International Startup Festival Notes – Day 2

Posted on July 18, 2012

If you missed my notes from Day 1 check out my post from earlier this week.

Sheridan Jones – Kinect for Windows

Kinect is the fastest selling consumer device in the world in the first 60 days. What would happen if they released Kinect for windows? Key usage scenarios are therapy, healthcare, retail and training

Mitch Joel

Just finished writing his 2nd book called ctrl alt del coming out next year. Couldn’t figure out in his startup how they could get people to give a shit. Started using blogging as a way to build social proof. Worked but also want to keep the spirit of being a startup. The majority of brands cannot match some of the advantages of startups.

There is a massive world of difference between paid advertising and marketing. You need to embrace marketing and direct relationships. Massive brands do not have a culture of establishing direct relationships. You need to create direct relationships. This is more than just Twitter and Facebook likes.

Think from the perspective of the consumer – what do I need from the relationship? In the race for likes Facebook really owns the direct relationship with the customer. However, the majority of monetization models rely on direct customer relationships.

Most corporates have never heard of Kickstarter.  Yet, Kickstarter for Mitch is the coolest thing he has seen on the web since google. A small company can create hundreds of thousands of dollars of relationships in a couple of days. The chasm between having your idea and bringing to life is massive. The odds are very much against you. Kickstarter fundamentally implodes the chasm.

What can we do we every single day to build direct relationships? Don’t think about what you can do to interrupt users. Start thinking about what utility you can create for your brand and company. There is a new real estate in town.  It is the home screen of your phone. How many of you would say that your product is important enough to be on a users home screen?

Charmin has a sit or squat app that provides clean bathrooms. It works well and provides tremendous utility. Now he has a huge brand affinity with Charmin without them offering coupons etc.

One of the best talks of the event.

Stowe Boyd – What will matter in the future?

Primarily working on social tools. Speculative design not a science or an art. Using design thinking to attack the future differently.

“Don’t think safe. Think dangerous.”

Reject the official future. Whatever the web touches it consumes. But the web will continue to disrupt. Look farther afield than the traditional concepts. New TV as an example.

The world is changing from solid to liquid. From slow to fast.  Political gridlock and chaos in the USA. Can we cut out the middle man in democracy? Pirate party in Europe and their liquid feedback is a great idea and indicator of future change.

“Technology is everything invented after you turn 13.” Jamais Cascio

40% of energy is spent in households cooking food. Is anyone doing anything inventive in cooking food? No.  40% of food consumed in Shanghai each day is grown within the city. We haven’t stopped growing tomatoes in California and shipping to NYC. We will have to stop because of drought.

“The frontiers of the future will be the ruins of the unsustainable” Bruce Sterling

3D printers are a huge opportunity.

“The central economic imperative of the new economy is to amplify relationships” Kevin Kelly

Almost 50 percent of people in advanced economies live alone. But they are more social and more willing to help other people. What about tools to help these people connect?  How about more connected?

You cannot know the future but you can play around with models to think about what he future could be. The future isn’t a map.

Graham Hill –

Living his life with less.

In the 50s the average house size is 1000 sq ft. Now 2500 and with smaller family sizes. We have 3x the space as before.  We have less happiness, more debt and more stuff. If we apply smart design we can make less equal more.  Less stuff and less space is a smaller footprint, more money, and more happiness.

“Editing is the skill of the century.”

Worked with to crowd source the design of a 400 sq ft apartment. Got 300 responses and it looks awesome.

3 principles of life editing

  1. Edit ruthlessly
  2. Right size your stuff
  3. Go multifunctional

Product library is a concept for the future. Stuff you can access but don’t own.

How can you apply this to business?

  1. Focus your efforts.
  2. Reduce options and product lines to make it easier for customers.
  3. Understand your core competencies. Focus on your core and outsource the rest. Enables you to be more lean.

How might we apply this personally?

  1. Remove yourself from the state of constant alarm. How quickly do we really need to respond?  Every couple of hours?   Who is the boss?  You or your email?!? Turn off all of your notifications and determine minimal times to check emails. Use Google voice to transcribe your voicemail.
  2. Love your family, friends etc. be present especially with your kids. Minimize number of contacts for IM.
  3. Make a daily plan and get one thing done every single day no matter what. Put the big rocks in your life in first.
  4. News is mostly noise. It tends to be depressing and you don’t need it. Read books and bigger picture items.
  5. Value the inbetween time.  Smartphones have ruined the in between time. Argues these are recharge times to get perspective on your life.
  6. Own it. Time is precious. So design your own life and set parameters around your life that matter. Focus on having better relationships. Done right less truly can become more.

Michael Baum – Chasing Big Ideas

What is a big idea?

Spent tons of time on research. 3 founders, recorded all conversations they had, 5 prototypes, and a lot of insights. Met with 60 customers.

The simple solution is that people are dealing with a big data problem. Avalanche of machine data was coming and human cost was increasing to deal with all of the details and data. People were trying to solve this problem using old techniques. So placed a search box on top of all of the data. Customers described it as a magical experience.

Build an A team

Don’t use recruiters. Good enough is not good enough. Every person you add to the team needs to be a rock star. And rock stars know other rock stars. The average hiring mistake costs about 500k and 50% of hires are mistakes. Great recruiters make less than 10 percent mistakes.  Make employees your recruiters.  Also great to have people with friends in the company. How does your A team work? Don’t step in to do their job for them.

Thinks that open source as a business model is really tough to make money. Doesn’t like the support and maintenance angle for generating revenue. Created a free download and then ask for money as an upgrade. Sales process becomes less sales and more consultative leading to faster and bigger sales

Don’t charge a ton of money upfront but tie to a metric to generate licensing revenue. Encourage you to really think about your business model. Innovative business models are as important as the product.

Completely ignore competitors. Drove them crazy. Didn’t even mention them.

Blow things up. Move people around in the company a lot. Not just their roles but also their location. Overhearing conversations puts everyone in touch with customers. Don’t let your company fall into a rut.

“Entrepreneurs are never satisfied, because fulfillment comes from participation, rather than reaching a fixed destination.  Entrepreneurship is not a job, nor even a calling but a hunger to change the world.”

Alastair Croll – Solve for Interesting

Your brain is 2.5 percent of your body but it uses 20 percent of body energy. Built to think but writes checks your body cannot cash. We have spent the past 100k years fighting friction with thrust. In thrust bigger is better. But efficiency drives consumption.

Today’s server is yesterday’s data center.  Efficiency drives consumption. Software eats everything. Focus on lube not thrust. Instead reduce the friction in the market. Abundance not scarcity. Scarcity has value but so does abundance. Frictionless supply means there is an endless demand.

Aim, fire and then ready! Bullets are free!

Everything is an experiment.

  1. Taxis still using medallions in NYC. The taxi world uses a thrust based model. Über came along and changed the world by reducing friction for customers and drivers.
  2. Khan Academy – changed broadcast model to bring the best teacher to the classroom. Do the work at home and bring it to school.
  3. Manufacturing – what happens when 3D printers go main stream? What happens when metal lathes show up in every Canadian tire to make replacement parts on the spot?

The digital age allows us to reduce friction, build for the day friction is gone.

Lane Becker – make more luck

Really good talk. Worth reading the book.  I didn’t manage to catch all of the notes (mainly because I was too busy listening!)

Cindy Gallop

Your startup has to flow out of your passion. You have to feel emotional because you pitch 15 million times so you better enjoy it. You have to enjoy it every time. You have to be emotional because you have to have passion when everyone thinks you are out of your mind. You need to design emotion into your startup

Brought together corporate good intentions and human good intentions for shared profit and success. Cindy created  “Ifwerantheworld” which is emotional software to synthesize psychology and technology.

The success of your startup also depends on how it makes them feel about themselves when they use it or do it. Consider a more balanced gender approach to help achieve this fusion. Your business model can be anything you want it to be just like your business can be anything you want. Ask yourself how you want to make money

The future is not advertising units but rather advertising products. Mobile won’t be about delivering ads. It will be about delivering value. For example the Charmin concept that Mitch Joel mentioned earlier. (she gave a different example but his is better).

Hardcore porn has become the sex education for the real world. Created a website to talk about real world and comparing to porn ( She is turning this into its own social platform in a way that no one else has accomplished. She cares about how money works because of the challenges of porn. Check out Gumroad or Stripe (Stripe recently launched in Canada!)

Rethink how you want to make money because money is changing.

Discomfort is an asset. It comes when you work with people who are different from, think differently, etc. Women are the majority on social networks, the majority of shoppers, etc. you need a female perspective if you want to own the future. Making change starts with yourself. It starts with how you feel about yourself.

Amazing talk!

That was the end of Day 2! Overall, a great conference.  I will definitely head back next year!





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