The other day I was in the airport where a new startup was sampling itself. It’s an app to jump the coffee queue. I’m always stoked to see people having a go at a new business and got them to give me their pitch. It’s always good for entrepreneurs to practice unprepared. Then I realised I got a coffee but didn’t use their service. And here’s why:
Part of what I’m buying is the wait.
Yep, some of the people getting their morning java actually enjoy the wait. The wait is what is being sold. Sometimes it’s the conversation with the Barrista, and sometimes it’s the walk to the cafe. I guess we can throw the coffee on that list too.
This is why you’ve seen a hundred other apps for people to jump coffee queue and they never quite work. I’m also wondering what happens if the app is successful? Wont all those who used it end up ‘in a queue again’ via a digital deli ticketing system? The problem probably isn’t the arrival time, but the output bottleneck in peak demand times.
It;s another reminder that an effective business model isn’t just about demand – it’s very often about why we buy, and the model and the friction… and how money can be made through the transaction process, not just with the transaction itself. As for the entrepreneurs, they did the right thing by having a crack. They could prove me wrong and I hope they do. Their worse case scenario is that they learn plenty and pivot closer to the success they deserve.
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Never, ever tell anyone your startup is an app. It’s a startup that does X, Y or Z.
Saying your startup is an app, is a bit like telling people your startup uses electricity. The app side of what you do is making the infrastructure the hero, not the problem you solve.
My latest startup is all about Surfing. #SneakySurf – you might have seen me tweet about it. It’s still in private beta, and it is, lets say – ‘Smartphone compatible’ but it is much more than an app. I never sell it as such. It is a surfing company.
The world doesn’t need another app, but it certainly needs many more businesses. Make sure you don’t confuse what you really do, with the infrastructure you happen to employ.
You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.
No one likes it when people are pushy… so the mere concept of a push notification as a name seems kinda wrong to me. The thing I’d really like when it comes to an notifications from an app is this: A gift of understanding. Unexpected, surprising, delightful from someone you like, trust and maybe even love. Information which is completely relevant and delivered just at the moment I need it.
The fact that push notifications are mostly ‘all or nothing’, pushes most of us into the nothing option. It also leaves a gaping void in the ability to make real connections with people using software together (the makers and the users, yes we use software together). The question of; “Do you want to receive push notifications?” can only ever be answered honestly with a “Well , it depends what it is.”
If your software business can create a one size fits one push notice with relevance, then you’ll be a company which moves beyond being pushy, to one which provides gifts.
You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.
I have my apps set up so that they will automatically update whenever I am connected to wifi. It’s pretty handy to have the latest version of something, assuming of course they make it better than the previous version.
But what I’ve noticed recently, or more aptly haven’t noticed, is that apps have a habit of changing their logo, or colour scheme. Which most often means I can’t find it, and all of a sudden I have the chance to drop the habit of using their service, or even worse finding a replacement. It’s worth remembering that the shape and the colour of an app’s logo is the cognitive shortcut we look for when we need to use it. And more often than not a logo or colour change is really only serving the people who make it and not those who actually use it. Unlike aribnb (who recently changed their logo) get front page stories when someone in their office sneezes, most app developers and curators are not so fortunate.
Just because we become bored with something we see a zillion times a day, it doesn’t mean our customers want to relearn what to look for.
I’ve been using a certain weather app on my phone for some time. It is called Pocket Weather AU – Lite. It is the free version. A few times when I have clicked in to check the weather, it has given me this pop up screen below:
This time in good faith, I thought I’d click through and see what the offer was. To my disappointment, it was a simple ‘buy our paid version‘ of the app. No benefit, no exclusivity, nothing had been unlocked, no reason, no thanks for using. Just their way of asking me to upgrade. Now if you ask me there cannot be a more insulting way to incentivise a customer to upgrade. Tell them they are a cheapskate, pretend to offer something better, and then give them nothing for using the service for a few years.
Here’s what I did. I deleted their app – got another equally good free weather app, and wrote this blog entry about what I think might not be the best way to engage an audience your doing business with. Some things these guys might want to consider:
- If you don’t want your app to be free, then make it a paid version.
- Insulting people is not a very effective way to get them to upgrade financially to a software or web service.
- Making promises of exclusivity and non existent benefits is generally not a good idea.
- Understand the economics of excess supply. There are a zillion other free weather apps and my cost of moving to another service is close to zero.
- But mostly respect people, and maybe make them some kind of offer or reward for loyalty if employing a fermium business model.
I prefer to be positive in life, and have not even enjoyed writing this entry. Maybe that’s the over riding lesson. Don’t lie, treat people with respect and positivity and they just might give you more money.
There has been a deluge of cool startups happening in our local community lately. So I thought I’d feature a few of them here to spread the love, as well as give my honest views on their potential.
Wealie is a digital loyalty card which can be used in and by multiple retailers. It’s an interesting space that is starting to emerge as we move closer and closer to the digital wallet. Which Bill Gates first spoke about in his book from 1995 – the Road Ahead. I really think that NFC (Near Field Communication) will open up a huge amount of opportunity in the app space. Anything that happens on a card or paper in our wallets, will be digitized. Early movers like Wealie, will have a big advantage as they learn from their mistakes before everyone converts to their digital wallet.
I’m totally in love with Cheatspeak. As far as I can tell it is a foreign language phrase book Wiki. So, so cool. Being someone who speaks a foreign language or two, it’s premise is very solid – Living language – that represents the spoken word, rather than a text book. The idea of creating a book or language guide with the ‘simplest way to say it’ is so ‘user focused’ it is revolutionary. I’m sick of have to learn 7 ways to say one thing in a foreign language – if the goal is speaking it, then cheat speak is on the money. It has smart exit options too.
Put simply Pygg is way to send and receive money through twitter – without any fees. Micro payments for a micro blog. Another smart startup which seems to flow nicely into NFC and the digital wallet. Another thing which just adds a level of goodness to it, is the fact that it is money in ‘public’. Good deeds and rewards are on display. I reckon this could really add a layer of fun to what Mick and the team are up to.
Started by all round good guy Mike Boyd – Cupstart is another ‘money remover’, in the sense that we don’t need actual dollars in our pockets to use it. Cupstart is a platform used to order & pay for coffee online at your favourite cafe, skip the queue and pick up your coffee on arrival. Which could move into all sorts of payment system / retail options. A web enabled retail POS system anyone? I like the idea of starting in cafes a lot, because the frequency of usage (buying coffee) moves the startup up the learning curve much quicker. (as a side note Mike is looking for a ‘tech’ partner based in Australia….)
So the virtual assistant is well known and successful on-line. Get ready for the physical version. TaskWant is a geo-locating app to help you find people to do stuff for you. You can either be a task provider or doer. It’s a great way to take advantage of idle labour and get cashie jobs. I love it. I reckon this could blow McDonalds out of the water for teenagers and be a much better option – which is just one of the potential strong points. Not to mention Charlie the Squirrel.
Another cool thing is that everyone of these is from people in our local startup community in Australia. The world is changing, the only question remaining is whether you want to be a change maker or change taker.
Get out there and launch!
The world moves fast. When we we’re unconnected the speed of change went unnoticed. Now that we all have digital footprints, we can track all that happens. This amazing and statistically rich infographic is solid reminder of the world we live in. It’s also very cool that most of these business are startups that aren’t even teenagers yet. I’ve pulled out the numbers and got the pic below.
60 seconds on the web:
- 12,000+ new ads posted on Craigslist
- 370,000+ minutes of voice calls on Skype
- 98,000+ tweets
- 320+ new twitter accounts
- 100+ new Linkedin accounts
- 6,600+ photos uploaded to Flickr
- 50+ wordpress CMS downloads & 125+ plugins
- 695,000 facebook status updates, 80,000 wall posts and 510,040 comments
- 1,700 firefox downloads
- 694,445 google searches
- 168 million emails sent (of which 92% is spam)
- 60+ new blogs & 1500+ new blog posts
- 70+ new domains are registered
- 600+ new Youtube videos are uploaded. 25+ hours in duration
- 150+ questions are asked in Question forums
- 13,000+ iPhone apps are downloaded
- 20,000 new posts on Tumblr.
- I new definition added to Urban Dictionary
- 1,600+ reads on Scribd.
And here is what it looks like: