Controlling Product

In a general sense, without the likes of customer development (I’ll write more about this at a later date and how it comes in to play with the way I do things), users have no idea what they want until you have given them something.

There must be control within yourself to not feed the beast and give them the whole kitchen sink when they only needed the sink plug.

I’d prefer to deliver in short, fast increments, than longer bigger drops as they’re harder to measure results from. If your drops are short and fast, it’s easier to listen to them to choose your next direction. Even if you do deliver short and fast drops, you as the person delivering must measure, analyse and then make a decision on ‘what’ to deliver next.

I personally look at it like this;

  • Deliver in short, fast increments.
  • Have absolute control over what you deliver and always err on the side of caution, I prefer to give the sink plug rather than the sink.
  • Listen for feedback.
  • Analyse the feedback – Don’t make a decision on one persons feedback, listen to 5 out of 10 and make a decision on 99 out of 100.
  • Deliver in short, fast increments. Rinse & Repeat.


Joining happiest

happiestJust four months ago seems like so long ago now, but in August 2011 I wrote that I was leaving Codeworks and DIBI to start my own project, Industry Conf – which is alive and well, as well as joining the world of freelance again. It’s been a short fun ride, starting off with a few freelance contracts before joining a team of talented people at a growing US based agency. It was a very interesting time which I’ll no doubt write about in the near future.

The want and need to work on a product rather than client projects was so overwhelming that I’m now very very proud and excited to say that I’ll be joining the team at happiest full time.

Some of you will know about happiest, I’ve been semi-involved with the Newcastle upon Tyne based startup for a while now, some of you may even have an account which is now slightly dormant.

I’m excited knowing that what it is currently is very ‘beta’ and acts as a very very strong foundation to build on and what we will achieve in the near future is something that you will be able to use every day, something that is quick and painless which will reward you for doing it.

Focusing on singular products is what I want to do and for now all my energy is going in to happiest and Industry Conf and I just can’t wait to get going.

Today is a new day and the start of a new journey for myself.


Our Startup Culture

I write an occasional ‘technotes’ column in our North East Newspaper called ‘The Journal’, below is this weeks written about our startup culture in the North East of England.

It feels like so long ago that the world went through the dotcom boom, yet it feels like yesterday when the majority of those booms went bust. I’m a geek, in a general sense so notice these things happen.

During the dotcom boom there were more startups than ever, investors were chomping at the bit to try and get a piece of the new technology pie and only a few ever made it to make a profit on their investment. Even harder times were ahead for the people with great ideas. It was them who had to find investment from those not willing to trust enough to devote their time and money away. Over recent years the startup culture has been revived, and whilst in this economic climate it may be a little more difficult to get funding, you can still make it happen with the right idea.

The United States has various ‘incubator’ type organisations like TechStars and Y Combinator which are thriving with successful companies like DailyBooth, Reddit and Dropbox. In the UK we in the past have run far short of enabling tech startups to get going. Most, if not all have been started on shoe-string budgets pulling all nighters to get an idea created into working software and only then after a long time have they been in a position to pitch funding. The UK startup culture is very different than that of the United States, in the UK you would usually see companies which have turned profitable and then been acquired. Whilst that is great and it’s fantastic to see our UK and North East companies being acquired, it takes a lot of time in comparison to America who inevitably pitch for funding at a much earlier stage, our startups have lacked the ability to secure mentoring that they undoubtably need. Until now.

The North East of England has its own tech start-up incubator, heading in to its second year the Difference Engine, based in Teesside and started by Jon Bradford was created to support startups, much in the same way as TechStars in the United States. The Difference Engine invests £20’000 (for 8% of the business) and supports them with mentoring, office accommodation plus various other types of services provided by the Difference Engine partners. It’s a full time 13 week acceleration programme to get the start-ups ready to pitch to investors.

We’ve not had this support in the North East, the United Kingdom or Europe in the past and now its sitting on the North East’s doorstep. The Startup Culture is here, at home in the North East of England.