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’.



One of our jobs in business is this:

“Make it as easy as possible for people to give us their money”

It’s already hard enough to convince people to buy our product or service, so why some businesses minimize payment options is beyond me.


photo by Mike Monteiro

Cash only, just doesn’t cut it these days. Regardless if we are on line, business to business or in retail, minimizing the payment options has this simple repercussion: It minimizes revenue.

Live example is a café in Melbourne called ‘Journal’. I had a company breakfast there and they wouldn’t accept my credit card. They even had the audacity to say ‘Who doesn’t carry cash on them?’ Answer: plenty of people. That’s fine. I’m never going there again and they missed out on around $100 this week.

Startups ought make it easy to collect revenue.

Steve – founder

Prices vs Relationship

A while ago Philip Welnman spoke at the Hive. (Australian Entrepreneurial forum) One thing he said struck me, and I think it’s true

“Without relationships we can’t win. We never lose business over price, it’s always the relationship, and price is the fall guy.

Sure, there’s probably some exceptions, like commodity trading. But who wants to trade commodities anyway?

Steve –

Love & brands

In order to be in love we need to feel loved. Often we mistake love for other intense emotions such as lust, obsession and even fear.

So if we were to translate this to business parlance it might read like this:

If we want people to love our brand or company, we simply have to make our audience ‘feel loved’.

So then the next questions we should be asking are:

–          Will they love this product?

–          Will they love our value equation?

–          Will they love our guarantee?

–          Will they love our designs?

–          Will love our ‘contact us’ policy or phone staff?

In fact, let’s just start every audience related question with the words ‘Will they love….”

If we do this and focus on being more than good, more than liked and only accept moving towards stuff people will love. Then one day, they may just love our brand.

Cash flow vs Profit

Cashflow positive means: More ‘actual’ cash money is coming in than is going out. It does not mean revenue exceeds expenditure. It means physical cash or bank desposts – not promises to pay.

So in order to break it down for the startup crew out there, here it is in simple language we can all understand, whether we are techies, designers, craftspeople or retailers.

Cash vs Profit:

It’s impossible to go broke while your business is cash flow positive.

It’s possible to broke while your business is making a profit.

This is why cashflow is King.

It’s also possible to be making a legal loss, while we are dripping in cash. So startups out there only need to focus on one thing. Are we collecting more cash than we are spending?. Do this, and it’s impossible to go out of business.

Qantas gets it wrong with Effiency

These 3 photos where taken at Melbourne airport on a Friday night.

This is of a quick check (self check in terminal)of which there are 22.

This is of the the bag check in staff of which there were 3 working. (They have spaces for 22 employees)

And the this photo is of the ensuing crowd and chaos.

(the crowd goes around the corner it’s at least 100 deep)

I asked the staff member if she’d like some help tonight – she seemed flustered with how busy she was. She said “of course, but it’s ‘cheaper’ this way”. Then I asked if she thought “quick check” was quicker. She said “definitely not”.

So here’s the thing – Qantas make money out of the quick check. The save on overheads. On the balance sheet it makes sense. But what is the ‘real cost’ of doing it?

What it does is, is actually diminish what they actually provide at a differentiated level. It reduces their product from “service” to “travel”. They further commodify themselves against their low cost airline competitors. They make us ask why we are actually flying qantas and paying a premium…

– Is it the food service? – Not likely, given the food is most often a gourmet cookie & juice.

– Is it the service in the air? – Not likely, given their staff are less polite than budget airlines.

– Is it the airplanes? – Not likely, given all domestic players use the exact same aircraft.

– Is the the baggage allowance? – Not likely, given the allownaces are the same 20kg’s to tohers.

– Is it the terminal ambience? – Not likey, given it’s shared with jetstar.

– Is it their safety record? – Not likey given recent scares & that no major aircraft has ever crashed in Australia.

– Is it the inflight entertainment? – Maybe, but it’s a stetch these days given we all have mobile entertainment devices in our pocket.

– Is it the Frequent Flyer points?  Maybe, but it’s marginal at best.

– Is it the Qantas Club? yes – if you are preapred to pay the $775 per annum.

And it can’t be their ground service, given the example above on a Friday night.

Qantas need to ask themselves some hard questions about what they actually offer – as a long time loyal customer, it’s waining quickly. Their point of difference is in a massive state of decline.

Here’s what Qantas ought do if they want to avoid further decline:

  1. Offer Hot meals & drinks every flight. Not just at dinner time. If we are travelling we didn’t have time for dinner or lunch, regardless of when our flight was. We are just as hungry on 7pm flights as we are on 6pm flights. It’s not the food which costs the airline, it’s serving it up. So, if you are going to serve it. Make it worth the effort.
  2. Make the ground experience comfortable and convenient. A few more staff members on the cehckout is a nice start.
  3. Provide free wifi to anyone with a boarding pass.
  4. Have a ‘no tricks’ Frequent Flyer program where any seat on any flight is available, and not for ‘extra points’ – we’ve already paid a premium for our tickets – remember Mr Qantas?
  5. Have separate terminals for your Budget Airline (Jetstar) and your Premium Airline (Qantas).
  6. Sing out loud in your advertising about how different the Qantas experience is. Make us feel special.
  7. Charge the price needed to make it profitable. You’ll be surpirsed how many of us will be preapred to pay for it.

It’s about time Qantas started to focus on it’s customers and forgot about it’s competitors. Eventually we all morph into what we focus.

I’m sure Qantas will tell us this isn’t possible – but tell that to the person who pays twice the price for a Mac book pro versus a Toshiba with the same configurations.

Startups out there: “Beat your competitors – don’t be them!”

Trick Pricing

We are smart people.

We don’t get duped very often.

We know a scam when you see when.

We’re even smart enough to know that $9.95 is really $10.00

So why would we treat our customers in such a condescending manner. Do we really think that any of our customers won’t be smart enough to know this?

Now that we have answered this question let’s ask ourselves why you would ever engage in such trick pricing for our customers.

At last, we’re entering the age of ‘authentic capitalism’, and $0.99 cents isn’t fooling anyone. In fact, you’re quite possibly embarrassing yourself on a commercial level and damaging your brand or start up. The threshold price point is the biggest hoax in consumer marketing. My suggestion, is to have honest pricing.  Charge to the dollar. Make it simple and gain respect simultaneously. Our customers won’t mind, really.

Who wants a pocket full of change anyway?