Start Up Blog

The future is in ‘Sight’

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 5, 2013

Every now and again a cyber punk film comes along which is futuristic, yet plausible. That’s when I get excited. And I’m very excited about the short film Sight. Based on the simple idea of living a fully connected life, yet the execution is pure genius. Think smart phone, think geo-locating, think facial recognition, think the Google glass project…. think all this and more. I very much dig the fact that this was a graduation project from an Arts School – more proof that the tools are in everyones hands today, and that creativity is greater than resources.

In the end we always build what we imagine first… and we imagine things which are within the realm of our reality.

As far as I can tell – this is inevitable, that time just hasn’t elapsed yet. Enjoy!

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The attention economy

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 21, 2012

My regular readers will know that 2 weeks ago I released a video of a Lego Space Shuttle that we got into actual space. Quite frankly I was surprised at how much attention it got both on-line and in mainstream media (TV, newspaper, magazine & radio). It has had over 1 million views on Youtube alone. It really got me thinking about what tends to win attention in today’s connected economy, and although I don’t really know the answer, it feels more like simply joys and personal interest work better on line than commercial intentions or hard nosed value equations.

And while I’d much rather one of my businesses get this amount of coverage – it has lead to a lot of interesting business opportunities and offers. The attention generated has become its own asset. It has become a proof point in the people behind it and so it creates intrigue from others who want to simply do cool stuff.

So the question for startup entreprenuers is this:

What cool side projects can we do to generate attention around, so that our bigger ideas can attract the resources they need?

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Great bootstrapping

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 19, 2010

This Nutrigrain commercial isn’t really about cereal. It’s a message for Entrepreneurs. Take a look.

Notice how he didn’t let his environment (non coastal) hold him back?

Notice the tools he built to train himself and replicate his desired future?

Notice, the time invested in his dream, the years of dedication?

He wasn’t concerned about the resources he didn’t have, rather those he could use to bootstrap his training. It’s an attitude that all entrepreneurs should have.

Best we take a second look.

When technology makes you obsolete

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 12, 2010

I once heard an interview with drummer Rob Hirst from the rock band Midnight Oil. It was in reference to one of their most critically acclaimed and best selling song, Power and the passion. Rob was asked about the infamous drum solo in the middle of the song, which not only doesn’t sound indulgent, but fits the rhythm and meaning of the song. What I find most interesting from an entrepreneurial perspective is how it all came about, this is what Rob had to say:

“It was 1982 and drum machines were entering the music scene and replacing drummers very quickly. They were cheaper and more reliable. It was a time when drummers were throwing themselves off cliff tops. Rather than fear the technological advancement, I thought it might be better to embrace it.  I wondered how I could use it to supplement what I was already doing to make it better. So for the Power and the Passion, I decided to have a drum machine playing in the background on the entire track. By doing this it freed up my arms and legs to add some color to the song, and ultimately allowed for the drum solo which is often sited as the catalyst that makes the song so great.”

The story above is one for all the Luddites out there. for the technology fear mongers, and those who worry about being replaced. The truth is, we should be happy when technology replaces labour for the simple reason that it opens the door to creativity. It opens the door to opportunity, for a better use of our time and resources.

You can watch / listen the drum solo at 2.35 minutes on the clip below. Be sure to listen for the drum machine track quietly providing the beat underneath.

PS – the smashing sound at the end of the solo is a florescent light tube Rob brought into the studio for  a dramatic industrial effect, not a pane of glass. Awesome.

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Who is the worlds greatest entrepreneur?

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 21, 2009

Steve Jobs?

Bill Gates?

Richard Branson?

Not even close… it’s not a billionaire, not even a millionaire…

It’s William Kambkwamba. William personifies the meaning of the word ‘Entrepreneur’. He has done more with less than any of those above. In all probability William had as little a resource base available as any living person in the free world. This is no exageration.

Here’s why he is the worlds greatest entrepreneur:

- He had no financial resources

- He could not even afford to go to school, had no formal education

- He had to make it work with junk he found lying around

- He is self taught

- He created something incredibly complex

- He did it from a guide in what was then, a foreign language to him

- He built something for the good of others, to help his village

- He was not motivated by money

- He defied ridicule

- He is humble

William is the greatest entrepreneur in the world. William is one of the greatest inspirations I’ve ever had the fortune of being exposed to. Read up on William. Google him. Watch the Youtube videos on William. Absorb what William represents and re-consider what you beleive to be hardship next time you have a tough day. I do.

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International team & Time zone issue

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 9, 2009

I’ve always been an evangelist for international outsourcing. Especially as it pertains to digital work. I was asked recently if it has added complexity because of time zone differences. I had never consider the issue before, so I stopped to think about it for a while.

And this is my answer:

Having staff work on the other side of the world is usually an advantage. It feels like we have double the amount of business hours in a day. For example, when it is 5pm and something important comes up, I don’t have to wait for the next day for it to get started on. I can brief it out, and have it on my desktop by the next morning. For small startups getting things done quickly is what matters, and this process is a bit like inventing time.

Startup blog says: having a team in different time zones is rad.

the 5% rule

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 2, 2009

5% of our customers wont pay on time

5% of our customers wont pay at all

5% of our employees wont deliver what they are paid to

5% of our employees will steal and or damage company property

5% of business partners will break contracts and even worse, not keep their word

5% the people we meet will be genuinly dishonest and painful to deal with

It’s the 5% rule. In fact quite often business discussion are too often focused on the 5% of times the business model will break down and we will get cheated in some way. The amount of strategy, board room and agency discussions I’ve had about the 5% of people who make business models and ideas imperfect are countless. The point for startups, no less any business, is to accept the fact that all models have gaps. And more often than not these gaps the doing of the 5% rule.

the 5% rule

The problems with trying to remove the 5% is that we build gates and protections which often stuff up the 95% which is working. We create unnecessary friction. What we are better off doing is thinking about the problem like water evaporation. It’s going to happening, no matter what we try. But we must remember that the very large majority of people are good.

My advice is simple. Know that it exists, and forge ahead anyway.

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The 3 resources

The 3 resources which matter for start ups and any business are listed below:

  1. People
  2. Finance
  3. Technology

What do we need in each of these areas?

How do they interact in our area of business?

How will they change over time?

The questions about the 3 resources above should be in constant review. They remain in a constant state of flux.

If our current execution plan does not cover these areas and their interddence, then we’ve got a rocky road ahead – guaranteed.

rocky-road

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