The Google search bar in Chrome is one of the most useful tools in the browser, but you can easily change it to a different search engine altogether – or even a website. To do so, head to the Settings page, and then click on "manage search engines" under the search heading. There, you can set your preferences for search engines. This article first appeared on September 19, 2013.
When a home-grown entrepreneur returned from Silicon Valley recently to run a series of events in Brisbane, he was struck by a strong sense that Australia’s fear of failure was holding the community and technology sector back. Adrian Turner cited the poor returns of the tech venture capital industry so far and the cultural background of the country as contributing factors. To get to the bottom of the issue, StartupSmart spoke to a range of community leaders across the country. Aaron Birkby is a serial entrepreneur and a co-founder of Gold Coast start-up incubator Silicon Lakes. He told StartupSmart cultivating a culture that embraced failure should be a priority for the start-up ecosystem. “I absolutely agree that Australia has fear of failure and that it’s holding us back. It’s causing so many lost opportunities,” Birkby says. “We learn it in school where the focus on grades and scores discourages people from trying new ideas, taking risks and messing up.” Birkby believes the key to creating a more robust culture is for successful entrepreneurs to share candidly about their failures. To this end, he seeks out mentors for the incubator who have not only successfully exited start-ups, but also stuffed a few up. “Mentoring, and entrepreneurship really, isn’t just about the business. It’s all the emotional aspects around it too,” Birkby says. Beyond sharing the gory details of smashed start-ups, bankruptcies and broken relationships, Birkby says the start-up community embrace the fact failure is best way to learn. “The time I’ve spent in Silicon Valley, people talk about failures as badges of honour. There are rumours some angel investors won’t even look at your idea if you haven’t failed at something first,” Birkby says. A survey of over 1000 Australians conducted in 2013 found more were planning to launch their own businesses than ever before. But almost a third said they had a pronounced fear of failure and over a quarter feared giving up the security of full-time work. Ann Parker is a co-founder of Telstra’s Sydney-based accelerator program Muru-d. She’s run accelerators across the world and says the fear of failure is more pronounced in Australia than the United States and Western Europe. But she’s positive about Australia’s chances to create a more enabling culture, attributing the heightened concerns about failure as a growing pain of fledgling start-up communities. “I think the best way to describe this fear of failure is a learning curve that we need to overcome, as we’re taught it from a very young age,” Parker says. “I’m not convinced that Australia is worse than all other countries, it’s just a bit behind on the curve.” According to Parker, failure for tech companies is getting cheaper and easier to fix so start-ups can fail quickly and relatively painlessly. “We need to keep celebrating that failure is good. The only thing that’s bad is if you try the same mistakes again,” Parker says. “If we can embrace the culture of fail fast and embrace the lessons learned and if we can get that across more parts of the ecosystem then we’ve done a good job.” Fear of failure doesn’t exist in isolation. Parker says the best antidote and action start-up communities can take is encouraging an open and collaborative culture. Businesses fail for a range of reasons. According to a study published in 2013, the most common reasons were management issues. Of the 1000 business owners surveyed, 61% of S said small businesses failed because of an inability to manage costs, 50% said inexperienced management, 50% said poorly designed business models or no business plan, 49% said insufficient capital, 37% said poor or insufficient marketing, and 35% said insufficient time managing the books. But attitude also plays a powerful role, says Harry Schiff, the founder of Adelaide-based errand outsourcing start-up Agent Anything. Originally from Canada, Schiff told StartupSmart both countries, but especially Australia, needed to get comfortable with the arrogance break-out start-ups require. “I don’t think anywhere, besides Israel so far, has had the balls of the Americans when it comes to totally disregarding what people say. But that arrogance and bravado helps a lot in the fake-it-till-you-make-it tactic that truly innovative start-ups need to be the next huge thing,” he says. The impact of a chronic fear of failure isn’t just about people not trying their ideas. Schiff says it is also shaping how our entrepreneurs work. “There is a lot of momentum here to go and work, but people focus on activities rather than on getting stuff done. Because setting a firm goal with a due date makes it far more likely you’ll have to admit, even just to yourself, that you’ve failed.” He recently ran an event in Adelaide in which start-up community leaders shared their biggest mistakes so far and what they’ve learned. “This event is not about celebrating failure. It’s about celebrating actually doing things, not just trying. When you do things, when you get out there and try stuff, you’ll fail. It’s just how these things go.” In the coming months, the event team are launching a website to track the failed product releases of tech powerhouses such as Google, Apple and Microsoft to demonstrate innovation and failure go hand-in-hand, even for the biggest and best companies. After the failure of Google’s Wave, Australian head of research and development Alan Noble told StartupSmart there while it was a failure, it was worth it. “Australians can be too quick to judge our failed entrepreneurs. We should be giving them the credit to acknowledge they took a chance and they can try again,” he said. “By almost any other criteria, there are incredible lessons that we learned from Wave – including technology lessons and execution lessons. The individuals from that project have gone on to do good things… It was a great undertaking for us and something we learnt a lot from.” Schiff, who studied science in university, adds it takes a long time to normalise and embrace failure, but adds substituting a call to get comfortable with failure for a call to implement a culture of experimentation, may be the key to change.
By definition, every start-up plans to get global sooner or later. But scaling a business poorly is one of the fastest ways to kill it, according to two Stanford lecturers. Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao have recently released Scaling up Excellence, which explores how companies from tech superstars to fast food chains have grown and gotten stronger. “Start-ups need to start thinking about scaling a lot earlier than they do,” Sutton says, who adds you don’t need to a perfect organisation to scale well. “A lot of times when people think of scaling up, they think they’re going to focus on the great stuff and spread it. But when you look at organisations that have nailed scaling, they’ve gone from bad to great.” Sutton spoke to StartupSmart from San Francisco about the five biggest myths about scaling and how to overcome them. Myth 1: Scaling is all rapid growth through fast decisions While the scaling story of tech superstars Twitter, Google and Facebook can make it sound like every decision was instant and the implementation took only a tiny bit lower, Sutton says all scaling companies slow down to take the time they need to make the decisions where it matters. “In every case we’ve looked at, including those three, this notion they rushed all the time is just not true. From Google to even Starbucks, all successful global companies go slow sometimes.” A key time to focus on results rather than execution time is hiring staff. “From the very beginning, Google was always very picky about hiring. They only hired very technically skilled who also had the leadership skills to grow with the company no matter how badly they needed a warm body in that chair,” Sutton says. He adds founders shouldn’t shy away from the arrogance these decisions and the corresponding belief the company could become massive requires. Myth 2: Conflict will kill a company As companies grow, arguments are inevitable as teams choose what to focus on. Sutton says learning how to argue well is a critical skill for a scaling company. “To make the best decisions, you need to be clear on how you argue and when you stop arguing. Good teams can have blazing arguments and then move on.” Sutton says part of the success of many tech superpowers has come down to having founders, and later managers and executives, who are willing to model vigorous arguments followed by a resolution all commit too. “Firefox’s John Lilly (chief executive 2008 to 2010) oversaw the company’s growth from 12 to 500,” Sutton says. “He told me he started realising at about 80 people that people had begun to act as though they were afraid of their boss. So he just started having arguments with his immediate team whenever he could. He’d be right or wrong but would always end respectfully and move on.” Sutton says making sure everyone shares an understanding of what medium-term success looks like makes it easier to resolve disagreements and unites a team. Myth 3: Scaling means building the team as quickly as possible According to Sutton, one of the most dangerous myths about start-ups is the belief bigger is better when it comes to teams. “The notion that scaling mandates adding more people is a myth. There is lots of evidence that when you bring on board the wrong people too quickly, it’s deadly.” The pressure to build the team often comes from investors who are keen to see their money put to work. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a start-up still in the product development stage kill itself by hiring sales staff before they’re ready. These guys need to sell, so they sell a product that’s not ready and it’s over,” he says. Sutton says actions such as Israeli start-up Waze’s hiring freeze after raising $20 million should remind start-ups about the virtues of staying lean, as the company went on to be acquired by Google. Myth 4: Our culture will suffer and we need to stay small While cultural death by growth was the fate of Yahoo! and eBay (who later turned it around), Sutton says rapid growth won’t kill a start-up if they’re smart about it. The key to a culture thriving, as well as smarter working, is to keep teams small. “One of the mantras at Amazon is you shouldn’t have a team that can’t be fed by two pizzas,” Sutton says. “The difference between a five person team and say an 11 person team is huge. From battlefields to big corporates, all the evidence shows the maximum is seven before it dissolves into interpersonal contests and missed communications.” Small teams organised in pods is an emerging trend in start-ups. Australian start-up 99designs has used a pod approach for over a year. Sutton adds that scaling can make deeper cultural issues more significant as the organisation widens and effective communications requires more effort. “When you’re trying to scale an organisation and you have destructive behaviour or people, the first order of business is to nip that in the bud because otherwise it’s impossible to grow well.” Myth 5: Bureaucracy and hierarchies should be shunned as they stifle innovation and productivity One of the joys of start-ups is team flexibility. But start-ups need to implement some structure and processes if they want to become global companies. “Staying entrepreneurial and easy to get things done is admirable, but there is a lot of evidence that shows companies need managers, hierarchy and processes,” Sutton says. “There is a fine art of adding just enough process or bureaucracy so you can actually get all the work done. I think it’s admirable that entrepreneurs resist adding that stuff, but if you don’t it’ll turn into an unruly, out of control organisation.” For early stage ventures, Sutton adds it’s essential to work out the leadership structure early or risk confused strategy direction and in-fighting.
With a high traffic and low margin business to grow, the team at No Yelling quickly ruled out pay-per-click advertising and decided to invest their limited cash into boosting their SEO ranking. The driving lesson aggregator and lead generator launched in 2010. Founder Jasper Boyschau told StartupSmart investing in quality SEO was the best business decision he’s made so far. “We weren’t anything two years ago really, and all it took was a bit of effort and all of a sudden we’re one of the major providers Brisbane.” SEO rapidly emerged as the only viable option for No Yelling. “Even if it’s only a couple of dollars per click, that’s still 20% of our margin. We couldn’t afford to lose that even though we need to get people through the door,” Boyschau says. No Yelling focused on creating good content sprinkled with their key search terms and getting the pieces published trusted, high profile sites. “That’s pretty much the core of it. The internet is full of trashy content and cheap SEO tricks are 100% dead,” Boyschau says. “We invested a fair bit at the start, and we’ve been number one on the terms ever since.” Sometimes the tactic worked so well it caused other issues for the business. Late last year, one of their pieces appeared on leading US start-up site TechCrunch. When over 200,000 people hit their website within a few hours, the server crashed. No Yelling’s Google growth tactics also included a concerted campaign to drive customers creating Google business reviews. “Word of mouth doesn’t just happen, you can definitely influence it,” Boyschau says. “Offer a good service and then ask for a favour. Most of our customers were happy to do that. Now we’ve got over 180 reviews, more than any competitor.” No Yelling has launched localised expansions in Ipswich and the Gold Coast. They intend to roll out across the country later this year.
The issues of Qantas and Virgin might be hogging headlines at the top end of town, but Australian start-up Skybid is looking to shake things up further down the travel industry food chain. The new platform, which allows consumers to bid for seats on flights, is set for take-off and Skybid founder Karis Confos says even though it is a crowded market, the platform would manage to differentiate itself from competitors. She told StartupSmart the market for Australians seeking the best price on flights was already large enough for a new contender, and growing. “The ability to bid for flights is so new, and I can see huge potential from both a growth and profit perspective,” Confos says. Being first doesn’t guarantee a start-up’s success: Google wasn’t the first search engine and Facebook wasn’t the first social network. Confos says she checked out her future competition closely and was encouraged by what she discovered. “I looked at what was out there and thought I could do it better. We’re yet to find out if we’re right, but I feel like there are so many more opportunities that the businesses already in this space aren’t taking advantage of.” While Confos says the social media potential for travel-focused companies is a largely untapped commercial advantage they’ll explore, her focus is on customer retention. “Pay-to-bid models can be wearying for customers and there is a lot of scope to reward customers on these services more. It’s significantly easier to keep a customer than get a new one. They’re the core of your business, so it’s a small tragedy when one walks away,” she says. The idea for Skybid has developed considerably for Confos, who says collaborating with others and discussing the idea with as many people as possible helped her shape an offering she’s confident in. “At first I was more concerned about accessing flight data and supply, but realised through conversations that I should be focused on traffic and reach. Marketing is my main concern and challenge right now,” she says. She adds critical feedback made her realise which answers she needed to know, and which weren’t critical at this stage. Skybid is set to launch within the next month or two. Even if it fails, Confos says she’s never been more excited about a project. “Even if it does fail completely, the experience will be so worth it. Don’t let something stop you if you’re gung-ho and committed to making it work.”
Have you ever been typing at your computer when you’ve come across a word you don’t understand? Or perhaps you needed to find a synonym for a word? Well, if you have a browser window open, there’s an easy way to find that definition or synonym quickly. Just go to the Google search bar and type ’define:’ followed by the word you want to look up. For example, if you wanted synonyms for ‘entrepreneur’, you’d type ‘define:entrepreneur’ and hit enter. What will pop up is something like this. Note the arrow below the definition – it can be hard to see on some screens: Click the arrow to reveal more information about the word. Google will give you a definition, synonyms, an etymology, a pull-down box which will give you the translation into almost any language, and a chart plotting the word’s use over time:
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has blocked a $1.5 billion takeover of New South Wales government-owned power generator Macquarie Generation by AGL, citing market concentration concerns. “The proposed acquisition would result in the largest source of generation capacity in NSW being owned by one of the three largest retailers in NSW,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims says. “With this acquisition the three largest retailers in NSW would own a combined share of up to 80% of electricity generation capacity. “This is likely to raise barriers to entry and expansion for other electricity retailers in NSW and therefore reduce competition.” Building approvals jump nearly 7% in January Building approvals have jumped by nearly 7% seasonally adjusted during January, a faster rate than many economists had expected, according to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Approvals for detached houses were up by 8.3%, while apartments and other dwellings were up 4.6%. In another piece of good news, the ABS figures also show Australia’s current account deficit shrank by 19% to $10.1 billion during the December quarter, with increasing exports and declining imports. Facebook looks to purchase drone aircraft maker Facebook is gearing up for another major takeover, with TechCrunch reporting the company is planning to launch a $60 million takeover of Titan Aerospace. Titan manufactures solar-powered near-orbital drones that can fly for up to five years continuously, with the social media giant reportedly interested in the aircraft in a bid to bring affordable internet access to 5 billion people worldwide who still lack connectivity. The project is set to compete against Google’s Project Loon R&D program, which aims to use hot air balloons to provide connectivity to remote areas. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up to 16416.8. The Aussie dollar is up to US89.52 cents.
How can I traffic to my website cheaply? Is it all about advertising banners and buttons? So you don’t have much money to spend, but you want to get some traffic to your website. Sure, you are going to reinvest in your website after you rollout the first stage and make some money, but you need that first bump of cash to get you started. Top three cheap ways to get traffic to your website are: 1. Google Adwords: Here is where you are going to need to search for a $100 voucher for Adwords in Google. Find one, sign up and start paying for some traffic. This is going to give you traffic in one hour. It’s going to cost you but you will get traffic. Cost benefit – This tactic is a sure way to get qualified traffic but if your niche is competitive it can cost you more money than a new customer is worth. Test it – What you want to do with this one is test it. Spend only a small amount of money and then find out what works. You will probably need to tweak your website or form a little and then you want to load up another $100 or so from your credit card and try again. You have to treat this business expense as part research and part marketing. The end outcome you want to achieve is a channel of traffic that is coming in and making you money day in day out. That way you can spend more time trying each of the cocktails on the drinks menu as your website keeps making you money. 2. Search Engine Optimisation: SEO is a time consuming and slow build process in your business that can bring in serious traffic once you crack some big keyword rankings. Here are four quick wins: Keywords – Ensure your website has the keywords you want to rank for in the content of your homepage and unique title tags for each page of your website. There are loads of other things you can do but if you just start with these two things it will help get you to that first 100 visits. Get some listings – You need a few early win links to your site, some directories, a link from a friend and any other links you can scrounge up. List your business in an Australian directory as opposed to an American one. It gives you a better chance to get actual relevant traffic and will help you more with your rankings. Add some new content – Add some new content to your website that is about topics in your niche. Spend $35 on some new articles with a writer from oDesk or Elance and build out your website. 3. Email: Sending emails to people inviting them to your website for a high valuable reason is a great way to start. For example: All the daily deals websites at present work by sending people emails of the latest deal. The only way you can become one of those deals is by offering an insane price and offer that will cause you to lose money, otherwise the deals website will burn their list as it wasn’t a deal. You could try a daily deal site but its best to do some maths first to see if you can handle the volume. Here are some other ways to get email traffic: Send an email to your peers – Collect up all your business cards and put them in a list, send an email announcing your new site and ask your colleagues for feedback on what they think of it. The sheer process of researching your site will imprint it in their minds and they might refer your site to someone else in need! Write an article – Add a helpful article to a friend’s business eNewsletter and you will get a few residual visits from their site. Make sure you make your article 100% dedicated to their customers and just educate and inform. The keen visitors will come through. Forward an email – If you find an email or some article that is helpful, forward it to someone who might use it. Ensure you have a call to action in your email signature and you might get some residual traffic if it’s forwarded on again. Build a database – You will also want to be getting email subscribers from your website, so ensure you have a form on there. Offer a free guide or eBook if they sign up and you will probably get a better response. Here are some of the other ways you can get traffic but you might want to consider them after you have around 100,000+ visitors. Banner ads – Banners are pricey and their click-through rates are low; around 0.1% yes that is 0.001! People do click on them. But you have to buy a lot of them. Top tips to try when starting with this: Use cost per click – Buy your banners so you pay each time someone clicks, not by the number of impressions. Pay per sale – If you can get a deal set up like this through the performance media channels of the different networks, try it! Facebook ads Everyone is on Facebook but they aren’t on it for the same reason as Google. On Google you are searching to find something and take action. On Facebook you are there to hang out with your friends. Use Facebook ads when you have a competition or timely campaign that is relevant and catchy. For example: If you are a charity and you are having a toga party to raise money, you might want to try Facebook ads and target young single males. Test it – You can burn money FAST on Facebook but it’s again worth testing. Basic metrics – Facebook’s advertising reports aren’t quite as sophisticated as Adwords, although you can still set up conversion metrics with it. It’s messy, but worthwhile. Twitter, Viral, Facebook and that social stuff: Social media and getting traffic from it is again a slow build. You need to build your profile and interact. Think of it like going into a new town, you want to meet people and become friends with them before you ask them over to your house for a BBQ. The best ways to do this are: Help people – Be helpful. Helping others makes you a go-to person. The more helpful you are the more people like you and the more influential you will become. Regular – Keep plugging away. Keep helping people. Short no talk stints are ways to get your tweets and status updates ignored. Be interesting – Boring tweets and links get ignored and you unfollowed. Offline: Don’t forget that people aren’t online all the time. People who come from offline media to your website needed to remember your URL and have made the effort to turn their computer on and go to your site. Market to offline media like: PR and magazines – A good story and bring in a solid amount of qualified traffic. Leaflet drops – If you want local customers, just canvass everyone house in your local area. Eventually they will see your leaflet! Signboards – If it’s cheap or free to put a sign somewhere, put up an ad, it’ll just tick away! Business cards – Put your domain name on there and a reason to go to your site. Get a free phone, free eBook or free video. Events – Speaking at an event makes you authoritive, some people in the audience will really resonate with you and you need to put your website up so they can get more of you! What specifically you give them when they arrive needs to connect to what you were talking about otherwise you will lose them.
Have you ever wanted to know what the weather will be like tomorrow while you’re working at your PC? There’s a really simple way to quickly find out. Just type in any city name followed by the word “forecast” in the Google search bar of your browser. You can enter a city (for example, “Adelaide forecast”) or even a suburb if you know the state (for example “Glen Waverley, VIC forecast”). On top of the search results, Google will show its forecast, like this:
This week in Barcelona, the GSMA – the peak global standards body for the mobile phone industry – is hosting its annual industry trade event, the Mobile World Congress. The MWC is arguably the largest annual event in the telecommunications industry. It brings together carriers with mobile phone makers, equipment makers and app developers. It’s where handset manufacturers make the big pitch to mobile carriers for the year ahead. A strong presentation can bring your products to the attention of mobile carriers the world over. Perhaps more than the Consumer Electronics Show in January, the MWC is the big event where mobile phone makers unveil their new smartphones and other products for the year ahead. This year’s event certainly hasn’t underwhelmed, with major announcements from some of the industry’s biggest players. It’s time to take a look at eight of the biggest announcements from this year’s show: 1. Samsung Galaxy S5 Samsung is now easily the biggest handset maker in the industry. According to IDC, for the full year of 2013, it shipped a massive 313.9 million smartphones worldwide – that’s three out of every 10 smartphones shipped anywhere in the world. Forget about Apple versus Samsung, it’s not even a race anymore at this point. Apple shipped 153.4 million units in 2013, meaning that for every handset Apple shipped, Samsung shipped more than two. In fact, with the exception of the US and Japan, Apple is not even really competitive with Samsung anymore. That race was lost two years ago. In addition to manufacturing smartphones, it also supplies itself with almost every component, from batteries and processors to cameras, memory chips and displays. It is both the world’s second biggest chip builder, and the world’s second biggest ship builder. So when Samsung unveils its main, flagship smartphone for the year, you better believe that everyone in the industry – from carriers to competitors – is watching very closely. This year’s flagship, the Galaxy S5, was largely an incremental improvement on its predecessor, with the South Korean tech giant confirming speculation the new device is both dust-proof and waterproof. Needless to say, both Telstra and Optus have already announced they’re carrying the new smartphone. Aside from the Galaxy S5, Samsung shocked the industry when it snubbed Google for the latest version of its Galaxy Gear smartwatches. Instead of Android, the new devices will be powered by its own operating system, known as Tizen. 2. Microsoft’s Nokia X smartphones – powered by Android For nearly two decades, Microsoft’s Windows operating system had battled an open source rival, known as Linux. While Linux has struggled to make inroads in the desktop PC market, it has emerged as the dominant operating system for servers. Linux also forms the basis of Google Android, which competes head-to-head with Microsoft Windows Phone. Meanwhile, in September last year, Microsoft bought the mobile assets of Nokia, along with a licence to use its patents, for $US7.2 billion. In light of this, there was some scepticism when rumours first surfaced that Nokia was gearing up to release a series of smartphones powered by Android. At MWC, Nokia confirmed the rumours by unveiling a new smartphone product line powered by Android called the Nokia X series. The new devices will come with Microsoft’s cloud-based apps and services pre-installed and won’t come with the Google Play app store. Nonetheless, when Microsoft takes control of Nokia in April, it will be selling a consumer product based on Linux. Who would have thought it? 3. Facebook buys WhatsApp for $US16 billion A week before the MWC, Facebook announced it is taking over mobile messaging service WhatsApp for an incredible sum – $US16 billion. With both WhatsApp co-founder and chief executive Jan Koum and Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg delivering keynote speeches at MWC, the tech world was certainly going to pay attention. During the keynote, Koum did not disappoint, announcing WhatsApp was launching free voice calls through its app during the second quarter, once the takeover by Facebook has been completed. No doubt some of the mobile carriers were a little edgy about the prospect of Facebook launching an all-out assault on their lucrative voice call and text message businesses. 4. Mozilla unveils a $25 smartphone This year’s Mobile World Congress marked the one year anniversary of the debut of Mozilla’s smartphone platform, Firefox OS. For those unfamiliar with the platform, Mozilla is best known for its Firefox web browser. Last year, it announced it was creating a mobile operating system based on Firefox that would compete head-to-head with Google Android, Apple iOS, Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10. In Firefox OS, all apps basically work like interactive websites and are coded in web standards, including HTML5 and CSS. Since this is less demanding than running a “full” operating system with apps, the theory went that Firefox OS would perform well on low-end devices aimed for emerging markets. In practice, some of the first Firefox OS smartphones, including the ZTE Open, have left a lot to be desired. As I explained in Control Shift last week, Mozilla’s expansion drive has left it in a precarious position in the marketplace: As if the situation weren’t already urgent enough already, Mozilla’s lucrative deal with Google expires in November of this year. In a sense, it’s fitting that [Mozilla founder Mitchell] Baker has taken up trapeze as a hobby, because Mozilla’s in the middle of a high-wire act. It might be that, over the coming months, one of Mozilla’s growing number of Firefox OS-driven side-projects gains traction in the market place. However, it could also backfire spectacularly, endangering its main source of revenue in the process. Aside from the seven new smartphones on display, Mozilla also announced that a smartphone costing just $25 would hit the market this year. Given that, up until the fourth quarter of last year, more than half of all mobile phones sold worldwide were still featurephones, mostly in emerging markets, the $25 phone might just be the big hit Mozilla’s looking for. Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 5. Major updates for BlackBerry enterprise customers BlackBerry chief executive John Chen’s bid to turn around the fortunes of the smartphone pioneer were filled out in a series of major product announcements at MWC. Up until now, enterprises using BlackBerry Secure Work Spaces on BYOD (bring your own device) smartphones needed to use different versions of BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) depending on whether staff used newer BlackBerry 10/Android/iOS devices, or older BlackBerrys. That has been cleared away with the release of BES 12, in the process clearing away many headaches for IT administrators. As an added bonus, it supports Windows Phone devices too. The company also unveiled a new flagship phone with a full keyboard called the Q20 and an enterprise version of its BlackBerry Messenger service called eBBM Suite. 6. At least Sony’s new products are water-tight Earlier this month, Sony announced it is selling its VAIO PC business to investment firm Japan Industrial Partners, spinning off its Bravia TV business into a separate subsidiary and slashing its global headcount by 5000 as part of a major restructure. At the time, the Japanese tech giant announced it’s setting its sights on the smartphone, tablet and wearables markets for its future growth. Suffice to say, the company is hoping it delivered a hit with the products it unveiled at MWC. The company unveiled a new flagship smartphone called the Xperia Z2, a 4G Android 4.4 KitKat smartphone powered by a 2.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor. The company is proclaiming its 20.7-megapixel camera capable is the most ever used in a waterproof smartphone. Which I’m sure is fantastic news for scuba-diving photographers. The company also unveiled a 10.1-inch tablet called, imaginatively enough, the Z2 Tablet. The tablet is being marketed as the lightest ever used in a waterproof tablet. Finally, the company unveiled a smart wristband called the SmartBand. 7. Opportunity knocks for LG? The highlight for LG was an update of the KnockON security system called “Knock Code”, which uses a series of knocks rather than a password to secure a device. The new feature will appear on the LG G Pro 2 phablet, a new six-inch phablet set to go head-to-head with Samsung’s popular Galaxy Note devices. The company also unveiled its “L Series 3” range of low- to mid-range smartphones at the show. That said, most of LG’s big announcements came at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, including its LG Lifeband Touch activity tracking bracelet, LG Heart Rate headphones, and webOS-powered smart TVs. 8. Tickets please! With the rapid growth of mobile ticketing, it’s no surprise the world’s largest telecommunications show would embrace NFC tickets. Telstra was one of a range of carriers to trial NFC badge technology for tickets to this year’s event. The badges use information stored by a mobile carrier, including name and telephone number, to help verify an attendee’s identity. The validation process also includes a photo ID check. This year’s show also features an NFC Experience demonstrating NFC-based mobile commerce systems for payment, retail, transport, mobile identity and ticketing/access. In addition, there are 61 NFC-enabled Tap-n-Go Points providing event news, schedules, documents, presentations, videos and other information. According to figures published by ABI research, in the next five years, 34 billion tickets to be sent to mobile devices,. In terms of technology used to authenticate tickets, the figures show 48% will rely on QR codes, near-field communications (NFC) will be used on 30%, while SMS or other technologies will be used on 22%. If the forecast is accurate, it suggests using our smartphones to touch on for events, public transport or entry into secure areas could soon be a part of everyday life.
Have you ever sat at your computer and wondered what time it is – right now – in London? Or New York? Or Adelaide? Or Moscow? Here’s a little trick to help you to quickly find out. Just go to the Google search bar of your web browser and key in Time in . For example, type in “Time in London”. Above the search results, Google will have a message saying something like “4:33 AM Thursday, February 27, 2014 (GMT) Time in London, UK”. As long as you know the state or country, it also works with small towns (“Time in Green Bay, WI”), suburbs (“Time in Glen Waverley, VIC”) or even obscure cities in obscure countries (“Time in Marijampolis, Lithuania”).
Like most entrepreneurs, Josiah Humphrey and Mark McDonald, both 22, are planning world domination, starting with a move to New York as the first international outpost of their start-up and app development empire. Their company Appster was launched in January 2013 and employs over 150 people, including 65 developers in its Indian office. Humphrey will head to New York to set up the office within the month. McDonald will join him later this year, when they plan to also launch a Silicon Valley office. “We want to find a strong start-up scene that needs an execution partner,” Humphrey told StartupSmart. Rather than tapping into markets with fewer developers, they chose two cities with well-developed tech and start-up ecosystems. “We don’t see app developers as competition. We’re more about facilitating the entrepreneur through the whole process, from product strategy to app deployment.” Appster has used virtual offices before, but the co-founders realised the power of the human connection in problem-solving and collaborating. It’ll soon be three offices launched and 39 to go if Humphrey and McDonald – who were named in StartupSmart’s Future Makers list of young entrepreneurs to watch last year – are to reach their goal of 42 offices in the next three to four years. “The 42 offices plan keeps us focused on our bigger vision. The international offices will work as a filtering and searching system to find the best ideas to help develop,” Humphrey says. He adds their biggest challenge will be finding the right people. They’ve hired 150 so far, will be hiring another 36 before April and are hoping to add over 900 developers to their Indian office by the end of the year. “Recruitment needs to become a core competency of ours fast. We’re focusing on getting the right exec as we’re really two kids, we’re just 22,” says Humphrey, adding recruitment is easier now they’re not a brand new start-up. “It’s easier to poach people from the big guys like Google and Facebook now we have the track record and a clear vision.” Another reason for expanding to the United States first is Appster will need to raise capital in the coming year to reach its ambitious goals. The company has been bootstrapped so far. “We’re going to raise once we get over there, because we’re going to have to expand fast. It’s a lot better for us to be over there as there is more finance and more disruptive projects to partner with,” Humphrey says.
Forget the fear of missing out; the new mantra of entrepreneurs is JOMO – the joy of missing out. Global advertising and marketing company JWT has picked JOMO as one of the trends for 2014. It says this year will be about “mindful living,” with more consumers actively trying to shut out distractions and focus on the moment. Businesses are jumping on board with Google already offering employees meditation as part of a 'Search Inside Yourself' course, along with regular silent 'mindful' lunches. Entrepreneur Andrew Mackinnon has embraced JOMO, which he tells SmartCompany is “the complete opposite to the fear of missing out”. The founder of creative agency Taboo discovered the concept of JOMO at an event organised by the business networking group the Entrepreneurs Organisation. “It’s about enjoying the moments when you are uninterrupted. That is going to be a stronger emotion in people as time goes on,” Mackinnon says. Mackinnon used to start every day checking news on his smartphone and television but now he resists the urge to check the internet and television first thing and instead listens to music. “I was running my business based on what I was reading in the news and on the Today Show,” he says. “We believe in being connected so much that we are over-connected and we are absorbing stresses that are not our stresses.” The news put Mackinnon in a negative state of mind and gave him a pessimistic outlook on the business environment. “The morning until 9am is all about your mind absorbing the sort of day you are going to have,” he says. “I need to be knowledgeable, but I can’t be reactive to every single thing I see in the paper.” The change to avoiding an information overload first thing in the morning means Mackinnon’s days are more simplified now. “I go to work and I am focused on the things I need to worry about,” he says. This article first appeared on SmartCompany.
This article first appeared on October 31st, 2012. One of the great things about surfing the web on an iPad or an Android tablet is that you can look at your favourite websites in full screen. The good news, if you use Windows, is you can do the same thing on your desktop PC. Just press the “F11” key and you’ll notice your web browser switches automatically to full-screen. When you want your computer to go back to normal, press “F11” again. The best thing about this trick is that it will work regardless of whether you use Firefox, Google Chrome or Internet Explorer as your web browser.
Nick Bell’s skincare business wasn’t doing too well when he decided to investigate search engine optimisation to boost the effectiveness of his website. But no SEO company would give him a guarantee that what they could do would help for the dollars he was going to spend. “So I thought, ‘stuff it I’ll do it myself’,” he tells StartupSmart. In 2008 he started Web Marketing Experts from his bedroom, taught himself SEO by researching online how to do it, and has since grown the business to having offices around the world and expected revenue of $30 million this year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s gotten rid of the skincare business. Bell says when he started out in the SEO business the market was competitive, but not as “saturated” as it is now. He says his strength was analysing what was wrong with websites and identifying what needed to be done to fix them to improve their search engine results. Bell started cold calling companies and was told to “piss off” but “I was very persistent”. “I was working 16-18 hours a day, working from my bedroom,” he says. “When I got a client on board I would give them top notch service. If they called at 11pm and wanted something, I did it.” Bell says he knew he was onto something with his new business when in the second week of starting out he received a cheque for $10,000 from a client in the mail. Within six weeks he was earning $30,000 a week. “Then it just evolved from there.” From humble beginnings in his bedroom, Web Marketing Experts now has offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore, Dubai, California, Hong Kong and Vietnam and employs 280 people. There are plans to open offices in London, New Zealand and Argentina. The company has also diversified into a number of other areas including building apps and internet traffic optimisation. And it’s done so without taking any investment. “I have had people offer to buy the business out or invest, and I’ve thought about it, but thought it would hold me back,” he says. Bell says taking on investors would mean having to answer to a board: “So instead of making a decision in a week, it might take six months.” He says when he started out, SEO was easy. But now, due to Google’s continued algorithm updates, SEO has become far more strategic and needs high level problem-solving to dominate the search results. Bell stresses that as long as Google exists, SEO is a feature businesses will need to apply, and warns businesses need to get it right otherwise they could be penalised in search results. Bell says he didn’t have an IT background when he started out in SEO and his parents weren’t too keen on him pursuing that path. But he says after putting his head down and working from his bedroom for a year and seeing the company’s success, “they’re very happy now”.
Samsung has unveiled its newest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with the South Korean tech giant confirming speculation the new device is both dust-proof and waterproof. The Galaxy S5 is built on a 2.5GHz quad-core processor, up from 2.3 GHz quad-core processor in its predecessor, the Galaxy S4, and runs Google Android 4.2.2 KitKat. Samsung is marketing the device as being designed to be used with the company’s Galaxy Gear range of smartwatches, with key features such as its S Health 3 software taking real-time readings from the watch. The GS5 includes a 5.1-inch full HD AMOLED display with a display resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels, again slightly larger than the 4.8-inch display on its predecessor. A key area of improvement is in the camera, which Samsung had bumped up from 13-megapixels to 16 megapixels, with the device claiming the industry’s faster autofocus speed of up to 0.3 seconds. “People want a high-quality yet easy-to-use camera built into their smartphones so that they can snap, edit and share like a pro. With the Galaxy S5 we were able to incorporate all of these needs without sacrificing the device’s design, style and general functionality,” says Ki Hyoung Son from Samsung Electronics’ camera R&D group. The GS5 also features a removable 2800 mAh battery, a capacity increase from the 2600 mAh batter in the GS4 and 2100 mAh in the GS3. Along with the new battery, the device includes an Ultra Power Saving Mode that turns the display to black and white while shutting off all unnecessary functions. In terms of memory, it includes 2GB of RAM, 16 or 32 GB of internal memory, which can be upgraded using microSD cards. One slight downside of the upgrade is a slight increase in weight, which has increased from 133g on the GS4 to 145g on the GS5. The device is also larger in all dimensions than its predecessor, measuring at 142mm by 72.5mm by 8.1 mm, compared to 138.6mm by 69.8mm by 7.9 mm for its predecessor. In terms of connectivity, the new device includes fifth generation Wi-Fi 802.11ac and 2X2 MIMO, along with USB 3.0 ports and a unique feature called Download Booster, which allows it to simultaneously use Wi-Fi and 4G/LTE to send data. “With the Galaxy S5, Samsung is going back to basics to focus on delivering the capabilities that matter most to our consumers,” Samsung Mobile chief JK Shin says. “Consumers are looking for mobile tools that inspire and support them as they improve their everyday lives. The Galaxy S5 represents an iconic design with essential and useful features to focus on delivering the ultimate smartphone on the market today through people inspired innovation.” Samsung says the new device will be available to consumers in April. This article first appeared on SmartCompany.
Susan Wu is a start-up veteran and investor who has worked with some of the best founders in the business. She IPOed her first company at 24 and advised companies including Twitter, Square and Medium. Wu has recently moved from Silicon Valley to Melbourne to head up the Australian team for payment software Stripe and will be speaking at an upcoming Startup Grind event. She spoke to StartupSmart about some of the most important things she’s learned about start-ups so far, including focusing a team and vision around first principles rather than products. “I’ve found that the best companies I’ve ever been involved with were ones where the founders were committed to delivering genuine, lasting value (either in the form of happiness or improved quality of life) to their users above all else, and were committed to being patient in accomplishing this goal,” Wu says. For example, Stripe is a payment software, but the team are focused on boosting the GDP of the internet. At the moment this is through providing a frictionless payment system, but the scope to grow beyond that is unlimited. She says this approach has been shared by many of the founders she’s worked with, including Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams, Flickr and Etsy founder Caterina Fake, Elad Gill from Google, and Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison. “When I reflect upon it, I think that what all of these people have in common is an unusual curiosity and drive towards understanding the world. Being a leader in our industry isn’t just about building products that generate billions of dollars of revenue, it’s also about illuminating new ways of thinking about products, users and communities that lead to entirely new ways of interacting or transacting online.” Focusing too much on generating revenue to the detriment of getting the user experience or core value proposition product can create a weak foundation she cautions. Having survived and thrived in start-ups for decades, Wu says getting the relationships right - whether it’s between co-founders, company and customers or product and users - is critical. “The most frequently repeated thing I counsel is that founding a start-up with someone is like getting married. In many ways, it’s just as emotionally intense, you’re stuck together for at least five to seven years (if the company goes well), and you had better make sure to do the same amount of diligence in figuring out that you want to be ‘married’ to your co-founder as you do your real life partner.” Comparing the local start-up ecosystem to Silicon Valley in 1996 and 1997, Wu adds there is great opportunity for Australia to build the community they want. “We don’t need to inherit all of Silicon Valley’s shortcomings. We can choose which parts we want to adopt and which parts we want to evolve,” she says. “It’s still relatively early days and there remains a lot of work we need to do to strengthen the community, but there’s plenty of promising talent and growing momentum.” Wu agrees with ongoing local commentary that one of the primary issues facing the sector is a lack of risk capital, adding investors here don’t look upon past start-up failure as a positive signal as many investors do in Silicon Valley. As an investor, team is the most important factor for Wu, who then looks at scope and slant or vision, and ability to execute. “Though I’ve never articulated it as such before, there’s a simple litmus test: Am I learning something by talking to this founder? Are they saying something insightful that helps me see the world in a new way? Are they saying things that force me to question some of my basic assumptions?” she says. Wu adds Australia has also reached the right time to make sure the community is doing everything possible to encourage female founders and engineers.
What I wish I had known before selling to Google: Jonathan Sposato, founder of Phatbits and Picnik tells Inc. what he would have done differently if he had his time again. Here’s a spoiler, Sposato would still have sold to Google – but he wouldn’t have agreed to stay on for four years feeling like “a salary man”. And he would have made sure Google’s vision for his businesses was a lot clearer. Five myths about introverts and extroverts at work: Adam Grant writes in the Huffington Post that introverts have come out of the woodwork. He says it’s all thanks to Susan Cain's “life-altering book” Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Before reading it, introversion was seen as a liability in the workplace. Now it can be an advantage. Nine things really productive people refuse to do: If you want to be more productive, don't start by taking on new habits and routines. Instead, do less, says Bill Murphy Jr in Inc. The most productive people know how to stay focused and how to say no – but most importantly, they know how to delegate and outsource.
Generating leads is an all-important task for businesses and especially so for solo traders, start-ups and smaller businesses. Too many businesses end up taking a haphazard approach to lead generation, so here are five simple strategies you can use to find quality leads for your business this year. 1. Start with a strategy So many people in business take a scattergun approach to lead generation, going for mass marketing to spread their message, without really knowing if the message is getting through to their target market. Start at the very beginning, and decide who you want to target, advises Peter Griffith, the Asia-Pacific director of training and consultancy firm for businesses, rogenSi. “Determine the look and feel of your ideal customer. Who are they, where do they live, work and play? Also, consider their habits and lifestyle, and think about what they buy and from which companies, how they shop, how they access information and how they make decisions. Also, think about their business and personal needs, and how you help fix these,” he says. The best lead generation technique depends on the company, their industry, the products/services they sell, who they want to sell them to, how they differentiate from competitors and the brand they want to promote, he says. Ask anyone even moderately tech savvy and they’ll tell you there are only two options – search engine optimisation and Google AdWords, he says. 2. Make your website work harder Your company website should be working hard to generate leads for your business, so make sure it’s up to date and has all the bells and whistles. This should be the central hub for all your marketing and lead generation, says Marnie Ashe, head of consulting for Reload Consulting. “Not only will this allow for greater tracking of where your leads come from, what makes them inquire and ultimately what makes them become a customer, but also provides a central point for inquiry, allowing your potential customers’ details to be fed into a marketing database for future use,” Ashe says. Increasing enquiries on your website can be easily achieved by making sure it’s easy to find your contact details, with a phone number on every page a good idea, and your contact page easily accessible from your navigation, she says. “Also, have an enquiry form on every page. The easier it is to enquire, the more chance you have of a prospect inquiring. But keep the enquiry form short and sweet, you can collect more information when you follow up.” Also, consider adding a live chat service to your website, which is like having a friendly sales consultant greet people and offer them live assistance about your service, and can cost around $10 a day. Check out Web Reception or Live Chat Monitoring, which both offer this service. 3. Get social One of the best things you can do for your personal brand and business is to take social media seriously. When done well, building and communicating with your network of followers will build loyalty and trust in your business, and ultimately build sales. A compelling and active LinkedIn profile can also work well to generate new leads, according to Joe Fox, marketing director of web development and digital marketing agency, Studio Culture. “There are so many opportunities that people are missing by simply not updating their LinkedIn profiles and networking with other business owners or potential customers on the platform,” he says. Catriona Pollard, director of Sydney’s CP Communications agrees, saying LinkedIn is without a doubt the best place for b2b lead generation. “A basic account on LinkedIn will allow you to build relationships and maintain contacts, as well as give you a lot of transparency into your extended professional network. You can generally contact your first degree and second degree connections using LinkedIn InMail, even if you don’t have their email address,” Pollard says. By upgrading to LinkedIn Premium, you can contact people outside of your network and gain further insights into who is viewing your profile, she says. “You can also directly target new leads using LinkedIn’s advanced search, which allows you to drill down and filter people by role type, company or industry, leading to high quality leads.” Facebook is another great tool. Melbourne business coach Maureen Pound suggests offering a free report on your Facebook business page to get people into your sales funnel. “Make sure that whatever you are offering is really useful and alleviates some sort of pain for your target market, such as ‘5 biggest mistakes people make when starting out in business’, or ‘how to get your baby sleeping through the night’, for example. There’s lots of software out there to help you do this, such as lead pages,” Pollard says. 4. Do the little things Understanding why and how you help people, and focusing on what problems you’re solving for them and how you solve them is paramount, says Frances Pratt, who explains sales to non-sales people. “Use this information to get your message out there. This should be the central thing you talk about in your advertising and promotions. Use this information to tell them about what you do and to ask questions when you’re meeting people,” Pratt, of Metisan says. Also, always ask for repeat business, she says. Once you’ve got something great for someone, ask if there’s something else you can help with. “It’s amazing once you have achieved something, how people will open up with more problems that they need help with.” Also, make sure you’re talking to the right people, who have the budget and power to spend with you. “So many business owners spent time on people who aren’t the decision maker, or aren’t willing to pay, which is a huge waste of time and energy,” she says. Businesses should shake their approach up a bit. Replicate what works 80% of the time using lead generation sources that have previously proven to lead sales. But 20% of the time, be inventive and try new lead sources, recommends Susanne Mather, executive director of Employment Office. “One example in the recruitment sales business is that 80% of the time, we source leads from recruitment advertising, calling businesses that are advertising for staff themselves. “But 20% of the time, we do things like take photos of the tent lists in the foyer of CBD high rise buildings and cold call them all. Or take photos of the logos on the sides of buildings and trucks when we’re out and about, and cold call these,” Mather says. 5. Get serious about content management It’s crucial to have a robust content management system as a place to conveniently store, manage and access both new leads and leads you’re revisiting, says Mather. Every team member at Employment Office starts the day with exactly 20 new leads entered in the CMS, which are sourced from a variety of channels, no excuses, she says. “It’s important for lead generation to be a carefully thought out part of the sales process, and it needs to be executed with consistency. “Investing in a program that really works for your business is something you will thank yourself for again and again, and has the capacity to repay the initial expense many times over.” Once you’ve got a great way to manage your leads, adopt the ‘find, wash, enter’ process, This refers to finding leads strategically and consistently, washing leads to make sure they’re not being approached by colleagues and entering those leads into a content management system so they are easily accessible and manageable, she says.
Today, like so many other days, your humble correspondent arrived and sat down at a desk in Taskmaster Towers. On the desk was a post-it note. Scribbled in the secretary’s handwriting, it appeared to say someone had called the office asking for the contact details of a well-known industry figure, who we’ll refer to as Jane Doe. As it turns out, many, many moons ago, a blog post was uploaded on to the Taskmaster Enterprises blog mentioning Jane Doe. If only someone invented some type of engine – a “search engine” if you will – that would allow you to type in a person’s name and receive a list of related links to websites. This magical, mystical website could be given a name like “Google”, “Yahoo!” or “Bing”. To make it extra easy for people, you could place the search field in the menu bar of just about every popular browser, including Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. Such a service could even be funded by placing paid advertisements based on the search words. Then people could type in “Jane Doe” and find the official Jane Doe website, then click the link that says “Contact Jane Doe” where Jane Doe’s work number, email address and Twitter handle could all be conveniently listed. Of course, even if such a magical, mystical service existed, some people would outsource the effort to someone else! And by somebody, I mean poor Old Taskmaster! Blah! Humanoids! I swear, they annoy me some days! Serenity now. Serenity now. Serenity now. Still, the whole episode is a poignant reminder of a couple of key business lessons. The first is the value of quality content as a marketing strategy. It really is the gift that keeps on giving! Seriously, if you haven’t updated your blog or your social media lately, do it now! The second and more important lesson is that most humanoids are lazy. Exceedingly lazy. (Well, okay, often stupid as well, but mostly just lazy.) The desire to do more with less effort has been one of the driving forces of human progress. Why hunt or gather food when you can plant some seeds, enclose some animals and wait for them to be eaten? Why grow your own when you can go to the supermarket and buy it ready to cook? Why cook it when you can microwave it? Why microwave it when you can just get Maccas? Why get Maccas when the local pizza shop delivers? Why wait for a driver when a drone aircraft can deliver it quicker? (Do you doubt that last one will happen within the next five years?) If you’re looking for a business idea, you could do worse by thinking through the worthless chores that annoy you and devise products and services that can avoid them. Because if your business plan enables your fellow human beings to that little more idle, you’ve got a potential consumer base. Sloth is a vice, not a virtue. But it’s one you can exploit – for profit! Get it done – today!