We Dare Not Fail Ourselves

Waiheke Winter Light

We live in a world surrounded by terror and unrest. The immediate agony of disease, displacement and starvation pervades. Technological advancements bring economic uncertainty to many disengaged workers.

70 years ago Sir John Gorton, who went on to be Prime Minister of Australia, spoke of a similar world. Surrounded by so much intolerance I believe his advice echoes across the ages. May he inspire all of us to be fiercer with ourselves, with our relationships and the world around us. May we never be complacent. May we be brave and not accept injustice, wherever and however we find it.

Hear his words and be watchful: –

“We cannot expect to make a new and better world as a result of the exercise of brute military force. We can only expect to achieve the kind of world we want by the use of brains and effort during peace.”

“We must raise the spiritual standard of living so that we may get a spirit of service to the community and so that we may live together without hate, even though we may differ on the best road to reach our objectives.”

Tomorrow we must carry on again. And the tasks which lie in front of us are immense and urgent as never before.”

“What can we do? Individually, it may not be much. But we can at least all think on the problems which are in front of us and be ready to act on our thoughts if the opportunity arises. We can try to reason out how we may best provide a full and satisfactory life for all our citizens. We can practise tolerance and understanding. And we can be ready always to defend against attacks, either from within or without, the political freedom, the measure of freed which we already have.”

 “It will be hard. It will mean a constant effort from all of us. Build a world in which meanness and poverty, tyranny and hate, have no existence.”

– Sir John Gorton, Mystic Park Hall, April 3rd 1946.

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We dare not fail ourselves. We dare not see the chance to improve our world wasted.

Every single one of you reading this has the power to affect change. In fact, many of you have already demonstrated, in your unique ways, the power to lead massive change.

I implore you to step up, to break free from your daily busyness. Accept my challenge to make a commitment within 24 hours of reading this and join me on this quest.

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Sydney’s Famous Sculptures by the Sea

Almost an annual pilgrimage for me. I love the opportunity to photowalk the stretch of coast between Bondi and Tamarama each year and infuse both the beautiful scenery and art as well as take in the absolute smorgasbord of cameras and photographers.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to walk the whole thing this year, but here’s a compilation of the moments I did capture with the GoPro Hero 4:

FounderTalk: Pic-See’s Yen Lim discusses apps with a purpose

Pic-See

Sydney-based Yen Lim has developed Pic-See, an incentive-driven visual communication system for children with early learning needs. She was inspired to embark on this journey by her experience working with a 3 year old boy with autism while she was completing her Honours Degree in Psychology at The University of Sydney.

As a passionate psychologist she believes that research and technology can, and should, be integrated into widely accessible solutions that improve quality of life. Through this filter she observed how special needs teachers were taking many hours to source and create libraries of visuals to use in day-to-day therapy. It struck her that there must be thousands of parents, carers, teachers and therapists around the world laminating paper-based visuals and she thought, “Surely, there has to be an easier way!”

This is so often the catalytic event that launches entrepreneurs into action!

The original concept behind Pic-See was to make it easier to construct and implement visuals, so valuable time and energy would not be wasted. Yen felt that time should rather be invested in what matters most to dedicated parents, teachers and therapists, namely engaging and connecting with those they care for.

In developing Pic-See Yen wanted to utilise touch-screen technology to reduce the long-term labour-intensive, environmental and monetary costs associated with producing visual communications systems.

Pic-See not only replaces outdated paper-based systems, but also captures the imagination of users to make visually-based learning fun. The app is packed with images and animations designed by graphic artists, purposely created sound effects to enthral users, an drag-drop interface to build visual sequences, the ability to customise visuals with imported images, the ability record audio to promote verbal communication skills, an emotions centre, a choice board, and a data centre to capture the achievements of users and areas in need of further development.

 

Yen’s key lessons learned in embarking on this adventure are:

  •  It’s a full time job. Surround yourself with people who can help.

What she thought would be a straightforward app to develop, soon turned out to be a highly complicated technical project. Being new to the world of entrepreneurship she had a steep learning curve. She says, “Be prepared to dedicate yourself as it’s a full time job. Surround yourself  with people who can make the journey easier. If I could go back in time, I would definitely seek out a mentor who can guide me through the app space and the broader ecosystem, not just to survive but to thrive.”

  • Once the app is developed it’s just the beginning

The market moves quickly. App-spaces are dynamic environments. You have less than 18 months to take your product to launch, listen and respond to the ecosystem, keep your ideas fresh and turn your brand into a household name. This is a process that requires time, perseverance, a lot of hard work and a willingness to venture into the unknown.

  • Marketing is everything

A strategic marketing plan is essential. It’s one thing to have a great product, but if no-one is benefiting from it your app can get swept away by a flooded market.

  • You need  a strong business model

Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.” Having a great idea for an app is definitely the first step, but deciding to take the plunge, backing yourself and growing a startup, is arguably the most difficult. A strong financial and business plan is needed for your idea to realise its true potential.

  • Secure funding

Passion has driven the development of this app. Yen invested her personal funds into Pic-See. She strongly suggests seeking government grants (if available) and skilling up on how to approach investors.

Adios 2012, thanks a million!

I’m looking forward to seeing how Sydney’s spectacular harbor transforms itself tonite with the #NYESYD festivities. I snapped this picture on the harbor recently.

As the year closes, I want to thank all those of you who have visited this blog: over 1 million visits — a huge month on month increase. I will endeavor to post more regularly during 2013 as there is clearly strong interest in the various topics I curate.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Shedding Light On Kickstarter, Open IP and Moore’sCloud

I’m a big fan of Kickstarter as it’s empowering entrepreneurs to come up with a whole range of interesting products that may not have seen the light of day through traditional funding mechanisms.

I’ve personally backed a Kickstarter project called Light by Moore’sCloud. The product is billed as:

Beautiful, intelligent, connected light. Open hardware, open software, endless possibilities for play and delight.

Not only are they developing a fun product, but they are pioneering the way intellectual property is distributed as well. As the team says in their latest update; they are an organization dedicated to sharing all of our intellectual property as freely and as widely as possible.

I caught up with Mark Pesce, the Sydney-based serial entrepreneur behind this project and asked him a few questions:

>What prompted you to build this?

It’s something I’ve attempted several times over the last decades, but only now have we gotten to high-performance (what used to be called ‘workstation class’) computing at an incredibly affordable price point – around $12 in components. It opens the door to entirely new design methodology. And it’s why we’re named Moore’sCloud.

> What is the biggest challenge you face in getting the product to market (not including fundraising)?

There are a lot of subtle UX issues involved in creating a device that has a lot of interiority; how do you present that depth in a way that is not confronting to people without deep technical skills?

> When can I expect my own Light – in the Xmas hamper?

We hope to have them rolling off the assembly line in May.

> Is this the first of a range of products you plan on releasing – what else do you have in mind?

Christmas lights, for one thing. And room lighting. But we see ourselves as getting a toe into the pond of the Internet of Things. We’ll learn a lot that can be applied to other possible forms and appliances.

Thanks Mark! I am certainly looking forward to playing with the product.

They’ve currently got 1,721 backers with $202k pledged towards their $700k goal. 13 days to go – sign on and make a pledge!