Archive for January, 2009

More contemporary building architecture

January 30, 2009

Dive into the world of modern architecture and you will find the well known designers Robert Venturi, Frank Gehry, Tadao Ando, Zaha Hadid and Daniel Libeskind. There is even a huge 824 page book on contemporary architecture. Click on the link above and you’ll find many more images of imaginative and striking buildings.

Of all the buildings I have found on my journey I like this one the most:

Tadao Ando’s Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Why this building? It’s the combination of simplicity, reflection and light. I’ve also discovered a emerging new trend in building design:

Patrick Blanc Vertical Garden aka ‘Green Wall’ in Paris, France

This is the end of my excursion into modern contemporary building architecture. Oooh, I hear you say. The last image I’ll leave you with is of the University of East London student accommodation buildings. Those poor students, they’ll never get their furniture to fit!!

All in the name of art ūüėČ

My other building architecture related posts:


Using 99Designs: Sourcing low cost logo designs – PART 2

January 28, 2009

We’ve now got¬†a great¬†logo for our new Aware Monitoring service using 99Designs:


Our logo was developed with the final designer over a number of ideas:


In the end we had 37 designers who produced 146 design concepts which I gave 78 feedback comments on.  The contest started at break neck pace over a weekend. It takes more time than you think to look at, rate and comment on all the designs. The design quality varied a great deal. Here are two examples of the more elaborate designs. In our 99design brief we said we wanted a clean, simple modern logo.


We found it very useful to look at each designers past work. As we did with the Elance bids for our Viisys logo. This approach helps to choose which designers to encourage.  Clearly the designers have to be careful where to put their efforts in because no win, no cash. I did feel uncomfortable rejecting 36 peoples efforts.  These are our final contest results:


To view the full Aware Logo design contest at 99Designs site click here.¬†The winner Keegan from Indonesia has entered a staggering¬†716 events and won 43 to date. That’s a mere¬†6% conversion rate.¬†The contest is definitely in the contest holders favour with the designer taking most of the risk. However at an average of $300 per logo Keegan will have earned $12,900 on his 43 wins plus any extra followup work.

The Internet and crowd sourcing continues to plough through traditional business models e.g. the newspaper industry, music distribution, software, etc and now logo design. 99Designs brought us more choice and ideas which developed between all the competing designers. It was a good experience and I would recommend both 99Designs and Elance despite the ethical debate and unhappy traditional designers.

Local designers will have to adapt to the new market place or they will be marginalised. When our startup grows up and has more cash¬†it would be great to use and compare top end niche designers like this who developed Jive Software’s logo.¬†But for now we are extreme bootstrapping and as the saying goes¬†fail cheaply and quickly.

“The only barrier to failing fast and failing cheap is your ego. You must be willing to fail, fail, and fail again if you are going to win in today’s competitive marketplace.” BusinessWeek 2007

My other startup related posts:

    An historic week of change

    January 22, 2009

    It’s been a long time coming..






    Sourcing low cost logo designs – PART 1

    January 20, 2009

    Now you’ve got a business name and bagged the URL you’ll need a great logo. Head down the Street and you’ll find the local design agencies charge big business prices. $2000 in our case!¬† For extreme bootstraping startups like ours the cost of everything needs to be kept down. That includes design work. We’ve now sourced several low cost logo’s from designers across the world. Here are our experiences.

    Our first two logo’s (viisys and were sourced through Elance. Elance if you’ve not heard is a great resource for tech and design project suppliers. The client puts out a requirement proposal and suppliers bid for the work. After evaluating eleven bids on Elance we chose Canadian Nuvo Logo to produce our Viisys company logo at a cost of $215. We chose Nuvo because they are a small close-knit team offering a personal approach. Nuvo provided us with six initial design ideas based on a detailed questionnaire and lots of feedback:
    The final logo was developed from the sixth design concept. We were happy with their final result, however Nuvo were too busy for our next logo. So, we used a much bigger logo design  house РNetMen Corp ($149 cost). Argentinian NetMen were very professional and efficient with account and project managers. They produced nine initial design concepts:

    e20portalcom_lo-01 NetMen’s first three concept logo’s (the final logo was based on number 2.)

    NetMen give us a great final design for our logo, however for our new Aware Monitoring service logo we used 99Design’s. This time we wanted more choice and a wider range of ideas. 99designs are an innovative design sourcing service based in Australia with a HQ now in San Francisco. I’m still amazed by the flat world we live in today with designers in Canada, Argentina, and from all over the world.

    99 are very 2.0, open and like the threadless business model use a form of crowd sourcing. Some are very unhappy with the 99designs concept. The idea is the client sets a contest for designers to out compete each other. The designers do the work before they get paid with most of them not getting paid at all. We set our contest prize at the recommended $300 ($150 minimum/$600 maximum for this type of contest plus $39 going to 99 to post the contest). You also need to grab the designers attention as there are 1000’s of contest’s on the 99Design site.

    I’ll let you know how we got on with 99Design’s and our thoughts on quality of the service, end results and the ethics of 99Design’s in PART 2 of this post..

    My other startup related posts:

  • Using 99Designs: Sourcing low cost logo designs – PART 2
  • 5 factors in choosing a company/product name
  • 5 career alternatives for start-up founders during the¬†recession
  • Is Greed still good on Wall Street Gordon Gecko?

    January 16, 2009

    I recently commented on Don Dodge’s blog post because Don is bestowing the virtues of Greed. In response I said:

    “it seems to me that greed and selfishness is at the route of the current downturn. Like fear greed also has its downsides. Too much greed becomes destructive. The Bernard Madoff is a good case in point.”

    To which Don responded in agreement, saying:

    “It is hard for a confirmed capitalist that believes in free enterprise to admit this…but, you are right, greed has gotten totally out of control. The sub-prime mortgage crisis, the Wall Street derivative / credit swap mess, the Madoff ponzi scheme fraud, all driven by uncontrolled greed. I have never been a fan of regulation, but these cases certainly point out why there must be regulation and oversight on certain sectors. Sad but true”


    Like many things in life greed, fear, etc left unchecked can create imbalance. The very thing that motivated us can become destructive. We have  known the perils of greed for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Yet history repeats itself.

    Avaritia (Greed), 1558 by Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder. A landscape depicinting the consequences of greed.

    “Scraping Avarice sees neither honor nor courtesy, shame nor divine admonition.”

    Today the greedy Bankers in London and New York don’t seem to be showing much shame. The University where I studied my MBA has a very strong focus on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and business ethics. Unfortunately it seems to me many businesses often only pay lip service to CSR and some business leaders have very few ethics. Is the caricature Gorden Gecko right when he says¬†greed is in our nature:

    “Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

    I know it’s only a film but¬†art often¬†mimics life. The Enterprise 2.0 blogger Susan Scrupski recently said of Generation X¬†“Our narcissism is our legacy.” I think the problem of greed maybe more¬†fundamental than¬†just one generation. The question is what we and our next generation do about how much greed drives the future?

    My other Banking crisis related posts: 

  • Laughing at the Bankers expense
  • Christmas nightmare on Wall Street
  • Aware in the Clouds

    January 14, 2009

    The new Aware Monitoring holding page in the Cloud

    We are in good company — A recent survey of 1,300 programmers from around the world shows more than half of them plan to work on SaaS in ’09.

    5 factors in choosing a company/product name

    January 13, 2009

    We have dreamt up two company/product names since forming our start-up — and We also¬†named our¬†blog’s and¬†Simon’s (my co-founder)¬† I’d like to say it got easier finding a name each time but it didn’t. It¬†takes lots of¬†ideas and investigating. However it is creative fun.¬† Our five factors in choosing a company or product name in order are:



    1. A good URL & domain
    2. Short name
    3. Descriptive name
    4.  Memorable name
    5. Balanced lettering



    The biggest challenge is getting a¬†good URL. We¬†felt¬†a .com¬†address was¬†one of the most important factors because we’re a tech company.

    We now need another name for our new software product. At least we are versed in company/product naming. For our primary product we wanted an English dictionary name to make it easy to spell and remember. Trouble is all the dictionary URL words have gone! There are lots of tech companies with combinations of words e.g  MindTouch; SocialText; Thoughtfarmer, etc. However many URL combinations of two dictionary words have also gone!!

    After brainstorming several hundred¬†names we¬†decided¬†on Aware.¬†We then tried many, many word combinations¬†with¬†Aware. Eventually¬†we took the Jive approach. Jive is a social software company and their URL is but they are known as Jive.¬† Our new¬†product is¬†a monitoring service, so we’ve joined Aware and Monitoring and¬†voila¬†awaremonitoring.comūüôā

    Right, time for the logo next..


    Our new software baby is on its way :)

    January 8, 2009

    I have an anouncement to make — our startup, Viisys is expecting!! Since embarking on our start-up adventure Simon and I have met lots of wonderful people, built & released the Enterprise 2.0 portal and received 10,000’s of page views. Along the journey many people have asked us if we were providing consultancy services and said that we would not make much money from the website. That was not our aim. We wanted to enter into the conversation and to be involved with this exciting growth area of the software business. We are now entering into our next chapter and are building software to support the Web2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and the on-line world.


    In addition to we will be an on-demand/SaaS provider of web infrastructure monitoring services. Yes, there are lots of providers out there offering this type service. We believe there is a real opportunity in this area for a new kind of service.

    We will continue to be involved with the Enterprise 2.0 world and maintain Thank you for your past and future support. If you would like to be more actively involved with the website content please let us know. And so our next chapters begins. We are at the very start: we don’t have a service name, website, product, etc – the list goes frighteningly, and excitingly, on. Watch this space..

    Laughing at the Bankers expense

    January 5, 2009

    The jokes I hear going around:

    • What’s the question most bank managers are asking these days? “Do you want fries with that?”
    • What’s the difference between a bank manager and a pigeon? A pigeon can still put a deposit on a Porsche
    • How do you get a banker out of a tree? Cut the rope
    • How many bankers does it take to change a lightbulb? One, but only when he’s finished stacking in aisle 5

    There is even now a musical (Crunch: The Musical) and a pantomime (Dick Whitington) taking a poke at the Bankers. The pantomime depicts the Bankers as the new pantomime villains. Oh no their not..“. It turns out they really are the villains with the hedge fund manager Bernard Madoff¬†aka ‘Madeoff’ because he Madeoff with all the money. If you can’t afford the ticket because of the Bankers excess why not buy¬†the new¬†Banker tee-shirt:


    If it was not so serious it would be funny. Laughter, as always, brings great relief.

    Learning to blog: Nickpoint 2.0

    January 1, 2009

    New Year’s resolution time. Since starting this blog nine months ago I’ve published 37 posts, received 48 comments and had 1000’s of visits. I now ask myself five things:

    1. What have I learnt?
    2. Has it been worth it?
    3. Should I continue?
    4. What should I change?
    5. What should I do differently in 2009?

    A very fine Nickpoint by Katsushika Hokusai (Great Wave off Kanagawa)

    1. What have I learnt? I’ve learnt to be more open about myself, although I have found this difficult. Simon Wardley is good at writing openly what he thinks. I ‘ve learnt the importance of selecting good titles for the Web Crawler’s. My most popular post is in the top three search results for ‘New Media Channels’ :). I’ve learnt to be consistent and blog regularly like Sam Lawrence. It is also important to link to others and post comments on other blogs to be “part of conversation” as Jenny Ambrozek said to me.

    2. Has it been worth it? In short NO. When I started this blog my friends said “I don’t understand the point in blogging?”. It has taken me alot of time and I have not gained the benefits blogging can bring. I’ve not enjoyed fame and fortune. But then it is not about money. Perhaps it needs more time as Bill Ives discusses. Wired are saying it is now impossible to get noticed” and it’s better to Tweet, “Twitter’s character limit puts everyone back on equal footing”.

    3. Should I continue? I almost threw the towel in during October 2008. What is there to loose? Ranking, readers.. I suppose the real question is ‘do I enjoy it?’. I do. But to keep going I need to remain flexible. So when busy I should write shorter philosophical posts like Euan Semple.

    4. What should I change? I’ll keep the banner image and change the sub title to Social Media, Startups and marketing to reflect my writings. I’ll also try new templates and I’ll will change the about me/Who I’m I pages to be a bit more personal.

    5. What should I do differently in the future? Write shorter sentences. Use lists like Guy Kawasaki. Cut down on the images. However I can’t help myself and end up inserting several images. Guy Kawaski uses even more pictures than me! I love photo’s of buildings, people, places, etc. A picture says a 1000 words. I’ve taken inspiration from Jeffery Walker’s image rich and humorous posts. I should write Shorter posts. My longer ones are around 500 words and should be 250. This one is now 430 words, oh dear breaking my New Years resolution already. Oh well roll on 2010..