The most important word in the sentence “I’m starting a tech business” is business.
- Convincing talented people to join you is sales
- Securing a business bank account is sales
- Getting third-party providers to give you services at a decent rate is sales
- Getting press and PR coverage is sales
- Convincing your team of your vision is sales
- Getting users to use your product is sales
- Getting customers to pay for your product is sales
- Securing investment from angel investors or VC funds is sales
If you’re great at tech, but not so great at sales – you need to work with someone who is.
Flappy Bird, the infuriatingly-difficult mobile game that went from obscurity to the number one free game on iOS, taking $50,000 per day in ad revenue, is no more:
I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.
— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014
Its creator Dong Nguyen, tired of the relentless attention the game brought him, has removed Flappy Bird from the App Store.
I couldn’t help but feel that, if he had better advisors around him, someone would have advised that he start a company – and hire some people.
Apart from making money, what’s the purpose of a company?
It could be:
- To provide a ‘protective shell’ to operate within
- To provide tools and resources to its team
- To provide legal protection
- To provide a structure in which teams can operate effectively
All so that talented people can do their best work, without worrying about this stuff.
If Mr Dong had hired some talented people to look after marketing, PR, support, finances, ad networks, etc – he could get back to making games and trying out ideas – instead of feeling overwhelmed with the burden of doing all this stuff himself.
I’m on O2 at the moment, but my partner is on EE (Orange) and she just got a bill for 800Mb of data in a month – 300Mb over her normal data allowance, which she never normally exceeds.
Being tech-savvy and cost-aware, she checked her cellular data usage counter in iOS – it shows 126Mb – since it was last reset months ago. Even accounting for errors, that’s a massive discrepancy.
A call to their customer service was typically useless, the representative tried:
- “Has anyone else had access to your phone?”
- “Do you have a lot of background services running?”
- “When you’re on Wifi at home, do you turn cellular data off?”
The last one, of course, is default behaviour for iOS anyway – it doesn’t use cell data if a known network is available and joined.
It got me thinking about how data monitoring in telecoms companies is a black box – it’s totally sealed, nobody can audit it or tell when there’s a fault. If they say you’ve used 800Mb – how can you prove you didn’t?
At the very least, a service provider could improve the visibility on this data: a web dashboard where you can see data by day or time of day – or free SMS alerts when certain usage levels are met.
It’s almost like they don’t want you to be able to keep track of your usage…
I like Bitcoin – it’s a plucky idea. Decentralised peer-to-peer currency, pseudo-anonymity and an anarchist angle: who needs the banks, right? Its success is testament to the hunger for a non-bank alternative payment system.
Bitcoin’s unique masterstroke is also its fundamental flaw – the way that coins are algorithmically-derived means that there is a finite supply. They will run out (21 million coins is the hard-wired limit of the protocol), driving up the price of the coins in circulation.
Engineered scarcity and built-in deflation (the currency soars in value) means that Bitcoin is a commodity, not a currency.
The problem is, like gold, it enriches early adopters and concentrates power into a few wealthy institutions. It’s therefore entirely possible that we see a layer on top of Bitcoin – a fiat currency backed up by Bitcoin which becomes traded as a proxy. Ta-da! We’re back where we started.
None of this is to say that Bitcoin will fail, it may very well succeed, but if it does, it won’t be because it’s better.
Edited 28 Nov 2013: Several people pointed out that bitcoin mining will end in 2140, not in ‘a couple of years’ as originally stated.