Business Ideas, entrepreneurship, startup

Introducing +A RECRUITMENT

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I’m currently at the arrrrrsome 4th European Pirate Summit in Cologne, and upon arriving there yesterday and within three hours, I had received three job requests from devs and entrepreneurs and one company told me they were searching for a talent to fill a new developer outreach position.

So that got me thinking, because I keep getting these kinds of requests all the time. Not a week goes by where I don’t get at least three or four asks from either people or companies.

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Business Ideas, entrepreneurship, Events, Lean Startup, Lessons Learned, startup

I am Making my Open Office Hours More Accessible

UPDATE: You can now book your free in-person office hours with me here: ohours.youcanbook.me.

This article was originally posted at STARTPLATZ by Inga Höglund in German. Reposted here for my English speaking friends. TL;DR – I’m now available for free advice every Wednesday 10am – 1pm at STARTPLATZ in Cologne (if I’m in town, so check availability up front).

Vidar1

The Norwegian entrepreneur and startup founder Vidar Andersen has since over a year become one of the important members of the STARTPLATZ family.

Vidar supports the regional startup scene coaching applicants to the monthly Rheinland-Pitch event how to pitch their startup and moderating also the event itself. He organizes the Startup Weekend Cologne, Startup Next Cologne and he also lectures and holds seminars around the topics lean startup and corporate innovation here, and now every week he’ll be here for his open office hours.

This is an interview with Vidar about his open office hours and why he’s so actively supporting the Cologne startup scene. Many thanks to Vidar for taking the time to speak with us. We hope you enjoy the interview.

Q: How did you get the idea to offer free open office hours?

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Business Ideas, entrepreneurship, Events, startup

Freigeist Conference CGN


On Thursday the 6th of May I attended the Freigeist Conference at Rheinenergie Stadium in Cologne. The conference connects movers and shakers in the regional online tech and marketing scene; marketers, agencies, programmers, global companies (Google, Microsoft, etc), start-ups, consultants, venture capital, funders, founders, investors and the like. I thought it would be a good opportunity to reconnect with old contacts, meet new and sample the general status of the regional tech scene.

I had to cut the conference short to attend to matters at work, not being able to attend the more social sessions and the start-up pitch competition in the evening, but heres’s a rough of what I experienced before having to leave prematurely.

Google

Steffen Kramer from Google Germany showed off some of the tools they provide to plan, track and monitor online marketing efforts and a brief primer how to use them:

Google Insights For Search

Google Ad Planner

The Google Business Channel on YouTube provides more videos on their solutions.

I managed to live-stream some of the talks, but the network and software was unfortunately a bit flaky.

Thierhoff Consulting

Dr. Kai Thierhoff talked about successful German startup stories, but unfortunately – at least in my personal opinion – the focus of the talk was mostly on clones of US start-ups, the German mee-too companies that will, as I see it, have extreme problems sustaining business after launch (just a hint to copycats; the Internet knows no borders, you know) – and besides are very boring and very non-innovative. He also mention the brilliant presentation template from Sequoia Capital that is worth checking out if you are thinking of pitching VCs for funding.

Microsoft Azure


MSFT Azure is (like e.g. Amazon Web Services) a software and hardware answer to cloud computing needs with their respective products and services.

Carsten Humm, technology evangelist at MSFT held a basic primer on the concept and pricings. A selling point was that they comply with EU data storage and privacy laws – the data is saved within the EU should you require it.

He also mentioned that MSFT will be holding a BizSpark Camp in Cologne on the 24th of June if that’s your sort of thing.

Here’s a short primer on MSFT Azure lifted off YouTube:

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Business Ideas, Mobile, Rants, Software

A mobile business idea – from 2003

A couple of months ago I met a new acquaintance that had some interesting business ideas. As luck would have it, they happened to correlate in part with some ancient ideas of my own and we instantly hit it off. Since then, a little voice in the back of my head has been telling me that I might have a record of the original brainstorming back in 2003. It’s not quite what we’re up to these days, but it is in many ways related. At least it was sort of the spore for me. More on that for a future post, perhaps.

Mobile Lineage

Lo’ behold: I actually managed to find the original IM chat log between me and a good friend sometime first half of 2003 after some searching of archived CD-ROMs [sic], translated in parts from Norwegian. It’s a fun time capsule if nothing more and it’s interesting to see how the assessments and predictions for mobile devices, services and business models we had back in 2003 relate to the mobile reality of 2010 – or not.

If you’re of an overly sensitive nature, be warned that this post contains colourful adult language. I would also state for the record that my references to Nipponese people and Nipponese culture are not meant to be derogatory, defamatory or otherwise insulting. Far from it. I find Japanese people and culture most fascinating and inspiring.

To all telcos that might find statements, opinions and ideas in this post derogatory, defamatory or otherwise insulting – well life just ain’t fair, is it?

My friend’s IM nickname has been changed to protect the guilty. He knows who he is and what he has done.  ;)

So with no further ado I’ll let it all hang out here in the open  for posterity. What can I say. We were angry young men of low moral fiber young and needed the money:

BlackTar says:
http://www.twincities.com/mld/pioneerpress/business/technology/5987828.htm [link no longer active – nice argument for permalinks – and I was not able to find it on wayback machine. Anyway, I seem to remember the article was about some new dating and geolocation thingy]

BlackTar says:
new? no

BlackTar says:
I’ve had an idea about the perfect Japanese mobile phone along those lines for a long time.. .

BlackTar says:
it’s gotta happen sooner or later – would bee nice to cash in ourselves

Friend says:
I thought this was cool when I read about it back in the tamagotchi days

BlackTar says:
yeah, but think about the possibility to cash in real money on perv nipponese (and the rest of the world for that matters)

Friend says:
I think that would be pretty kick-ass, actually…

BlackTar says:
there once was this Japanese hightech product that would let you plot in sexual and partner preference and it would indicate when someone with the same gizmo and matching profile would be in your vicinity

BlackTar says:
it never took off

Friend says:
not necessarily for perv purposes

BlackTar says:
no, true – but it’s more fun if you think about perverted nipponese

BlackTar says:
well.. . my idea is to enable each and every mobile phone with the same capabilities

Friend says:
separate the crap, sort of

BlackTar says:
either with a Java app together with a server based solution

BlackTar says:
low threshold

BlackTar says:
or just the server solution

BlackTar says:
ref. NetCom Buddy [early Norwegian geolocation service that you could set up in a web interface to have it report by sms where your friends were, based on opt-in consent and triangulation]

BlackTar says:
you can already receive notifications about where your friends are

Friend says:
hmm.. it cannot work other than server side.. or else you need new hardware

BlackTar says:
true, but the interface could be Java

BlackTar says:
instead of sending sms – but sms is a proven business model by now

Friend says:
if it can’t run piggyback on the standard mobile server traffic

BlackTar says:
it is a prerequisite that it can

BlackTar says:
(must)

Friend says:
but you can like request a ‘proximity check’ from the server, anyway.

BlackTar says:
yeah, but you do it via SMS!!!

BlackTar says:
that’s the genious part!

BlackTar says:
you constantly need to BUY services!!

Friend says:
yeahyeah, of course.. just thinking out aloud here

BlackTar says:
I think this is ripe for bigggg bucks

Friend says:
piggybucks!

BlackTar says:
piggy, piggy can’t you see.. .

BlackTar says:
imagine you are about to go out for a night on the town – then you just set up what you are looking for today/tonight – either via sms or web – then you can request proximity checks via sms afterwards

BlackTar says:
I believe and think this is worth insane amounts of money

BlackTar says:
after all – the human sex drive is probably the most proven business model of them all

BlackTar says:
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/02/national/02INTE.html

BlackTar says:
wtf

Friend says:
Keep a lid on it!

BlackTar says:
riiiiiiiiiiiiight

BlackTar says:
how much does a patent cost?

Friend says:
the nipponese are probably working on this already.. better sleuth for some industrial espionage on the net

BlackTar says:
you are the only one I’ve told

BlackTar says:
no! I don’t think the nipponese even use sms

BlackTar says:
do they?

BlackTar says:
they probably have some sort of micropayment system

BlackTar says:
but.. . I picture this being just as big in the us of a

Friend says:
are they making money on devices or services or both.. sort of

BlackTar says:
both I think

BlackTar says:
they do have a completely different network

Friend says:
yeah well, usa have discovered sms and teletext only in the recent year or so

BlackTar says:
with 489587347598759 more features and bandwidth

Friend says:
hmm.. but they can’t launch a network just for this? .. probably radio

Friend says:
isn’t it only short distance that is of interest?

Friend says:
or

BlackTar says:
no, it could probably work on the nipponese network too

Friend says:
e.g. sitting at home checking out where the most likeminded are in the city at the moment

BlackTar says:
exactly

BlackTar says:
you can do this today with GSM

BlackTar says:
and probably with anything that sends and receives waves

Friend says:
yeah, with people you know…. ok I know how this can work

BlackTar says:
trinangulation between base stations

Friend says:
yeahyeah

BlackTar says:
it’s going to get much more fun when gps becomes a natural part of a mobile phone

Friend says:
but it can work exactly like the “where are my friends” thing

BlackTar says:
triangulation is even more accurate as of now, tho afaik

Friend says:
you don’t have to send any extra information between phone and central either

BlackTar says:
yeah! and one should also be able to do the “where are my friends” thing too

BlackTar says:
no, it only takes that you opt-in to allow your geolocation to be published

BlackTar says:
you’ll send a simple or advanced query to the server via SMS – it returns what it finds

Friend says:
because the numbers are categorized on the central [server] into interests you’ve been filling out over the internet.. and when one does a “my friends search” it does not search for the numbers you’ve added, but any number they’ve flagged prerequisites

Friend says:
the technology is already there

BlackTar says:
after a proprietary – a la google – sorting

BlackTar says:
there has to be some flexibility in handling the query such as you risk to never get a match [sic]

Friend says:
that you not? or? huh+

BlackTar says:
a lot of the success factor lays thus in the algorithm(s) for handling the matching of criteria

BlackTar says:
understandably you could make this hyper simple too

BlackTar says:
with if/else functions, booleans

Friend says:
hmm.. I don’t really see a problem with this.. you get % numbers on matches and it’s left to the user to decide if that’s good enough, sort of..

Friend says:
a fixed number of hits every time

BlackTar says:
% match is meaningless – ref websearch

Friend says:
hmmm….. can one buy oneself upwards on the lists?

BlackTar says:
hehe

Friend says:
el corrupto

BlackTar says:
that doesn’t work either ref websearch

BlackTar says:
but it’s clear that you have to specify degree of match you want when you request query per sms

BlackTar says:
hihi

BlackTar says:
so you have to send more than 1

BlackTar says:
and it is clear that you need heaps of parameters and features that you can adjust per sms

Friend says:
mo’ money

BlackTar says:
but just enough so that it becomes, stays functional

Friend says:
one can request info on hits

BlackTar says:
so, you see.. . it’s in actual fact the sane as Trepia – only smarter

BlackTar says:
regular people don’t understand hits

BlackTar says:
info on hits? more info, click hear plz

Friend says:
duh

BlackTar says:
tell me more about info on hits

Friend says:
Once you’re a member of the service you can enter personal info about yourself, this can be bought with sms, when MMS gets common you can have images/videos, whatever, too

BlackTar says:
yeah

BlackTar says:
yes

BlackTar says:
info on hit == profiles

BlackTar says:
brb

[snip, snip, snip. Lunch break and a funny digression about Cottage Cheese, Procter & Gamble, Amway and the Church of Satan. It happens, you know.]

BlackTar says:
what’s neat & sweet about the mobile service is that it is remarkably compatible with the multi level marketing [MLM] scheme!!!

BlackTar says:
you have a product (that in addition to be low cost – initial investment only) that people consume and come back to consume
– then you ‘franchise’ the system to agents below you (distribution companies, telcos, etc) who then resell the service to other subcontractors. We collect from every party from the bottom up!!

BlackTar says:
== daddy bigbucks

Friend says:
what’s the name of the friends search service thing from telenor?

BlackTar says:
no idea

BlackTar says:
[the service from] netcom is called ‘buddy’

[snip, snip, snip. A digression about SARS in China, ill friends and travel.]

Friend says:
http://telenormobil.no/mobilinfo/oversikt.jsp

Friend says:
#2

Friend says:
Pick-up tips?!!!! jesus

Friend says:
Jokes?!!! OMG

BlackTar says:
positioning

Friend says:
ho ho!

BlackTar says:
‘It costs NOK 0,0 per message that you receive.’

BlackTar says:
eh?

Friend says:
hmmm.. Whiskey Tango Foxrot ?!

Friend says:
ah.. you pay fixed

BlackTar says:
longitude and latitude?

BlackTar says:
how much does one pay fixed?

Friend says:
or?

Friend says:
no, then they would probably state it

Friend says:
‘The query is free but you have to pay for the answer.’

BlackTar says:
Probably an error

BlackTar says:
‘Get Bible verses directly to the mobile.
It costs NOK 3,0 per message that you receive.’

BlackTar says:
‘when do you want to be notified’

BlackTar says:
haha

BlackTar says:
http://telenormobil.no/mobilinfo/product/categories.jsp?maincategory=ENTERTAINMENT&category=CATEGORY0

BlackTar says:
fucking hell

Friend says:
what about a ‘get out of a meeting’ service? Order an incoming call in 20 mins. .. hoho you can use alarm clock wake up services for this

BlackTar says:
yupp

Friend says:
oops.. muyo importante, must go!

BlackTar says:
http://telenormobil.no/mobilinfo/product/product.jsp?productCode=BIORYTMER

Friend says:
hmmmmmm…..hmmmm…mhm…hmhmhm.hm……

BlackTar says:
kiss my.. .

BlackTar says:
“You will receive a total of two messages.
It costs NOK 5,- per received message.”

Friend says:
set sail for cock, assboat!

BlackTar says:
I too want to cash in on this NOW!!!

Friend says:
serialz straight to your mobile

BlackTar says:
gotta talk to [other friend].. . He knows some people who do bulk SMS server solutions

BlackTar says:
hihi

BlackTar says:
l/p pr0n craxx0r

BlackTar says:
abuse

BlackTar says:
send a message with the code ‘idiot’ and get an incoming call telling you off for being stupid enough to waste NOK 10,00 on the service

BlackTar says:
that would probably work too

Friend says:
hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… do you have a link to that ‘buddy’ thing?

BlackTar says:
http://www.netcom.no/

Friend says:
kinda wondering what kind of info you get back? your friend is situated at 4525 degrees north, 34 clicks west at sea level 341345?

BlackTar says:
in the street with number of the house

BlackTar says:
have tested

Friend says:
kool

BlackTar says:
http://mother.netcom.no/Forside/index.html

BlackTar says:
http://mother.netcom.no/Login/login_page.html?org=%2FBuddy%2Findex.html

Friend says:
if one does not find funding in a hurry, then it’s just to send a registered letter that explains the gig to telenor and netcom.. wait ca 1 year and then sue..

BlackTar says:
yup – file at lawyer and deposit box

BlackTar says:
stupid pages

BlackTar says:
ah! I got the buddy password right now

BlackTar says:
neat

BlackTar says:
can log in everywhere at netcom without being registered

Friend says:
yes, so get it theeeeeeeeeeeeeen

Friend says:
usually receives it immediately

BlackTar says:
yup

BlackTar says:
you got netcom?

Friend says:
yes

BlackTar says:
okidoki

Friend says:
hmmm… does it cost anything, come to think of it?

BlackTar says:
probably per received message

BlackTar says:
with MAP and stuff!!!

BlackTar says:
‘It is free to use Buddy from mother.no in August and September!’
Det er gratis å bruke Buddy fra mother.no i hele august og september!

BlackTar says:
[mobile phone number]?

Friend says:
yes

Friend says:
HELL! Why don’t I get a passsssssssssword

BlackTar says:
took 3 tries before I got one

BlackTar says:
search (reception) SMS WAP* and WEB
1 person NOK 3,00
Group 2-5 persons NOK 5,00
Group 6-10 persons NOK 8,00

Friend says:
I’m not fucking receiving one

Friend says:
maybe they canceled my subscription thingy?

Friend says:
haven’t tried to call lately…

BlackTar says:
wap & web per gprs.. . hmm whatwhat what

BlackTar says:
you need to invite people

BlackTar says:
so I’ll try to localize myself then

Friend says:
bah

[snip, snip, snip. Digression about HL2 screener, SMS gambling services, gen BS]

BlackTar says:
so

BlackTar says:
I’ve invited myself now

BlackTar says:
to netcom buddy

BlackTar says:
but now the html doesn’t work

BlackTar says:
damned shit

BlackTar says:
part of the secret about the sms thing is that it shouldn’t be as committing and explicit as the classifieds

BlackTar says:
so that you can remain anonymous but still create a feeling of excitement and adventure

BlackTar says:
so that most people possible would use it

Friend says:
yup.. the [Norwegian data storage supervision department] would probably like it too

BlackTar says:
BUT then you can of course choose to make it explicit by way of our anonymous sms chat system!

BlackTar says:
and that costs money ™ per message

Friend says:
the problem is to beef up the user numbers…..’

BlackTar says:
yes – the secret to that is to place the bar as low as possible

BlackTar says:
once they’re ‘in’ they’ll have a lot of features to burn away the money on

BlackTar says:
or they can stick with the simple features – which cost money still

BlackTar says:
it mustn’t cost too much either

Friend says:
join for free.. increase 10 cents per use until fixed price of NOK 3 or whatever

BlackTar says:
I think a fixed price per received message is the way to go

BlackTar says:
some services [features] are of course more expensive than others

Friend says:
important: finding out how the triangulation thing works with the telcos.. if it is at all possible to buy this service [from them]

BlackTar says:
it is – if they make money on it

BlackTar says:
think about it this way – we would be doing the least amount of work possible : 1. Own the rights 2. Manage the concept 3. Harvest money

BlackTar says:
the best bit is that the telcos would be responsible for the integration and technical parts themselves

BlackTar says:
we just want money per license and share per received sms – we are only going to invest in the concept

BlackTar says:
see the presentation on rebel.as

Friend says:
the technical part is there.. it just needs to be hooked up with the Whoremonger ™ sms services

BlackTar says:
yes, and that’s not our responsibility

BlackTar says:
that costs money

BlackTar says:
and those interested in making money on their networks should carry those costs

BlackTar says:
if we only make something that talk in standard tongue [made with open standards]

BlackTar says:
then the rest should be fine

BlackTar says:
I think the essence is to create a concept with a low bar for participation, and at the same time offer flexible and advanced features

Friend says:
hmmm.. the input part in itself … registering … criteria .. must work on mobile .. have to be pretty vague? preformatted multiple choice?

BlackTar says:
that’s of the essence

BlackTar says:
creating something that WORKS here

BlackTar says:
that concept must be thoroughly thought and worked out

BlackTar says:
where the already proven technology bits only gets included as independent elements one takes for granted

BlackTar says:
the concept is really just a combination of existing technologies and a proven business model – combined in a new way with a kickass ‘frontend’ (if you catch my drift) on top of it all

Friend says:
Indeed! I’m just a bit busy — must get things done in a hurry!

BlackTar says:
oki

BlackTar says:
me too – really – but can’t be bothered to work :-\

Friend says:
I’m attending a meeting soon and need to have stuff finished :=

Friend says:
“but can’t be bothered to work” so true so true . it’s boring

BlackTar says:
it’s eating me away

BlackTar says:
slowly

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Business Ideas, Social

Evil ReTweet business plan from hell

Here’s an idea that occurred to me as I accidentally clicked a retweeted and shortened link on twitter this morning. The thing is, the link opened the target address in a frame (think Google image search) with a rather obnoxious self-advertising header. Eeeeeew!

Needless to say, I was rather put off by the whole experience. There are several services doing this and quite some people using them. To protect the names of the guilty I’ll not name the services or the tweep perps.

However, it got me thinking; What if an Amazon Affiliate-like approach would be implemented to an url shortening service like the one mentioned above? You’d sign up to the url shortening service and you’d get ‘rewarded’ for retweeting urls shortened by the service – or rather for spewing advertisement.

I’ve tried to illustrate it in glorious monochrome below, using Balsamiq Mockups and about 29 seconds.

Technically, the url could contain a hash – or whatever – containing User ID, Original URL, AD served, etc, etc, etc.

I’d like to add that personally, I don’t think such a service would survive. That is to say, I like to think that it can’t. However, such an evil scheme may already exist.

Do you know of any such services? If not, you read it here first and I want my blood money! ;)

Update (04.05.2009):

It seems like adf.ly has implemented something along these lines now. Hey! What about my cut?!

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