The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Coffee talk: Adrian Cockcroft, technology fellow at Battery Ventures — November 15, 2015

Coffee talk: Adrian Cockcroft, technology fellow at Battery Ventures

Adrian Cockcroft has enjoyed a long career working at the leading edge of technology, having helped Sun Microsystems, eBay, and Netflix build and scale their systems. When he’s not serving as a Technology Fellow at Battery Ventures, he writes and speaks extensively about a range of subjects, including his fascination with what comes next. We talked with Adrian about keeping up with technology trends, what makes something intuitive, and which innovations that have surprised him during the last decade.

How did you get to where you are today?

I started out wanting to know how everything worked and got a Physics degree in London. After, I wrote software for a living until I joined Sun Microsystems and spent my time there explaining how Suns worked to customers. I moved to the USA and wrote a few books in the 1990’s including Sun Performance and Tuning. I spent time at eBay learning about large scale web services and moved to Netflix as they launched streaming in 2007. In 2010, I became the cloud architect for Netflix and started explaining cloud-native architecture to everyone else. In 2014, I moved to Battery Ventures to help find interesting companies to invest in and help our portfolio companies scale.

You’re speaking about complex technology at this year’s upcoming YOW! Conference in Australia. What about the event are you most looking forward to?

I attended YOW! 2013 and found that unlike most conferences, the speakers at YOW! Conference travel as a group from Melbourne to Brisbane to Sydney and really get to know each other.
brisbaneThere is also an opportunity to evolve and tune the content, as well as its presentation. I’m really looking forward to hearing new things and making new friends.

Tell us: how do you define something as ‘complicated’?

Complicated things have lots of moving parts and relationships between them, which are initially confusing to try and understand.

In contrast, what makes technology intuitive?

When we have a mental model for how something should work it becomes intuitive, we can manipulate it and the behaviors become more predictable.

How are complicated and intuitive related, if at all? Is there a specific use case you often share to explain the relationship between the two?

Things that start off looking complicated can be learned over time by individuals and groups of people so that they eventually become intuitive. For example, driving a car is very complicated, not only controlling the vehicle, but navigating roads and around other drivers, but it has become intuitive to many people.

You’ve done some incredible work at well-known companies during your career. What, if any, innovations have surprised you?

When Apple released the initial iPhone, it wasn’t a surprise, but the quality of the user interface experience was so deeply intuitive that it surprised everyone.

I saw a two year old using one of the first iPhones, and that was the inspiration for a hack-day project I did at Netflix to create a Netflix for Kids on iPad demo.

This helped the real Netflix for Kids product get started.

What’s the most challenging part about keeping up with your rapidly changing industry?

I’m constantly exposed to new people and ideas, so the challenging part is to figure out which ideas are going to take off, and which will fade away.

What other industry events, courses, and reading do you enjoy?

YOW! Connected, a conference for developers, by developers

I focus on two kinds of events: developer and DevOps oriented conferences that discuss and communicate the state of the art, like the GOTO conference series, DevOps Days, Monitorama and Gluecon; and management oriented events like CIO summits where my focus is on how to setup an organization to be innovative.

To keep up with the latest news, I use Twitter and listen to podcast interviews with interesting people e.g. SE Radio, The Cloudcast dot Net, The New Stack.

Where can we find you online?

Find me on Twitter @adrianco.

Last, how do you like your coffee?

I love cappuccino.

YOW Connected! is a conference for developers, by developers. Learn more about Adrian’s upcoming panel and register for this year’s event here.

Featured event: counting down to YOW! 2014 Conference in Australia — November 17, 2014

Featured event: counting down to YOW! 2014 Conference in Australia

This is a promoted post from our friends and Kickstarter backers at YOW! Conference.

News & updates 3

Melbourne 4-5 December | Brisbane 8-9 December | Sydney 11-12 December

Over 2,000 tech professionals will learn from the best and are expected to attend YOW! 2014 Conference which operates across three cities, with 42+ Speakers39 Talks and 24 Workshops.

There are over 42+ national and international software authors, thought leaders and world experts presenting this year about the latest practices, technologies and methods in software development and delivery. Many speakers have not presented in Australia before so this is a great opportunity to learn from them while they are in town! You can download the list of speakers here.

Topics covered in 2014 include the latest in Agile & Lean, Microservices, Architecture & Design, Functional Programming, Big Data & Analytics, Web & UX, DevOps, Performance & Security, Mobile, and Languages.

Check out the 10 Reasons why you should attend YOW! 2014 Conference.

So your mind is made up. You’ve seen the line-up and the location. You will be attending YOW! 2014 Confence in December. Now a common challenge… how to convince your boss to let you go? You’ll find some information that will help you and your boss make an informed decision here

News & Updates 1

To make the most of the opportunity, YOW! also offers smaller workshops with some of the visiting experts:

These workshops are a great way to learn specific skills, network and brainstorm with international field experts, local thought leaders and other talented developers about the latest practices, technologies and methods. Don’t miss out as places are limited.

Learn more about the workshops in Melbourne on 2-3 December or  Sydney on 9-10 December.

16 revealing signs you’re going to fail — January 19, 2014

16 revealing signs you’re going to fail

This is a sponsored post from our friends at Key Person of Influence.

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Daniel Priestley has interviewed over 2500 entrepreneurs over the last three years about their business ambitions. As he listened, he sometimes had a sinking feeling that he already knew the business was off track and would probably fail.

Here’s the top 16 things that gave him that feeling:

1. You’re only doing it for the money

The business idea is based on some trend you’ve noticed that is making lot’s of money right now. It’s been written up as a big thing, you’ve noticed it and now you’re after it. This is almost like trying to catch a bus that you can see traveling in the right direction… it’s too late. The people who make money from industries that are making money are the ones who got into the industry before it was making money (I hope that made sense).

2. You sell a low cost product and you’re not funded

As soon as someone tells me that their main products sell for $10-$800, I already know the business will be in a “J-curve” and unless the entrepreneur is funded they are unlikely to make it out the other side. The business will often show promising signs in the beginning with people saying they like the product and a few even buying. Later the realization sets in that the $30k a year PA you want to hire requires you to make 57 sales per month just to cover their wage.

3. You’ve never worked in the industry as a fully paid employee

One of the surefire ways to make a successful business is to have worked in an almost identical business to the one you want to start. In addition to all the thing’s you learn, you also spot the key aspects that need to be improved and you develop an understanding of the suppliers and contacts you’ll need. I’ve often said to people who are considering starting a business to go and get a job for 90 days in a similar business (even a menial job); It improves the odds out of sight.

4. You expect people to buy your product

Google relies on sales teams, so does BMW, so does, Rolex and so will your business. Occasionally someone might buy from you, most of the time you will need to go out and make a sale (especially in the beginning). Additionally, if you can’t or won’t go out and sell your product it’s unlikely you will be able to attract, train or retain a salesperson who will do it for you. For your business to work, you will need to go out and do face to face or telephone selling… and it will probably be that way for a while.

5. You’re risk averse

Every business requires you to take risks. A lot of entrepreneurs go backwards before they go forwards. If the idea of putting an untested advertisement on your credit card in order to see what happens, makes you feel uneasy, starting a business is probably not for you.

6. You’re delusional

If your business revolves around “Improving upon what Facebook is doing wrong” or “Taking Google to the next level” or “Being the next Richard Branson” – there’s a very good chance you won’t. More to the point, there’s a very good chance that you won’t be taken seriously. Before you give me the Colonel Saunders Story or the Disney Story, try starting small and getting one thing right, like Facebook, Google and Branson did.

7. You’re bland, boring, same and predictable

If you’re unique selling proposition is based on being slightly better, faster, cheaper or friendlier it probably won’t be enough to make an impact. If you get the feeling that your business is boring, you need to figure out how to make it interesting.

8. You’re working alone

My belief is that the minimum team is two people if you’re pre-revenue and three if you’re post-revenue. Then, ASAP you should get to 4-12 people with $160k+ per person. Business is a team sport and being a solo-preneur is a recipe for unnecessary struggle.

9. You’re not crunching your numbers over and over and over again

Business owners that do well constantly crunch their numbers in their spare time. They construct spreadsheets that allow them to play with price points, costs and margins. When asked, they have a good grip on their actuals and their projections. Those who struggle often can’t tell you things like their break-even point, their gross margin or their cost per lead.

10. You aren’t willing to front your brand

If you say “I don’t want to be known as the face of this business” for any reason, it’s probably not going to take off. Not unless you have a lot of money behind the business. When a new business enters the market, people want to know who’s behind it. If you won’t front your business, you’ll be beaten by the person who will.

11. You can’t generate 1000s of hot leads

Getting one customer is great at first but in reality if the business has a future you’ll need to get 100s of clients. To get 100 clients you’ll need about 300 appointments from about 1000 warm leads. It’s important to know how you’re going to get the leads flowing and keep them flowing.

12. People aren’t clear about what you do and why it’s for them

“Every great business begins as a great pitch” was what Mike Harris told me. He’s built three multi-billion dollar brands, so he should know. If you can’t pitch your business, it’s like having a suitcase full of cash but you can’t open the case; no one know’s or cares what’s inside.

13. People can’t learn about you

These days people learn about you before they buy. They want to know your philosophy, your methods, your story, your case-studies and your ideas for the future. If they can’t learn these things they will go elsewhere. For the learning to happen, people need articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, reports or even a book that you’ve written.

14. You are the product

If this business is all about you, then it’s hard to scale and eventually you will get burned out.

15. People don’t know you exist

My belief is “you are who Google says you are” so at a very basic level people who are searching for you should get consistent, accurate and credible information about you. Beyond that, you must reach out to people and let them know you are there. Ads, cold calls, PR, events, etc. are all part of a healthy business strategy for getting known; spend the money or go broke waiting for the phone to ring.

16. You’re trying to do too many things

Your business can probably get one to three things right over the course of the next five years. Google for all of its hundreds of experiments over 15 years gets very few to become successful money makers – search advertising still represents 96% of its income. If you aren’t focused on one key thing, you’ll probably be average at quite a few things; which is dangerous. Look at the success of Twitter who focussed on a fairly minute and featureless broadcasting tool but dominated that little segment; they are now worth 4x the value of the Royal Mail (UK).

The purpose of this blog is not to be negative, it’s to point out some clear issues that I’ve seen after interviewing thousands of entrepreneurs. I hope that you’re able to look at these 16 potential issues and avoid them before they cause real strife.

About our contributor // Daniel Priestley is a successful entrepreneur, event producer and author of ‘Become a Key Person of Influence’:
www.keypersonofinfluence.com.au.

Want to learn more?

KPI are running their accredited 8-hour Brand Accelerator event in February 2014 with some of Australia’s most well respected entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

  • Melbourne | 7th February
  • Sydney | 13th February
  • Brisbane | 28th February

As one of their event partners, KPI has offered readers a 40% discount on the retail ticket price, with sale ticket prices starting from $39 for general admission.

Book your ticket for the KPI 8 hour Brand Accelerator | Business Strategy Day.

Image credit: Magoz.is

Brisbane Technology Park’s new coworking Hub — December 10, 2013

Brisbane Technology Park’s new coworking Hub

This is a sponsored post by our friends at Brisbane Technology Park.

btp

Are you based in Brisbane, Queensland and looking for a new space for your startup or growing company? Check out the options at the BTP Hub coworking space.

When Brisbane Technology Park (BTP) Services first took over the 25 year old conference center in 2011 the strategy was to demolish the existing layout, open up the space and let the light in. Two years on, many of the occupants that believed in the new look by and work space created by BTP Services, are still there and growing in the building. The facility is soon to undergo the last stage of its internal refurbishment with new meeting and training rooms currently going through the final design process.

The desire for smaller, self-sufficient offices hasn’t stopped with the growing demand for flexible business accommodation. The space has been particularly popular with startups in a growth phase or those larger groups requiring project space. With the BTP Conference Centre full, BTP Services had a business conundrum; where else could the same cost effective accommodation solution be offered?

When a successful national firm, Worldsmart, needed to relocate their business, it became apparent that their tenancy could be the perfect space to set up a hub of commercial activity and become home to a number of growing companies. Within a six week period the BTP Hub was born!

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The BTP Hub; a facility which provides dedicated suites for small businesses, flexible hot desk infrastructure for traveling professionals and individual offices for independent workers is the first of its kind for suburban or fringe Brisbane. BTP Services is pleased to announce that already several suites have been leased to international telecommunications provider Tru Phone, Rimfire Constructions and Steffensen IT.

It is now a case of watch this space with a number of options still available for businesses considering relocation. Coworking space is available on a long-term and casual basis from $500 per month for full time use.

Contact enquiries@btpinfo.com.au for more or visit here to see what’s available. 

Interview: Brisbane local, entrepreneur Chris Kettle of Hungry Hero — December 3, 2013

Interview: Brisbane local, entrepreneur Chris Kettle of Hungry Hero

chris

Sarina Quinlan from The Fetch Brisbane recently caught up with Chris Kettle in the UK, where he is about to launch Hungry Hero to the masses.

What do you think of the Brisbane startup scene? 

There are great ideas in Brisbane and around Australia, but what I’ve seen is that people are too scared to try to get the money and then they’re really poor at presenting.

Get on YouTube, check out all the Disrupt, TechCrunch ones, to watch how they present and you can get a really nice pitch out of that. Everything you want is online. Go and get it.

Seth Godin’s Startup School is the best podcast on the planet. It’s free, there’s about 17 episodes and if you aren’t prepared to listen to that, then shut your startup down.

What is your advice for entrepreneurs – especially in Brisbane? 

I’m a big believer in not starting until you’ve got the funding to do it. I started my first business with my credit card, and don’t necessarily recommend that – what’s nice is that you can get your minimum viable product out cheaper than ever.

How did you secure investment? 

I already had an existing business, which has always brought decent cash flow, but for Hungry Hero I wanted to raise funds again to do it properly. Hungry Hero’s a transactional model, which gets users to pay and so again we looked at high network individuals and that’s what we looked for in Brisbane. They’re not going to find you. So I got out there, used my contacts and found an investor and we were able match their funds with Commercialisation Australia. For proof of concept, it’s fifty-fifty funding. Their mandate is to keep jobs in the country. That means if you’re looking at outsourcing to India, like we were in the early days, then they help you to do it in-house. It’s a fantastic program to get funds – although you have to get funds first to be able to match it.

What makes Hungry Hero different? 

There’s lots of similar things with discounts and offers, but what we’ve done is allowed the venue to have complete control. So instead of giving everyone a $10 lunch, they can use it as a filter. Venues have full control to add it to only customers that have been there before, or within a one kilometer radius. It’s sort of like giving the power to the venues to contact customers who are looking for somewhere to go.

How many people are using the app? 

We’ve been into six figures for a while now and if we can get to a million before Christmas in Australia would blast our goal for this year. We’ve seen downloads across the world too. We have a nice little campaign feature on the app that in any city which they download it, they can tweet “Bring HungryHero to our city”, we’ve had people from Vancouver to Singapore, across Europe and Asia tweeting out to get HungryHero in their country. Now we have our version one model working in Australia, next, is how to scale this around the world without having to be there.

What motivated you to develop Hungry Hero? 

The app was born out of the debacle of the group buying space. There was a lot of wrestling to run deals on living, social and Groupon. Businesses are giving up to $50 commission on these offers and it was costing them more than it was making them. There was a lot of false promises there, and it was a case of “how can we make a platform which allowed thousands of restaurants to add deals at any one time, and the restaurant is in full control.” That’s how the idea was born.

How does it work for customers? 

There are a few different types of business models. If it’s and exclusive offer, a customer can simply pay a dollar to secure it. We’re just about to bring out Gold Memberships, which means you can buy a monthly membership that allows to access unlimited offers and exclusive offers. Gold membership will be five dollars a month. We think customers prefer to pay their memberships monthly. It will pay for itself instantly with a 2-for-1 lunch, or a free bottle of wine with dinner.

How many venues can be accessed from the app? 

We have almost 600 venues across six major cities. Most of them are restaurants, but there are also entertainment venues, comedy theaters; it’s all about eating and drinking and going out.

What’s happening now? 

We’re very excited because we’ve just been one of the featured apps for Samsung for the new  Samsung Wallet. When you make a booking or secure a deal, you can add it into your Wallet  so that when you show up at the restaurant you just show them your phone. People want to have all these tickets and coupons easily accessible, and so that will be rolling out to eight million units in Australia.

Tell us more about the Samsung Wallet connection. 

We’re one of the official launch partners. So it’s a link in Samsung wallet, which gives us exposure. There’s some really great opportunities working with Samsung and Apple, and I’d recommend any entrepreneur to be looking for them. That’s why I think we can get to a million users by Christmas. With these opportunities, we’re now looking at overseas markets and taking Hungry Hero to the UK and US.

Why have you decided to visit Germany, UK and the US? 

Even though I’m a big believer that you can run your global business from Brisbane, there’s nothing like having your foot on the ground and seeing how the culture works. Every area is different, with location based deals. In Brisbane, when it’s wet, people don’t go out. Whereas in London when it’s wet, people don’t have a choice. So there’s different cultures and opportunities. So I’m going to go out there, put the feelers out, and see if we can build on the relationships we’ve got already.

About our contributor // Sarina Quinlan is a marketing consultant and the curator of The Fetch in Brisbane. Follow her on Twitter via @digitalsarina.

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