MySpace

Latest

“Don’t leave us”: Mark Carnegie launches second pitching comp to keep Australian startups here

3:52PM | Sunday, 23 March

Venture capitalist Mark Carnegie will host a second live pitching event for 10 startups and a host of investors in early May in a bid to connect local startup talent to the capital they need to stay in the country.   After last week’s public conversations about Australia’s startup funding, Carnegie told StartupSmart he was bringing together investors for a pitch evening to try and get bigger cheques going to young companies who may otherwise have to head overseas.   “We know companies hit a funding wall,” Carnegie says. “For a whole lot of companies it’s a not a problem because they get funded in the US, but I reckon it’s a huge issue for Australia because most of our promising companies move offshore to get the funding they need.”   The event will put 10 startups in front of a room of private investors and funds.   Carnegie and Co investment consultant Zachary Midalia told StartupSmart they’re looking for the next “gazelle” company, as defined by a McKinsey Global Institute report.   Defined as a high-growth company increasing its revenue by more than 20% each year for four years, the report found there about 8,000 such companies worldwide with just over 2% (180 companies) in Australia   Carnegie and Co have put no restrictions on the industries startups are operating in.   “The next massive startup idea is going to come out of left field,” Carnegie says. “The fact is eBay started with people selling beanie babies and Facebook started as a rich person’s MySpace. So we are not going to say we’re predisposed to anything.”   Two startups were crowned at the last Carnegie’s Den pitching event, one by the people’s choice and one by the judging panel.   Online cattle trading platform Cloudherd got the judges nod, while farmer to chef connection platform Food Orbit took out the People’s Choice.   Carnegie says the judges picked CloudHerd because it would bring significant efficiencies to a large addressable market that was mired in industry inertia.   Applications for the next Carnegie’s Den close on March 28.

How we analysed competitors to design our product

4:57AM | Wednesday, 24 April

Last week I experienced my first taste of controversy in this arena. I contrasted Posse to Foursquare in an interview with Fast Company, who ran it as a feature with the headline 'What Foursquare would look like if it had been founded by a woman'.   The article sparked a barrage of comments and tweets arguing why Foursquare is or isn't a good product for women and how Posse shapes up. It's the first time we've been so publicly compared to a competitor; the experience was both flattering and scary – a tiny Australian start-up set against a US industry heavyweight.   Posse is not a revolutionary idea; many competitors are trying to solve the same problem as we are. And being first in line to seek a solution to a problem isn't always best.   I found this recent Techcrunch article interesting: it points out that almost all of the nine tech companies that have exited for more than $1 billion in the past four years haven't created a new product category. Rather, they have developed in areas where the existing solution isn't up to snuff. Facebook provided a better experience than MySpace or Friendster, and Zappos just sold shoes in a better way with better service. We designed Posse because we felt the existing solutions weren't working for us.   Now that we've officially launched in the US, it's natural that we'll be compared to competitors. In my blog today, I wanted to reflect on the process we used to design our product and how we took inspiration and ideas from others, like Foursquare and Yelp.   1. Define the problem and the audience   We started with a hunch that some people preferred recommendations from friends to reviews from strangers on Yelp or TripAdvisor. We also thought that the process of asking for recommendations from friends through email, SMS or Facebook was cumbersome and inefficient.   We set up an initial 10 focus groups to test our theory and asked questions like, 'Describe the last time you were in a new place looking for a restaurant or hairdresser. What did you do first?'   The most common answers followed a pattern of, 'tried to contact a friend who knows the area,' then, 'couldn't get hold of them so ran a Google search or checked Yelp'. We also asked group participants to recommend places to each other on the spot, so we could understand exactly why they enjoyed sharing recommendations.   Not everyone had a problem with this. Some were happy to use Google or Yelp to find places. The people who were dissatisfied tended to be like us: slightly fussier urban types who wanted to visit the best bars, restaurants, fitness centres, hairdressers and so on. They needed recommendations from friends and almost panicked at the thought of going somewhere cold.   We continued the interview cycle until we identified four audience definers: gender, age, behaviors, and 'preferences'. By this I mean, what they sought in recommendations from friends and why they enjoyed giving recommendations to friends.   Three of the four audience segments turned out to be female, so while we didn't design Posse just for females, we expected that the majority of users would be women. This may appear cold and calculating: breaking down users into audience segments, then designing features and artwork to appeal to those users. It certainly helped us understand who would want to use our product and why they'd use it instead of the competition.   2. Who has previously tried to solve the problem? Why did they succeed or fail?   For this exercise, we mapped out every platform, past or present that had tried to solve social search. Yelp and Trip Advisor obtained lots of reviews and great data but failed to get a high enough proportion of their users writing reviews to show what your friends think of places.   Both sites seemed littered with irate customers writing negative reviews. These upset the merchants, and many users we interviewed were skeptical about who was writing the reviews. Apps like Stamped and Fondu emerged to solve the social recommendation problem, but appeared to fail because not enough people were making recommendations to sustain long-term engagement.   The only platform we could find that had managed to crack the problem of persuading lots of socially connected people to give it content was Foursquare. To understand how, we interviewed 100 Foursquare users.   We invited friends who used the platform and put up posters around our office building offering to pay anyone who used Foursquare $50 for an interview. I wanted to know what was so compelling about checking in on Foursquare.   We found that the overwhelming number of people who responded to our ads were male (+80%) and I was amazed when they described how they used the product. One guy told us about how he drove out of his way home every day to check-in at a supermarket where he was the Mayor. Others said they would check-in to places that they didn't even visit as they walked past. They were addicted and didn't understand why.   As I struggled to make sense of check-in addiction, I couldn't help but notice the parallel between what these guys described and the behaviour of my small male chihuahua 'Steve' who dragged me to random posts, marking that he'd been there more than other dogs.   Many women using Foursquare wanted to secure recommendations from friends for the best bars and cafes but found it frustrating that the most popular places around them were subway stations, people's offices or alleyways. They also didn't like 'checking in', broadcasting where they were, and were irked by random guys asking to be friends with them.   I'm not saying that Foursquare, Yelp, Trip Advisor and many other local discovery platforms aren't great products that are loved by lots of users. Foursquare in particular was revolutionary in the way they use game mechanics and design to make participation in their platform fun: Posse and many others since have taken inspiration from these ideas to develop other products.   I'm just saying, this is a process we went through: analysing the competition to design what will hopefully be a better product for a certain part of the market that doesn't seem to be well served by the existing players.   Story continues on page 2. Please click below. Above: Steve the dog. 3. Designing the principles behind our solution   Once we'd defined our problem, our audience, and analysed the competition, we created a list of principles. These principles underpinned the product for which the platform we designed would work.   They included statements like:   >Our audience make recommendations to signal social status.   >Our audience like to collect and display their favorite things (Pinterest/Wanelo).   >Our product category is so competitive that our product must be delightful and fun so people want to share it with friends.   >Our audience doesn't want to earn currency for making recommendations but love recognition with authentic unexpected gifts from their favorite retailers.   There were many others.   4. Designing the product   With these principles in place, we set about designing the actual product. It all came together surprisingly quickly. The whole team took part in daily product design and we brought in lots of outside help for fresh perspectives on ideas.   This whole process of defining the problem and audience, analysing the competition, designing our product principles and then the product took around four months and involved more than 200 outside interviews before the first line of code was written.   It's something I didn't do the first time around when I built a site for selling music tickets. While we're constantly evolving and coming up with new feature ideas and design improvements, the fundamental strategy behind the product is solid and hasn't changed.   Execution is the next big challenge and we're getting better at that too. We're still a tiny team with an early product that doesn't really stack up against the competition yet.   Who knows if we'll make it? We're giving it our best shot.   I know most people who read this blog are in the process of starting a company. I think that an in-depth analysis of the competition is vital, without fearing to enter a product category because of the big incumbents there already. We've found it helpful to take inspiration and learn from the successful trailblazers in our field, and if others do the same then we'll all end up with better products as a result.

Keep up the good social media work

3:49AM | Wednesday, 13 March

Last week, Old Taskmaster set you a simple challenge: To get your first blog post on the internet.

The three reasons to sell your start-up: Twitter co-founder tells

2:59AM | Friday, 22 February

Twitter co-founder Evan Williams has identified the three reasons to sell a start-up, hoping to “create clarity” for entrepreneurs who are unsure whether an acquisition is the right move.

Which social media platform best suits your business?

2:28AM | Wednesday, 20 February

I had lunch with some close friends of mine who own a gym.

Aussie entrepreneur Leeaps into US start-up documentary

3:32AM | Monday, 11 March

Australian entrepreneur Simon Walker has made a documentary called the Leaap Project, which saw him visit 10 US cities in 20 days to gain insight into America’s complex start-up scene.

How we spin the Feedback Loop

11:21PM | Tuesday, 27 November

Yes, I promised that this week, I'd share tips on raising capital in Silicon Valley. But I've postponed that post.

MySpace raising $50 million to challenge Spotify, Pandora

3:39AM | Monday, 11 March

MySpace, the former social networking monopoly and now a media experiment co-managed by film star Justin Timberlake, will attempt to raise $50 million to enter the music streaming business and compete against existing players Spotify and Pandora.

Be a social media maverick and switch away from Facebook

11:55AM | Wednesday, 14 November

When it comes to basketball, Old Taskmaster isn’t a fan of the Dallas Mavericks. However, after reading this article, I’ve certainly become a fan of a maverick from Dallas.

THE NEWS WRAP: IMF head urges more action to boost global economy

9:15PM | Tuesday, 25 September

The head of the International Monetary Fund has called on the US and Europe to do more to bolster the flagging global economy.

Five leading entrepreneurs’ worst stuff-ups

8:45AM | Tuesday, 7 August

Having a big name involved in your start-up is likely to draw investor and media attention to your business, but it’s unlikely to sustain it in the long term.

Video sunglasses capture outdoor activities

6:17PM | Sunday, 17 June

Outdoor enthusiasts often witness spectacles that many of us miss out on, but they don’t always have a camera on hand to capture what they see.

10 female entrepreneurs breaking down the tech boy’s club

5:26AM | Wednesday, 2 May

Our coverage last week of female representation – or lack of it – in Australia’s tech industry provoked a surge of comment within the sector.

Calling in the big guns

3:04AM | Friday, 30 March

Being passionate about your business idea is critical, but unless you can back it up with industry-specific expertise, you won’t get far.

Aussie team develops social media technology on Startup Bus

3:57AM | Friday, 9 March

Three Australian tech entrepreneurs have developed a new platform to help social network users preserve their digital lives, all whilst travelling on the Startup Bus from Las Vegas to Texas.

News Corp-backed Beyond Oblivion bankrupt before launch

3:30AM | Monday, 11 March

New York-based digital music start-up Beyond Oblivion has filed for bankruptcy before its launch, despite financial backing from News Corp and nearly $90 million from investors.

Ex-Myspace CEO Mike Jones launches start-up incubator Science

11:45AM | Thursday, 17 November

Former Myspace chief Mike Jones has launched a new start-up incubator known as Science, joining the plethora of tech entrepreneurs who have launched accelerators.

The inside story of MySpace’s fall

10:56AM | Thursday, 27 October

What is the cause of MySpace’s decline? Many have ruminated on the fall of the once social media behemoth, but now the man who until August was CEO has spoken out.

I'm being challenged in the niche my business occupies. Should I look for investors now?

10:08PM | Thursday, 20 October

I’ve started to be challenged in the niche my business occupies. Should I attempt to go to an investor for funding now or wait until I’ve seen off the threat?

Aussie start-up Family HQ takes on the might of Facebook

10:36AM | Monday, 3 October

A family-oriented social networking site plans to take on social media giant Facebook, despite warnings from industry experts that start-ups should be wary of competing directly with major players.

prev
12
loading...
loading...
loading...
loading...