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The News Wrap: New ATO unit to tackle corporate tax dodging

7:56AM | Tuesday, 2 July

The Australian Taxation Office has established a new unit to investigate corporate tax dodging by Australia’s biggest companies as it sets out to crack down on cheats and improve government revenue.   The unit will work with international partners to establish the purpose of Australian businesses in low-tax jurisdictions, The Age reports.   It will also look at whether highly profitable international companies in Australia, like Google or Apple, are avoiding Australian tax by moving profit centres overseas.   Infrastructure reform could boost economy by 3% a year: Infrastructure Australia   Infrastructure Australia will call on the federal government to create a single infrastructure fund as part of a reform blueprint aimed at making Australia a competitive player in the Asian Century.   The Australian reports the plan says Australia “cannot afford to invest in the wrong projects” and that only projects that generate positive economic returns should get taxpayer money.   Infrastructure Australia says if the reform is embraced there is no reason Australia cannot grow the economy by more than 3% a year and lift national productivity by more than 2%.   Mining services companies face loans risk   Mining services companies could be at risk of breaching loan agreements because of the slowdown in the mining industry, as listed drilling contractor Boart Longyear cut its earnings guidance for the second time in six weeks and negotiated relief over its financial obligations.   The Australian reports analysts noting that the sharp downturn in the market capitalisation and earnings in the mining services space and their debt obligations could see more companies in danger of breaching their debt covenants.   Moelis & Co executive director of Australian equities Adam Michell said the pain was being led by the gold sector, where the gold price has dropped to a level that will leave many mines in danger of becoming unprofitable.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.44% at 14,974.96 points. The Australian dollar is down 0.02% at US92.39 cents.

Set favourite places for Google Maps

6:44AM | Friday, 28 June

Google Maps allows users to set favourite places for future reference, such as "work" or "home". This allows you to quickly reference directions for specific locations from those saved locations.   To do so, head to Google maps and then click on "my places". There, you can set as many locations as you would like.

The 10 biggest issues facing start-ups in 2013: #2 funding

6:45AM | Friday, 28 June

What are the main issues Australian start-ups are grappling with? Accountancy and business advisor network DFK recently conducted a survey of its clients and staff to identify the top 10.   We’ve already highlighted number 10, cloud computing, and number nine, exit strategies. The beefy Australian dollar is in at number eight, while political uncertainty is seventh, growing pains number six, while number five is how to hire and keep staff or let them go quickly. Number four was falling consumer consumption and number three is tax.   We’re now at issue number two -- funding.   The DFK survey shows the second hardest challenge for start-ups is – not surprisingly – funding.   Raising money is tough – especially if you have few assets and no useful network – but don’t give up! There are opportunities out there.   The banks are usually very restrictive when it comes to lending money to start-ups, especially if you have little or no assets yourself. Still, there are opportunities, it all depends on you.   What is your experience? How long have you been in the industry you’re planning to start the business in? Do you have good references? Do you have a great mentor to support you? How do you carry yourself? So, you tick all those boxes? Well, pull up your socks even further. Create the best business plan that there ever was.   Be sure your business plan contains all the different parts: organisational, marketing, operational, financial and risk analysis, etc. If you don’t know how to do it, get someone to help you. There are plenty of different solutions. Use your accountant or business advisor or do it yourself – just Google business plans.   The level of funding required will vary.   “It depends what business you’re starting, but if it’s not cost intensive, maybe the balance on your credit card will be enough. Of course, if you’re going into heavy manufacturing then other solutions are necessary,” says Cheree Woolcock, partner of DFK Australia New Zealand.   ANZ has recently announced that they are targeting the small business market, so it looks like NAB will get some competition, which is good for you.   Recently, Nick Reade, ANZ general manager of small business, was quoted in The Australian saying many banks don’t play in the start-up field: “There are a couple of hundred thousand new small businesses every year and we feel that we need to be in that market.”   “We can only applaud the bank for being active. Who knows what business Australia would have missed out on, due to lack of capital,” thinks Woolcock.   ANZ said it was now approving more than seven out of ten lending applications from new small operations, a proportion it wants to increase.   This development is gaining pace, and as we see here at SUS, many new businesses are online-only.   “We see that some banks have been reluctant to lend to online-only business, but I think banks also need to adjust to the cloud-business-world,” says Woolcock.   There are other choices for people now as well, particularly in the start-up space. There is a lot of hype around angel investors, seed capital and crowdfunding, so people might not be as willing to go to the bank.   Adrian Stone knows this better than anyone else as co-founder of Angel Cube and winner of the Best Start-up Investor award.   They take a minority equity stake in internet companies and in return provide seed capital, mentorship, marketing, connections, administrative help and support services (such as legal, accounting and office space).   “I don’t see anyone around me using the bank system. By the time they react, the business is already up and running, and sold. The lifecycle for our entrepreneurs is four years,” says Stone.   The web-based businesses in Australia (and elsewhere) are working in an environment characterised by low costs and high speed.   “The entrepreneurs that go through our program are walking out with $150,000 to $200,000 after six to nine months,” tells Stone.   So there is hope out there for your business too.   How to best get funding within the bank system:   Polish and perfect yourself and your skills Organise credible references Produce an outstanding business plan Keep a clean credit history Start your business in different steps with the funding you get   How to best get funding outside the bank system:   Government grants – plus there are many other grants as well, locally, different areas and for particular business owners Angel investors Crowdfunding Seed funding is a form of securities offering where an investor purchases part of a business.   There are many different types of funding depending on what sector your business is in.

THE NEWS WRAP: Kevin Rudd appeals to business after winning leadership spill

6:51PM | Wednesday, 26 June

Kevin Rudd has reclaimed the prime ministership after winning a leadership spill of the Australian Labor Party last night, defeating incumbent Julia Gillard 57-45, with Anthony Albanese replacing Wayne Swan as the deputy leader.   In his speech following the ballot, Rudd emphasised the business community and young Australians will be key priorities for his government.   "Let me say this to Australian business: I want to work closely with you. I’ve worked with you closely in the past, particularly during the GFC and there were some white knuckle moments there, as some of the heads of the major banks will remember," Rudd said.   "But we came through because we worked together and I’m saying it loud and clear to businesses large and small across the country, that in partnership we can do great things for the country’s future."   Julia Gillard announced she would not recontest her seat at the next election, also saying that while “[gender] doesn't explain everything, it doesn't explain nothing; it explains some things” in terms of the challenges she faced as leader.   Carriers demand more backhaul access   Competition watchdog the ACCC will begin an enquiry into Telstra’s charges to other carriers for use of its backhaul networks, following complaints from a group of carriers including iiNet, Vodafone and Macquarie Telecom.   Backhaul fibre optic networks are used to send calls and data to and from mobile phone base stations and exchanges, with Telstra owning the only cables to some parts of the country.   "We need the NBN to change some of its priorities to be able to help us bring competition to Australians," says Vodafone Australia chief executive Bill Morrow.   “This is a huge impediment, and you're now going to get customers faster and faster internet access and taxing them if they use it. It ends up being a disproportionate tax as well because for companies like iiNet and Internode, our customers have much higher usage than Telstra customers or Optus customers,” says iiNet chief executive Michael Malone.   ATO warning on profit shifting   Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan has issued a warning to Australian companies hoping to emulate the tax minimisation strategies of tech giants such as Google and Apple, telling the federal government it needs to do more to stamp out the practice.   "They can see what is happening as a result of these international companies taking profit out of the country. They are thinking: 'What functions can we move offshore, what functions can we disconnect and have third-party providers fulfil to put the profit in a low-tax jurisdiction and receive an exempt dividend coming back into the system?'" Jordan says.   “That might be their assertion, but we are going to test every single aspect of those structures. We will want to know whether what purports to happen actually happens on the ground… It is one thing to put in place a fancy structure, but it is another to have it tested five years later, because by their nature these schemes are quite, sort of, artificial.   “We will be taking a leadership role internationally in addressing the problem, but we need to also look at how changes can be made here. The corporate tax base is under threat. What's happening is unacceptable to the community, the government, and to regulators.”   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 1.02% to 14910.14. The Aussie dollar is up to US92.81 cents.

Should I be thinking about SEO keywords for my new business website?

6:51AM | Wednesday, 26 June

The first thing you want to do perhaps even before you set up your business is to work out what keywords people are searching for.   Step 1: How to find the keywords to start searching   The first step is to just initially brainstorm some ideas and type them into Google. For this example I am going to pretend you are a flower designer based in Melbourne. You will normally see a few websites come up that are doing similar things to yourself. In this case I found these websites:   http://www.flowerdesign.co.uk/ http://www.floristry.com.au/ http://www.aboutflowers.com/flower-a-plant-information-and-photos/flower-designs.html   Step 2: Be inspired by your competitors   The next step you want to do is view the source file of these websites and view what keywords they are targetting. You can do this by looking at their "Meta Keywords"; in this case this is what I found:   This gave me some ideas: Flower arrangements Flower bouquets Wedding flower design Bridal flower design Floristry design Online flower design Bridesmaid flower design Flower design Melbourne   These are a great starting point. While you are also looking at these competitor sites it would be a good idea to look at how they lay their site out and what services and products they are offering.   In particular, take a look at what calls to action they are using and how they are trying to convert visitors into customers. You can use that information when you go onto your website design stage.   Step 3: Get Google's advice   Go to the Google Keyword tools and figure out what are the top keywords in your niche:   https://adwords.google.com.au/select/KeywordToolExternal   What you are looking for here is high traffic keywords that can drive loads of traffic to your website all year. Seasonal keywords (eg. Christmas floral arrangements) are okay, but all year performers are better. I would suggest you work on the seasonal ones after you have closed out the all year performers.   Overall tips: Try and target the bigger local searched keywords. Consider your local search if you are a local business, eg. "flower design Sydney", as opposed to "flower design Australia" which is a more national keyword. The more searches for a keyword the better your website will perform in the long-term. You might not rank number one at the start, but if you focus on it, you want to set yourself up for the biggest catchment.   This article was first published on August 20, 2010.

High-tech spray-on makes sure you’re never wet

6:39AM | Tuesday, 25 June

Hear that? It’s the frantic tapping of millions of tech junkies hitting up Google to find out how to buy Never Wet, the long-awaited iPhone waterproofer.   The silicon-based spray-on material was announced by Rust-Oleum and has finally arrived in American shops. It can be used on almost any surface and dries clear, an essential quality for spraying high-end and tactile electric goods.   With constantly emerging technologies, the common product problems and their solutions are becoming more high-tech. After all, smart phone protectors have come a long way from the rubber frames with thick clear plastic display windows.   Find your next business idea by asking yourself the basic question: What keeps breaking, and how?

Around the world in 80 trademarks: Why start-ups need to know their trademark rights

6:48AM | Wednesday, 26 June

Intellectual property lawyers have called on small businesses to properly register their trademarks, after an American blogger claimed his brand was swiped by a global human resources firm.   Turner Barr owns and operates a travel blog called Around the World in 80 Jobs, on which he documents his adventures trying out lots of different jobs in different parts of the world.   In April, Swiss-based Adecco ran a contest giving 10 individuals the chance to travel around the world trying different jobs, and called the campaign 'Around the World in 80 Jobs', a term they then trademarked.   Barr claims the campaign bears a striking likeness to his own online persona, and says the multinational firm made no efforts to contact him about using the name.   "I'm no longer even the first thing that comes up when you Google my brand name," Barr wrote on his website.   "I've turned down work opportunities and put on hold any future travel job plans to deal with lawyers, long distance phone calls, corporate executives and other such nonsense — all along feeling misled and patronized. This situation has been extremely confusing for not only myself, but also for participants in the company's marketing campaign who message me thinking that I am part of the company.   "With hard work I strived, and almost succeeded, in creating my dream job. I feel like my dream job has been taken from me in order for some company to promise it to others for corporate marketing gain."   Following a large social media backlash, Adecco removed a video marketing the campaign that Barr said featured a paid actor with a likeness to him, and issued an apology on its Facebook page:   "We deeply regret if we hurt Turner Barr. This was never our intention when we set up our 'Around the World in 80 Jobs' contest. We clearly see that Turner is an inspiration to many people. We feel there should be more of such initiatives that inspire people to live their dreams and achieve their ambitions. Unfortunately, we moved forward with a name and contest that clearly upset Turner and his community. We sincerely apologize for that mistake."   At this point, Adecco said on Saturday, Barr and the company have yet to reach a satisfactory conclusion to their disagreement.   Intellectual property and trademarks lawyer Michael Buck says in both Australia and the United States, there are common law rights to the usage of trademark. If a business or entity has been using a slogan for a long time, it can oppose others trademarking that term.   However, there are clear benefits to formally registering a trademark, he says.   "It's the only naming regime that actually gives you proprietary rights to the name for a particular good and services, and it's an automatic defence to allegations of trademark infringement," Buck says.   "And if someone wants to buy your company or enter into a distribution deal with you, it's going to be very important to them to know you have a trademark registration. Otherwise, someone else could set themselves up and profit from your brand."   Trademarks, Buck cautions, do not cover all uses of a term. They only cover the use of a trademark in one industry or area. Trademarks that cover more areas of usage require extra trademark applications, which cost more.   If a business utilises the services of an attorney to register trademarks, in Australia it normally costs around $1200 per trademark application.   "Something to remember is that a business name registration is no guarantee you have a right to use the trademark," Buck adds. "You can get a business name registered, but without a trademark, you can still run into trouble."

Delivering for online retail a logistical dream

6:49AM | Wednesday, 26 June

It was while doing his own buying and selling online that Leigh Williams started to look into what it takes to get products to customers.   Despite no experience in the logistics industry, what he discovered led him to setting up eStore Logistics in 2008 catering to the warehouse, inventory and distribution needs of online retailers.   The business has grown strongly and Williams’ achievements were recognised earlier this month when he was named International Young Professional of the Year by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.   Williams talks to StartupSmart about how he started the business, overcame hurdles, and plans to expand in the future.   How did you decide to launch the business?   Throughout my time at university and while working in my first real job I spent a lot of time buying and selling online. I remember selling a shipment of sporting equipment that I had imported from China. I was getting up at 4am before work to answer customer emails and package up orders for delivery before heading off to work for the day. I would get home at 7.30pm, have dinner and go through the same process again.   I started to do some analysis into the logistics industry to understand what offerings were out there to service online retailers. What I found at the time was that the logistics industry was not adapting to shifts in the retail landscape and that most logistics providers were not interested in servicing online retail, and those who were interested were not doing a very good job. Within two weeks of conceptualising the business I wrote a business plan and gave my notice of resignation from my job at IBM. Fast forward four weeks, and it was all systems go!   In your own words, what does it do?   eStore Logistics specialises in providing warehousing, inventory management and distribution services to online and multi-channel retailers, and recently we have extended our offering to traditional bricks and mortar businesses.   Basically, eStore provides all of the magic in the background to ensure that when a shopper clicks a website 'buy' button, they receive their purchase in an accurate, cost effective, and fast fashion. This includes tasks such as order picking, system-driven order containerisation (which involves analysing all items on the order and automatically selecting the most appropriate packaging size and type), and system directed automatic freight carrier selection (based on factors such as least cost routing and speed of delivery).   By outsourcing the logistics function, our clients are able to focus on what they do best, and at the same time realise lower costs and smoother operations than running in-house.   What were the main challenges when starting out?   The biggest challenge that I had when starting out was convincing prospective clients to use eStore Logistics services. At the time I was 26, however, people often said that I looked a few years younger. I would often go to meetings with prospective clients and hand over my managing director business card, and this would turn them off as they perceived risk in giving a young business owner the responsibility to look after millions of dollars of stock.   Just based on my age they didn't have the comfort that my business could protect stock from damage and theft, and ensure that it got to the right place at the right time. I knew we had tremendous systems and processes that were years ahead of anyone in the industry, but this was definitely a challenge in the early days.     This article continues on page 2.   How did you overcome those challenges?   At the outset, when the business was small, I had to make it look bigger so that I could secure clients and have them feel confident that eStore Logistics could fulfil client requirements and expectations. I went out and had another set of business cards printed with the title "Solutions Specialist" and also used this title in my email signature.   This slight tweak made it look like I was just the sales guy (who also seemed to know a lot about IT and operations). This did wonders for my sales meetings and meant that I sailed past the initial meet and greet without the prospective client losing interest and enabled me to progress further and talk in more detail about eStore Logistics services and how we can add value. Using this method I quickly picked up new clients, and today I have dedicated sales staff.   Who are your clients and how did you attract them?   Most of our clients are online retailers. However, we also service a handful of traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers.   Our clients, big and small, come from a diverse range of retail sectors selling products such as brown goods, health goods, apparel, lifestyle goods, books, furniture, homewares, technology, artwork, home fixtures and fittings, hardware, wine etc. Among our clients we service Australia's biggest name in health and weight loss, Australia's largest online retailer of electronics, and a global apparel company which sells in 44 countries.   We first attracted clients by getting up a nice clean website and doing work on SEO to get at the top of Google searches for specific keyword terms. This still works today and drives dozens of sales enquiries every day.   After a while I realised that the best client enquires that we received were via word of mouth, and that it was important to build the eStore Logistics brand. Big companies that have a logistics requirement don't spend time Googling for logistics providers, instead they pick up the phone and call logistics brands which they have heard good things about.   Therefore, we have always ensured that we maintain the best possible levels of service to clients so that only positive things are said about eStore.   How many clients did you start out with? How many do you have now?   The business was started with one client and we still service that client today. In the four-and-a-half years since the business started we have grown the client list to over two dozen.   How many staff did you start out with? How many do you have now?   I started out with one-and-a-half employees. I was one employee and the other half was a casual who worked about 25 hours per week. Today we have over 50 full-time, part-time and casual staff.   What were the main drivers of your growth?   Main drivers for growth include:   Shift in retail landscape leading to growth of online retail. Other logistics providers have been slow to develop and offer services for online retailers, which has made eStore Logistics the go-to company for innovative logistics outsourcing Development of the eStore Logistics brand resulting from happy clients telling other prospective clients about their positive experiences with eStore. Personalised service and custom solutions. Not all businesses are the same and we understand that a one-size-fits-all model often doesn't deliver a cost-effective solution. Implementation of agile systems which enable eStore to rapidly on-board new clients. Other logistics providers can often take three months to set up their systems and develop standard operating procedures, whereas we have a dedicated team of analysts who can get it done within a week.   What do you think has been the key to your success?   The key to the success of eStore Logistics has been the in-house development and implementation of our proprietary warehouse management system (WMS), which has enabled us to provide customised, cost-effective and accurate solutions to clients.   A WMS is the brains of a warehousing operation and dictates whether a warehouse is run efficiently and accurately, or whether it's a failure. We ran our own analysis of off-the-shelf WMS solutions in late 2008, and at the time everything we looked at was geared toward business-to-business sales order profiles instead of business-to-consumer, and cost upwards of half a million dollars.   Since nothing on the market was suitable for our needs, and I certainly couldn't afford anything that was available, using my information systems background I embarked on developing the eStore WMS, which we still use today and is continually undergoing updates.   Any plans for expansion?   We are running a project to set up an interstate facility on the east coast which has a target go live by the first quarter of 2014. By 2018 we plan to have facilities in all major cities in Australia.   Facts and figures:   eStore has fulfilled over 1.37 million sales orders in the 2013 financial year and over 3.4 million sales orders since the business started in 2008. The company is based in Melbourne and recently consolidated from multiple smaller facilities into the flagship Laverton North facility, which is 11,000sqm and has capacity for 9000 pallet places. 99.4% of sales orders have been sent domestically. Most clients who sell to other countries have contract warehousing arrangements in those countries in order to minimise freight costs and deliver fast. Revenue grew 280% in FY2010, 88% in FY2011, 76% in FY2012 and on track for 80% growth in FY2013.

Two Australian start-ups make The Independent’s 50 Best Travel Websites list

6:55AM | Thursday, 13 June

Two Australian start-ups, Adioso and Rome2Rio, have made British newspaper The Independent’s Top 50 Travel Websites list.   Rome2Rio is a trip-planning software that combines planes, trains, cars, buses and ferries to get users wherever in the world they want to go, while Adioso is a flight information search engine.   Rod Cuthbert, chief executive of Rome2Rio, told StartupSmart the site’s popularity is taking off.   “We have half a million visitors each month and that number just keeps growing,” he says.   Cuthbert’s team of five has been working on the site for just over two years. The original tech founders, Bernhard Tschirren and Michael Cameron, were working together at Microsoft in Seattle when they realised an opportunity to develop the software.   “We don’t call it a problem, because the travel industry works. But it was an opportunity to present travellers with significant additional functionality to travellers,” Cuthbert says. “People are often not even aware of the options they should Google in the first place.”   Rome2Rio is focused on growing the business by partnering with airlines and major travel suppliers. “We’re focused on licensing the platform, the technology that underpins our site to partners,” Cuthbert says. “We expect to have half a dozen really big brand names up and running by the end of the year.”   Adioso co-founder Tom Howard told StartupSmart the site lets people research travel “the way we think about it”.   “You’ll have a thought like ‘I might want to go to Asia in March next year, for maybe 10 to 15 days’, so we built a new flight search infrastructure for that,” he says.   Howard and business partner Fenn Bailey, who did the original coding, have been building the Adioso search engine for five years.   “It works pretty differently to how the travel industry has worked for the last 10 to 15 years, since it’s (the online self-search function) been computerised,” Howard says. “It pulls in flights from all over the world into our database, and needs to be able to search with complete flexibility and return fast results.”   Adioso has been running in beta form since 2008. Towards the end of 2008, Howard and Bailey took part in the Y Combinator accelerator in Silicon Valley.   They’ve recently overcome the major hurdle of getting access to expensive flight data in a way that works with their systems and is cost-effective.   “It’s a bit of chicken and egg problem for us. The technology works really well but the issue with travel start-ups is you can’t provide a flight search product without buying the flight data, and that’s really costly,” Howard says, adding they’re currently seeking funding for this.   “It’s been a beta product until a couple of months ago, as we’ve been getting the underlying structure working properly. Only in the last few months has it been about commercialising it.”   Howard says they’ve started negotiations with investors in Australia and Silicon Valley.   “We’re planning a very aggressive growth strategy, and will be rolling out in selected cities around the world,” he says. “We hope to start rolling out in three to six months.”   Rome2Rio and Adioso are both based in Melbourne and residents of start-up co-working space Inspire9.

Australian real estate start-up wins international incubator place

6:42PM | Thursday, 13 June

An Australian real estate start-up, Next Place, has won a place in the US-based Liquid Web Start-up Incubator program, putting it on a path to expansion.   “We’re new and small but we’ve got big plans and some smart tech,” Next Place director Dan Tarasenko told StartupSmart.   The incubator program provides mentoring, hosting and infrastructure for early-stage online start-ups and Next Place will receive up to $US25,000 in services for free.   “Liquid Web is one of the largest web hosts in the US. They’re constantly growing and have great infrastructure. We’ll be able to tap into their knowledge and experience so they can help us with our strategies and expansion plans,” Tarasenko says.   Liquid Web says in a statement they chose Next Place after reviewing the start-up’s business plan and being impressed by how scalable the technology was.   “Next Place’s vision fits perfectly with the goals of our incubator program and we are certain we can provide a strong and reliable technical foundation for them to fill a need in their market,” a spokesperson says.   Next Place is a search engine that lets users search specific terms often missed by existing real estate search engines and an advanced map-based search that allows reader to select exactly what areas they’re interested in.   “A lot of portals you have to start with the suburb and price range, rather than a specific area or key term that people really look for, like pet friendly. You have the flexibility to eliminate options you know won’t work, rather than fine-tune at the end of the search,” Tarasenko says.   “This means you don’t have to search a whole suburb if you know you don’t want to live in half of it.”   Next Place have battled a range of technical issues to get the site up and running. After developing their own crawling software to find and list the properties listed on real estate sites, they struggled to get Google to review their site, which impacted their traffic.   “We were a new site Google had never seen, with a three-month old domain name and 180,000 listings, almost half a million content pages when you count suburb profiles and the rest of the site,” Tarasenko says.   The traffic is now growing, with traffic increasing 20% to 30% each week. The Next Place team are focused on building their listings and expanding into other regional markets.   “We’ve got New Zealand around the corner, almost ready to go. And then we’ll see if we can handle another market then, we may have bitten off more than we can chew by then.” Tarasenko says.

Like Apple CEO Tim Cook, claim you’re number one – even if you have to stretch the truth a little

6:58AM | Tuesday, 11 June

Just imagine, for a moment, you’re Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook.   Here’s the situation. Apple’s share of the worldwide smartphone market has fallen to just 17.3% during the first quarter of 2013, with Google’s Android claiming 75% of the market. In Australia, Apple’s marketshare slumped from 30.6% a year ago to just 28.1%, while Android grew from 57.5% to 69.4%.   Android is also the smartphone market leader across five major EU economies (Germany, Great Britain, France and Spain) with 69.6% combined marketshare (Apple had 18.4%), while also leading in the US (51.7% to 41.4%) and China (69.4% to 25.1%). The only major market Android trails Apple in is Japan (44% to 51.7%).   Now, faced with those numbers, what would you say if you had to unveil a new version of your iOS mobile phone platform – iOS 7 – at your Worldwide Developer Conference?   “People are using our products substantially more than anyone else’s,” says Tim Cook, with “#1 [in] customer usage” emblazoned on the screen behind him.   So how does Cook justify these “#1 [in] customer usage” comments? He claims Apple’s iPad had a tablet marketshare of 82%, its users viewed more websites and quotes a hazy figure on customer satisfaction.   And sure, Apple does lead the tablet market – thus Cook’s choice to compare tablet marketshare rather than smartphone marketshare. But even there, figures from the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker for the first quarter of 2013 show Apple’s worldwide tablet marketshare slumped from 58.1% to 39.6% year-on-year during first quarter of 2013. Yes, Apple’s well ahead of second placed Samsung (17.9% marketshare), but it’s a long way from the 82% marketshare claimed by Cook.   As for claiming market leadership by the number of web browsers or customer satisfaction, they certainly are non-traditional ways to measure your market dominance. Some people would say slightly misleading, even.   Cook's customer satisfaction figure is particularly questionable. Sure, a recent Washington Post - ABC News poll 74% of US adults hold a favourable view of Apple – with 16% unfavourable – compared to 82% favourable for Google. But the great thing is that customer satisfaction is so slippery that it is easy to conduct a survey showing any figure you like, depending on how and when you survey your customers.   Well, Old Taskmaster says this is all pure genius. If the standard figures don’t show what you want – say market leadership being determined by marketshare – grab some figures that do. Of course, it’s not just a tactic that can be used by the likes of Apple – any business can do it.   That’s why 75% more customers say Taskmaster Enterprises widgets are filled with chocolatastic goodness. We’re now a market leader – and you can be one too!   Just pick some favourable figures and promote them heavily – just like Tim Cook!   Get it done – today!

Calling all coders: The Codehire Cup is on again

5:57AM | Friday, 31 May

Computer coders all over the country are signing up to take part in this year’s Codehire Cup.   The team at Codehire are expecting almost 1000 entries when the at-home heats commence on June 8.   Codehire chief executive Dan Draper told StartupSmart that creating community and showcasing new talent to employers were the objectives of the event.   “We’re connecting people who are secret or hidden talents to employers. There is a big issue at the moment with companies like Google and Microsoft that are trying to find great talent and they’re starting to exhaust their traditional channels,” says Draper.   Draper estimates about 10% of the 450 current signups are based in rural Australia, and that many of the registrations are from undergraduates.   The heats will go for 11 days. The finals will be at Fishburners, a tech co-working space in Sydney, on July 13. There is $10,000 worth of cash and prizes to be won.   This employment-focus influences the activities in each heat.   “It’s not a hackathon,” says Draper. “We’re aiming for real world, business-focused challenges, rather than academic and abstract issues. There will be a bit of hard-core algorithmic stuff, but mostly we’re focusing on problem solving.”   Coders will be grouped into heats based on the coding language they use. “Coding languages aren’t created equal and some solutions will take longer to write in certain languages,” says Draper.   Coders will be able to create and compete using C, C++, C#, Ruby, Python, Java, JavaScript and PHP.   This is the second time the competition has been run. It was launched last year in Adelaide, with almost 200 registrations.   “To be honest that blew us away to get that much interest in the Adelaide scene. This year it’s a national event and ultimately we’d like to go global,” says Draper.   For the 100 or so coders who make it through to the live-final, those who can’t attend in Sydney will be able to compete remotely.   “In Sydney, we want to make it a bit of a spectacle, with people watching and a big screen out the front with scores and updates,” says Draper. “We want to make software creating more accessible. We’re trying to make people aware of what coding is and why it’s so important to our economy.”   Codehire recently launched a jobs aggregator for code jobs. It has been operating in beta since December 2012.

Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest? Which social media platform is right for my business?

6:55AM | Monday, 3 June

One of the biggest challenges small businesses face with social media is finding the time to actually using it. Most businesses never get around to developing a full social media strategy, opting to use just one platform (usually Facebook) or none at all.   Last week’s release of the annual Sensis Social Media Report revealed that just 30% of small businesses have a social media presence. Of this group, 88% are using Facebook.   (For a detailed review into how SMEs are using social media based on this research, read this article published on StartupSmart last week.)   With 95% of Australian social media users on Facebook, it’s a no-brainer that your business should have a presence here. It’s not even a nice-to-have anymore; it’s a huge opportunity missed if you don’t have a Facebook Page, especially if your business does B2C selling.   But there’s so much more to the social media landscape than just Facebook.   The following table taken from the report shows the breakdown of social media sites used in Australia by gender and age.     Quite often, Twitter is seen as the next priority channel after Facebook. But with 20% of all social media users on LinkedIn, this channel is clearly overlooked. All businesses – small and large – should be set-up on LinkedIn with a Company Page.   A Company Page allows you to post updates on behalf of the business, raise awareness of your brand, develop a follower community and showcase your products and services. For an added cost, you can also set up a Careers Tab on your Company Page for recruitment purposes.   OK, so I’ve said that pretty much all businesses should have a Facebook Page and a LinkedIn Company Page.   Now, what else? This really depends on your target market.   Instagram: This photo-sharing platform is hugely popular with 16% of all social media users uploading and adding filters to their photos of food, sunrises and selfies. The site is most popular with the under 30s, with a whopping 41% of 14-19 year olds using it. If this is your target market and your business has a visual element (think fashion, food and travel), then Instagram should definitely be considered a part of your social media marketing mix.   Twitter: 15% of social media users are on Twitter, with more males (19%) than females (12%). The site is popular across a broad demographic between 20 and 64 year olds. However, the most popular age group is 40-49. Twitter is definitely worth considering for a wider range of target markets, especially males in their forties. Given the short life of a tweet, it’s only worth pursuing if you have lots of regular content to share.   Google+: With 15% of all social media users claiming to be on Google+ it’s certainly not a social media network to sneeze at. However, with it’s largest demographic being the over 65 group (32%), I have to wonder whether our seniors had confused Google+ with the Google search engine.   According to the report, this channel is not worth pursing if your target market is under 30 years old, though it has a respectable 18% of social media users in its community between the ages of 30-49.   Pinterest: Last year’s social media superstar Pinterest has the lowest numbers with an average of 7% of social media users pinning. However, these numbers have been rapidly growing since the site first launched in 2010 and is largely dominated by the fairer sex (11% of females to just 1% males).   If your business has anything to do with weddings (think flowers, bonbonniere, decorations, etc), fashion or home décor, then Pinterest is a must for you.   What’s great about this insight is if you know your target market well, you are able to start building a strategy based on their social media habits and behaviour.   What social media channels do you use for your business?

THE NEWS WRAP: Private equity firms preparing Optus Satellite takeover bid

5:36AM | Wednesday, 29 May

Private equity firms including KKR, Carlyle Group and Eutelsat Communications are gearing up for a possible takeover bid for Optus' satellite assets, according to reports.   Optus’ parent company, Singapore-based communications giant SingTel, sent out information to the bidders on Monday ahead of a first-round deadline of June 14 and is believed to be expecting a bid of more than $2 billion.   It is unclear at the moment whether the bidders are interested in just the satellite assets of Optus or the entire business.   Super funds applying pressure for asset privatisations   The Industry Super Network has issued a report urging state and federal governments to privatise billions of dollars in assets in order to overcome a $770 billion infrastructure shortfall.   The superannuation funds say it makes little sense for them to invest billions of dollars in offshore infrastructure assets while infrastructure shortfalls exist in Australia, while the idea of asset privatisation might be more palatable if voters knew their superannuation funds were buying the assets.   "The toll a member might pay for using a road will be paid back with interest when they retire," the report says.   Apple could take a bite out of the big four banks   Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev has told a conference in Sydney that the competitive pressure applied by tech giants such as Apple and Google could be as great in some areas as it is from the other big three banks.   “We consider we have got very, very good competitors in the major banks, we have got very good competitors in the next-tier banks,” Narev said.   “We worry every day about all those competitors, but we worry equally about the niche players, many of them well resourced, many of them international. The Apples, the Googles, the Samsungs, the PayPals, the credit card companies, who can pick particular slivers as a result of the application of technology into financial services and compete.”   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.69% to 15,409.39. The Aussie dollar is down to US96.18 cents.

Three Sydney entrepreneurs off to Silicon Valley after winning coding competition

5:58PM | Monday, 27 May

Three tech entrepreneurs are into the international AngelHack Accelerator program and off to Silicon Valley later this year after the personalised digital postcode app they built in a 24-hour coding competition took out top honours in Sydney this weekend.   Andy Longworth, Jethro Batts, and David Boulton won the AngelHack competition with their app Hate You Cards, which allows users to take photos of themselves and turn them into joke text messages and emails to send to their friends.   More than 90 people attended AngelHack Sydney with organisers estimating the crowd was 55% developers, 8% designers and 37 % business people. They formed 22 teams, and many were at the Fishburners co-working hub all night.   The event was judged by Alfred Lo from Optus Innov8, Robert Love from PWC Digital, Gary Visontay at Sydney Seed Fund, Seb Eckersley-Maslin at Blue Chilli, and Willix Hallim at Freelancer.com.   Danila Davidson, one of the coordinators of the event, told StartupSmart this year’s win was a deviation from previous years.   “We want teams to create something that is ready to use after 24 hours. So it’s best to focus on a real problem that can be solved with an app that you can actually build in 24 hours,” Davidson says. “Hate You Cards wasn’t problem-focused, but it’s innovative and fun, and would work well with existing platforms.”   AngelHack Sydney is part of the international AngelHack program, which runs in over 30 countries. It was launched in San Francisco in recognition of the challenge of finding founders for new projects.   “It’s a really, really important issue that we all talk about all the time, how hard it is to find a tech funder. We also talk about how hard it is to find and recruit good coders. So we run these events to empower coders, to connect business owners to coders and to get good coders in front of the best tech founders in San Francisco.”   Winners Longworth, Batts and Boulton are to start the 12-week AngelHack Accelerator program soon in preparation for their trip to Silicon Valley. They will receive a $1100 stipend to fly to San Francisco for 10 weeks of mentoring and introductions to incubators and investors. They’re also provided with 10 days of accommodation with a series of events, with conferences and connections to follow.   The AngelHack team provide this in exchange for a 2% stake in the companies they are supporting. The program is sponsored by Amazon Web Services, PayPal Developer, Facebook, Google Developers and Tropo.   Previous winners include crowd funding platform WeFunder and cloud file security system Airpost.

How to spot a start-up dud

5:13AM | Tuesday, 21 May

People used to want to write a great novel, win acclaim and make a fortune. Today’s route to success is the start-up.   There's even a board game, Startup Fever, that lets you play the mogul -- when you're not busy at the office being the mogul.   Venture capitalist Paul Graham compares launching a new business to being a parent. But there is one thing that is not at all like having a child: sometimes you have to kill your start-up.   A good entrepreneur knows it is better to kill a failing start-up than to throw away more time, energy and money trying to keep it alive.   Paradoxically, other people often read the decision to kill a failed start-up as a failure in itself. It is actually an act of wisdom and strength.   I'll share a couple of examples without revealing the personal details of the entrepreneurs I've worked with as the head of Holly, a digital services agency.   Checking the pulse of the market   One businesswoman saw an opportunity early on in the app gold rush.   Her idea was an app that could read your blood oxygen levels. Unfortunately, it turned out the iPhone's built-in sensors couldn't accurately give the health data she wanted.   What was required was an external device that links to your iPhone. Unlike an app, a device would need a distribution channel.   This raised many challenges, including the unwillingness of wholesalers and retailers to accept unproven new products.   She finally decided to throw in the towel. By recognizing a dead end, she saved unquantifiable trouble, liabilities and even loss of reputation.   She remains today a very successful marketing professional in another field.   Reading the tea leaves   Sometimes you identify a real niche, but it becomes all too clear that you'll never be able to earn enough to make it a viable concern.   That was the case with our client who wanted to launch an adventure-travel booking site for backpackers called LetsDoThis.   LetsDoThis was to be a classic two-sided market, like Stayz or realestate.com.au. On one side would be the consumer who uses the site at no cost to book adventure travel.   The other side would be the adventure travel operators, who pay to reach the site’s audience of thrill seekers.   Our pricing modelling and spec enabled a relatively precise forecast of revenue and profitability. That's when it became clear that the market simply wasn't big enough. The available cashflow would never enable the marketing velocity required to win national market share.   By killing this start-up, our client saved at least a quarter of a million dollars in development and start-up costs.   Even billionaires kill their failed start-ups   It might surprise you to know that the entrepreneur who is best at closing down bad start-up ideas is also one of the wealthiest people in the world.   Larry Page, CEO of Google, announced a "spring clean" of the business in September 2011.   Google has since shut down a total of 70 services, including Google Reader.   Page’s decisions were controversial among those who did use these services, but ultimately nobody accused him of being too softhearted to do what was necessary.   Getting through the decision   What lessons can you draw from the experience of others who have killed their start-up?   The first is to move as quickly as possible. Once you make the decision, every further moment and dollar spent is wasted.   Grieve if you have to, but never feel bad about yourself. A wise person once said, "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."   Beware of self-deception. An entrepreneur must accept the truth about a failing business. Optimism is useful. Risk taking is necessary. But denial of reality is disastrous.   After six years of hosting workshops for new online entrepreneurs, I've found this last is the biggest obstacle to success.   After all, the person who sinks everything into a losing idea will have nothing left to give to a better opportunity when it comes along.   Zina Kaye is managing director of Holly, a Sydney agency that has been providing digital services since 1997. Holly recently rebranded from House of Laudanum. Twitter: @zinak

Dimmi cooks up a storm with MasterChef partnership

5:16AM | Friday, 17 May

Sydney-based restaurant booking website Dimmi has signed a three-year deal with much-loved reality cooking show MasterChef Australia, just one month after partnering with TripAdvisor.   Founded in 2009 by Stevan Premutico, Dimmi is a real-time restaurant reservation and review website, which has partnered with more than 2,500 restaurants nationwide since its launch.   Backed by Telstra and Village Roadshow, Dimmi has entered into high-profile partnerships with Google and TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website.   The deal with Google allows Dimmi users to make restaurant reservations in Google Search and Google Maps for mobile, while travelers using the TripAdvisor website or app have access to real-time restaurant bookings.   Dimmi has now added Channel Ten’s reality cooking show MasterChef Australia to its list of partners, after revealing it has entered into a three-year exclusive agreement with Shine 360.   Shine 360 is the rights and brand management arm of Shine Australia, which produces MasterChef Australia.   Viewers of MasterChef Australia 2013 will be able to make real-time reservations at restaurants featured on the show using Dimmi’s technology.   Access to restaurant bookings via Dimmi will be integrated into the MasterChef website, which will act as a year-round online dining guide, allowing consumers to find and book restaurants.   Dimmi saw an opportunity to partner with MasterChef following a surge in demand for restaurants featured on the show, which Premutico has dubbed “the MasterChef effect”.   “What we were seeing was a spike in bookings for restaurants that went on air,” Premutico tells StartupSmart.   “As soon as they’re on air… on TVs across the country, the results are a pretty phenomenal uplift in demand.”     According to Dimmi, a number of restaurants featured on the show last year saw a 1,000% spike in bookings “literally within minutes”.   “That’s not good for the restaurants because they get slammed and they can’t handle the bookings, and it’s not good for the diners,” Premutico says.   “This partnership will ensure a much better experience for viewers and for restaurants by helping them better manage this demand.”   Signing the deal with Shine 360 happened pretty quickly, says Premutico, who believes Dimmi has earned a name for itself by being “the number one player in the market”.   “It was a 12-month process. We were able to start discussions as soon as MasterChef got off air [in 2012],” he says.   “There’s a track history here in terms of brand reputation, and the fact that Telstra and Village Roadshow are shareholders in the business [helped us sign the deal].”   Nick Love, managing director of Shine 360, said his company is “delighted” to partner with Dimmi and Network Ten.   “[This partnership will] extend the MasterChef brand and experience beyond the television program, linking fans of the show, masterchef.com.au and diners with the restaurants and their chefs that help make MasterChef Australia great,” Love said in a statement.   But Dimmi isn’t stopping there, with Premutico revealing the company is on the cusp of announcing another major partnership, although he refused to offer any details.   “The big one we’ll be announcing next month. It’s the big patty of them all – it’s taken us four years to wrap this one up,” he says.

Google outlines key points for Glass developers

5:12AM | Friday, 17 May

Google has outlined four key points for prospective Google Glass developers, highlighting the importance of ensuring a timely, seamless experience with as few interruptions as possible.   Speaking at Google’s I/O conference in San Francisco, Timothy Jordan offered some insight on how to develop for the new interactive eyewear gadget.   Jordan, a senior developer advocate for Project Glass, also spoke about Google’s Glass Developer Kit, which will be a development framework for Glass hardware or “Glassware”.   Here are Jordan’s four key points for developers:   Design for Glass   “This is really key and there’s a remarkable amount of depth in here. Because at the top level, you don’t want to take an experience on mobile or on the web and just stamp it out on Glass.”   “It’s not going to work because Glass is fundamentally different. And the one essential thing that you must do is test on Glass.”   “Use Glass in your daily life, add your service and use your service in your daily life. And then you’re really going to know what works and what doesn’t.”   Don’t get in the way   “Getting in the way is not good. Getting in the way takes [the user] out of their life and it’s a barrier between then and what they’re doing, and that’s not what we’re doing with Glass.”   “We want your service to improve their life… You never would want to take precedence over the user’s experience.”   “So you would never want to send them a notification that, if they didn’t respond, would degrade their experience with your service.”   “They should be able to ignore notifications and your service keeps chugging along, giving them what they want when they need it.”   Keep it timely   “Glass is a very ‘now’ device. With your phone you might do stuff over the last week, look over your calendar four days from now. With your laptop you’ve got data on there from the last few months or year.”   “But Glass is really about, what are you doing right now?”   “When you think about that with your service, you want to deliver content to the user that’s important to them at that moment.”   Avoid the unexpected   “This is bad on any platform but it’s particularly bad on Glass when the experience is so intimate to the user they’re wearing your experience.”   “So you really need to respect that relationship and don’t do anything unexpected.”   “Just be honest about the intention of your application – about your Glasswear – and give them preferences to be able to get notifications, maybe during certain times, or they know how many they’re going to get before they sign up.”

Check real-time analytics in Google

5:03AM | Friday, 17 May

This article first appeared on May 9th, 2012.   If you’re set up for Google Analytics – and you should be – there’s a neat way to check how many people you have on the site in real time.   Head to the Google Analytics dashboard, and then press on “home” in the upper banner. There, on the left-hand side, you should see the ability to press a button with the words “Real Time”.   Click on it, and then press “overview”.   Give it a second to load, and then you’ll be able to see how many people you have on your site right now¸ along with the actual pages they’re visiting, and how much traffic they’re using as a percentage of everyone on the site.

Encrypt your data using Chrome

5:29PM | Wednesday, 15 May

This article first appeared on January 27th, 2012.   Google Chrome is a wonderful browser to use, especially because it’s so clean. But many users don’t realise it also gives them an option to encrypt their passwords, providing even more security.   To do so, head to the options menu through the “wrench” icon on the top-right corner of the screen, then click on “options”.   Then, head to the “personal stuff” tab, and then click on the “advanced” button next to “disconnect your Google account”.   There, you’ll be given the option to encrypt your passwords for extra protection. It should be checked by default, but it if it’s not, it’s always best to check.

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