Five quick tips for start-ups and entrepreneurs


Being involved with two start-ups and working through the nitty-gritty of daily operations to ensure that both ventures can survive another day makes me wonder if there is any light to end of tunnel, where I can reap the benefits of the problems we are solving and the pain of building solutions from scratch. This start-up life is a very vicious circle for any entrepreneur. We usually fall in to this out of sheer love of what we are doing and the gap we’ve identified in the market. However, taking an idea to a successful conclusion is altogether a different kettle of fish, and if we believe the stats over 95% of start-ups failed to see their fifth birthday!

In between the madness of taking these start-ups to the next stage, I scribble some notes whenever time permits, and that helped me to write my earlier blog post on highlighting critical factors to develop a product. For this one too, I have jotted down some additional factors or reconfirmed old factors that have become quite prominent and inspiring in my current start-ups’ journeys.

Luckily in this very social-media-oriented world, I can easily find and embed some references to reconsolidate my thoughts, which I have attached to each point to summarise my findings.

1 . Focus, Focus, and Focus

It may be an old cliché but the internet has made this world very small and resources have become readily available and inexpensive, which means that distractions are easy to come by, especially things are not going their way. For example, after the success of Eventbrite, we (i.e. could have been lured into becoming ticket suppliers rather than remaining a price comparison engine for the entertainment ticketing industry. But we stayed focussed to make sure that we develop a product that can help fans to find the best deals among the many already existing suppliers. Result: we are now one of the top three price comparison sites in the UK.

2. Create convenience for users

From Google to Facebook to Microsoft, mission statements categorically say that we want to make world better place and that basically means making things accessible and simple to use, and this is very true for start-ups too i.e. whenever, you envisage a product or service, always make sure that it will create convenience for your target audience. Like they say, build what you like to use, not what you’d like to leverage for a fat bank balance.

3. Learn to say no

Start-up life is all about long hours and doing things which you don’t do in a 9 to 5 corporate job. You might have to do all the jobs from receptionist to CEO, so there might be some distractions that you try to avoid in order to save some quality time for business development. For example, Dharmesh and Naval don’t take any business phone calls, communicating only by email, which means they can save lots of time on exchanging pleasantries or topics that they need to confirm via email anyway.

4. It’s never too late

I know, early successes from Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and then Mark Zackenberg, all in their twenties or early thirties, have given an impression that youth is the predominant factor for successful entrepreneurship, but if we look at the following Infographic, there are many examples where success came later in life, so don’t give up until, you achieve your goal.

5. Set Short Terms Goals & The Journey is J Curve

Having a vision is very important, as this confirms where you want to take your company. However, when it comes to execution, the focus must be on achieving short term goals. Richard Branson summarized this really very well in his LinkedIn post!

Plus, Life is a roller coaster when you run a start-up; one day you reach the ecstasy of ultimate success and the next day you might get so depressed that you feel the world has come to an end. I have found a quote from my LinkedIn contact that summarises this journey. Have a read and be prepared to smile in the end when you reach to your ultimate aim of setting up a start-up. Good luck!
entrepreneurship journey

Twitter Focusing on Big Data & Social Commerce after Ads & Social TV

A recent Twitter annual report showing lower than expected growth of monthly active users, revenue, engagement and timeline views has sent some shock waves into the market, and as a result the share price is over 40% down since its high in November 2013. Also some high profile clients have raised questions on its effectiveness for driving traffic.

So far, if we look, Twitter is focusing more on display advertising products such as prompted tweets and accounts, in addition to TV amplifier, where Twitter is trying to leverage its usage along with TV programs. But we all know results are not promising and clients have shown some concern.

Despite all its criticism, Dick Costolo (Twitter CEO) is very positive about Twitter’s future growth and promised to launch a series of new products and services to boost its revenue and effectiveness for businesses. Let’s look at what these future products could be.

Gnip + BlueFin + MoPub Means Twitter can become Mobile Google AdWords

Last Year Twitter made 11% of their revenue via data licensing and one of the recent developments was that Twitter ended up buying one of their data licensing companies, Gnip. This will give Twitter a more control over how to use their data powerhouse with over one billion tweets every two days and loads of rich media content, link images, video and text.

We should not forget that last year Twitter acquired MIT based data analytics start-up Bluefin, which means they must be looking to combine Gnip data aggregation and Bluefin’s data analysis techniques to provide a more enriching experience to both businesses and consumers.

Twitter also owns mobile ad exchange company MoPub, which means Twitter can offer advertising beyond their platform: imagine, if Twitter analytics could identify the right trends (images, keywords, and videos) from billions of tweets and let businesses target people on a mobile platform at real-time; they could really become Google AdWords on mobile.

Twitter and Amazon partnership shows Twitter inching towards real-time commerce

Last week Amazon announced a partnership whereby users can link their Amazon and Twitter accounts and then add stuff, via tweets, to their basket. It’s a great first step toward the highly anticipated Twitter commerce where whole transactions (including payment) can be carried out on Twitter.

Twitter Amazon Comerce

If we look based on Twitter’s mobile usage and real time nature, there is a huge possibility for Twitter commerce, as businesses can setup a service where consumers can find and buy their products on Twitter. For example, Amex already allows customers to find the latest deals on Twitter in real-time. Our (i.e. Startup TweepForce) client Payasugym lets you find your nearest gym via a tweet and another client (@Socialretail) runs loyalty campaigns purely on Twitter to encourage users to be more engaged.

To sum up, these last two developments (big data and Twitter commerce) look very promising as they go beyond traditional display advertising and can give Twitter an extra edge on their competitors.

Why Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn Have Failed to Commence Social Commerce?

Social commerce

Online commerce is on the rise; last year online sales went up by 20% worldwide and touched down at over $1.5 Trillion. Mobile commerce has also made inroads and accelerated commerce through internet-enabled portable device. The turnover of online retailers or marketplaces likes Amazon or EBay is far higher than many yesteryears retail giants and has forced multiple closures and mergers within retail industry.

Despite all this growth, online commerce is always poised for disruption i.e. businesses and start-ups are trying to find new ways to sell their products and services: pure electronic and/or mobile commerce sites/applications (e.g. Amazon); combination of ecommerce and marketplace (e.g. EBay); email subscription-based commerce sites (e.g. Groupon); and price comparison sites (e.g.

And now with the growing popularity of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram, there are many attempts within these networks, or by start-ups, to find ways to commence transactions in this medium. However, so far success is limited to marketing products and services via various forms of display and notification advertising techniques. Let’s look in to what exactly the issues are with social commerce:

1.People don’t mean what they say on social networks

Many studies suggest that social networks have lost their spontaneity and more become tool for brand and personal perception management. In other words people don’t really say what they mean; instead they broadcast things they believe will improve their perception in the public, which means social networks can’t really predict people’s interests, and therefore businesses are finding it hard to really target people based on their taste for any further transactions.

2.Dark social is far bigger than public social media

Despite the huge success of social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, people still largely use personal messages in the form of mobile text messages, email, WhatsApp, Skype and Snapchat to communicate with their friends, and mainly use public networks for general socialising, which means again businesses are clueless about consumers’ real intentions and fail to convert them to sales.

3.Semantic analysis is not smart enough

Social media is all about freedom of expression and people can express themselves in many ways e.g. write text, share sentiments, and upload videos and images. So far, semantic analysis has failed to understand the intent behind rich media. Therefore businesses are really unable to see their spending on display advertising converting into high sales.

4.Social networks are not designed to support the commerce journey

A typical commerce journey is finding, buying (payment) and delivery of products and services. However, because Social media is still evolving and is not designed to support transactions (LinkedIn has become the place to build a professional circle, Twitter is to catch up with current news and events, and Facebook is to hang out with friends and family), so users are not intending to use these networks for product discovery and delivery.

5.Social Media is too open for phishing

Due to the very open nature and perception of social media, privacy is always a big concern when it comes to divulging some sensitive information such as credit card and bank account details. Therefore consumers are very apprehensive of doing transactions on these platforms, which means businesses are not getting return for advertising investment on these networks.


As mentioned above, social media is still evolving and not designed for commerce. However, considering the amount of time we spend on these networks, which results in our giving out a lot information about our interests, intent and knowledge, even though very dispersed, social commerce is inevitable. As we speak, many efforts are in progress, from social media giants like Facebook and Twitter to start-ups like Tweepforce, to make genuine social transactions a reality.

And being involved myself with a social commerce start-up, I think the first thing these networks need to focus on is to start thinking of simulating the traditional commerce journey (product discovery, transactions and delivery) rather than inventing new ways for consumers to buy on their platforms. For example, when I want to buy a new watch, I should be able discover the best watch and then buy and receive delivery of it, on any given network. This is a humongous task and as I stated above there are many hurdles, but it’s not an impossibility. Let’s see who manages to break this code first.

Common Cloud Computing Problems and How To Solve Them

cloud computing

Cloud computing is a fairly new concept to many people, although it has been around for several  years, that has attracted the attention of many small businesses, large corporations and productive individuals.

There are a lot of advantages that come along with cloud computing, especially in companies where multiple employees need to access the same files from multiple computers or locations.

Cloud computing abolishes the need for servers or physical hardware within your office space and essentially cuts down the expenses cost to your company or yourself.

For this reason, a lot of individuals and companies are using cloud computer systems within their business.

However, whilst using the service, you may find that you come across a number of problems.

Some you can solve yourself and this article will outline those problems in which you can. However, some cloud computing problems require you to enlist the help of IT and Hardware Support specialists.

The threat of security issues

One of the major problems that put some companies off migrating to a cloud computer system is the circulating issues of security flaws within the system.

Due to the nature of a cloud system, where by you access your files and applications through an internet connection, it opens it up to several attacks from hackers that may want to corrupt or use your data.

However, you should find that most cloud service providers offer optimum levels of security and risk management to ensure that all of your programmers and documents are kept safe and secure.

You can also ensure that you choose sufficiently secure password for you and your staff to use as well as a protocol for employees to follow when using your service.

Compatibility issues

A problem that some companies face when it comes to migrating their servers to the cloud is the issue of compatibility.

For example, your computer software may not allow you to use certain cloud computing systems or allow you to use service fully.

To ensure maximum compatibility, always keep your software up to date. The latest Windows software is; Windows 8  for Windows computers and OS X Mavericks for Apple computers (as of April 2014).

Streaming media

If you chose to download files, pictures or watch videos through the cloud then you may be placing a heavy burden on your bandwidth speed and general performance.

If a lot of your employees are downloading files or streaming videos through your cloud service, you can find that performance and the speed of downloads will suffer.

Although, this can be resolved by implementing guidelines for what staff can or can not download or stream, or by upgrading your service to a larger and faster package.

To sum up, cloud computing has been around for several years now, but it is only until recent years that companies are starting to realise and utilize its potential, however some companies are put off using a cloud service due to some of the potential threats that come alongside with it, these threats however are easily remedied by either yourself or by your cloud hosting service provider.

About the author:

Bradley Sheldrick is a blogger that has interests in many topical fields. This article looks at the typical problems that businesses may have when using cloud computing solutions which was sparked by his recent work for NT Sols.



Will Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft reach their 100th Anniversary, like IBM?

IBM 100 YearsIn 2011 IBM celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a bang. The company was a merger of three companies: the Tabulating Machine Company, the International Time Recording Company, and the Computing Scale Company, and since then it has gone through many changes from high tech product manufacturing to a service-based company. But despite all these ups and downs, company survived and now employs over 450k employees, has a 100bn turnover and operates in over 170 countries!

In hindsight, two reasons stand out for IBM’s success. First, their ability to reinvent themselves time and again, and that includes change in the business model, new products and services, geographical expansion and becoming a more agile firm by cutting resources or selling off their business units, such as selling their hardware business to Lenovo. Second, focusing more on the enterprise market than business to consumer, as the enterprise market is more long lasting and cash rich.

Now the question is, will tech giants from the current age such as Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft exist 100 years after their inception, like IBM?

And like IBM, the answer will lie in their ability to reinvent themselves and rebound at every tipping point they will have in their 100-year voyage. In fact, these giants have already gone through some rough patches and managed to negotiate them so far.

However competition is getting bigger and stiffer day by day, and the reduced price of infrastructure has levelled the playing field between big players and start-ups such as Dropbox and WhatsApp, which have recently disrupted and created their own space in the already established cloud and private messaging industries.

We have looked into some factors these companies are focusing on to survive longer.

Buy Start-ups with a huge user base or serious IPs

The big cash companies are not shying away from buying start-ups and already are on a spending spree. Microsoft bought Yammer, Skype and Nokia; Google bought Next, YouTube and Motorola ( which it then resold); Apple bought Topsy; Facebook bought Instagram, WhatsApp and Opus. However this is a very high-risk policy. Recently Google took a hit when it sold Motorola Mobility at half the buying price.

Keep innovating and launch new products and services

Another proven theory is innovate to keep going i.e. keep launching new products and services to remain ahead of the competition. Google and Apple are really ahead in this game and have huge future product pipelines ranging from wearable technology to renewable energy products to space programs. Microsoft and Facebook are more focused around mobile and cloud friendly technologies.

Expand aggressively into rapidly growing BRICS countries

Expanding business into emerging markets (Far East or BRICS countries) is a very popular option these days, as consumer spending is increasing in these markets and so is a craze for products and services from tech giants. This is therefore a great opportunity for these companies to leverage that market.


But there is problem with proven methods:

I am not sure if buyouts, geographical expansions and new products and services are enough to keep big companies going for another century, as product life cycles are shrinking. These days people discard their new phone in months, change cars in year or two, change jobs every three years and homes every five or six years. In this environment people don’t often remain loyal to one company’s products and services. Plus, in order to maintain cash flow sustainability, Google, Apple and Facebook, and to a certain extent Microsoft, have no serious products or services like CRM, ERP, DB servers or Cloud computing with which to break into the enterprise market. Finally, companies like Alibaba and Samsung from the Far East are also making inroads into the Western market and presenting very stiff competition.

Perhaps only the guardian of crowdsourcing might survive

I think, if Google, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft really want to survive that long, they have to create a worldwide cross platform ecosystem (not like their existing vertical App stores) to crowdsource any future product and service, so nothing slips under their radar. Otherwise they will perish simply because easy access to high speed internet, software infrastructure (e.g. cloud computing), and technical talent abundance far beyond their labs means new product and service creation won’t be limited to these giants.