Posts Tagged ‘FOWA’

The pointbreak of a live demo & product launch

October 5, 2009

There’s been much talk of demo’s and launches over the last  month with TechCrunch50 and DEMOfall09. It’s also been at the fore front of our minds with our startups launch and live demo at FOWA, London. I’ve posted about the pro’s and con’s launching at startup conferences. Launching at an event is an emotional roller coaster of a ride with the preparation effort required, pre-event expectations and then the post launch reality. Looking  back the launch peak is a brief moment in time after a long development  journey and before the journey to acquire real customers begins.

Killer WaveKiller Wave (Source: Telegraph ‘Beautiful but deadly’ )

Great  advice on  live demo and launch for startups includes: RRW and Jason Calacanis – Part 1 and Part 2.

Sean Power: “It may be the single biggest traffic spike you’ll ever experience.”, “After the bump, you’ll feel a tremendous rush of adrenaline, then deep, soul-sucking disillusionment as your traffic dwindles back to its former levels.”

There is so much effort needed to build and develop a product in preparation for a five minute launch demo (forgive me for my reminiscing links to many of my past posts):

  1. Finding the team – Getting a great team together is not easy but it’s key to a successful startup.
  2. Identifying the opportunity – Finding a killer idea first of is near-on-impossible or at least improbable.
  3. Getting the investment – Making the money last long enough to build a working saleable product is a ‘Scrooge’ like challenge.
  4. Building the app – Staying on target and not veering off on another exciting project is tricky.
  5. Polishing the app – This takes time and you don’t have much of it. The devil is unfortunately in the detail.
  6. Making it scalable – To prepare to scale or not to scale is a difficult question. No one knows the traffic and usage you will get.
  7. Preparing a memorable demoIn summary Jason Calacanis says: show the product quickly; give a succinct presentation; temp the audiences; talk about accomplishments rather than roadmaps and show understanding of the competition.

Wow, what a journey!! This is why many startups fail to ever get a product  finailsed and launched. The decisions made during each of the above stages directly affects the outcome of the final 5 minute demo. However  this onstage  peak is only a brief  moment in time and a pause before the start of  a new journey.

After the curtains have closed at the conference its when the real hard work starts. You now have to convince customers and investors. The good news is that your startup will be taken a little more seriously because you’ve got a product. However, doubt will remain and very few really believe you have a good idea that will succeed because you have no customers. You now need to be flexible,  customer centric and have  a renewed determination to succeed.

The live demo launch is yet another emotionally intense thrill ride for startup founders. It is a deadline which gets things done and moves your startup towards the all important goal of getting customers.  “Buckel up because Kansas is going bye, bye.” – For the  5 minute demo anyway and then it’s back to reality 😉


On route with the FOWA Tour ’09

June 11, 2009

Phew – the inaugural whistle stop Future Of Web Apps (FOWA)  UK Tour has finished. I attended 3 of the 4 Tour stops: Leeds, Cambridge and Bristol. The Tour was a condensed version of the highly successful  Carsonified FOWA conferences. This was the first time  Carsonified had taken the UK tour on the road. The aim of FOWA is to help developers, freelancers and entrepreneurs learn and socialize. On the Tour we met many wonderful people and heard some great talks.

london-bus_frontTaking the Tour out of London (a conceptual London bus)

The Tour followed the same format for each venue: big company demo in the morning and other talks in the afternoon. This was followed by speed networking and then drinks in the evening. The demo from Microsoft’s David  Gristwood was on the Azure’s solid architecture and road map; Simone  Brunozzi  from Amazon Web Services gave a very useful demo of EC2/S3; and Doug  Merrett/Simon Wheeldon from showed how simple it was building an app on fly with Tony Lucus of Flexiscale also demonstrated their Cloud platform at the Cambridge event.

Many of the attendees I spoke too at each event felt that the corporate sessions were too much of a pitch. I guess they were sponsoring the event to keep ticket prices  down. The managed hosting providers EveryCity also sponsored the Tour and took heaps of photos of attendees wearing EveryCity stickers in the most unusual places:


Nick Barker
(Some will do anything to get their photo taken 😉
vote me & silly hat to win, click here )

2st Stop – Leeds – “Fares.. please”

Simon  Collison from Erskine Design gave an entertaining talk about building client trust. Simon high recommended involving customers in an Agile feedback loop to create a usable app. An important point we need to remember. Dan Rubin then gave a wonderful talk on designing intuitive user interfaces which mimic non-frustrating real world physical interfaces. Dan used great images of taps, buttons and door handles/locks. Like his slide deck: Keep it simple, don’t over design and “don’t give instructions to users” – if you do the apps not intuitive. Next up was Lorna Mitchell, a senior developer  from iBuildings, who talked about developing in PHP and database architecture. Click for Lorna’s slide deck. Finally Ryan Carson of Carsonified gave an excellent talk on marketing web apps through on-line measurement and building social capital. Ryan’s slide deck to follow..

3rd Stop – Cambridge – “Hold tight..”

First up was Wil  Harris of ChannelFlip with a wort’s n’ all presentation on “Lessons learned starting a successful digital media publication with no budget, no technology and no idea”. The key message was start something, NOW! Then learn and iterate. With an offering in 87 countries Stefan Magdalinski of gave an insightful talk about scaling and growing an international business. The American market proved to be the most demanding. Dorothy Briggs of Rabbitsoft then gave a talk on using Web2.0 in the Enterprise. Our startup knows all about Enterprise 2.0. Last but no means least was the charismatic German Christian Heilmann from Yahoo. Christian gave an enjoyable and entertaining talk on Yahoo’s exciting YQL API platform. The Tech crowd loved it!

4th Stop – Bristol – “All alight”

Our good friend Andy McLoughlin from Huddle give an excellent talk on partnering. Click here for Andy’s deck. His advice to finding partners was as to über network and get lucky. Once found, partnerships take  a long time to develop and can be challenging to finalize. You also need the ability to scale rapidly.  The next presenter was Ian Broom of Weboo. Ian give a useful reminder on goal setting, having fun and staying fit to be being super effective.  Richard Healy from BaseKit then gave a talk on their exciting new DIY website building app. Like our website monitoring app they are also  in alpha 🙂 Last up was Dan Rubin again, who gave a very similar presentation to his outstanding Leeds talk.

The speed networking was very intense. After the sixth person I generally started to loose all ability to speak.  However it was good to meet so many people in such a short period as we made some great new friends 🙂

I last attended a 3 day London FOWA in 2007 and taking FOWA into the regions proved to be a great idea. It shows there is startup life and thriving web community  outside of London. Roll on the next Tour!

Dan Ruben gave a excellent talk on designing intuitive user interfaces which mimic natural and unfrustrating physical interfaces. Click here for Dan’s slide dec

Summer of Love: Geek n’Rolla, Internet World, djangocon, FOWA Tour & Fuel

April 20, 2009

Simon Oxley, my co-founder, and I are attending several UK/European conferences this summer. If your also going to be at any of these let us know and we’ll hook-up. We’re really looking forward to them all 🙂