Archive: Mar 2011

  1. Be Different

    4 Comments

    The new Nokia CEO has caused an earthquake with his “leaked” letter that is now known as “Nokia, our platform is burning”. It’s been quite clear that Nokia is hurting, both market share, perception and revenue wise, and moving to Windows Phone could definitely be a short-term win. I’d argue though, that long-term this would be just another nail in the coffin for Nokia, or as their ex-head of smartphone division so eloquently put it: “some finish boys pee on themselves in the winter. it feels warm for a few minutes’.

    Differentiation is the key between the successful ventures and the wanna-bes (same as in people by the way). (more…)

  2. ILTechTalks – Facing the Technology Challenges Together

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    I’m writing this on behalf of Ori Lahav, the CTO of Outbrain. ILTechTalks is one of those initiatives that initially sound too good to be true. Go ahead and take advantage of it, see for yourself! — Eden

    “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

    George Bernard Shaw

    That’s basically what it’s all about.

    Building a technology based business requires investment in knowledge. A software company, by the end of the day, has one big asset which is knowledge. During the road of building this business you are facing the questions around it like:

    • “How do I hire the best team?”
    • “How do I manage it?”
    • “what tools should I choose? open-source vs vendor tools? cloud vs private setup? etc…”
    • “How do I scale my technology? (that’s a good problem)”

    and so on many challenges we are facing on our day to day. (more…)

  3. So, How Are You Going to Help Out?

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    I’m the first to admit when I’m silly. Usually that brings good results, so let me share a story with you. Some months ago, right after the Any.DO investment, Omer Perchik and I went to the silicon valley to meet face-to-face with some of the investment syndicate,  advisory board members and other valley based people that could help. One of those people was Paul Buchheit who just joined Y Combinator at the time and was kind enough to take an hour to get the pitch and give an opinion.

    As we were exiting the building, Paul Graham came up to us and asked us when are our office hours. We were stumped. Neither of us had any clue what are these office hours he was talking about. He asked again. We retreated while mumbling something about not being from around there.

    Some Internet education later and we realized what he was talking about. An important part of the Y Combinator program is calendar time where Paul & his partners devote to the startups – brainstorming about product, distribution, users & funding. This, in turn, started a trend where some of the silicon valley eco-system participants just accepted and advised people, at no charge, only to help out.

    So, I figured we gotta have this in Israel. (more…)

  4. Managing Your Investors

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    Married with ChildrenTaking an investment is getting into a long-term committed relationship, which like any other relationship needs to be cultivated, nurtured and managed. Funny enough, many of the entrepreneurs I meet have this perception of investors coming in and taking over their companies, with the founders losing control through the investors getting veto rights. The reality of it is that the company founders and management are much more informed about the day-to-day and are so much in control, that there is a whole area of studies around the “Principle-Agent Problem”.

    One key point even before managing your investors is selecting them. I particularly like this list as a sanity check for an entrepreneur talking to a VC. Much like any relationship, you need two to tango, and startup life is hard enough without being stuck with, well, an asshole investor.

    I am writing this more of a sanity check for me and as a note to companies that I work with. Hope someone else finds it useful, but YMMV. (more…)

  5. The Blessed Few – We can Change it

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    Recently I had the opportunity to attend a political meeting. The objective of the meeting was of significant importance to me and, to be presumptuous, to our country – Reformation of a party that, hopefully, will some day ascend to power and once again bring true social-democratic values to our society.  Yet, a careful scan of the faces of the 40 or-so participants, revealed an extremely homogenous crowd. A good and caring crowd, yet a totally non-differentiated group. All relatively or even highly successful people, extremely caring and motivated, but, essentially without an exception, the kind of persons that the common Israeli either dislikes or even, dare I say, hates. Despite many claims to the contrary, Israel has always been a “class-oriented” society, where those who have been here longer sneer upon the new arrivals and feel that the new comers do not appreciate the hard work that their predecessors in this country have done. For an illustration, go and review the Lul gem produced by Arik Einstein and Uri Zohar approximately 40 years ago.  (more…)

  6. Thoughts following our UX Event

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    img_20110303_171353Today we held an event on ”Secrets of User Experience and Product Design” with a great panel onboard - Noa Bichovsky, Uri Ar & Eyal Shahar who really gave good insight into the importance of UX early on in the startup life-cycle (you can read more about them in our Meetup page).  We opened the event for The Junction members + 50 guests – and indeed it was a packed house.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t accommodate the demand, and therefore we will try to hold another similar session later this year.

    I thought it was an interesting session with some good takeaways – the most interesting part of the event in my opinion was the discussion on how to incorporate UX into the first days of a startup’s life.   I think both the panel and the attendees agreed that UX is a critical element to the success of startups, especially in consumer facing services.  I think that both panel & audience also agreed that UX is different from product, and where there is the ability to have both, it is preferable to do so as early-on as possible.

    But…  what happens when you are the typical young Israeli startup – 2 co-founders that are either both programmers, or programmer + product.  How do you incorporate UX into the mix?  You could go to UX consultants (like our panelists) who would all provide superb strategic guidance and implementation;  however – that costs money – money you probably don’t have.  One of the audience members asked if the panel would work for equity.  The panel tried to sidestep the question – but my sense was that working for equity is a practice used in extreme exceptions rather than the norm.

    We know attorneys & accountants work for equity & contingent fees when dealing with startups, pushing their fee post-funding.  So why don’t UX consultants? – I don’t know.  It seems to me that a good UX person with a solid understanding of consumer markets should be able to make pretty good bets on who to work with for equity.  And from a pure financial perspective, if the consultant could work with a large enough portfolio of startups for equity, there should be at least one home-run that would more than justify the failures of others.  Reminds me of something…  the VC model.  In fact, I would argue that this model would give the strong UX consultant a higher return that their usual fees.

    I think this question remained open – how do you enable partnership between young startups and UX consultants.  I think both sides agreed that this is a big challenge without a trivial resolution – but that there is tremendous potential if the right model is built to support this.  This is exactly the type of discussions we would like to have at The Junction – discussions that could potentially spur new thinking and would help push this industry forward.  I hope we find a good resolution for this one sooner rather than later – it would benefit us all.

    What are your thoughts?  Can you think of a model that would work?