Monthly Archives: July 2012

Entrepreneurship for Hackers and Noobs

Compete Don’t Innovate

Innovation isn’t the only way to get rich, competition works just as well and you don’t get the R&D cost. Chinese manufacturing firms know this well, it’s why they sell widget X for such a lower price than the original widget Y.  No R&D.

As hackers we seem to have an aversion to “copying” others hard work.  We feel we’re taking away from it’s purity or something.  Well that’s capitalism son.  If you can’t be a big hitter, at least out perform the mid hitters.  And the way you outperform mid hitters is you copy what you can + fix a pain point.  Repeat that, write it down.  It’s the key to your first big pay packet.

The simplest equation I can give: copy something succesful + lower the price.  It works every time.  By it’s very nature it cannot fail unless you drop the ball on quality.  Don’t be afraid to copy everything you legally can, layout, design, functionality.  Make your moves and keep them legal.  Money.

Pain Points 101

You’re claiming you can’t find pain points? Here’s one: An article on Hacker News about Groupon payments taking 3 months to come through. That’s a pain point. Start a Groupon type service, but offering faster payments. Yes you’ll still need that user base, and you’ll still need seed funding to cover initial marketing costs, but you have one very real cash flow based reason for business to choose you over them.

You could start it locally right this minute.  Set up the site, put on your suit and go knock on some local shop windows.  Sign up a few, remember your USP – payment in 30 days or less.  Then get a few users to sign-up and away you go.  Viral local offers and day 1 cash.

Found a news app you love but the interface is sluggish or wasteful? Copy the functionality EXACTLY, redesign, fix the pain point and release.  You’re not doing anything wrong here.  There is no moral high ground to be had by not doing it.  It’s competition, it’s capitalism.  You deserve that money because you made a better product.  Write that down.

Anywhere someone is making profit is a place for you to slide in and split the pie.  Check the barriers to entry, then, if you can, compete.  Zynga making too much money?  Copy the product as much as you legally can and lower the price they charge for in-apps.  Play the game, they’ve done the R&D for you.  They’ve optimised layout and design already.  You can see RIGHT THERE what works.  They’ve done all the work.

Ship or You’re Nothing

You’ve decided your product or service.  Now it’s time to get real.

Everything you do for your business should come with a time scale.  EVERYTHING.  You ship things.  That is how you make money.  You don’t get paid for research or drinking coffee at a start-up.  You get paid when you ship.  And the way you do that is bringing  your product or service to market.

I will ship X on Y.

Where X is your product or service and Y is next Tuesday, next month, or 10 years from now.  Even if you miss your target, you still took aim and that’s 1 step more than Joe average wannabe start-up entrepreneur.

Market while you wait

Bored?  Do some marketing.  What’s that?  You don’t know how or it makes you anxious? Well, you need to learn.  Product + Marketing.  It’s half the equation and 90% critical to success.  Let’s make one now.

  • Where will you get traffic? – source ideas.
  • What’s the cost of that traffic in time/money for each source?
  • What do you need to do to set up that traffic source.
  • What experiments can you do to test you traffic theories? – This is your start-up marketing plan.

Experiments form the basis of every marketing plan.  You want quality traffic.  Quality means money in your pocket.  Measure everything.  Try everything.  See what works, experiment, repeat.  What works for Axe might not work for you.


Good luck, Leave a comment.

Additional inspiration:

“You quit when you can’t find any customers, you stick when all signs point upward and you pivot when your customers keep asking you too.” – Matt Mcnaughton –

“Make something youd recommend to your friends.” – Anonymous


Is Netflix Worth It?

Is Netflix Worth It

Is Netflix worth it?  Let’s look at reasons to get Netflix and reasons to not get Netflix, including price, selection and cancellation policy.  Also we’ll cover Netflix Bandwidth usage requirements in detail below.

If you are considering Netflix and haven’t signed up yet, there are a few possible things troubling you.

  • Netflix is too expensive.
  • The selection of Movies or TV Shows on Netflix is not good enough.
  • Other problems with Netflix, for example access to movies, is your device compatible with Netflix streaming and what are the Netflix Bandwidth requirements.

Is Netflix worth it?

The current US Netflix price to watch as many TV episodes and movies as you want is $7.99 a month with a one month free trial online.

The selection was huge before Netflix were forced to drop the Starz Play distribution channel.  Starz had many of the great TV Shows and Movies.  With the loss of Starz Netflix lost what felt like half the collection of decent content.  Netflix still has many great movies, just not as many as before.  Don’t sign up to Netflix from outside the US, the outside US Netflix selection is terrible.

The TV Shows you get on Netflix will not be the latest TV shows available.  For those, the old methods you already know are best to get them.  On the other hand, if you missed the TV shows last year or want to re-watch your favorites from days gone by, then Netflix still has those.  Just don’t expect last weeks episode of Breaking Bad to be on there for a while.

If price is an issue, can you split the cost with other members of your abode?  Friends or family can be useful in difficult time like this.

Netflix Streaming

Access to Netflix streaming.  You can now stream Netflix movies and TV shows on Xbox 360 (and later 720), PS3, PC, Mac and Apple devices like iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.  Consider which will be your main streaming device for Netflix, is that device capable of HD content?

Can your Internet connection handle the Netflix streaming HD service?  Netflix streaming is a very heavy load on a typical home connection and bandwidth caps can be an issue (Comcast 250GB usage caps for example).   Most home wifi routers can handle the load, but check if yours is 802.11g or 802.11n (newer).

Netflix Streaming Bandwidth Requirement

US Netflix bandwidth usage requirements are:

  • Netflix Movies  streaming in HD – These require 3.8Mbit, which results in approximately 4GB for a 2 hour movie.
  • Netflix Movies (SD) –  SD movies are about DVD disk size.  700Mb.
  • Netflix TV Shows in beautiful HD – A typical 30 minute feature comes in at 1.5GB.
  • Netflix TV Shows (SD) – Like a download, SD TV shows are about 300-400Mb.

Should I get Netflix?

Before signing up to Netflix I recommend that you:

  • Look at the selection of movies and TV shows on the Netflix website.  How well does the Netflix selection fit your exact requirements?
  • Check out the Netflix cancellation process.  How easy is it to cancel?
  • Ask friends who already have Netflix, are they happy with the service? thinking of cancelling Netflix?
  • Look for discount coupons and discount vouchers for Netflix on promo websites.  Netflix regularly have promotional codes for first time users.  A 1 month free trial deal on Netflix is the minimum you should go for.
  • All that time you’ll be wasting watching useless movies and TV shows.  Think of something more useful.  How about studying a foreign language or cleaning your basement?  Is it worth the time you will waste?  YOLO.

That should be enough information to conclude if you want to get Netflix or not.   I had a 6 month Netflix sub over summer when in college and regretted it.  I should have played outside and having the Netflix subscription affected my studies at the start of the year.  Having said that, Netflix was good for relaxing after a hard day.  The decision on Netflix is yours to make. Startup App Review also known as trap!t and trapit is a new iPad app based startup. I recommend trying it out and here’s why.

I downloaded the app today on my iPad after a friend mentioned it. She knows I recently deleted the flipboard app because it had become slow, boring and irrelevant and I had been looking out for a replacement to recommend. is the Flipboard replacement we need, it’s Flipboard 2.0. works by taking keywords, then intelligently gathering data and articles related to those keywords. The more keywords you add to trapit the more it knows about you and the better the suggested articles. Trapit is free and available on the appstore to download right now.

The look and feel of trapit is bulky but pretty. It feels slightly slow at times, especially when gathering new information. However, the information and articles returned are of very high quality and relevant. Trapit is like stumbleupon 3.0 and actually useful.

My major complaint on the usability of trapit is it does not display a lot of information on screen. There is lots of scrolling and swiping required to use the app. Sometimes I just want to read interesting articles and not have to scroll everywhere.

I am concerned about privacy on the data it collects and could not find any information or terms and condition regarding how trapit will use the information gathered. For this reason I unfortunately deleted it. If privacy is of no concern to you, then get trapit. I might download trapit again, but I will keep it for general browsing and not medical research or anything work related. Edit – for those interested, Gary Griffiths from Trapit has left a comment below linking to trapits privacy policy.

Trapit is great and I highly recommend it, 5/5 stars.

Should I Develop For Android or iOS?

Google NEXUS 7 is an Android device. You are an app or game developer. Should you switch from programming for iOS to exclusively programming paid for apps for the Android ecosystem? Let’s look at the facts.

Develop for Android and Google Nexus 7

  • Still huge gains in tablet market share remaining for Android devices. Tablet computing is currently swamped with Apple devices, which come at a premium price point and have saturated their price point market base.
  • Google Nexus is a cheap device, hence will appeal more to children and low income users. These are the type who love fart apps and are tech savvy. They will pirate if they can get away with it, but will get their spend on with abandon when required.
  • Potentially “dumb” user base, easily fooled into taking actions you require for income streams which result in potentially huge later charges. For example, in app-purchases etc. Less likely to complain due to possible depression issues of being a teenager/low income. Google are also renowned for bad/non-existent customer service, no ones getting a refund.
  • Hype marketing works better on Android than iOS devices for the reasons listed above. If you’re a new startup warming the crowd to a free app download, go for Android.


Develop for iOS and Apple products

  • Android customers are typically after free apps. Yes, some users of Google NEXUS 7 will pay for apps, but most will be looking for freebies.
  • The Google NEXUS 7, with it’s low price point, is made to cover the high volume, cheap product market base. These are people on low incomes and hence more likely to pirate and less likely to pay for serious apps. Apple users are trained to pay and to expect to pay for quality apps.
  • Android devices are very easy to root, hence indirectly support piracy.
  • The Apple App Store is world renowned for quality on a tight leash. Not so for the Google play store. Android users have a false expectation that apps are thoroughly checked before being placed up for sale and can be left disappointed by poor quality, design and infections. If you app looks “retro”, go for Android.


Android vs. iOS development – Review

China is one of the worlds largest installed user bases of Android devices to date. We can look at China to see behaviour patterns which may repeat here in the west with cheap Android tablets. In particular, the obsession with free app twitter feeds.

If you are releasing free apps, supported by advertising, then Android is a great ecosystem to support. Android has growing market share in the west and a user-base who is obsessive about FREE apps. Ad inventory CPM on Android is around $2 or less, check yourself for up to date information.

Stick with iOS if it’s a paid app at a low price point or premium price. For software supported via in-app purchases, Android is about the same as iOS as the kids will be equally tricked into clicking buy on your $100 for 300 gold coins button before mommy can cancel out on the device. Cash in the bank, it’s their fault for being stupid right? But do remember Android offers a 15 minute cancellation period on purchases.

There is, of course, the option to develop for both the iOS and Android devices. if you have the time and consistency of focus to achieve this, then you get the best of both worlds. I recommend developing for both Android Google Nexus 7 type devices and iOS and seeing what works for you. You will notice yourself selling Android apps requires a lower price point to match profit from Apple sales.

Don’t overlook the future Microsoft surface tablets (no apps, why bother buying it, huge screen not suitable for outside) and the hopeful Facebook phone (Facebook will be Myspaced by the time that’s out). Both are in the future and for now you can just focus on Android and iOS software development.

Develop for Android – Free app or hype marketing.

Develop for iOS – Paid app or premium app.

Is The PSP Vita Worth It?

You’re thinking is the PSP Vita worth it.  It’s a difficult decision, and costs a medium serious sum of money.  Here I will go through all the reasons to get a PSP Vita, and to not get a PSP Vita.  Note, PSP Vita is also known as the PSP 2.

Reasons To Buy PSP Vita

  • Beautiful graphics on a large screen.
  • Twin thumb sticks make it potentially great for shooters.
  • Few good PSP Vita exclusive games yet.
  • Free online.

Once PSP Vita has more games it will be a definite buy.  Once the games prices drop, it will be a definite buy.  Until that point, it is still a questionable purchase.

Reasons To Not Buy PSP Vita

  • Expensive games compared to iPad, iPhone and Android.
  • Back touchscreen is a useless gimmick.
  • PSP Vita takes special Sony memory cards which are very expensive compared to generic versions.
  • Apple release a new iPad or iPhone every year.  Sony expects the PSP Vita to last 5 years minimum.  It will become very old and dated very quickly.
  • Half the battery life of the iPad/iPhone.  The PSP Vita battery life is just 3-5 hours for gaming, 5 hours for video and 9 hours for music.

I have compared the PSP Vita extensively to the Apple iPad, iPhone and iTouch devices here because that is the main competition for gaming.

Is the PSP 2 worth it?

Now here we are at the end.  Is the PSP Vita worth it?  Should you but one?  That is up to you to decide.  What I will say is buy the PSP Vita only if you are happy to use it for 2 years max before it becomes dated.  After 2 years the graphics of the PSP Vita will look terrible compared to Android and Apple devices of that time point.

The games for the PSP Vita are very expensive compared to Apple and Android devices too.  And there are no apps for anything useful like on the iPhone or ice cream sandwich for Android.  PSP Vita is literally just a gaming and Internet device.

Like my prediction on the 3DS, I think the time of single function gaming devices is over.  Once you have tried an iPad or iPhone or Android device it is difficult to be constrained by the PSP Vitas lack of choices and expensive games.

I would not buy one until average games are under $10 and blockbuster games are under $20.  I would pay $30 for a premium AAA twin stick FPS with online, like a new Call of Duty COD or the next EA Battlefield game.  I do not play indie or casual mom games, and so they are of no interest to my PSP Vita purchase.

In the end, if I buy a PSP Vita it is to play amazing games.  If Sony can make great games I want to play, then I will buy a PSP Vita right this minute.  Until then, hold on the purchase of the PSP Vita.