Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Digital is either Global or Hyperlocal

View from an apartment

(This is an excerpt from an essay for the Community Media Expert Meeting's whitelabel)

Filtering is not a new phenomenon as news agencies have done this since the beginning of media. The difference is that now “we all can be small news agencies” and curate the most intersting content we find. Content is global and there is infinite amount of it, enabling easy cross-referencing and such.

This development requires media to look at their operations as global. National level is diminishing and readers are increasingly gaining influences from the global community through the networked societies. This will obviously be a long transition, but when national borders used to regulate the flow of cultural phenomenoms, today’s flow of information has no borders. Therefore cultures are most likely going to go global, and media will as well as an important mediator of it.

However, as the media will go global beyond national borders, it is fragmenting into niches. As the post modern society tends to categories everything in order to be functional, so will the cultural interests be categoriest. For example teenagers will listen a certain kind of music of their niche, not just from the national level, but from the certain niche on the global level. The media that will be able to focus on these niches will gain most viewerships from the fans. More than from the general focused media, because of the stronger community ties, feeling of belonging and enjoyment through sharing of similar ideas.

Beside cultural, this feeling of belonging on communities can be seen in the idea of hyperlocal. Media that focuses on cities, on the neighbourhoods or on the certain streets, will most likely gain interest of the locals regardles of their cultural interest. Locals are a part a community that is not bound by culture, but by physical location. News of what happens on your street is always interesting.

So, media organisations will face options to choose global niches, where viewers are bound by cultural interests, or hyperlocal communities, where viewers are bound by interest of their physical location. Communities, cultural or physical, are the most important aspect as no viewer will be interested of information on which they cannot relate to.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Eric Ries & The Greatest Book Launch Ever?

Eric Ries is going to have a busy one next week as he launches his book, The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation To Create Radically Successful Businesses. The book is brilliant I believe (haven't read it yet), not just for the content is contains, but also for the incredibly innovative way it has been launched. Eris is giving away great stuff to people who buy the book, stuff that the people that are likely to read it will really like. If that works, it will hit the Amazon and other best seller lists and this will mean it will be bought by people who wouldn’t normally know about it.

Because of the launch promotion bonuses, minimum tier one gets $246 (retail) worth of bonuses for a $14.50 book. And it piles up the more you order. Pretty nice. This bundle is 100% stuff I think you will really use. No phony discounts. No free trials.

This really is genius in two way. a) The more books you buy, the more valuable the rewards and b) it is restricted to one week to boost the sales to the bestseller list, which if achieved will push the sales even further. Oh, and the time limit is from 12th September through 19th September.

Go Eric! Love your thoughs and would love to see your book go bestseller. Below is a video we shot when Eric Ries visited Helsinki in 2009. Most likely the content of the book is similar to this.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Customer Development is everything thinks Steve Blank


Watch Top Gun. And you understand how it feels to run a startup. I really loved this analogue by Steve Blank during his lecture today.

Think how the fighter pilot operates in the cockpit: OODA loop. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. This concept is basically a strategic level mindset in military operations, and can easily be applied to understand startup leadership. It is a rather complex system of decision making and imagine you have to do all those decision while flying mach 2.1, and you have only split seconds to react. That's how it feels.

Working on business model canvas

The quest for a business model

In a scalable startup (for more on different type of startups here), the founding team is in a search for a repeatable and scalable business model. That is very different from actual execution in a company. The main difference with startups and corporations are that, in the latter one, the executive management already knows the business model because it has already been found. The startup phase should be temporary during the project's transformation into a company, and the sole purpose should be to understand the metrix needed to make reliable decisions.

Unlike in a corporation, the only accounting needed in a startup are a) burnrate and b) how much is left at the bank. Nothing else. Profitability or such do not matter until the startup team has verified the business model. When the model is verified, the company will actually deliver a valid value proposition for the their customer segments.

Actually working on several business model canvasses

Do the customer development

Please, do not waste time on business plans. No business plan will ever stand the test of an initial customer encounter. This is often the first fatal flaw. The second flaw is to think all the imaginable features should be in the product. Learn to go lean and have just minimal viable feature set to test your assumptions. If your assumptions are correct, you should have no problems to add revenue to pay for the future development. If not, it is time to go back to the drawing board and tweak the model a bit.

Steve Blank thinks that many startups fail because they found no customers. Not because they could not deliver what the technical feature set failed. The startups just ended up building "a house where nobody wanted to live". So like the fighter pilots in "Top Gun", the startup founders have to move fast with limited resources. They have to do decision calls with limited amount of data. Essentially the thrills come through those decisions made blindly, with gut feelings. Just remember, your gut feeling will only emerge by talking to the customers and developing from there.

Most importantly, remember to find and document "what have we learned about customers and what is our story". That is what makes headlines.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Flow Festival 2011 feeling

I went to Flow Festival 2011, this came out. Just one on the series, more of which can be found at Stadi.TV