Category: Online

by Adrian :: 21.05.14

Most Parents would Gasp!

This post was originally blogged here – but old fashioned browsers don’t seem to like it!

 

internet-swindle_png_zps4b428d1f Euan Semple is my kind of guy.

Mollie is Euan’s young teenage daughter. Inspired by her Dad, Mollie blogs in the open, public domain of the internet. No password, no firewall: her identity out there, for everyone to see and her thoughts to read.Her “Words are Power”

This may shock many a parent and school teacher. It should not: the media has whipped us all into a paranoid frenzy.

Let’s stop and think.

I’ve asked Euan to come to Suffolk to help us gain some perspective. He’s coming to talk about the Great Internet Paranoia Swindle

I had the privilege of working with Euan 10 years ago when we served together on a Board of a Tech Startup. Since then I have kept up with his blog, relished his book and prioritise his tweets

Our two young daughters have grown up with their own Macs, and Apple devices and have always taken for granted their unfettered access to the Internet.

In contrast, I am dismayed that so many parents seem to have caught themselves up in this paranoia. They struggle to grasp the disadvantage their children face by not having open access to the Internet.

Our 8 year old daughter learns on YouTube. She chooses what she learns and teaches her parents every single day. I’ve heard many parents ban YouTube in their homes.

Whilst Schools are doing a sterling and very necessary job teaching our children about internet safety (and us parents have to work hard to safeguard them too), I am willing to bet that most schools have locked the internet down in a similar fashion to many parents at home. What a shame, your children are losing out.

Over a London lunch, I convinced Euan to visit Suffolk on Monday the 2nd of June at 730pm, I’ve hired the Seckford Theatre, at Woodbridge School.

Euan is a great speaker. Ordinarily we wouldn’t be able to afford his speaker’s fee but he’s helping an old friend: There is nobody better than Euan to counter any Net Paranoia that we may be experiencing. He’s witty and engaging, I am confident you will have a fun, thought provoking evening.

Here are some of the questions he will try and help us answer: –

  • I don’t have time to waste on the internet – why should I pay any attention to what happens there?
  • Who is running the internet and why is it so messy and uncontrolled?
  • Why shouldn’t schools protect my children from the internet?
  • How do I use the internet to learn and help my child get better at using it to learn?
  • How do I manage online relationships with my children?
  • Isn’t a good thing that the government is protecting us with its filters?
  • What does privacy mean with the advent of the internet?
  • How do I know what the truth is and who can I trust on the internet?

Please visit our event site at http://netparanoia.com, tickets are now on sale and selling quickly – so please grab one. You can also book tickets at £12 each by following this link. 

You can download the A5 flyer here too.

by Adrian :: 14.01.14

Moving on from AOB

I’ve decided to focus on building Inn Style. You can still find me blogging about online technology here. Instead of decommissioning this site, I’ve decided to leave it here, there’s been some interesting conversation and continued traffic. I’ve met some great people helping them with their ideas. But, to be very honest, the economics haven’t been worth it. It’s hard to charge people for this kind of advice. I end up giving it away over a coffee or pint, I will continue to do that, if you open the tab! Thanks for supporting AOB.

by Adrian :: 11.11.13

Peadig is a Simple WordPress Theme Framework for Bootstrap – The Next Web

Peadig is a Simple WordPress Theme Framework for Bootstrap The Next Web Peadig is a new, versatile WordPress theme framework designed to open up Bootstrap, a popular ‘mobile first’ front-end framework created by former Twitter employees Mark Otto…

Adrian Melrose‘s insight:

Bootstrap is a design framework opensourced by Twitter that helps your site be responsive. Responsive means the design will react to different screen sized. Most importantly it means that you don’t have to pinch and zoom into a site on a small screen. 

See on thenextweb.com

by Adrian :: 7.08.12

Learning to code

by Adrian :: 23.07.12

Micropayments: please indulge me in a little experiment costing you 50p

Dear Friends

Please indulge me by reading this and donate 50p – I want you to be the first to experience a game changing service in the UK.

Up until now, taking micro payments online hasn’t been feasible from a cost point of view because of the high merchant fees charged by Visa, Mastercard and American Express to name but a few.

That’s now history with the advent of a very disruptive little UK startup called Go Cardless. It’s been funded by several stellar VCs like Accel Partners and YCombinator so rest assured of its credibility.

The amazing thing about GoCardless is it facilitates the collection of money through the direct debit system in the UK – therefore it does what it says on the tin – It is entirely cardless. You sign up to GoCardless much the same as creating an account with Paypal. When signing up you setup a direct debit authority which GoCardless will use to collect any money you authorise to be sent. You can use your GoCardless account at multiple merchants.

The cost to the merchant is a mere 1% of the transaction with a maximum of £2! The merchant can setup one-off payment requests or recurring payment requests and these requests can only be authorised by you in a secure environment.

Obviously this is a game changer for the UK market as it suddenly makes all sorts of business models feasible.

Let your mind go…. But before you do- Please help me out? Where I see some amazing value is in micro payments for charity. If I follow a link to donate £1 – the charity receives 99p! See what you could do with this?

Now, it’s no secret that we support The Suffolk Foundation – for those of you who don’t know the Charity – it funds grass roots organisations in Suffolk that are in desperate need of help – often too small to have their own charitable status. (read the Hidden Needs survey they commissioned a while ago).

So in the spirit of a fine cause please could each of you donate 50p by following this link setup by The Suffolk Foundation

Please comment on this post when you’ve followed the donation procedure – letting me know how easy it was to setup. If (for any reason) you decided against it, please let me know why.

Thank you for your time, your 50p and for indulging me! You can now call yourself an early adopter – one of the first few to use a truly disruptive technology.

Adrian

PS – if you are a conservative, doubting Thomas, let me assure it’s totally safe. Gocardless.com is governed by the direct debit guarantee and is registered with the FSA as a small payment provider – the payment partner is the Royal Bank of Scotland. Nothing can leave your bank account without your request and authorisation and is far safer than using your credit or debit card.

by Adrian :: 23.07.12

BT disrupts online giving market. Who would know?

BT a disrupter? Who would have thought it? And it seems to be a well guarded secret too! In this post I analyse three competitive online giving sites and BT comes up trumps.

Just Giving was the first to market and invested heavily to educate us and create the, now, much accepted culture of online fundraising. I take my hat off to them as, with any early adopter, they have funded the markets’ education and arguably need to recoup that investment. Their pace of innovation in very recent years has increased too and their offering is robust and very usable. But, it comes at a price compared to the two other products now on the market. I am willing to bet that most of you haven’t heard of BT myDonate whereas a see quite a bit of fundraising through Virgin Money Giving. This post compares the three offerings from a cost point of view.

I’ve chosen not to analyse the features of the online providers since I think the core offering is what people are most interested in and the core of all three remain consistent: If I’m promoting a fundraising event I can easily host a fundraising page online allowing me to have my supporters sponsor me using a debit or credit card.

Charity signup
All three offerings require the charity to sign up with the service in the first instance. Sadly this seems unavoidable since, amongst other things, the online provider needs to deal with the Gift Aid registration of the underlying charity and to collect bank details ensuring that they are able to remit the funds raised to the charity safely and securely.

Because the bulk of the small charities are not VAT registered I am quoting the VAT inclusive figures in my analysis as I’d prefer to track net cash cost. At the time of writing the VAT rate is 20%. So, if you can claim VAT back then adjust my figures please. BT doesn’t charge the charity to register or a monthly fee for membership. Just Giving charges £18 per month and Virgin £120 up front. If you’re a larger charity, you may argue this isn’t a barrier or significant cost. If you’re a small charity, then I’d argue it is!

Charity signup charges

Once Off

Monthly

BT MyDonate

Virgin Giving

£120.00

Just Giving

£18.00

Merchant Fees Let’s first talk about the fees the payment processing costs us. BT is clear about what their payment provider charges: 1.3% for credit cards and 15p per transaction on a debit card (they don’t accept Paypal). Virgin charges 1.45% on all cards (even debit) and 1.6% for Amex and Paypal. Just Giving tell us Barclaycard charges 1.3% but doesn’t tell us what the charge for debit cards or Paypal.

Admin Fees
Some work is needed before you can compare apples with apples. Just Giving quotes a fee of 5% whereas Virgin Money charges 2%. But, Just Giving clearly discloses that it levies this charge on the donation plus the gift aid whereas Virgin only levies its 2% on the donation before Gift Aid. To make things easier I’ve assumed all the following scenario (please note that the

I run a 10k race for a small charity registered for Gift Aid. I use my online profile to raise £500 and all my supporters use a credit card rather than a debit card or paypal. This is what my charity receives:

Reconciliation of Gross Donation to net proceeds to the Charity.

Gross Donation

Gift Aid

Total Proceeds

Credit Card Chg

Admin Fee

Charity Receives

BT

£500

£125

£625

£6.50

£0.00

£618.50

Virgin

£500

£125

£625

£7.25

£10.00

£607.75

Just Giving

£500

£125

£625

£6.50

£31.25

£587.25

Of the £500 donated by my supporters- these are the % charges

Fees charges

Excl Merchant

Incl Merchant

BT MyDonate

0.00%

1.30%

Virgin Giving

2.00%

3.45%

Just Giving

6.25%

7.55%

When it comes to charity Every Little Bit Counts. I think the above numbers speak for themselves and the charities I advise will be moving over to BT myDonate. I’d be interested in your views.

BT mydonate launched in 2011 and was received quite a bit of press coverage

by Adrian :: 3.07.12

Don’t ignore the “Thank You Economy”

I gave up caffeine when I became a vegan a while back. Now days, I get a kick out of herbal tea! There’s a particular tea that really fills the coffee gap (for me) – Peppermint and Liquorice from Tea Pigs. I used to tweet about it with enthusiasm, spreading the Tea Pigs word.

 

To me, there’s nothing worse than paying a brand (or person) a compliment and not to have a response – perhaps a little “thank you for spreading the Tea Pigs word”. The above tweet was not the first compliment I paid Tea Pigs on Twitter – the one above just happens to be the last one (& I bookmarked it for this blog post after feeling the past frustration of never being thanked)

Tea Pigs on Twitter have never replied to any of my complimentary tweets so my excitement when this morning’s Tea Pigs delivery arrived never made it onto my Twitter stream.

Gary Vaynerchuck in his really engaging book “The Thank You Economy”  (certainly worth a read – at the very least Tea Pigs, your social media team should read it) convinces the reader that it’s time for brands to engage with their customers and proves why the social amplification is a power not worth ignoring.

Now, you’ll argue that I continue to buy Tea Pigs tea because of its quality and that therefore the brand hasn’t been damaged by their lack of engagement on Twitter. That may be true, but I’d like to offer up two arguments to try and convince brands out there to get out and have a conversation on Twitter with their customers. Stop using Twitter to broadcast message – that’s the old world of push marketing and it doesn’t work any more.

Argument 1: If Tea Pigs had engaged with me on Twitter in the past, I would continue spreading Tea Pigs joy in my social media circles. I already know a handful of my social media friends who discovered Tea Pigs and regularly order from them because of tweets like the one above. I no longer am a brand advocate because I feel they’re too arrogant to buy into the Thank You economy.

Argument 2: I would show a lot more loyalty and stickiness if Tea Pigs had engaged with me on Twitter but they haven’t. So when another tea provider comes along – and frankly I’m looking for one after being a little peeved with Tea Pigs lack of transparency about being owned by Tetley  – I’ll drop Tea Pigs without a second thought.

I am writing this blog post so I can refer the many friends and clients that don’t ‘get’ Twitter to a little cast study -so many won’t engage in conversation. If you’re reading this Tea Pigs – please – it’s too late to make a fuss and no, I don’t want a freebie thank you!

Perhaps this is my last Tea Pigs order? Anyone know a comparable Peppermint and Liquorice tea from a truly Independent Tea Provider?

UPDATE: When I tweeted this post I deliberately avoided mentioning  @Tea Pigs in the tweet. It was impressive that Hannah from Tea Pigs did comment on the post later in the day so brownie points for their media monitoring! Within minutes of my tweet I had recommendations from my followers – First recommendation was @lahlootea and then a few including @foodsafariuk recommended Pukka teas. Hats off to both Lahloo and Pukka for engaging with me on Twitter almost immediately. Not only are they truly independent but appear to have a lovely herbal tea range. I shall be ordering soon. Then Helen Tarver ( @presentqueen ) commented on the post below and added Bellevue to the mix.

And then, drumroll, as if by magic, Pukka launched their Peppermint and Licorice blend. I’ve just placed an order. Thanks everyone – now do you see the value of using Social Media to engage properly?

by Adrian :: 27.12.11

Starting up?

What Startup To Build | TechCrunchA guest post by Steve Poland on Techcrunch caught my eye the other day. Steve is toying with seeding a fund to play in the already overcrowded early stage VC space. The post isn’t only about the criteria for investment contained on the post-it note but rather about how

It’s easy to get trapped and excited by the startup world we read about through the looking-glass of TechCrunch

He goes on to explain that if you want to start a startup the best thing to do is to study the problems that exist in the world today and create a solution for one of them. It’s a post worth reading.

Let’s just focus on the post-it note though. Many ideas find their way into my inbox and I almost feel like attaching this checklist to my email auto-responder. In my experience the biggest issue lacking from these opportunities is the Easy Path to DISTRIBUTION which is pretty much linked to a SOLUTION being marketable or not. Rarely do business pans have credible and affordable distribution plans. Your product might be the cure to a real-world problem but how are people going to discover your product?

Apart from anything else, this post-it note is the best framework for a business plan I’ve seen in a long time.

by Adrian :: 9.12.11

Reflecting on Le Web 2011

The early adopter in me has an insatiable appetite for all things new, fueled by the rapidly changing online landscape. I’ve never been a conference groupie but after attending Dreamforce in San Francisco in 2010 I changed that view. I left Dreamforce energised and ready to craft a new development team: The First 65 – I was convinced that scalability and agility was no longer a constraint to building an online business. Sadly Dreamforce 2011 clashed with our eldest daughters birthday so I missed it. With Paris being on our doorstep, I opted to attend Le Web this week although only managing to squeeze-in two of the three days having to return for the ever important school nativity play.

There are banks of official bloggers at Le Web, producing an enormity of valuable coverage which I encourage you to consume, so please don’t expect that from me. In this post, I’ll share my reflections on the event, particularly because I found it impossible to share anything during the conference, on Twitter or otherwise, due to the extremely weak, unreliable and mostly unavailable WIFI at Le Web: oh bitter irony.

The theme of Le Web 2011 was Social, Local, Mobile (SoLoMo) and it’s easy to wrap your head around these – they pervade the current online landscape and will do well past 2012.

My Higlights

Have a look at the programme – a great lineup indeed – my top 6 sessions FourSquare, AirBnB, Google, Flipboard, Evernote and Bill Gross

1. Dennis Crowley, Co-Founder & CEO of FourSquare explained how with the help of their user community, Foursquare have managed to collect a data set of over 30 million venues and I admire them for having survived the challenges of the data acquisition phase of their business. Users that have stuck by Foursquare through this phase are beginning to see the value of the service that comes out of the recommendation engine and it’s easy to understand the foursquare proposition to retail outlets.

 

2. I enjoyed listening to Brian Chesky from AirBNB talk very passionately about how he built their business in response to a personal need to let out space in his apartment in order to pay his rent and how he had crafted the IOS app with design and beauty and simplicity of user interface as a priority. He dealt with the subject of their unfortunate security breech in an open and trustworthy manner. He really made me feel that “Scratching your own itch”  is one of the better routes to launching a business.

 

3. Despite Eric Schmidt, the executive Chairman of Google, presenting on Day 1 – it was Marissa Mayer who talked about Google’s priority to local that interested me more. Marissa is the guardian of Google’s investment in mapping and this considerable investment will give it immense power in the local market. Her poignant point was that social powers local and local powers social. The two go hand in hand and that is why Google, to me, is positioned so strongly in this battle. Of course there was much talk about Google+ vs Facebook and it’s for this reason that I think it’s far too early to write-off G+ and Android, for that matter. Android will always have the edge when it comes to local/mobile because it is poised to benefit from Google’s edge over mapping. I enjoyed references to the Google X driverless project and totally understood the argument that a computer would do a much better job at processing all the signals that humans currently have to process behind the wheel.

 

4. Flipboard has just launched their iPhone app (I’ve been a massive fan of their iPad app) They’ve managed to raise $60m to build their IOS apps and Mike McCue, CEO, honesty and openness about their struggles with Android and their total commitment to design and experience made this an impressionable session for me. If you haven’t yet downloaded the Flipboard iPhone App you should do so.

 

5. Evernote’s co-founder and CEO Phil Libin made you really feel like you could trust Evernote with your memories and his session really reinforced the success of their brand. “Give your customers the chance to fall in love with your product” he said when talking about the Freemium model. I enjoyed watching the demo (one of the few that worked during the day) of Evernote’s two new Apps – the Evernote Hello App and the Evernote Food app.Evernote Hello is designed to help you remember people. It does this by storing contact details, but more importantly by linking the when, where and who with the person’s name.The second app, Evernote Food, is all about documenting and sharing memorable food moments. Evernote has created a very successful platform on which to develop and opens up many opportunities for developers to use Evernote’s memory engine through their Trunk API.

 

6. Bill Gross, Founder & CEO, Idealab session was entitled “Learning From Failure: 20 Years of Entrepreneurial Lessons in 20 Minutes” and I encourage you to look at his slides. I was blown away by his experience and insights.

So what are my take-outs?

You’ll know me for being a bit of an Apple fanboy and a loyal iOS groupie. Up until now I’ve tried to get closer to Android having recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy II and found it a very disappointing device mainly because I’ve undoubtedly not given enough time to learning Android (the point is I never had to learn iOS – it is so intuitive even my 4 year old knows how to operate it) but Le Web has helped me accept that all three operating platforms (iOS, Android and Windows Mobile 7) will be contenders in any business’ quest to reach consumers. What I heard more often than not, was speakers admitting that they had only launched on iOS because they had found it so much harder to develop on Android. (Apple makes it easier for developers generally and Android’s case is complicated by multiple screen sizes and variations of device that need to be catered for). I also accepted that Windows Mobile 7 is going to be a real contender especially now that you have slick devices like the Nokia Lumia that I enjoyed playing with. Windows Mobile 7 is also going to have the edge when you consider it will seamlessly integrate with the Xbox and Kinect.

Wanting to launch an App?

Given the potential of all three mobile platforms, in the perfect world you should have all three covered. Even the likes of Flipboard, Instagram and AirBnB are struggling to release on Android. (read this bit of Techcrunch coverage to better understand the iOS Android war)  If you’re a small business with an idea for an App I strongly advise you to follow the HTML5 route. HTML5 empowers apps to run in browsers across mobile platforms. Admittedly, they are constrained slightly but you should look at what Linkedin and Facebook are managing to achieve with their HTML5 web-based mobile apps before thinking that HTML is too much of a major constraint. There’s also the advantage of not having to cut 30% of your app revenue to the platform provider and equally you don’t have to jump through the app store hoops (particularly in the Apple Apple Store). I can’t say Le Web has changed the direction of my thinking on any of this but it has concreted the HTML policy we adopted early in the strategy at The First 65.

Lastly, despite still feeling that Facebook is an extremely important market place and should not be ignored, I learned little from their slot and felt slightly uninspired.

Let’s talk about the conference itself:

With the €1,700 Le Web attendance fee in mind, I’m afraid Le Web was just not slick enough for me. Granted, my expectations are calibrated by Dreamforce10 (a circa 30,000 attendance), I still refuse to accept why Europe can’t do as well. Live Demos rarely worked on stage. Everyone blamed the poor internet connectivity, most presenters had to beg for their slides to be projected on stage and often media lacked soundtrack. This left delegates cringing in their seats in nervous anticipation. I felt very sorry for many of the presenters who had travelled long distances. Loic Lemur is obviously a well respected peer in the Silicon Valley scene and certainly a charismatic person; this he must be to attract the speakers (particularly those across the Atlantic), but, to me, he comes across as a bumbling, inexperienced and awkward . Even though Loic is resident in San Francisco, I find his English doesn’t do him proud and limits Le Web from getting the best out of the interviews, and let’s face it there were some extremely senior speakers and Loic tended to interview the biggies which I found to be a pity.

Europe has long been trying to emulate the Silicone Valley start-up culture no harder than the recent efforts in the UK. What was evident from the lineup of speakers was that the bulk of the noteworthy ones had flown across the Atlantic to be with us. I had expected to see a few of the European tech “personalities” that I had been so vocal about making Europe the new tech-hub but they were conspicuous by their absence having managed to prize their way into San Francisco with their European campaign-cries still ringing in my ears. Disappointing.

Concluding then

Le Web 2011 was good for me from an idea generation perspective. I didn’t spot any game changers but perhaps 2012 will give us an opportunity to consolidate on So-Lo-Mo as the general uptake of mobile devices continues and the services we early adopters have been excited by experience some main stream adoption.

Disappointingly, I left Paris with nothing new to excite the early adopter in me but I have to admit attending Le Web has energised me. For online opportunists: opportunities abound and the barriers to entry have never been lower. All is good in the online world!

 

by Adrian :: 2.05.11

Place your bets on (Sales)force.com

It took a trip out to San Francisco last December for me to confirm my belief that Salesforce.com was opening up the next round of opportunity for business large and small with their Force.com platform.

It is true to say they started with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) at the heart of their business in the early noughties and it’s also true to say they’ve perfected and cornered this market. And in doing so they’ve created the Force.com platform that allows over 92,300 customers to operate their business on the same platform: not just the sales process but any functional area – all the way from front-  to back-office. Because the platform is a pay on demand platform it offers robust scalability from the day you sign up irrespective of the size of the business.

I’ve been watching things develop withe Force.com over a few years and paid extra attention when they opened the platform up to non-proprietary development tools like Java and Ruby on Rails. This made practical sense allowing the business world to tap into the existing development skills-base without having to be constrained to their proprietary tool base called Apex.

A decade ago, CRM earned a bad reputation when Gartner reported that 50% to 70% of CRM software installations failed. The acronym CRM is tainted, I’ be the first to admit that but I’d like you to argue with me that you don’t need a system that puts your customer right in the heart of your organisation – call it what you want. There is no business without a customer.

Most of the damage done to the reputation of CRM was a result of huge-budgeted implementations of Siebel or the like – monolithic, expensive, inflexible requiring massive investment in hardware, software and implementation. Salesforce.com has changed all this and Gartner awarded them the Magic Quadrant leader. Have a look at Salesforce.com’s UK customers success stories.

Since the advent of Facebook and the emergence of f-Commerce, CRM has become even more important and the ability to interact with your existing and potential customers online  (and specifically in Facebook) is increasingly important. Whether it’s just a conversation or whether that conversation turns into a recommendation or even a sale you will surely want it to happen on the same technology platform: a platform that allows you to be develop quickly and reliably; a platform that allows you to have that conversation and transaction on any device – mobile or otherwise.

The Cluetrain Manifesto is now over a decade old but their predictions hold even more true today. Markets are about conversations (take the old Bazaars) and technology is restoring those old values. Salesforce.com isn’t just about CRM, it’s about the future of building your business out of those Cluetrain.com conversations using a trusted, robust and scalable platform available to all regardless of your business size. Doesn’t that sound empowering and compelling?