Quick Update

It’s been a while since I blogged and given the dramatic nature of my last post I thought I’d check back in and let you know that I’m doing fine.

It’s been an interesting few months. I’ve been back at work and I’ve been having many, many interesting conversations which are all helping me process what I’ve been through and sort out my next now.

My next post will be more substantive.

UPDATE: September 2014 – OK, so not quite ready to get more substantive, but hang in there. Thank you to all of you for continuing to visit and for your ongoing support.



Waiheke Makes WeBlogTheWorld


Photos from my trip last month have made it onto WeBlogTheWorld.

I spent a few days in Wellington, (yes made it out a few hours before the latest big shake) and Auckland and then spent a relaxing weekend on Waiheke Island with my brother. Waiheke is about 30 minutes by ferry from Auckland and has a more temperate climate, similar in fact to the south of France. Which explains why it is covered in vineyards with some excellent wines being produced.

The island is also a haven for artists as it has spectacular views and incredible light.

Every time I go there my creative side is truly inspired and it was a pleasure taking these pictures. They were all shot on an iPhone 4S. Enjoy


Designing for Data-Driven Health and Wellness

Earlier this week John Doerr, Bing Gordon and Mark Pincus took the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco to talk about Internet treasures [an Internet-related company that makes us all proud to be alive now, a company that should be nourished and curated and that brings to life products that we can’t imagine life without].

In the course of the discussion Mark revealed an interesting insight into his social gaming company, Zynga. In essence they are data junkies–they’ve taken a different approach to games and are very data-driven rather than hit-based.  For example, they monitor in real-time each user’s net promoter score–a measure of value that the companies bring to their users, based on a standardized survey of the user base measuring whether each user will promote or detract from one of their games at any given moment.

You might be wondering at this stage what this has to do with health and wellness? As the conversation progressed between the two Kleiner Perkins partners and the CEO of one of their portfolio companies, a really interesting point emerged:

Health is waiting for someone to turn it into a product that’s useful.

This comment, together with the emphasis that Mark’s business places on data really got me thinking. We are so data-driven in so many areas of our lives, but when it comes to US, as Individuals, we know next to zero about our bodies, our health and wellness, how we are tracking, how what we do or don’t do impacts on how our body operates and how our minds feel–this is a major issue.

It is good to see, however, that activity is starting to emerge where the meaning [from a design point of view] within health and wellness is taking the individual more into account. Take for example the video below, in which Worrell brings together a doctor and a patient to discuss the future for health.

[Via Fastcodesign]

Atlassian Accels: Raising a $60m First Round

Sydney-based enterprise software developer Atlassian has closed a $60 million first round of funding from tier one Silicon Valley VC firm, Accel Partners.

This is really great news firstly for the Australian entrepreneurial ecosystem as it shows the calibre of the folks we are spawning and secondly for one of the most savvy young entrepreneurs I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with – Mike Cannon-Brookes. He has a bright future ahead!

I first wrote about Atlassian back in 2006, at which point they were doing about $15m in annual revenue. For the last financial year this had increase to $59 million.

You can listen to a talk Mike did in 2008 at Innovation Bay here.

More coverage: TechCrunch, Sydney Morning Herald

How To Successfully Pitch Angel Investors

Last week Innovation Bay Angels met for their quarterly dinner to hear pitches from a chosen few entrepreneurs. This was the fourth dinner of the year, a year in which we’ve assessed over 50 Australian companies and by the end of the evening we had heard live pitches from 14 entrepreneurs seeking angel investment this year.

As active angel investors (the group has invested multi millions of dollars to date), we see a lot of deals in different contexts and one thing we value above all is a quality pitch from entrepreneurs who are passionate and who have done their homework on their industry.

Our modus has been to ask entrepreneurs to submit an initial 90-second video pitch. That may not seem like a lot of time, but remember that most television ads only run for 29 seconds!

Those entrepreneurs who are chosen to actually present to the group at the quarterly dinners are given six minutes to pitch and may answer questions from the room for another six minutes.

Why all these time constraints and formats?

We’ve tried the unstructured, open ended approach and it simply does not work. Anyone can bang together a business plan or executive summary on a word processor and make it look good – but getting a message across via video in 90 seconds takes skill.

Standing in front of a room of 40 successful businesspeople and selling a business in six minutes takes further skill, discipline and practice.

Besides, investors have only so much bandwidth to hear from an individual entrepreneur and rattling on for 15 – 20 minutes won’t solidify your investment case, nor would it be fair on others who also want to garner the group’s attention.

What should your video be aiming to achieve?

One of the best comments made recently by one of our angels sums this up succintly:

“Short, sharp, punchy. Gives enough to establish credentials. There is enough in this quick summary to make me want to found our more.”

The videos we receive are placed on a private forum and members of the group are able to ask questions of the entrepreneurs who submitted them, and they have the ability to respond. From these comments (for the last round there were well over 300 comments) and the questions asked at the dinners, we’ve collated a set of Frequently Asked Questions, which I’ve set out below.

Entrepreneurs should know the answers to as many of these as possible and while they may not be able to cover off on each and every one in their videos, we would expect them to do so by the time they finish their six minute pitch.


How big is the problem you are trying to solve

What is your core value proposition

What is your customer make up – geographically and by industry

What is the return on investment (ROI) for customers

Can you give a bottom up outline of the market size rather than “a % of a $bn market”

How do you define your target segment, how many potential customers are there in this segment and what are they willing to pay for your product or service

What is the cost to acquire customers

If you are initially targeting a niche of early adopters, how will you get across to mass market adoption

Are there any regulatory or entrenched business practice barriers you need to overcome

Is there something about your space that means we need a local solution rather than a modified US solution

Are there any analogies you can use to explain your product, eg “the Farmville of Health Education” or “Groupon meets Zynga”

If you are initially targeting a niche of early adopters, how will you get across to mass market adoption

Are there any regulatory or entrenched business practice barriers you need to overcome

What is your sustainable competitive advantage

Which are your major competitors and what do you do different

Not for everyone but: why are you best placed to win in this torturously overcrowded and undifferentiated space

While your product may in fact be different from others in the market, how do you get around the perception that it is the same as other products out there

Who owns the IP

Who will be on the team for executing

What are your views on the LeanStartup Model

What are the backgrounds of the founders

What is your backstory – how did you come to tackle this problem/market

Does your product exist already – if so, will you be able to demo it

Outline some key figures – revenue predictions, staff

How do you make money, what is your revenue model

What is your distribution strategy

Are revenues primarily from product or services. How will that change in the future.

What are your plans for scaling the business (what are the requirements and obstacles to scale)

How are/will you handle the huge amounts of data that you need to gather

How will you spend the money

What your investors should contribute in addition to money

How much equity are you offering to Angels

What will equity split be

What’s your exit strategy

One final point – don’t go asking investors to sign a non disclosure agreement. You’ll likely get short shrift.

I hope these pointers assist you in your quest for funding and good luck growing your businesses!

Tribalizing Business: Steps To Changing The Game

hutsHumans are genetically predisposed to commune. When they do so within socially optimized corporate environments this results in exponential amplification across return on engagement metrics.

The results of a recent Deloitte survey of over 400 organizations, 2009 Tribalization of Business Study, provide a solid baseline for exploring where business is at with respect to providing such socially optimized environments.

First up, the survey found that over 50% of enterprises that had previously made some investment in social media were planning on maintaining this community-status quo. Over 40% planned to increase their investment in this area and only 6% were decreasing their involvement.

This tells us that business tribalization is becoming a reality. Or does it? Not so fast – there remains a lot of work to be done before we can comfortably declare enterprise engagement as being widespread.

Across 36% of companies surveyed, social media continues to be deployed out of the marketing function. While it is good to see that multiple departments are managing social media in as many as 15% of survey respondents, this can be problematic depending on the way in which management takes place. Clear decision-making processes need to be put in place that match the real time nature of social media.

Methods for monitoring and measuring success are currently predominantly based on participation-related analytics. The downside of doing so is that it can create a false view on how enterprises are benefitting from being more social.

Remember, that higher quality engagement trumps quantity and will lead to more sustainable inbound and outbound engagement. This is highly relevant as evidenced from the responses to the survey. Respondents indicated that the biggest obstacles they faced were getting people to participate regularly.

By better formulating their goals, and by aligning measurement with the achievement of these goals, companies will know how their investment into such areas as employing more staff to manage social media activities are faring.

The current staffing trend is to have 2-5 people, but interestingly almost 5% of those surveyed have more than 10 staff in such roles.

The survey concluded that “new management strategies and practices” are going to be critical for extracting “true business value” from social integration.

Tribalizing business in a game changing way requires an all-of-enterprise commitment and sustained ecosystem-wide engagement.