Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Are Early Exits a good thing?

The following is my follow-up take on the negative aspects of "early exits" as talked about on this blog post by Basil Peters:
The excitement around "Early exits" seems like confusion about cause and effect.

This "built to flip" mentality was proven initially very successful in the dot-com explosion, but it seemed to be more like the cresting of the wave. Once large corps began to jump on the technological shifts, they over spent, and start-ups were awesomely successful. At first.

The business models were being engineered to flip. Nobody was crazy, but everyone were modelling their plans on inflated metrics, and expectations. We all thought an ecosystem of larger companies would eat us up, make billions on ads, or IPO. What seemed like sound business models, collapsed, and worse, cascaded.

Now in 2008, we're seeing the same pattern. A healthy technology shift, powered by social networks, and mobile LBS technologies. Plenty of big investors are elated about this stuff, which is fuelling hundreds of start-ups entrepreneurs to build cool facebook apps or mobile LBS services. But, very few start-ups are actually planning a strong value chain to the dollar, and too many are relying on getting bought by Google.

I personally hate the "Early Exit" from an innovator's stand-point. The whole concept is revolting. It's not respecting my passion to realize a bigger picture. Building to flip, is building another twitter.

If investors really wanted to reduce their risks, it's time we talk about smaller multiples, with sound opportunity to build bigger. Embrace the creative mind, and lets make sure we've got the foundation to scale up big and keep the visionary on-board.

Have a look at this great video of David Heinemeier Hansson (author of Ruby on Rails) at Startup School '08 about addressing the Fortune 5,000,000 and creating a profitable start-up. He nails a lot of delusions on both the investors and entrepreneur perspectives. (Jump to 17:20)

Definitely check out the comments on Basil's post... There's some great other perspectives, both for and against. All of it brilliant.

Hope this puts some perspective out there, ;)
- Aaron.

One year after the jump

The rule of thumb says it takes two years for a business to really get into full swing.   It's been one year since I (Aaron) jumped to Vancouver and now I understand why it takes two.   Much of our time has been spent learning and refining our product, adjusting our business plan, and building our contacts.  Deploying a real-world product means solving everything from bottom to top, across the full spectrum of business, marketing, technical, customer, and end-user challenges.

Our proudest accomplishment was building a CellMap for a large event called VidFest.  We got VIP passes, got promoted on their web and print materials, and won the PopVox award for Best Mobile Application.

We've been pretty busy building our company in creative ways.  Our office is co-located with Kirby Floral, in exchange for some coaching and web development money.  It's enabled Wayne and myself to meet regularly and accelerate development.

We have a new employee.  Michael came onboard in February as a graphic and new-media designer. He continues to impress with a knack for sales and web development.

Speaking of sales, our funnel of customers is primed and ready to roll. We are starting to attract the attention of some high profile players too.  Our partner Mapformation is including our service in with their base map design offering.  In the next few months we'll see a steady revenue stream emerging from their customer base.  This turns out to be a wonderful way for a cartographer to further establish their relationship with a customer.  If a map design needs updating, there is a real motive to get the original design house to upgrade the CellMap while they're at it.  And, we're on contract to build a little flash component.  Michael's taking lead on that project.

Another significant customer is contracting us to do a large development project on the iPhone, which happens to align with our development goals.  I'm taking point on this project, with Wayne's help on the UI design and mock-ups.

And finally, we've got client of a large organization with many locations around downtown Vancouver, in the late stages of approving a CellMap project and deploying it across their locations and promoting it like crazy.  This is leveraging CellMap's latest support for GPS if you've got it, and remote updates to the map, delivered on request by the user.

Sorry I can't be more specific, but until these projects complete we have to keep details confidential.

We began May as our month to begin sales and really execute.  I'm proud of our team, and what we've managed to do together.  Just amazing work.

To summarize our run of publicity, we: 
- Presented at Angel Forum
- Presented at Mobile Mondays in Vancouver
- Got published in VidFest print materials, and on their website.
- Demoed at Launch Party Vancouver 4
- Won the PopVox award for Best Mobile Application
- Won runner-up, honourable mention at the Pitchies with fundfindr.
- Presented at VanDev
- Got mentioned a dozen times on various blogs, (techVibes, fadeToPlay, rez2cool, etc.)

(Google Alerts is great for keeping track of this stuff!)

Some higher profile stuff is coming in the next few months, and we're pretty excited about where CellMap is going.

Until next time!
- Aaron.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Building for the Fortune 5,000,000

Building CellMap for the last year has been an incredibly enlightening experience.  I think David Heinemeier (author of Ruby on Rails) really captured the lessons learned over the past year.  You can build a successful business sanely.

Check it out!  Very cool perspective.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

We beat Cancer! (on Google)

A random thought. If you search for CellMap, we're at the top of the rankings. A little ways down is, that does cellular mapping for cancer.

So I guess we beat cancer.

On another note, we'll talk about the evolution of coming up with a company name an logo. It's more turbulent than one might imagine...