Voltaire Says

Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.

— Voltaire

It’s TV but not as we know it Jim.

Chair of the Federal Communications Commission Newton Minow said:

When television is good, nothing—not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers—nothing is better,” he began. “But when television is bad,” he warned, “nothing is worse.

And boy is he right!  TV programs are always changing even season to season you can get good shows and you get bad shows gracing our TV  – nothing new here. What is new is how we are consuming  TV program. It’s changing in transformational ways. The concept of beaming TV signals to be displayed on a TV via “boxes”  is disappearing day by day. Also changing is the “conceived value” of existing traditional services. Let me explain the “conceived value” bit first because it leads on to my point of how we consume TV. @lukejr pointed out to me a couple of days ago that you can get a Combo Receiver that will receives Free HD Satellite TV & DTT and can act as single personal video recorder (pause, play, record)  for 143 euros ex-vat! I was gobsmacked at how cheap it is.  So for 143 yoyos you get the usual sat FTA and the Saorview channels.

1 RTÉ 1 46 CBS Reality 91 STREAM-5
2 RTE 2 47 CBS Reality+1 92 STREAM-6
3 TV 3 48 Zone Horror 93 T7 STRM-0
4 TG 4 49 Zone Horror+1 94 T7 STRM-1
5 RTÉ News Now 50 Film24 95 Community channel
6 BBC 1 NI 51 True Ent 96 Vintage TV
7 BBC 2 NI 52 True Movies 97 Record TV
8 BBC HD 53 True Movies 2 98 Al Jazeera Eng
9 BBC One HD 54 movies4men 99 France 24
10 UTV 55 mov4men+1 100 Russia Today
11 ITV1 HD 56 movies4men 2 101 PTV Prime
12 Channel 4 57 mov4men2 +1 102 Abu Dhabi TV
13 Channel 4 +1 58 BBC ALBA 103 PCNE Chinese
14 FIVE 59 BBC PARL’MNT 104 Create & Craft
15 E4 60 S4C 105 The Active Channel
16 E4+1 61 S4C2 106 Body in Balance
17 More4 62 Luxury Life HD HD 107 QVC
18 More4 +1 63 Fitness TV 108 Thane Direct
19 BBC Three 64 Horse & Country 109 Travel Channel
20 ITV2 65 Wedding tv 110 Travel Ch +1
21 ITV2+1 66 Propeller 111 JML Direct
22 ITV3 67 Information tv 112 JML CookShop
23 ITV3+1 68 BET 113 Ideal & More
24 ITV4 69 BET +1 114 Shop on TV
25 ITV4+1 70 Food Network 115 price-drop tv
26 Film4 71 Food Netwrk+1 116 Entrepreneur
27 Film4 +1 72 Controversial tv 117 BBC 1 London
28 BBC NEWS 73 The Vault 118 BBC 2 England
29 Sky News 74 Chart Show TV 119 BBC 1 Wales
30 CNN 75 NME TV 120 BBC 2 Wales
31 CNBC 76 Flava 121 BBC 1 Scotland
32 Bloomberg 77 Bliss 122 BBC 2 Scotland
33 Euronews 78 Scuzz 123 ITV1 London
34 CBBC Channel 79 DanceNation TV 124 STV
35 Cbeebies & BBC4 80 Lava 125 ITV1 Wales
36 CITV 81 Clubland TV
37 POP 82 oMusic TV Radio
38 Tiny Pop 83 Brit asia tv 1 RTÉ Radio 1
39 Tiny Pop +1 84 Channel AKA 2 RTÉ 2FM
40 Kix! 85 B4U Music 3 RTÉ Lyric FM
41 PopGirl 86 STREAM-0 4 RTÉ Raidió na Gae
42 PopGirl +1 87 STREAM-1
43 jazeerachildren 88 STREAM-2
44 CBS Action 89 STREAM-3
45 CBS Drama 90 STREAM-4

The site in question is TVTrader.ie and I probably will be buying one of these boxes for the folks as the analog signal will be turned off soon enough..

So that’s a lot of channels – admittedly some are absolutely crap but you get about 25 watchable channels. If we compare it to the basic Sky package @ 23 euros a month (that’s 276 euro each year) you’ll find that it match’s a lot of the Sky channels. What you don’t get on Sky is the HD channels without paying for the HD pack. (I know you can tune the FTA channels manually on Sky.. it’s just a pain to get to them via Other Channels!). Once you do the comparison you have to question the value of the basic product Sky is providing.. is it worth it when a ‘free’ version is available?

So we can conclude the cost of receiving TV is decreasing (it ain’t really free).  Another thing we always knew is  TV/Video is data hungry however data costs are falling so this problem will eventually go away.  Another fact is the rise of devices capable of receiving TV. If it’s got a screen and has a data connection then it’s feasible to think it can receive a TV feed, notice I’m using feed now instead of signal because that’s what I believe TV signals is going to transform into.

This transformation is very similar to the transformation that voice went through in the past. Once upon a time it was unthinkable to be able to be tele-communicate with someone while 37,000 feet above the ground and while traveling at 880 km/h. So why can’t we be able to watch our favourite show on our own personal TV device while crossing the Atlantic? We’re not there yet but it’s coming.

I just saw an ad for a DVD rental provider who is beginning to switch to streaming movies instead of renting DVDs  – it’s becoming evident our TV viewing behaviour is changing. We are moving away from devices that sit under and are connected to our TV and becoming accustomed to having TV on demand.  Just like the voice transformation we are moving towards a tether-less world –  a world where TV can be displayed on any device with a screen and data connection.  It’s TV but not as we know it Jim.

Companies providing TV have realised this and started showing tv programs via different feeds – laptop, PC, mobile, tablets. Apple and Google of course are in the mix and it will be really interesting what feathers get ruffled when they roll out more solutions.  We don’t need to look far to see great local Irish companies developing solutions in getting TV feeds on just about anything with a screen  – I’m looking at you @askehill and @davidconde who provide the magic behind the www.magnetwebtv.ie solution. If you haven’t checked out this free site ..what are you waiting for?

This area is a real hot topic but a lot question (not to mention technical questions)  still need to be answered like how to solve the copyright issues? What’s the story with paying ‘TV licences’ if we don’t really watch TV on traditional TV’s?  I for one would be glad to stop paying that tax!

I’ve noticed myself in the past year I watch more TV from online sources because it’s just more convenient. Will the TV be replaced by the laptop? No. Will our habits change? Yes.  What’s the next thing that’s going to happen .. I’m not sure.. but I can’t wait to find out!

In an Internet based startup? You should apply for iGAP.

iGap is drawing to a conclusion, just one more session on funding which will be delivered by  Brian Caulfied @BrianCVC . Brian, who gives VC’s a good name, is one of the main organisers of iGAP along with Ray Walsh (EI) and Sarah Buckley (EI).

iGAP is a programme that is designed specifically to help early-stage internet companies to develop that clarity and to give them tools to help them to execute on the strategy they have defined.

It’s the “clarity” bit I’d like to explore a little more. At Cauwill we have a great product that works well internationally. We have (international) customers in the travel sector some of which pay, others are very slow to pay 🙁   Before embarking on iGAP we identified a few concerns with the sector which would prevent growth & scaling. iGAP  confirmed our concerns and has helped us to formulate a plan to tackle a new sector i.e. get our value prop and promise statement for the sector,  how best to approach it and the best route  to market. We had a tendency to build things first and then go  to market. iGAP helped to us to step back from the product & features and focus on a strategy before building/coding anything.

So how did iGAP change the way we do things?

I firmly believe it’s a combination of quality speakers and the format of iGAP that makes it a success. I’ll get back to the speakers in a moment but I’d like to focus on the format.

  • Training – I hesitate to call it training.. it’s more than training. Speakers provide insight into their businesses, how they run things, how they set the team up and how things work in web businesses.
  • War Stories – we get to hear from those ahead of us about how they got there.. and in some case what they did wrong to cause the company to fail. for example Colm Lyon of Realex Payments, Ray Nolan of Worky.com, Feargal Mooney of HostelWorld, Niall Harbison of Simply Zesty, David Lenehan of Polldaddy and others too numerous to mention here but thank you all for coming in and talking to us.
  • Networking – everyone on iGAP is encouraged to network, get to know everyone one the programme and the past programme. iGAP also run several events/panels in parallel where more networking is possible. They even had the Telegraph in and several iGAP companies got profiled on it. A common thread with a lot of the speakers was that b2b business can be very personal and finding the right person is half the battle.
  • Open and Sharing Environment – after ‘training’ we go to our cohort groups which is run by the facilitators. Here we openly discuss the day and discuss the ‘homework’. Companies bounce ideas off each other and a lot of good stuff comes out of the cohort meetings. We are all in the same boat so it’s easier to row together and share our pains than remain in isolation. Some of the feedback at times can be brutally honest.

I know many such management training and incubation programmes exist, we were on LEAP which was good for us at the time, but iGAP is different because it focuses specifically on the needs of internet businesses.  Over a period of seven months, six modules were led by international lean start-up and customer development experts such as Eric Ries, Scott Rafer, Paul O’Dea , Justin KnecthSean Ellisand Oren Michels .Over the programme they addressed issues such as lean startup theory, product market fit, monetisation strategies, internet customer acquisition, business development using APIs, etc.

Here is a quick synopsis of the content covered by the speakers

Paul O’Dea : Provided the Business battle card. This a great way to get an overview of the your business in 5 questions:

  • What do you want to be famous for?
  • Who are selected customers?
  • Where is your measurable value?
  • Why should customers choose you rather than your competitors?
  • How will you get your product to market?

Eric Ries : What can I say? This guy has changed the way we do things in Cauwill. We love the lean startup theory and before we do anything we pause and think  – how can we do this the lean way? If you’re reading this – thank you so much Eric.  #leanstartup #MVP

Scott Rafer :  Scott dealt with the business models and understanding your customers sales funnel. The better you know your customer – the better chance you have in closing out a deal with them. “Startups fail because they lack customers and a profitable business model” – Steve Blank

Sean Ellis : Delivered content on Marketing and Customer Acquisition. Really enjoyed this talk. Everything in the presentation is based around the Startup growth pyramid. At the base of the pyramid is correctly finding product market fit. He provided us with a set of questions and one very tough task – asking your customers how they would feel if they could no longer use your product. It’s a horrible question because we live a world where we (startup companies) think our product is super cool and everyone should love/use it .. we just don’t want to hear potentially bad stuff from customers. You know what? This was a great (tough) task and helped us to improve our product market fit.  Do it here http://survey.io

Justin Knecht : I was too ill to attend Justin’s talk, but catching up from Ian and hearing his thoughts on the module this was also another great presentation with real insights into user centric design. I’m currently going through the slides so I’ll update this post with my thoughts at a later stage.

Oren Michels : Up there with one of the best speakers I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. This guy is all about biz dev. Very clear delivery on how to be stronger with customers and help prevent the sales funnel from filling up with ‘Barney Deals’. Oren mixes in stories from The Valley which are very entertaining! The timing of this talk was just serendipity.

iGAP has provided us a framework to structure our decisions and do things faster. It’s not rocket science but it is definitely some form of science – mixed with a bit of luck. We still have things to fix but we’re confident that with a clear focus and sticking to a good strategy we’ll be fine.

Walking on Water.

Seedcorn Presentation

I’d like to share with you the format of our Seedcorn pitch. For those who don’t know what Seedcorn it’s a business competition where you submit your business pitch, do two presentations pitch and you could walk away with an investment!

The business plan submission part is over, but don’t worry it happens every year, for those companies selected for the regional finals they will be doing a pitch in the next week or so. For those who make it past the regional final they’ll get to pitch at finals late in November.  Our pitch changed a bit from the regional to the final but not radically. Both of us presented. We divided it up into 3 separate parts, one of us did section 1 and 3 while the other did section 2. We also made sure the person that did section 2 introduced themselves prior to section 1. This helped the panel hear from both of the team on the first slide.

  • 1st part focused on the problem and the product.
  • 2nd part focussed on the customer and business model
  • 3rd covered business operational topics

So what did our slides cover? Well there was a lot of pictures and we tried to storytell rather than lecture.

Slide 1: Company Logo, Name of Promoters,  Contact details.

Slide 2: We wanted to make the problem real to the people we were pitching to. We wanted from the get-go to connect with them. In our case we help people from getting lost, so we showed pictures (no text!) of a GPS device, Sign Posts and an arguing couple!  We wanted to convey the problem of getting lost, how current technology (gps/signpost) can let you down.

Slide 3: We focused on the GPS device and its evolution towards mobile platforms and what this meant ( again all pictures). We had done  research on the people on the panel and we would mention hard to find place names that were local to the panel. Again trying to make a connection.

Slide 4 : We showed the panel pictures of smartphones (iPhone, BlackBerry, Nokia). Again we were trying to connect with them and the phones they had in their pockets and making the product real to them.

Slide 5: Showed big badges of SMS, EMAIL and Twitter and an example of our product.

Slide 6: Then was a demo of the product. (video swf – 35 seconds long)

Slide 7: Benefits of product in 10 words. (1 big logo of our product & 4 bullet points)

Slide 8: Who would Buy our product? Outlined ALL the various sectors that would buy it, about 20 words. (5 bullet points)

Slide 9: The sector we targeted first and the value of the addressable market. (2 big graphics & 25 words)

Slide 10: Was a slide with why companies in our target market would buy from us. (2  Big graphics & 4 words)

Slide 11: What our customers say. A big and very positive quote from our customers (name and logo) (20 words)

Slide 12: How we charge for the product. (4 bullet points & 15 words)

Slide 13: How much money the company could make. Table y1,y2,y3.

Slide 14: Who’s the competition.(4 big graphics, no text)

Slide 15: The Risks. What are the risks and how we mitigate these risks. (1 big graphic, 20 words)

Slide 16: Who is going to executive the business plan. (brief outline of the founders and advisory board) (Only names were shown)

Slide 17: A big graphic of Milestones of our achievements to date and looking into the future milestones.

Slide 18: What we need and Why. This is basically the Ask Slide “we want XXXk euro and this is what we are going to spend it on”.

We then left this slide up and did a quick summary of the presentation. Then we invited the panel to ask questions.

iGAP2

Cauwill got accepted on to the Internet Growth Acceleration Programme (iGAP).

iGAP is an intensive management development programme aimed exclusively at high potential internet companies.

It’s a real interesting time at the moment and we got some challenges ahead so iGAP is coming just at the right time.

It’s happening over the next six months,according to the blurb iGAP will equip managers within the Irish internet industry with the practical tools needed to formulate aggressive international growth plans and scale their businesses.

The first introduction day is Wednesday where we get to meet all the other participants. I’m going to blog (and maybe tweet) the events  as they happen. As part of the introduction email Enterprise Ireland sent a word document with directions to East Point.. a word document!! All they really need is  http://directions.to/ei in their emails   🙂

A guide to winning the Seedcorn competition – Part 4

This post concludes the series.  Grab the Business Plan template [here] (word document) which has all three previous posts plus extra comments from the IntertradeIreland Cube document.

To summarize:

  • Make every statement count – be clear, be precise
  • Don’t be technical (after all it’s a business plan)
  • Make the job of reading the plan easier,  visually alert the investor to things they want to see
  • (Early Stage/Startup Companies) If you have paying customers this is a big deal..
  • Really make the executive summary stand out. Give the investor the motivation to read on.It really should be a self contained document that you can extract and it makes sense by itself.

Checklist:

  • Business Overview (what you do and why)
  • Size up the market opportunity
  • Industry Analysis
  • Describe the team
  • Explain the business model
  • Show Financial projections
  • Show Funding sources (and usage)
  • Exit
  • Appendices/Schedules

Personally, I want to wish all entrants for the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn competition the best of luck and cannot wait to see who gets selected this year both as regional finalists and overall finalists. Winning the investment really has helped Cauwill. Financially it helped out but the PR and confidence it gave was worth than the money – as a result we’ve had a great year, signed more customers and are now looking to take our 1 year old company to the next level!

Finally, if any one entering the competition wants to get in touch please feel to do so.

Regards,
Ronan.

A guide to winning the Seedcorn competition – Part 3

Part 3 of the guide covers: the Operations, the Key Risks, the Financials, the Funding and the very important Exit.

These sections really bring the plan to a close and it’s focused one major thing: Think Jerry Maguire – think “Show me the Money!”.

You need to show the money (twice).

  1. Money that company will make from the product year to year
  2. The amount of money the company will be turning over in 3 / 5 years

Remember you are inside the mind of an investor.. if they are going to but €MONEY into the company they will want to see a return of, say, 10 times €Money. You have to be realistic. You can’t sell an iPhone App to every owner of an iPhone. You’ll get a % (a two digit number if your lucky). Investors are very smart and will therefore spot any flaw.

The last section is “The Exit”. For us (and presumably others) this was a very short section – we clearly stated what we wanted to happen in 3 years. The investor wants to see an exit otherwise no matter how good everything is they won’t invest. Scroll down to see an answer investors like to see.

Tomorrows post will conclude the series and have a word document template with even more comment!

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A guide to winning the Seedcorn competition – Part 2

Part 2 of the Guide will cover the Product, The  Business Model and The Management.
These are big sections and require you to think long and hard. It requires getting inside the mind of an investor. This is tricky and the investors mind you get into might not be the investor that is reading your business plan. This is where a bit of luck comes into play. The seedcorn competition will try and match your business sector with an investor in a similar sector – it won’t be a perfect match.

Time to get inside the venture capitalist who is now looking at  your business that offers:

  1. a clearly specify the product or service
  2. a large potential number of paying customers
  3. at a price well above what it would cost to produce i.e making a profit (while delivering customer satisfaction)

What else do you need to let the investor know? You need a good business model. One that offers genuine choices of:

  1. Who is the target customer? Why was that target sector chosen?
  2. What is the product?
  3. How is the company planning to deliver the product and maximise margins?

I can’t stress enough that this needs to be in plain and simple English – no jargon!  Each of these points has to be obvious to the investor.

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A guide to winning the Seedcorn competition – Part 1

In a series of blog posts I’m going to share what Cauwill put into the Seedcorn Business Plan.  I (there is no I in team!!) didn’t write the business plan alone nor have I  put this guide together without a great deal of help from Ian. As ever Ian – a big thanks goes your way.

Don’t worry about cutting and pasting from the blog – with the last blog of the guide (Thursday)  I’ll be attaching a complete word document version of the guide with extra comments from InterTradeIreland. Feel free to ask & post questions – I’ll be happy to respond to them.

At a later stage I’m going to do the same for the regional and final presentations for fortunate companies that make past the business plan evaluation section of the competition. Let’s hope it’s you!

DISCLAIMER TIME: There is no guarantee that if you follow the guide exactly that you will win the competition.. quite the contrary this business plan worked for us because it is OUR business plan. Your company business will be different to ours so your business plan will be different also. Things we left out, you may need to include. With that, we wish the best of luck.

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