Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the Super Awesome Micro Project. And if you’re not aware I’m about to disclose some of the secret sauce. Mainly because between now and when we launch, it is physically impossible to be copied by anyone. For two reasons – the first is that no one else has Raul, and secondly it took us way more time and money than we would ever have imagined.
In fact, what we are doing has been on line for some time for those who wanted to seek it out – the secret, has been out a while on this Ignite talk I did at a global digital event as linked below:
As you can tell from this super fast talk, we are building a world first piece of technology – a technology which at this point has no commercial goal – and no other reason for existing other than awesomeness. A pressure test of what is possible when the connected world aggregate small amounts of money with large amounts of thinking. To see what we can build using democratised digital factors of production and a teenage genius.
It was made possible by 40 people in Australia, also known as the Super Awesome Micro Project Patrons. Normal everyday people having a crack at creating part of the technology narrative. Our Modern Day Medici. The facilitators of the future.
What is it?
We are buildng a full size car, built entirely from lego, with an engine built from lego, and the engine runs on air. Actually, let me rephrase this. We have already built it. It is done. We have succeeded.
This is where the Silk Road Patron comes in:
We are at the point where we need to transfer the Super Awesome thing and the Super Awesome kid from Romania to Australia for the launch. The cost of transferring our adopted son and our fantastic plastic machine to our fair brown land rounds out to approx. $25K give or take. It is our plan to airfreight both artefacts human and construction – for time & safety reasons. The truth is, I can’t ask any of the patrons to put in any more money than they have already donated. Every single one of these people has already stretched themselves financially. I personally do not even want to talk about how much money I have put into this, other than to say it is 100+ times more than I thought it would be. This is no exageration. And so what we need is the Silk Road Patron.
The Silk Road Patron is the internet version of a silk road trader of antiquity. Someone who is intrigued by the possibilities of exchange from lands afar. Interested in new minds, methods and techniques. Inspired by and for the benefit of a populous wider than themselves. This Silk Road Patron has nothing to prove to anyone, because they’ve already done it – they’ve crossed the globe, trekked the path and already made bank with their own spice trade. They want to give back – be the final player who connects the possibilities of the #SAMP. The Silk Road Patron is a person, not a corproation. The Silk Road Patron’s gift of participation in this arduous project, is participation itself – a personal satisfaction.
This is something wider and deeper than the #SAMP – it is in fact the search for Australia’s most generous entrepreneur. A VC whose return on investment does not involve percentages or ROI. Their drive is ROH – return on humanity. (It is worth noting we can provide validation and proof of our achievements via private digital methods.)
And so our search for this person starts today. Please let us know if this person is someone you know, or maybe, just maybe it is you.
The upcoming Facebook IPO is a very interesting scenario. Not just from a startup / social media or tech point of view but from an economic one. There are a lot of facts and figures being thrown around, but from my point of view I’m interested in just a few of them and what they mean for tech entreprepreneurs:
100 Billion Valuation: If the IPO is successful the expected valuation is 33 times their current revenue. And around 100 times their earnings. For comparison purposes Apple current has a 14 times earnings ratio while Google has 12 times. Both companies which have established and growing revenue streams. I know which companies I’d rather hold stock in.
68 Million in acquisitions: In the past year Facebook invested $68 million in purchasing other companies. They have an appetite for acquisition. And that appetite will only grow when the pressures of being public come to the fore. It means that startups who have invented ways to extract money from the Facebook platform are well placed to be bought by the mothership. If you have an idea on how to do this get moving, because the stock market pressures will ensure that startups with revenue generation via Facebook will be targeted.
The IPO will create 1000+ new millionaires: All of which will feel a sense of ‘owing the tech community’. Many of whom will feel like tech rockstars and want to start their own Angel funds. Which means there will be more startups being funded by the FB IPO gold rush. If there was ever a good time to seek money from the Valley, post FB float will be one of the good ones.
I had a catch up with a well known pitch doctor yesterday. He reminded me of some of the most important factors, and regular mistakes we make while pitching.
Biggest mistake: Wasting time talking about ourselves. They already know enough about us, or they wouldn’t be in the room. The right amount of time to allocate talking about ourselves is close to zero.
Biggest Opportunity: Leave some questions unanswered. (counter intuitive I know) This creates the opportunity for real conversation. When we converse, we see how each party thinks. It also enables us to determine if we have the right chemistry to work together.
I don’t have a rich Father
I wasn’t left a sum of money from my Grandma
I didn’t go to Harvard
I don’t live in Silicon valley
I’m not technical genius
I can’t code the latest killer app
I guess I’ll just have to build my startup the old fashioned way. Work my ass off, invent my own revenue, build a team and improve what I have to offer as I learn from the mistakes I’m bound to make. If you’re still around in 10 years, look me up.
It’s well documented that I’m not a big fan of business plans. Mainly because we live in a world of flux. But if you must use one – which I’ll call a 1 page mud map – then here’s a template. I’ve used this and I’d recommend it for ‘real entrepreneurs’ – that is non VC seeking bootstrappers.
What is it?
Describe your business or service in a single sentence. If you can’t do this, you don’t know what you’re doing.
Who is it for?
The audience who need or want this thing you’re about to create. Define them in whatever terms you please, demographically, socially, behaviourally, geographically. Just be succinct and tight in your clustering.
Why do they need it?
How is it better than the current substitute options?
How will they find us?
Where will we gain distribution? Maybe we’ll leverage a strong retail chain. A singular high traffic location. If web based strong SEO / brand awareness will be required. Maybe we already have an audience who we’ll bring a product to. This should be the most detailed part of the plan. It should include brand awareness activities and promotions. It still should only be a round 1 paragraph long.
Cost to build Version 1.0
Just estimate it – then double your estimate. Now this is the bare bones version, the absolute minimum required for launch. Outsource every element of production were possible, unless you are the major factor of production. Keep the cost low. It enhances speed, and reduces fear of failure and inertia.
There is no such thing as ‘Free’ – just a delayed revenue model. Ideas include: Sell item for price, Percentage of sales, memberships, premiums, selling advertising among others. Your plan is not finished unless you can answer this in a way your mum can understand.
These steps are related to launching the product. We stop typing and start prototyping. Here’s where we have 3-5 bullet points on how to get to version 1.0 The quickest possible route to being live in market. The steps to when you can out there and start selling & promoting.
That’s it. In fact you final plan should be as short as that we see above. Print it, put it up in your office and get to work.
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While watching the BBC television show the Dragons Den, quite often the ‘Dragons’ laugh at a business concept they are presented with and think it is ridiculous.
Here’s the one thing that makes them eat their words every time:
Sales figures. Revenue, Customers, Repeat orders.
It’s only then they change their view from ‘not interested‘, to ‘I’m listening‘.
If you ever want to get investors interested, go see them once you’ve got sales. When you have revenue coming in it puts the kibosh on negative opinions. In addition, it increases value of your business and reduces the percentage you’d have to give away for a cash investment.
The other day I was involved in pitching my business rentoid.com – I wanted to stay true to my beliefs and present a largely visual presentation to what I expected was an ‘info hungry’ crowd. The type who don’t mind a page full of words and numbers. My rule was no more than 6 words per slide. Some had only 2.
I think the format is pretty useful, so I thought I’d share it. Basically in each chart just change the word ‘rentoid’ and insert ‘your business’ and I think it would be just fine. It was for a pitching competition (I know they seem to be the trend of the day) and we made it to the final after a few stages so I guess it’s a method which has worked. It’s only 5 slides. I think talking to pictures works because it makes people listen, not read, and it shows you know your business.