 10 times the the Facebook fans than they have in monthly visits to the home portal. The best example is Coke, which currently has 33.8 million fans versus 270k visits to its home page per month.

I guess one thing has never changed in business, and that is the best place to take our brand, is where the people already are.

twitter-follow-me13

Moving to ‘open’

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 1, 2011

The world is quickly moving to ‘open’ whether we like it or not. Companies that lean this way will invariably do better than those that lean to ‘secret’. It is also important to know that our philosophy can’t be segmented. It is a cultural decision.

Which way is your organization leaning?

twitter-follow-me13

4 reasons they will buy your startup

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 26, 2011

As far as I can tell their are 4 main reasons that a company will buy your startup. Particular in the web / tech fields:

  1. Talent buy out
  2. Technology buy out
  3. User buy out
  4. Revenue buy out

What’s interesting is that these buyouts happen in that order as well.

The reality is that it’s rare to be the focus of a talent buyout unless you and your team have an incredibly unique set of skills. The tech buy is less difficult and is the savior of many tech startups who have cool stuff with no revenue or customers. In fact, it’s rare enough that we should ignore it as a possibility.

The reality for you and me is that buy out 3 and 4 is where we are likely end up. So the question we must ask ourselves are these:

* If we are aiming for a user buyout, how long can we survive without revenue?

* If we are aiming for a revenue buyout, why don’t we just keep what we’ve built?

twitter-follow-me13

My Google Plus Problem

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 26, 2011

Like most people I recently joined Google plus. I went in and set up my account. I was reasonably impressed and it looked quite cool. It had a couple of nice ideas, including the circles of friends concept of segmenting conversations. After I set up the account, it has been on my list of things to do. That is, to go into it, have a play around, get used to the system and better understand it.

A few weeks later I still haven’t done it.

The interesting thing is that during this time I have still engaged with the social networks I already use. Including this blog and my twitter account. Turns out I still have time for social networks, just not that one. The only reason I will use Google plus is because I need to know about it, not because I need it. The fact that I need to invest time to ‘learn how to navigate and use it’,  is also sub optimal.

If everyone ends up loving Google plus, I’m sure I’ll get on board. But my Google Plus problem is that currently I don’t have a social networking problem.

twitter-follow-me13

Falling in love with infrastructure

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 4, 2011

Here’s a list of companies who should’ve done something, yet instead, let someone else do it for them. And in being asleep at the wheel, they will never be as powerful (read relevant) again.

Yellow Pages should have become… Google
Encyclopaedia Britannica should have become… Wikipedia
RCA / Sony / BMG / EMI / Warner should have become… iTunes
Newspaper classifieds should have become… Craigs List
Trading Post should have become… eBay
Barns & Noble should have become… Amazon
Industry X could well become… Your startup

The key point is this. The future doesn’t care about your legacy, or how things were done in the past, it only cares about what people actually want. And people don’t care about your existing infrastructure, they only care about themselves.

There’s a million more of these examples out there, and many more to come. The question is which industry will you disrupt because they are too in love with their existing infrastructure?

twitter-follow-me13

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,227 other followers