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Futuristic ideas, email mistakes and Ashton Kutcher talks Twitter

Thursday, 19 May 2011 | By Oliver Milman

Ashton KutcherIs your foray into entrepreneurship bafflingly misunderstood by your friends and family? Do potential investors wince and scurry away when you mention your idea (which no doubt involves the words “integrated” and “in the cloud”) to them?


If so, it may be down to the fact that you are stunningly ahead of your time, a kind of Southern Hemisphere version Leonardo da Vinci, if you will, rather than you simply harbouring an awful start-up idea.


Indeed, you may find some comfort in Business Insider’s list of 10 brilliant start-ups that failed because they were ahead of their time.


Certainly, it’s easy to see how Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon would fit perfectly as a Twitter meme, while Weekend Reads has a fond nostalgia for the amiable helpfulness of the Ask Jeeves butler. Google’s arctic-white efficiency may be, well, efficient, but it sadly lacks a bowler hat and pinstriped mnemonic.


Just make sure you don’t end up like Ask Jeeves and other obsolete sites – take a bow, Bebo – in an AA-style confessional, as imagined by ABC’s Hungry Beast last night.


We all make mistakes. But it’s silly to make easily-avoided errors. Take a crash course on the seven marketing mistakes made by start-ups, hat tip to GeekWire, and the Brooks Reviews’ 14 (count ‘em) email mistakes that will irritate the hell out of suppliers, clients and even your friends.


Next week sees the start of TechCrunch Disrupt, a gathering of the world’s top web start-ups and investors in New York.


Imparting his wisdom to the Converse-wearing masses will be none other than floppy-haired Hollywood man-boy Ashton Kutcher, who will explain how he managed to get seven million Twitter followers.


Sadly, Lady Gaga, who was the first person to hit 10 million Twitter followers this week, won’t add any sartorial variety by making an appearance.


Neither, it’s safe to say, will Lime Wire founder Mark Gorton, who this week admitted to a US court that he was wrong to allow users to pirate songs from the once-popular internet music site, which has been shut down. Maybe he should’ve read Venture Hack’s great guide on how to pick an ideal business co-founder. 


Finally, there’s some wonderful reading for start-ups dished up by the New York Times this week.


Not only has it published a fascinating insight into how start-ups are being snapped up for their talent, rather than their products, it also gives a comprehensive analysis of how blogger Matt Drudge built The Drudge Report, which remains one of the most-read news sites in the world despite the fact it is 14-years-old, an eon in web timescales.

Finally, have you ever been keen on starting up in Cuba, only to be put off by the worrying lack of democracy and the prospect of major government interference?


Well, fret no longer, because the country is starting to liberalise its business ownership laws. However, if you ever plan to hire anyone or actually grow your business, Fidel’s fiefdom is still probably not for you.