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|(back from) hiatus||Been a long time since updating this blog. Maybe too long.
Two main reasons for that:
1. As most of the people who know me already know, the past 18 months or so kept me busy developing a few web-based consumer products for the Romanian market. Those products are metropotam which is the most popular online local city guide (or the Romanian version of Gothamist), invita which is an event management tool (evite or amiando for Romania), coolio which is a social shopping tool (not sure there's an non-Romanian version out there), urbee (mobile calendar for city events and going out places), 100eyes - photo sharing (Romanian version of Flickr), urbanbite which is a teens reommendation site and soon-to-be-formaly-launched metropotravel (leisure travelling recos). All those products were thought as functioning together under the same umbrella with a single-sing-on service and, presumably, is on its way to become the most visited Romanian platform for a cool social life for youngsters.
2. I moved all my communication, online networking, ideas sharing or random findings on twitter. I am more busier than ever and the little daily time that I have seems more suitable to a microblogging lifestyle. So if you're (still) interested in my random musings or whatever, you may as well start following me on twitter.
Other than that, I am also involved in a few other things, among which my older and dear Krogos, which just recently launched a new cool product that basically works as an Adobe Photoshop plugin that automatically converts a PSD file into XHTML+CSS standard compliant code. (recently launched, still in a alpha mode).
I also started recently to become more interested in online video under its all forms - it's still an infant industry with lots of technologies fighting their way to become dominant standards and, accordingly, lucrative models.
|subjoost - subtitles for joost||subjoost provides subtitles for Joost and is our contribution to joost's ecosystem - basically it's just a simple feature-platform that enables anybody to see or add new subtitles for joost's shows.
|quote of the day||Microsoft shouldn't feel too badly, though, [about Zune] Sony created the original Walkman and owns their own damn music publisher and they still can't compete with Apple in this market. But the Zune is sort of a high water mark of moronic corporate drones trying to design by committee to compete with innovation - it just doesn't work. - link
|who on which plate||see what the big players had acquired in the past - Google seems to be the one with the largest appetite
|Getting VC money: what liquidation terms mean||An entrepreneur looking for his or her first VC round of financing is much often than not familiar with the jargon the deal terms involve not to mention with what liquidation terms stand for. In short the term basically refers to who gets what in a VC deal that is structured in a multi-tiered way. Read a short context here, then this and then this and you also have an xls available to play with.
|Pricing your software||Good source of articles on pricing strategies, if you're in the software business.
|why seedcamp is a good thing||Been in London for 4 days already - as you may know, urbee has made it to the top 20 for Seedcamp.
Before Monday's kick off and even afterwards I saw some reactions that were not really favorable to the Seedcamp crowd - either from people commenting on a list released by FT and published by techcrunch (which list was just a superficial copy/paste from the official one and had little, if any, insights or research of the actual products) or from people from outside just judging the techcrunch list. But those have little importance, and while I don't intend to open up arguments with any, even though I know theirs are not substantiated :), I will tell you why events like seedcamp are good, especially in Europe.
Usually internet entrepreneurs start something by noticing a need, and then trying to fulfill that need by creating a piece of technology. It either has some traction (i.e early adopters using it) or not - point is that, grand visions aside, usually the entrepreneur goes in small iterations developing his product so that it will incorporate early feedback from users, friends or/and, if the case, investors.
Oh well, what is unique about Seedcamp is that you or your product get to have a huge exposure from a bunch of very experienced people with very diverse background. You have as such an unique focus group that will analyze your product and ask you questions from all angles that are possible out there. All in a very honest way.
And as such, regardless of the 50k award and the three consequent months, you as an entrepreneur have a tremendous amount of good guidance, infirmations, confirmations or fresh new ideas that you could and should definitely take into acoount in the future. I personally have met and got feedback about urbee probably from at least 150-200 people. Strong individuals with solid background and experience under their belt. I think this is very hard to impossible to get in a very short time anywhere in Europe for this type of business. And if we consider that your product is early stage or seed stage...
Apart from the fact that you are also individually making contact in person with any investor whom you may have the chance to convince to invest in your product, apart from Seedcamp that is.
As such, that is the context that any entrepreneur I believe would be better off whenever he or she start something. Now, as far as I understand it, Seedcamp is a first step in a longer strategy of creating a good context for emergent good ideas - and that is a good thing, anyway you look at it.
Now, a lot of comments have been made about the quality of the ideas from the top 20. Everybody is comparing them with what's happening in the States, but what most people forget is that in Europe the consumer and the target (or where the idea started thereof) have a different set of needs. And as such comparing it with what's happening in US is for the moment is like comparing apples with bananas - besides, even having similar ideas with what's already out there might be irelevant because executing is what matter most. I personally think that there are some very-very good ideas and some very strong individuals at Seedcamp 2007 and I am sure we will hear about those guys again soon enough.
Finally - why in Europe? Well, there's nothing like it and we have to start from somewhere, don't we? Europe is still kind of new in this game - coincidentally, Anil, Google's M&A guy for Europe said that his position was created just last year. And if we have to compare, Sillicon Valley has the advantage of an ecosystem already created in at least last 3-4 decades, in Europe that is not the case.
There are few internet entrepreneurs scattered around Europe but there's not truly a hub that would seed an environment for getting the right match and context for them. And in short, this is what Seedcamp is.
|scale versus features||Jason has a good post pointing some of the main issues that may arise when thinking of going further with the product development.
The argument leaves from the technical versus strategy guys views on business but fact is that if you, as a business guy, are not capable of understanding the technical issues and challenges from the product development department and thereof not reach a strategy consesus, one of you has to leave.
|We will be in London next week||...for Seedcamp, that is, among the 20 other teams selected for an intensive learning week.
We seem to be the only team from Eastern Europe, and then there's one from each Slovenia, France, Russia, Sweden, the Emirates, Germany, Scotland, Netherlands and Spain and all the others from the UK. All with very interesting business ideas, I am looking forward to meeting those guys.
If you are in London next week, ping me for a pint for two - drnovac at gmail
|two quick industry facts of the day....||....of the CMS market that is:
- fragmented market with over 1300 CMS companies
- for every one product dollar there's five dollars for services
Obviously one of the most important industry play is, or should be towards, the ecosystem developed around your product - both in terms of product development (see the gazilion plugins or extensions developed for Wordpress) and in terms of biz development (i.e. partnerships with players up the value chain such as publishers, ad agencies etc)