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Pitching: Don’t Assume I’ll Be Interested, and Some Advice [en]

Pitching: Don’t Assume I’ll Be Interested, and Some Advice [en]

[fr] Comme blogueuse, j'ai malheureusement l'habitude qu'on m'approche avec des infographies et autres contenus "pour mes lecteurs". Ahem. N'importe qui ayant passé plus de 4 minutes sur mon blog devrait vite repérer que mon business n'est pas la reproduction du travail d'autrui.

La nouvelle tendance, c'est les startups et autres entrepreneurs du coin qui me contactent, en tant que gestionnaire de l'eclau, pour me pitcher leurs services -- et idéalement, les vendre aux membres.

Ce qui me dérange souvent dans ces approches, c'est qu'au lieu de demander si une telle démarche ferait sens, on semble partir du principe que bien sûr, ça va intéresser les gens/m'intéresser. Du coup, quelques conseils (un peu à l'arrache) sur comment procéder mieux.

As a blogger, I’m used to getting emails telling me about a fascinating infographic or a great new service that I should be eager to tell my readers about. These emails usually get ignored, or in the case of the worst offenders who follow-up aggressively when they get no reply, spammed.

Recently, I have been faced with an annoying new trend: as a coworking space owner, I am starting to receive pitches (sometimes by e-mail, generally by phone) from local start-ups or entrepreneurs who are convinced that their product or service is ideal for the members of eclau.

Sailing. Race.

Honestly, nobody likes being pitched. On the other hand, I am aware that I sometimes contact people to try to interest them in stuff that I’m doing. For example, I have spent a large part of the last two days telling people about a workshop I am holding in Geneva next week, and which is not full yet. Am I being the annoying person pitching them?

Examining the way I phrase things has led me, I think, to pinpoint what is so annoying with these pitches that I’m getting. They assume that what they have to offer is interesting, to me or the members of my coworking space. They’re not asking. It’s pushy. It’s “I’d like to come and show my product” or “this will be of interest to your readers”. Not “what do you think?” or “would this make sense?” or “just in case”.

It feels like the objective is to convince me there is a match. Oh, you know me or my coworking members better than I do? Half the time, to be honest, it’s so far off the mark that it’s clear proper homework has not been done, and that weakens the whole approach. If you have to talk me into something, it’s probably not that great a match, specially if I get the feeling you’re not really listening to me.

It’s hard to find the right balance between pitching too aggressively and staying in the shadows. I get it. How do I try and do it?

  • I do my homework — or if I can’t, or haven’t, I ask the other person if they think it’s a match.
  • I try and put myself in the other person’s shoes. What is in it really for them, besides what I would like there to be? I try and forget about my goals and think only of theirs.
  • I aim to inform rather than sell. Ask questions and listen rather than “talk at”.
  • If I want to tell the other person about something, and I don’t really expect them to see the point at this stage, I’ll do my best to be upfront about the fact that I’m asking them a favour (their time) to hear me out, instead of trying to pass it off as something that’s in their interest.
  • Often, I’m asking people I know if they might know people who could be interested in whatever I’m doing. If they are themselves, they’ll certainly tell me, but I’m not assuming they are.
  • As a general rule, I am generous with my knowledge and time and happy to help people I know out. I do it because it’s in my nature, but it does have the advantage that when I’m asking for something, I’m not (I hope!) coming across as the person who’s always wanting and never giving.

That’s it, off the top of my head. I’m sure I don’t manage to do things “perfectly” all the time, but I do my best to be respectful of other people’s needs and time.

How do you approach this? If you get pitched and it’s not your job to get pitched (you’re not a VC or somebody who relies on pitches), what are the things that put you off, and what advice would you give to approach you?

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Reminders With Future Triggers: Building an Intelligent Calendar [en]

Reminders With Future Triggers: Building an Intelligent Calendar [en]

[fr] L'idée que j'ai pitchée au StartupWeekend Lausanne, plus en détail et mieux expliquée: un système de rappels ("rappelle-moi") qui pourrait rappeler des choses comme "la prochaine fois que tu vois Sophie, ramène-lui son pull" -- même si on ne sait pas quand ni où on verra Sophie pour la prochaine fois.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could set a reminder somewhere so that you don’t forget to take your grandmother for a day in the mountains next time she comes to visit — even though you don’t know when that’s going to be?

Or if you had a way to remember to bring back Sophie’s sweater that she forgot at her place, next time you have a meeting in Geneva — but you have no trips planned to the city so far?

How about reminding you to wear woolly socks every time you take the plane, because it gets freezing cold once you’re up there? And your ear plugs, in case your seat neighbour is a heavy snorer?

We usually keep track of this kind of stuff in our heads. Or we have manual GTD-style lists — ever forgot to check them before meeting somebody, only to realize afterwards there was something written under their name?

There are existing systems that provide an inch or two of the solution, but nothing exists at this stage which actually does what I’m thinking of. Let’s go around some of these services, then I’ll share my ideas on how I think this can be done.

ifttt

This is, to be honest, the service that gave me my main inspiration. It has a trigger => action architecture, but so far triggers are limited to social media events. Some exceptions: the weather, for example. Possible task: “send me an SMS if it’s going to be cold tomorrow”.

But that weather example is pretty much an exception: ifttt triggers are present events. E-mail received. Post published. Tweet with #somehashtag found. Calendar event starts.

We would need triggers like “trip to Geneva planned in 24 hours” or “Grandma coming to Lausanne in 2 weeks” or even, if we pushed it further, “on the phone with James” or “checked in with Tania”. (More on the different types of trigger I’m thinking about later.)

My idea could be an extension of ifttt, but it might also be a separate service altogether. I’m not sure at this stage.

ZMS

ZMS has part of the solution: “next time I’m in Geneva station, remind me to get a croissant at the little coffee shop”. But that won’t be much help for remembering to take Sophie’s sweater with me next time I leave my house for Geneva.

Calendar reminders

Reminders are pretty standard in calendars. But you need to set them when you enter an event in your calendar. But the basic idea here is that an event in the future, as recorded by your calendar, triggers a reminder in the present. “One month before any trip to India, remind me to ask people what they want me to bring back.”

Evernote

For some reason I spoke about this idea when I stopped by the Evernote booth at LeWeb. After discussion, it didn’t really seem to be their space, but one thing they do well is capture information from all sorts of different sources and in all shapes and sizes and help you organize it. Text on photos is parsed, everything is tagged and geolocated, and available whether you’re on your phone, your tablet, your own computer or somebody else’s. It has this “central nervous system” touch to it that my reminder service would need.

Also, somebody suggested storing my rules/reminders in Evernote, using tags for triggers. #gotoGeneva, for example. Or #Grandma. But that won’t work, because I’m not going to be actively checking for triggers each time I go somewhere or meet somebody or do something. This is clearly a service which needs to work with push, and not pull. The whole point of it is that it will do the pushing for us.

Dopplr

Based on your calendar of future trips and your connections, Dopplr lets you know if you’re going to bump into people you know when you travel.

TripIt

One thing that TripIt has been doing for a long time and which I think is really cool is that you can forward your flight booking confirmation e-mails to it, and it will automatically parse them and enter the corresponding trip in your itinerary. Some people might find this creepy, but it’s a great way to painlessly transition information from one bucket (inbox) to another (calendar).

Path

Path monitors where you are, and when you change cities, makes a note in your Path. I feel there is more intelligence coming our way from Path, but let’s wait and see. What’s interesting is that as it’s limited to (reasonably) close friends, a service like this can learn a lot about the dynamics with the people you interact with the most. This could come in handy…

Siri

Speech recognition. “Remind me to buy flowers tomorrow.” One step further: “Next time I go to Geneva, remind me to take Sophie’s sweater with me.”

How would this be done?

The service would have two main layers:

  1. gathering data to build an “implicit calendar” of your future activities
  2. rule storage and triggering

I think the second layer is pretty “straightforward”. Store rules in an “if then” format like ifttt does very well, with the extra twist that the triggers will probably look something like “N days/hours/minutes before X”. We can also get fancy about how the rule is input (from code-like to Siri-like) and how the reminder (action) takes shape.

The part that sounds a bit like SF is “how will the system know my Grandma is coming to visit?” What are the sources to generate this intelligent calendar of my future activities? Here’s what I can imagine:

  • your normal calendar (it has attendee and location fields already, that’s a pretty good start)
  • your e-mails: either explicitly (you forward e-mails with relevant parsable information to the engine) or implicitly (the engine monitors your e-mail for things like travel reservations, conversations about future activities that it might recognize — yes, people will find this creepy)
  • geolocation: where you are, where your contacts are
  • and a step further: who you’re on the phone with, who you are exchanging text messages with, parsing content of your chats and text messages (people will find it even more creepy, but aren’t organisations already monitoring this kind of thing, without us benefitting from it?)

If I were doing this thing, I would start tame and simple, by gathering information from the calendar. I would focus on one type of reminder to start with. Here are the types of reminders that I can think of, off the top of my head:

  • meeting somebody
  • going somewhere
  • doing a certain activity
  • combinations: meeting somebody somewhere (e.g. Grandma in Lausanne)

Two obvious ones are the two first ones: I could set rules for when I’ve planned to see somebody, and when I’ve planned to go somewhere. Then, once that is working, widen the trigger set, the rule set, and the scope of the input engine.

When I pitched this idea at Lausanne StartupWeekend, I was surprised by some of the feedback I got: either people misunderstood and assumed it was already possible (“but such-and-such service already does geolocalized alerts! you can do this with Evernote or RememberTheMilk“), or understood but wrote it off as science fiction. This made me realize that this idea isn’t as easy to get across as I assumed it was, but that when people do understand it, they go “oh that would be useful”.

So, this is my attempt at explaining this idea correctly, maybe in more detail. I’d like to thank all the people I’ve talked about this idea with up to now (including ZMS and Evernote with whom I had brief chats) for helping me refine the way I present it. (Somebody in particular said “oh, a kind of intelligent calendar” — but I can’t remember who… sorry.)

Do you have questions or comments? Does this explanation sound clear to you? Would you explain it differently? I’d love to hear back from you if you’ve read this article to the end.

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Content Curation: Pearltrees, SmallRivers [en]

Content Curation: Pearltrees, SmallRivers [en]

[fr] Tentative d'utilisation de Pearltrees et SmallRivers. Ça semble intéressant mais pour le moment j'ai l'impression que soit quelque chose m'échappe, soit qu'ils sont en train de réinventer la roue.

If you’re at LeWeb’09, you’ve heard of Pearltrees. They’re offering an interface/platform to help people curate web content by collecting it (bookmarking it?) in the shape of “pearls”. SmallRivers are a Lausanne startup which are also in the content curating business, by allowing people to network pages together by inserting some code in the page.

I’m trying both, unfortunately with not exactly enough energy and time to do it properly. But I already have a few comments.

In a way, this kind of content curation is already possible. Blogs, wikis, and even stupid old webpages with hypertext (hypertext!) allow this. So, is the revolution simply in the interface? In some element of social auto-discovery? Part of me is excited by new services in this space, but I’m also pretty skeptical. Is this just reinventing the wheel in a pretty wrapping?

The question I always want to ask is the following: what exactly does this new shiny service do that I cannot already do (or almost do) with my existing tools, and which will justify the overhead of investing in a new space or service?

For the moment, I am “not getting” either Pearltrees or SmallRivers, but as I said, I have just given them an initial “does it click?” look. I have my pearltree account (not much in it yet) in which I’ll try to place interesting posts about the conference when I have a moment. I also tried to create a “LeWeb’09” network with SmallRivers but think I messed up a little. If you go to my initial post on the LeWeb’09, you’ll see a little widget at the bottom which opens up a sidebar to which you can connect other posts about LeWeb’09. Give it a try and we’ll see if we can build something. (Basically: click on widget, click the connect button in the sidebar, copy the javascript code and paste it into your post.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about content curation during this conference — it’s a topic that the “real-time web” really brings to the forefront. Expect more posts on the topic.

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More on coComment Advertising [en]

More on coComment Advertising [en]

[fr] Malheureusement, coComment et moi sommes partis pour une "Séparation 2.0: quand les 'social tools' que vous aimiez ne vous le rendent pas." Le choix de leur distributeur de publicité est vraiment malheureux (un cran au-dessus du spam, à mon sens), et clairement, il n'y a pas de dialogue entre coComment et ses utilisateurs, malgré les déclarations acharnées "d'ouverture au dialogue".

A la recherche d'une solution de remplacement pour la saisie des commentaires, donc. Le suivi des conversations m'intéresse beaucoup moins que la centralisation de tous mes commentaires en un endroit.

I was alerted to this a few days ago by [Nathalie](http://nathaliehmd.com/), and after witnessing it [with my own eyes](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/792519413) — well, I’m going to go to bed a little later to blog about it, after all.

After [preparing to slap ads in our comment RSS feeds](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/03/31/please-dont-be-rude-cocomment-i-loved-you/), [coComment](http://cocomment.com) is staying on the same ugly and obviously slippery slope by inserting ads in the cocobar:

coComment blog ads in cocobar

So, slightly more discreet than the [big banners placed in the RSS feed](http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunny/2377623519/), but not in very good taste either. Here are some examples of scrolling ad text:

– “Want fast fitness results? Click for free info, revolutionary products.”
– “Walk on the well placed warmth of radiant heating. Click now!”
– “Free comparison of top car rental companies. Click here!”
– “Click to create your dream holiday trip now.”
– “Easy-to-use, advanced features, flexible phone systems. Click for more info.”
– “Visa, MasterCard, AMEX & Discover. Compare Offers & Apply Online. Click here!”

Reloading a cocobar-enabled page will provide you with hours of endless entertainment. (I’m kidding — but there are more out there, of course.)

Now, I understand that [coComment needs to “monetize”](http://blog.cocomment.com/2008/04/07/advertising-revenues-and-harsh-realities/), though one could question a business model which seems to be based on revenue from scrolling ads and blinking banners. (I can’t remember who said “if your business model is putting ads in your service, think again”.)

There are ads and ads, though. Here’s a sample of banners from the coComment site:

coComment blog » Blog Archive » Advertising, Revenues and harsh realities

Commenting is sexy. HotForWords is the talk of the party at Geek Goes Chic

Commenting is sexy. HotForWords is the talk of the party at Geek Goes Chic

coComment blog ads

The screen captures don’t render the blinking quality of most of these ads, but I guess your imagination can fill in. Now, does anybody else than me feel that this kind of advert is just about one step above spam? Based on a few of the comments I can read on [the post Matt wrote about the “harsh realities” of advertising](http://blog.cocomment.com/2008/04/07/advertising-revenues-and-harsh-realities/), it seems not:

> With all honesty, the banners displayed on the cocomment site are awful and are making the service look VERY unprofessional – totally agree with “disappointed” on this one. Few will argue that perception is 99% of reality, so with those banner ads making the site look like crap, the whole service becomes questionable. I felt like I was about to get a trojan into my computer when I first saw www.cocomment.com

> there are other advertising partners that don’t crap up your web site with ads that flash in your face. most opensource projects are using google ad sens now (just an example) that displays relevant ads that look very subtle.

stan

> I agree with some of the commenters here about the ad selection. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were unobtrusive AdWords or… something a little classier. It cheapens your brand. Think upscale! Or, at least, more upscale.

Allan White, in comment

Yes, there are ads and ads. These ones definitely make coComment look very cheap and dodgy, and I’m not sure it would encourage users to hand over credit card details to pay for an ad-free version. Also, what’s with the [Hot For Words](http://hotforwords.cocomment.com/) thing? I’m sorry, but this is not my world. coComment has obviously moved into a space which is very alien to my beloved blogosphere.

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to [state](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/03/31/please-dont-be-rude-cocomment-i-loved-you/#comment-393176) that you [want](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/03/31/please-dont-be-rude-cocomment-i-loved-you/#comment-393260) to have a [conversation](http://blog.cocomment.com/2008/04/07/advertising-revenues-and-harsh-realities/) to actually be having one (I guess that for starters, that last post would have pointed to [the post of mine](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/03/31/please-dont-be-rude-cocomment-i-loved-you/) that [contributed to prompt](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/03/31/please-dont-be-rude-cocomment-i-loved-you/#comment-394334) it). A conversation starts with listening and caring, and obviously, despite their efforts to prove the contrary, the coComment team sadly don’t get this.

What could they have done? Well, I’m not going to launch into a session of full-blown strategic consulting for an ex-client of mine (who didn’t seem to value my advice much at the time), but simple things like taking up issues such as the arrival of advertising *with* the people who use the service **before** actually dumping ads in their feeds unannounced could be a way of showing you care a little bit about how they feel. Understanding that [apologies and justifications](http://blog.cocomment.com/2007/08/21/were-sorry/) when you mess up do not erase the past also seems like a good idea. As my friend [Brian Solis](http://www.briansolis.com/) put it:

> Making mistakes in social media is a lot like sticking daggers into a wooden fence. Just because you apologize and pull them out, they still leave the scars for others to see, and feel. Sometime apologies help people feel better, but they don’t fix perception. This is why thinking before engaging is critical to success in the world social media marketing. This is after all, about people.

Brian Solis

So, as I told Brian, coComment and I are headed for **[Breakup 2.0](http://twitter.com/briansolis/statuses/781536332): when the social media tools you loved don’t love you back** (yes, you can quote that one, it’s from me).

At the moment, I’m only using the service to “save” the comments I make, because I like keeping a trace of my writings (I used to collect stamps). Sadly, I’m not even sure coComment will allow me to walk out with all my data in an XML dump — I don’t see anything obvious in the interface for that, so if I am able to, it will probably be due to my relationships with the people who have access to the server. (I said “if”.)

The tracking feature is too confusing and overloaded for me to use — I can imagine using something like [co.mments](http://co.mments.com) to keep an eye on the small number of conversations where I’m on the lookout for an answer. But I don’t have an alternate solution for “capturing” the comments I make. Copy-paste is a bit of a bore, and del.icio.us doesn’t capture the comment content — just the fact that there is a comment.

I’ve been thinking up **an idea involving a Firefox add-on**. It would have a bunch of algorithms to detect comments fields (maybe would support some microformat allowing to identify comment feeds or forms), have a simple on/off toggle to “activate” the field for capture (some right-click thing, much more practical than a bookmarklet or a browser button, because it’s always there, handy, wherever you click), would colour the field in something really visible when capture is on (red! pink! green!) without disrupting readability (I need to see what I type). It would capture the comment, permalink, blog post name (it knows I’m the commenter, I could fill in that info in the add-on settings), and dump the info in an XML or RSS file, or in the database of my WordPress installation, with the help of a WordPress plugin.

It’s a half-baked idea, of course, and I don’t have the JS skills to actually code anything like this. It should probably be a week-end project for somebody with sufficient Javascript-fu — if you’re interested in bringing it to life, get in touch.

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Advisors, Boards, Companies, Partners, Oh My! [en]

Advisors, Boards, Companies, Partners, Oh My! [en]

Welcome to the area where I feel I’m swimming rather than standing on firm ground. Thankfully, I have advisors for this, but I’m still the person who needs to make the decisions. Let’s dive into the swimming-pool: it’s called [Starting a Company](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/11/13/im-starting-a-company/), in the city of Oh-My-God-Is-It-Really-A-Good-Idea-To-Blog-All-This.

I have one event underway, [Going Solo](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/14/announcing-going-solo/). If all goes well (and I intend it to) this will be the first of many — whether they cater to the same audience or not is still something I’m thinking about. So, I want to create a company which will be behind these events. Good for branding, allows me to bring in partners, pay myself a salary, etc. (Actually, I realise now that I’m not 100% sure why it’s a good idea to create a company — I’m sure it is, but I have trouble explaining it. Enlightened comments welcome.)

This company has a board of advisors. I haven’t drawn up any contracts or anything yet, but we have verbal agreements. I do want to get things down on paper, though. In French, we say *les bons comptes font les bons amis*, meaning that keeping money/business issues clear and clean preserves friendship (or makes it, depending how you understand it).

I need to incorporate the company, too. I live in Switzerland, I’m a British-Swiss dual citizen. In Switzerland, to have an “SA” company (the equivalent of an Ltd.) you need to show up with 100K CHF on the table. Even an SàRL requires 20K. From what I hear, it costs virtually nothing to set up a company in the UK. My focus is events on the European market, so basically, I see no real reason for the company to be Swiss. I’m no specialist of these kinds of decisions, though, so I’m basically listening to what people tell me and reading up here and there.

It seems to me that the simplest thing to do is to set up the company in the UK. I could have a subsidiary (? = succursale) in Switzerland, but again, I don’t understand how this makes things easier. (This isn’t making me look good, is it?)

I’m also not sure what happens with my “independant” status in Switzerland. I’m not going to stop being “independant” because I set up the company (ie, not looking at becoming a full-time employee of my company yet), so is there a way I can preserve this — it’s particularly important from a tax point of view, for example.

Then, advisors. I want the advisors to the company to have a (small) financial stake in it (I think that’s rather common), so I need to write up agreements for that. Do I need a lawyer (eeek)? Can I just do it myself? How do I know what to write in it? I’m a bit uncomfortable about saying who the advisors are publicly before the formalities are done — am I worrying for nothing?

Which also brings up another issue: many people around me are being very helpful by providing their advice and support. But if I bring them all onto the advisory board, as I’d be tempted to do, that means I’m going to have a (possibly) important amount of very little shareholders, which can create trouble if I want to bring partners into the company, or investors, or sell (they have to approve, don’t they?) So, can I have two kinds of advisors — advisors with a financial stake in the company, and others without?

Those of you out there who own companies with advisory boards or who are on advisory boards — would you mind telling us a bit more about how this works? And this is Europe, not the US (in case it changes anything — I suspect it does). Also, should I set up the company now, or wait until the first event is done?

Same kind of questions about partners. At the moment, there will be three of us doing the bulk of the organisation of Going Solo. We’ll be subcontracting other companies or individuals for some pieces of work, of course (any tips about where to go shopping for Wifi That Stays Up, by the way?) So, as far as Going Solo is concerned, we can draft out an agreement between the three of use to determine how much and how we get paid for our work, and what happens with any extra money we might have (ok, might be dreaming here). If this first event goes well, and we’re happy working together, it could make sense to have them enter the company, wouldn’t it? (This is where the when-how-howmuch stuff comes in, but I’m aware we’re not there yet.)

So, maybe my question is this: what are usual models for paying people who organise events? From what I’ve heard, bringing in sponsorships should earn you a cut of what you brought in, though it gets complicated when the sponsorship in question is not just cash, but covering the expenses for certain parts of the conference, or bringing in goods/services. It also gets complicated if the event doesn’t make as much money as planned, or makes a loss — should the person in charge of the sponsorships be paid while others are not? So many questions.

Also — trademarks? Do I need to trademark anything?

Any pointers, advice, or opinions that can help me see clearer here will be most welcome.

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Competition, Colleagues, or Partners? [en]

Competition, Colleagues, or Partners? [en]

[fr] Avec mon projet de démarrage de boîte, je me retrouve à me demander comment exactement l'on définit la concurrence. Qui seront mes concurrents? Quelle genre de relation peut-on avoir avec "la concurrence", surtout lorsque ceux-ci sont des amis ou des connaissances? Est-il possible d'aspirer à un rapport s'approchant de celui de collègues, plutôt qu'une guerre sans merci? Vos idées et expériences sur la question m'intéressent.

In the last ten days I’ve started planning, thinking, and talking about [my new company](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/11/13/im-starting-a-company/). One of the things I’m struggling with at the moment (besides finding a name which isn’t already taken, isn’t too lame, and won’t get me sued) is how to consider others that are in the field I want to step into (I haven’t told you yet, have I?)

Very obviously, they are competition. My company is going to be doing stuff similar to theirs. But I don’t have the feeling it’s really clear-cut. I mean, look at the “social media consulting” business. Amongst my acquaintances and friends, there are many people who do similar things to me. But they feel more like colleagues than competition.

Is it simply because our skills overlap imperfectly, and our markets are geographically or economically separated?

As I understand it, to be competition, two companies (or people) need to be competing for the same clients/users, and this competition has to be exclusive. By that, I mean that if the client/user decides to go with company A, company B is going to lose his business. I guess this is pretty obvious.

So this is what I’m wondering about. I’m preparing to enter a market which is not totally new. There are already people/companies doing what I want to do. But I’m going to do it in a unique way — mine. Does that still mean the others are “competition”? and in that case — for those of these others who are friends or contacts — does that mean that I will be perceived as a threat, and that any “network benefits” I would have had from those people is to be considered lost? Is it going to have a negative impact on these relationships?

This seems pretty tough. (Maybe it’s just the business world, and I need to toughen up, but I don’t like this side of it, if it is.)

I’m not here to put others out of business. I want to do things better, appeal to a different audience, or “increase the consumption” (horribly way to phrase things, but I don’t have anything better on the tip of my tongue without being more specific) of the current “audience”.

I’m aware I might be coming across as terribly naive to all of you seasoned entrepreneurs and business people out there. But I’d like to believe it’s possible to “play nice” with “competition” — maybe not to the extent that they become partners, but at least something resembling a relationship between colleagues. A relationship where help can be given, contacts shared, advice and lessons learned dispensed. Even if I wouldn’t go so far as to expect partnership.

What about partners, then? Can they be involved with the competition? Could they have interests in one’s competition? (That sound like a bad idea, said like that.) Conflicts of interests aren’t good, that’s certain — but can we really be free of them?

I know that without the specifics this may seem a little abstract, but I’d really love to hear what you all think about this.

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I'm Starting a Company [en]

I'm Starting a Company [en]

[fr] J'ai décidé de créer une entreprise. Eh oui. Sans donner trop de détails, je peux déjà vous dire qu'il ne s'agira pas principalement de consulting web (même si je ne renonce pas à mes activités professionnelles courantes) et que ce ne sera pas non plus une application web. Par contre, ce sera l'occasion de faire bon usage de mon réseau.

Un peu étrange pour moi, mais ce sera aussi la première fois dans ma vie que j'entreprends quelque chose dans le but avoué de gagner de l'argent. Bien entendu, ce ne sera pas aux dépens des produits/services/clients/utilisateurs/employés/collaborateurs/partenaires... Je reste qui je suis et j'ai des valeurs auxquelles je tiens 😉

If you [follow me on Twitter](http://twitter.com/stephtara), then you’ve certainly already [heard the news](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/387658512): I’m starting a company. Now, though I’ve told a few people online and off what it was about (shhh), I’m not going to spill all the beans right now (have to keep you wondering for a bit, right?).

What I’ll say for the moment is the following:

– I’m not “retiring” from any of what I’m doing now (I’m still for hire for my usual consulting/speaking/experiential-marketing/etc. stuff, though I might be a bit busier in the coming months, so plan ahead!)
– my company’s main business will *not* be consulting, and it will *not* be a web app (that narrows it down, doesn’t it?)
– strange as it may sound for me to say this, for the first time in my life I’m making a professional decision with the intent of earning money (though not at the expense of my products/services/users/clients/employees/partners, obviously)
– I’m still thinking about a name (“Pink” stuff is out, unfortunately — that should give you a serious hint)
– this will be a chance for me to put my network to good use (amongst other things, I intend to surround myself with great advisors/partners/collaborators).

I’m excited! Full of questions and ideas, but really excited 🙂

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BarCamp Lausanne: Wuala (Dominik Grolimund) [en]

BarCamp Lausanne: Wuala (Dominik Grolimund) [en]

[fr] Wuala: pour partager des données en ligne.

[Wuala](http://wua.la/) launched last week. Demo. (Closed Alpha.)

BarCamp Lausanne 30

Storing, sharing, publishing files. Desktop application. Allows you to search for files. “Free, simple, and secure.*

What’s new about it? Different technology. Decentralized.

Advantages:

1. Free because uses resources provided by participating computers.
2. You get 1GB free, and get more by trading unused disk space. ***steph-note: so basically, this is a service that allows you to convert local disk space into online storage — it doesn’t give you significant extra storage.** You need to be online for at least 4 hours a day to do that. *steph-note: I find 1Gb very little. Gmail offers 3 times that.*
3. No traffic limits.
4. No file size limits.
5. Fast downloads. P2P. Like BitTorrent.
6. You can stream music and video files.
7. “We think it’s a great application.” Drag’n drop. Upload in the background.
8. Simple.
9. All in one place.
10. Security and privacy. All the files are encrypted on your computer. Your password never leaves your computer. **Not even Wuala people can see your files.**

Demo.

BarCamp Lausanne 31

BarCamp Lausanne 32

*steph-note: I feel annoying. I always ask if there are “[buddy list groups](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/08/16/we-need-structured-portable-social-networks-spsn/)” or complain about their non-existence (Facebook).*

Use: mainly to share a few files with other people. *steph-note: not sure I’d call this “online storage” as I find it a little misleading (gives the impression you get extra storage space outside your local drives) — this is really **file sharing**, Pownce-like but without the timeline.* For example, Dominik’s mum is going to use this to share photographs with him, because she’s not comfortable putting them on Flickr as it’s “on the internet”. *steph-note: I see this as an interesting alternative to dropsend and the like.*

Question: what is the business model? Ads in the client. *steph-note: alternate business model would be to make people pay to have more actual “storage”.*

Privacy: in Switzerland, there are “anti-spying” laws which would protect Wuala from having to surrender data to the CIA etc., for example. Wuala doesn’t see what is private or shared (regarding content). Very strong emphasis on privacy. *steph-note: “illegal” music and TV series sharing system of choice, if there is more storage. Problem with this strong emphasis on privacy is when people start using the service to trade kiddie porn.* Dominik says one of the solutions to this could be to limit the size of groups.

Careful! if you lose the password, you lose your files. *steph-note: ouch! this sounds unacceptable to me… no possibility to reset it? Secret question: I hate them, because they are usually very weak. What’s the point of having great encryption, secure passwords, if people give secret answers to secret questions which aren’t so secret?*

Should keep a local version of all the files you share. *steph-note: so this is really not extra storage.* What makes it so different from a prettily dressed up FTP client, besides the fact that the underlying technology is different? From a user point of view? Encryption, and sharing with friends/groups.

*steph-note: a bit skeptical about this, though parts do indeed sound interesting. Not sure what I’d use it for. Maybe to swap music.*

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