Arrogance = your opportunity

I bought this reasonably cool pair of board shorts for surfing this summer.


They cost me a whopping $80. Which is what I call ‘insult pricing’. It’s a pretty simple equation actually. The key players in the surfwear industry (Billabong, Quiksilver and Ripcurl) charge these prices because they can. They don’t have any ‘credible competitors’ in this board short subsegment of clothing.

In recent years surf brands have been hit by many competitors in other areas of the market which they used to ‘own’. Especially in t-shirts, from the myriad of streetwear companies, to the uber cool on-line players like Neighborhoodies and Threadless. Interestingly the shorts in this photo would cost >$5 to make. There is significant margin in the product. Such high margins often begets competitive entry into the market place.

The arrogance of said surf brands has invented an opportunity for a nimble entrepreneur to steal part of this market. And the way to do it is exactly the way Threadless have. Go online and build a community to design the uber cool boardshorts / shorts and sell them globally at a fair price. In fact, surf wear is so clichéd and over branded these days that I avoid wearing it. Most of the designs are very rank and have really lost their edge. I only use surf brands for surf equipment. The only reason I bought the pair in the photo is ‘lack of options’.

If anyone knows some one already doing it – let me know
If anyone wants to do it – let me know as well. I think it’s worth ‘investing in’.


iphone apps & mini-preneurs

Got an idea for an iphone app you can’t find?

Great – there’s like a zillion iphone app developers waiting for your business right here, and here and here.


So write the brief for the app you want and can’t find, contact the developers and get it made. Get your itunes account up, choose a cheap ‘low barrier’ price, like a ‘dollar’ or so and sell that puppy. Remember it’s better to sell a $1 iphone app a lot of times than a a $5 or $10 one no times at all.

This micro-entrepreneurs opportunity is as simple as they come. Global distribution with an engaged audience – rare indeed. A classic ‘trend hijack’.

Go now – make it, sell it.


Top 10 reasons for outsourcing digital work

Here’s startup blogs top 10 reasons for outsourcing digital work offshore. Which we do for some work at rentoid with great success. I’m hoping the naysayers, will see by the end of this post as to why it is ethical as well.

  1. It’s an efficient resource allocation
  2. It increases the wealth of the service provider (the person overseas)
  3. It increases the wealth of the offshore country
  4. it facilitates cross cultural interchange and understanding
  5. Makes it possible for ‘non techies’ to start a ‘tech based’ business
  6. Can be the difference which makes a startup idea financially viable
  7. It stimulates greater innovation in the tech sector by creating a greater intellectual resource pool
  8. It invents ‘time’ so people can bootstrap a business while continuing other employment
  9. The outsourced work is not dangerous – we are not sending kids down a mine or employing child labour.
  10. Add your reason in the comments!

Get out there and outsource, make conections, make stuff happen and make new global friends to boot!

How to ‘Pitch’ workshop

Below is an elevator pitch ‘workshop’ I gave for the ‘Agents of change‘ entrepreneurs club of  Melbourne University. The video below is the one of 6 x 10 minute videos. The first (the one below) includes an ‘example’ pitch I did for rentoid – then has ‘alot’ of questions and answers. The last of the videos, workshop 6 – all of which are here has some ideas on great pitcing practice.

It’s kind of long, but the largely due to the discussion afterwards!


The Best Social Networking tools

We often wonder which are the best social networking tools to promote our business. In many ways it’s all and none.

There’s no shortage from which we can shoose from a business perspective: My space, Facebook, Bebo, Youtube, Blogging, Twitter, Live streaming TV, Ranking sites like Technorati, delicious and Stumbleupon, Virtual world spaces like second life.

The list is endless. In fact wikipedia lists the most notable (well over 100) here.

The best ones to engage and use aren’t those necessarily with the most people, the most features or the most anything. The best ones to use are those which you use properly. The way in which they were intended. There’s no point having your brand or startup on any of them – unless you engage the crowd in the conversation ‘they want to have”.

What does this mean?

It means be there often – turn up, and talk.

It means listen to them – it’s their place not ours.

It means share the information people want to have shared in ‘that’ forum.

It means, give first to them, and expect nothing back.

It means learn from their wisdom.

It means show your personaility and have an opinion.

It means create value to them, whatever value means in that forum.

It means be part of a dialogue, not a monologue.

In real terms all these tools are, is a personification of yourself, startup or brand. Don’t engage in behavior you wouldn’t engage in while in the real world. We mustn’t act like an Amway Sales Agents on line. If it’s bad form in the real world, it’s bad form in the on-line world.

If we just put our brand on all of these spaces and don’t get involved – it’s a waste of time for all parties involved. We are much better off embracing one or two forums and using them often and consistently. Going there, isn’t the same as being there. They are not shortcuts to brand fame. In fact, they take longer, but can be of greater value.

Given that the web is a conversation – we must embrace it and have manners. If we’re patient it’s worth the effort.

UGC & Crowd Sourcing – Beware the Homer mobile

There is plenty of buzz around UGC (User Generated Content), Crowd Sourcing and Mass Customization at the moment. And the truth is I am a sucker for it. I embrace it, love it and really believe it is an economic revolution. In fact many of the new features we’ve implemented on rentoid have been at the suggestions of our members…. but there is a downside.

We need to be aware that not every consumer knows what they are talking about, and not every idea we get from the crowd happens to be a good one. The crowd can get it wrong occasionally. Yep – there are people out there with ideas that just might send you broke if implemented.

If we are building a forum for people to create & share their own stuff on like Youtube or Etsy – that’s when it’s a cool idea to let the crowd take over. That’s when it’s cool to build the forum and get the hell out of the way. But when it comes to them designing and creating products for others – we need to keep our heads. In fact if there is one piece of advice startup blog can give is know which business you are in:

A) Are you building a forum for them to connect on?


B) Are you building a product for them – with their input?

If you are doing the latter – that’s when you need to be wary of the Homer mobile.

Instead, what we need to do when we want the crowds input is look to our “lead user group”. The lead user group is our base of fans who are knowledgeable, expert, style leaders or simply influential. These are the people we need to listen to when UGC is part of the mix, but not the whole story.


On first thoughts we’d assume that green grocers and web developers are in an entirely different business. But upon closer expection there are quite a few similarities. Similarities which can’t be ignored.

First of all – it needs to easy to find what your after. If it’s not obvious, if we can’t see it  we’ll assume it isn’t there.

Secondly – we need things clearly categorised.we need to be able to sort the apples from the oranges. So it makes sense to have them in different sections. Not all bundled up in the one place in a rainbow of colors.

But most important of all things need to be fresh. They need to know it and we need to show it. There is nothing worse than a static website – not only do we want, but we ‘expect’ frequent change.

Clue number 1 – the refresh button.
Clue number 2 – it’s software – it’s made to be malleable.

People want to see what ‘we’ and ‘they’ the members / users are up to. What members are doing, what’s changed, that it’s live, that the site represents what’s happening in the physcial world. This matters for every website, that is any business which happens to have a website. Not just businesses with the web as it’s primary forum.  Youtube does it with it’s most viewed by the day, feature videos and promoted videos. Flickr shows a different photo everytime we click in it. Most cool sites let us register for updates or run a regularly updated blog. It isn’t hard – just important.

Start blog says – change things up a little a lot