This past weekend a small contingent of Xeroes headed up to Warkworth for the annual geek pilgrimage that is Kiwi Foo Camp.
When you roll with Rod anything can happen. This time, on the drive up from the airport to Warkworth we took a quick little detour to do some skiing at Snowplanet. For those of you up north (northern hemisphere), February is a great time of year to go skiing. Down south, it’s the height of summer. Snowplanet is an indoor ski field.
It was absolutely awesome. I didn’t want to leave. When we came out into the hot, humid baking sunny day the utter surreal-ness was intense. Admittedly, the whole time I had a dirty nagging feeling that my carbon footprint was off the charts.
Which made it especially interesting to meet Ian Wright and see his presentation on saving the planet (while going obscenely fast) in his electric car, the Wrightspeed X1.
My takeaways: If you have a late model car that gets 35mpg then you really aren’t a significant part of the problem. In LA, those cars output cleaner air than they take in. It’s the gas guzzling SUV’s and light trucks that are the real killers. Turning those into hybrids can make a very significant difference. That’s Ian’s ultimate plan.
I always really enjoy when Tim Norton of PlanHQ gets talking. He and Dave ten Have from Ponoko ran a really good session on taking your kiwi company and product to the world. Mike Cannon-Brookes from Atlassian also chimed in with some good insights.
My takeaways: Get your ass on a plane and spend time in your target market. Get in front of the key players and stay in front of them. Just remember that hype does not equal money in the bank.
Nat, the organiser of Kiwi Foo, ran a session on teaching kids to program. He shared his experiences with Scratch, I shared some of my experiences working with kids using Flash and various other people piped up with their experiences using other tools and methods. I came away glad that I’m not the only one who’s underwhelmed by Mindstorms.
My takeaways: Tech ed is wide open and yet to be cracked. I’m very interested in being one of the people to crack it.
There were a whole lot of sessions that I really regret missing, especially one on Meraki. It looks like people are starting to bring Meraki here to NZ. Wellington is ideally suited for it. That would certainly help fulfill my prediction that mesh networks catch on in 2008.
As always, it was great fun with great people. Next year, I would prefer to see some upfront planning for the sessions, kinda like the way barcamp do or even better, like the SXSW panel picker.
This was found in a good article on pricing and selling strategies…
…things-with-stories sell faster than things-without-stories. How much faster depends on the story.
The value of an item – in the mind of a consumer – is simply the difference between the anticipated price and the price on the tag. When the anticipated price is higher than the price tag, it’s a “good value.” When the anticipated price is lower than the price tag, it’s a bad value. Good stories raise the anticipated price.
I would also add that good stories get repeated.
Speaking of good stories, below are some from my reading list, via Good Reads (I’ve tried most of the competitors and this was my fave). I need a new book, so I would love to get your recommendations.
It’s the end of an era for me. In 1994 I founded Turntable. I’ve had the domain Turntable.com for over 12 years! I recently sold it and I’ve switched over to using www.turntablemedia.com.
I plan on posting about the change over, but for now please change your bookmarks and RSS subscriptions for this blog to http://turntablemedia.com/blog.
This SlideShare presentation by Peter Merholz of Adaptive Path is mandatory viewing for anyone interested in product design and marketing strategy.
My take aways:
- Why user experience is the differentiator
- Experience first, then features, then technology
- A real vision focuses on the user experience
- The value curve of the Wii vs. Xbox and PS3 proves: experience matters, technology doesnâ€™t
- Leverage the system, place functionality where appropriate in the ecosystem
- Products are people â€“ what kind of person is your product?
I’ve always been disgusted by patents, especially software patents. So a while back I was impressed when one tenacious Kiwi decided to take on Amazon.com over their utterly absurd ‘one-click’ patent.
He’s not the first to take up the cause and even Apple has relented to the patent, paying Amazon royalties for using the concept in iTunes.
Now it now looks like he’s won the case.
I’ve been a bit remiss for not posting on this sooner (and not posting in a while). I’m so proud of how well Dave and Tim have accomplished getting their startups off the ground. Both their startups recently received some serious global exposure and both were met with outstanding reviews, which they well deserved.
On-demand, social manufacturing – design, share, and buy laser-cut products from a variety of materials
Dave launched Ponoko at the TechCrunch 40 event with big buzz and fantastic reviews like this from Michael Arrington “Ponoko is a cool way for designers to create new physical products and sell them. Users collaborate on design and prototyping all the way through to production.” It was also hilarious that Dave emailed me afterwards and said that the first person who approached him was a VC who started off asking “Do you happen to know an American interaction designer…Philip Fierlinger?”
I was really lucky to have the opportunity to work with Dave for a short while. When we were just forming Xero, Dave consulted for us and worked along side us in the 404 apartment. I got to hear Dave’s early concepts for what would become Ponoko. From the outset I loved it and I was quite impressed that he was so unphased to take on, what seemed to me, such a daunting project. It’s definitely not your usual web startup. And that’s one important reason why it’s such a great idea.
A collaborative planning tool to help start a business and keep it on track
Tim is really active in the NZ web and business community. A little while ago he did a fantastic presentation on getting your startup funded:
The entire set of videos is well worth watching. It’s refreshingly frank and well informed, with great insights and tips, based on priceless experience.
Go New Zealand! Go Wellington. Let’s just not mention the rugby.
DATE CORRECTION FOR WELLINGTON:
The Xero UPA presentation in Wellington is happening on Tuesday 7 August.
I’ve been invited to speak next month at UPA events in Wellington and later in Auckland.
I’ll be talking about and showing the interaction design process used to create Xero, providing some insights into the different design techniques used to build a complex online application quickly, yet effectively. I will also discuss how those techniques are evolving as the company and the software grows.
- Xero Interaction Design Case Study
(there will also be a presentation on the recent UPA conference held in Austin)
- Tuesday 7th August, 12pm – 1:30pm, 2007
- Statistics NZ House, The Boulevard, Harbour Quays (across from the Railway Station on the waterfront)
- Xero Interaction Design Case Study
- Tuesday 28th August, 6pm – 8pm, 2007
- Bank of New Zealand, 3rd floor, 125 Queen Street, Auckland
Web 2.0 debate
Last month, I participated on a panel debate at Webstock, arguing the merits of Web 2.0. I thought about making my presentation silly, but I couldn’t help myself and ended up creating a genuine analysis of what Web 2.0 is really all about, what makes it so significant, and why it’s important to understand. I think my slides do explain it pretty well.
I have to admit that our opponents did a much better job of making their case, using their rye cynical wit and deft charisma. Their tactics were extremely effective, but ultimately they were fighting a hopeless cause.
You can watch the full antics here.
Found on Reemer:
My friend Jonathan says: “to succeed in a market with no real switching costs (e.g. the consumer internet), when users invest in you, you must use that investment to make it better for them to stay, not to make it harder for them to leave.” Facebook just provided a way for every consumer internet developer on the planet to make money from their site, *and* make Facebook more valuable. There’s risk involved, but I think there’s far more upside.
My favorite bits:
- involve users in your web application’s story
- make growth a social aim for existing users
- talk to your users (bad news > no news) … more likely to tolerate growing pains
- embed your service in others