Friday, August 29, 2008

Tonight @ The Church with HearNowLive!

tonight (Aug 29th) @ Church Boston with HearNowLive!
I'll let you know how it went :-)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The work of a critic

How the work of a critic affects the startup worldBecause I'm such a fan of Bijan Sabet's way of thinking, although I've seen this movie a while back, reading his blog this morning about the work of a critic and a truly great quote from Ratatouille (the movie), I'm reblogging.
I'm a sinner in attaching emotions to my professional achievements, and in the entrepreneurship space (maybe in all), it's a risky business. So I will take quotes that put things in perspective in a heartbeat:

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends” (via IMDB)

That line came from the fictional food critic character, Anton Ego, played by Peter O’Toole.

Bijan said:

"It’s a great quote and something that all of us in the startup world should remember."

I agree

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Finally, some results

One of the best things about getting out there with a product launch, as minor as it may be (feature and exposure-wise), is that you start getting data and learn from it.
And we gained a LOT of knowledge about how to work with the bands, promote the keyword/shortcode to the fans, and much more. It's not to say though that we're clever now about it: we've got lots more learning and homework to do.

Still, between Aug 16th with McAlister Drive and Aug 23rd with the 5-bands HearNowLive Hard Rock Cafe show, over 10% of the fans engaged at the venue with our service, got to the mobile web pages, some downloaded content and browsed more than one page. more fans visited the site after the gig. We're making some progress on promotions etc.
Again, disclaimer language here, but I think this is great news. It is a first evidence that there that relationship between the artists and fans at and after the gig, and that advertisers are interested in that exposure. I'm really happy with it, for this initial stage (we're shooting for higher numbers, but that would come with many more features).

We're going to be hopefully back on stage with the bands this Friday at the Church Boston. And I'm looking for bands to try this out, if you like, write us.

For your enjoyment, here's McAlister Drive's Shoutout:

I'll get back to work now!

Monday, August 25, 2008

For Gen Y, Music is Oxygen

Great post on YPulse from Larry Weintraub, the CEO of Fanscape, following an interesting survey on Music behavior of Gen Y, both are must-reads.
Due to lack of time, I'll reblog some of the key points from Lirix CEO (and add):
  • Youth Still Aren't Paying For Music...
  • Youth Discover New Music Through Social Media
  • Artwork is important
  • Concerts Are Cool, When They're Cheap
  • Music Isn't Mobile...Yet
  • But understand this, they love music. They consume more music than previous generations.
  • The takeaway is that these young people have grown up in a generation where recorded music is traded, downloaded, and consumed with very little monetary exchange...

Young people today may not be exchanging much of their money for recorded music but they are giving their time.

This is exactly what Adva Mobile is all about: Figure out this ecosystem where:
  • There is plenty of creativity (artists)
  • There is plenty of demand (fans)
  • Traditional revenue channels need to be replaced

Friday, August 22, 2008

This Weekend!

HearNowLive Concert at Hard Rock Cafe Aug 23rd with Adva MobileThanks to amazing Mark from HearNowLive, this weekend again we get to support great artists at the Hard Rock Cafe show on Aug 23rd. We've learned a lot from last week and will try to do better this week.
It's going to be great fun, I'll be there and be happy to meet you!

Michael Bernier & THE UPRISING:
Get Michael Bernier track on your phone text mybandocean to 70734

Get Dagger or a Dram track on your phone text mybandda to 70734

Kings of Crisis:
Get Kings of Crisis track on your phone text mybandki to 70734

Get Stem track on your phone text mybandStem to 70734

The Gardner Shakedown:
Get Gardner track on your phone text mybandga to 70734

Friday, August 15, 2008

Our first (soft) launch: McAlister Drive, tomorrow night

McAlister Drive tomorrow on stage, with Adva Mobile
I'm pretty hyped about this. During the last few months we've been working at Adva Mobile on an exciting new mobile marketing service for emerging artists and advertisers.
A word of background:
Adva Mobile creates highly targeted mobile inventory for advertisers by enabling mobile campaign services for "starving" and passionate artists, who are interested in creating, and growing mobile "mobs" of fan-followers. We will provide the artist with a complete mobile campaign service.
The service is free to the fan, free to the artist.

We've been listening to the advertisers, the artists, the fans and the investment community. They've all been saying: "GET OUT THERE!".
And that's exactly what we're up to.

On Saturday, Christoph Krey, who is an unbelievably talented person and musician, and the leader of a band called McAlister Drive, will perform at Boston's Hard Rock Cafe. During a breather, he's going to shout out:
"If you like my music, you can have it on your phone, right now, FREE. Grab it, set it as your Ringtone, do with it whatever you like. Come back to my gigs for more, bring your friends with you.

Text McAlister to 70734

Christoph is a typical artist who understands the critical role fans play in his art. He loves his art and if he could, one day he'd like to make this his "day job". What he also knows is that his fans are mobile savvy, they love him and his music, and would like to listen to it continuously on their music phones.
He gets it, and not only that, he knows his mainstream content is available for his fans on MySpace, for example. So he knew that they'd love a new piece straight from the studio, exclusively available for mobile.

Christoph will also have something from his fans from our friends at Nimbit. I've seen it today, it is really cool.

Tomorrow night is a 5 months dream come true. Lots of work and effort has been put into this, and we're going to watch the results closely.
I'd like to give credit to Adva Mobile team, and also to the incredible help and promptness of Noushad and Kang from Textopoly who are facilitating the mobile messaging piece.

If you're outside the US, cross your fingers for us. if you're in the US, text McAlister to 70734.
Are you still waiting?!

Fundraising Survival Guide (Paul Graham from YC)

Fund raising Survival
Catching up on some reading, I read this morning Paul Graham's must-read article on fund raising. He really nails it and pours the much-needed cold water on the entrepreneur's head. He deals well with the emotional side of it by presenting the numbers and strategies to deal with the downfalls.

If I read it right, entrepreneurs shouldn't assume funding will become available: they have 1 in 500 chances of getting funded. (BTW, I think I heard some statistics that post funding, 1 of 8 startups will live to "expectations"). And yes I do agree that there's a bit of herd mentality as far as the way the investment community acts (if you've been rejected by one, you have a good chance by being rejected by the other, cause a- naturally, they talk and b- your morale deteriorates with every rejection). That one, effectively, is yet another unfair advantage to the investment community: entrepreneurs, specifically first timers or younger ones (which the investment community naturally likes), are suspicious of one another. The innovation that's happening today is far more market and idea driven then IP or technology driven. So the entrepreneurs are less likely to collaborate at these early stages. And frankly, TheFunded may have been a nice little stunt, but I just can't see how other entrepreneurs on there would reveal the kind of sensitive and relevant information that'd be useful to me.

Maybe another peel of the onion, let's see:
  • "Taking care of business"/"Being independent": bootstrapping isn't the strategy; Consulting is bad. (at least according to one VC who commented: "We try to avoid companies that got bootstrapped with consulting. It creates very bad behaviors/instincts that are hard to erase from a company’s culture." I must assume that they're not the only ones to think that)
  • Keep expectations low, Don't take rejection personally, stay optimistic: So that's one of those correct, accurate, useful points to make, that probably distinguish outstanding entrepreneurs from others, and present a contradiction in themselves
  • Keep Working: I really liked that one. There's a natural tendency to bring the "mob" to the meeting, and then the question is: does everyone need to be in every meeting? How does this affect your productivity and momentum?
Perhaps another relevant input from recent learning, is "where the money is" blurb (this may be relevant only to the market I'm looking at, mobile media):
  • VC are well upstream, deep pockets, 1 of 2-3 thousend chance in getting funded etc. You need to be well established with product, revenues and very happy large set of customers
  • Angels and their groups moved well upstream, too. This may be specific to this market, but they now seem to be after plays that have product, customers and revenues ("we usually come in to accelerate market and team growth, we don't like to invest in development, for example, because we can't contribute to it with our expertise"). "We don't really do seed". A side comment, the groups I've been dealing with like to see themselves as successful entrepreneurs themselves, execution guys. "Talk to us in operational terms". I think they LOVE to give advice on your product and some of them would just LOVE to see your MySql records, but would simply like to avoid the risk and hassle of the development stage
  • Moving on...Friends & Family? sure..maybe. I've heard someone say: "would you take your mom's savings if you knew this wasn't enough and couldn't guarantee a follow up?"
Where I am today in my mind is that fund raising is a necessary evil that has to happen because bootstrapping is unlikely to happen or get you there even if you braved it. You're unlikely to get funded and even if you did, it's got so much risk attached to it.

Specifically, I find that investors and others see the mobile channel as highly unique and lucrative, however when it comes to figures or investment attractiveness, they attach web equivalents as far as ease of market entry, profitability and other measures. Perhaps because they are protecting their interests, perhaps because they have no experience to suggest otherwise, or perhaps they are well outside the demographics of users who will easily distinguish between mobile and web.

I wonder if the investment community is comfortable with that view. They probably are: there are so many of us and so few of them. must be very flattering.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How to stop the evolution of an ecosystem

Twitter SMS mess
I thought of a good name for this post, because it just so happens I just read a few blogs talking about the Twitter SMS mess. Frankly, I feel sorry for Tweeter: not that they couldn't handle it better, it's just that I did the math a couple weeks ago:
Each MT SMS is between $0.04-$0.01 for high volumes. Add $1K-$2K "connectivity" and add the fun $500-$1,000/month for shortcodes.
Set your revenue at $5 CPM, maybe $0.1 CPC, and you'll get a nice little equation that in a visit depth of 2 (mobile) pages/visit, you may be loosing $0.03 per message.
So I'm sure there's plenty of ways for a web+mobile service to leverage web advertising or sales, however the above equation makes it tough for emerging mobile startups to enter this market, which is good if you're in, bad if you're not.
That's the startup side. what's the operator side? Operators are making $ every time an SMS is being sent by the subscriber, or to the subscriber, from the subscriber. Typically operators would charge subscribers $0.10 - $0.25 per SMS if you don't have it in your plan, or $5-$10 for a package of 200 messages. As mentioned above, operators also make money when a service sends an SMS to the subscriber (MT).
So let's see...the service pays the operator while really the service is a revenue generator for the operator.

To some degree I agree with people saying "kill the SMS" as the 160-chars economics make no sense compared to data plans that will be introduced to the sea of iPhone and Blackberries and the likes.
Give us Email-like economics (and richness) and the immediacy nature of SMS, please.

The good news for now, if you get to the messaging volume that Twitter generates, some operators will pay you to be in business. Until then, sweet dreams...

Ad supported music: MySpace Music vs. imeem

Ad supported music features MySpace music vs. imeemFortune published an excellent article about the upcoming competition between imeem and soon-to-be-launched MySpace music.
(Lirix CEO Blogs:) "The piece contains some good information regarding CPM rates at the online ad-supported music services. The author points out the dilemma well known to those in the field - that these rates are quite low.

Ad-supported music will not escape the low ceiling of online display advertising CPMs until it moves from streaming to downloaded tracks."

Beyond this must-read article, what I found interesting are the numbers. imeem CPM=$4? wow, not bad. I'm hearing not to bet on $5 on mobile CPM, knowing location, age and possibly gender.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Crazy week

Entrepreneurship...Hope I got what it takesLast week was probably one of the most intense weeks I ever had. I was on the top of the world on Monday and Tuesday, and even though I knew odds are low to get the response I was looking to hear on Tuesday, I wasn't prepared to hear anything else.
There's something weird about preparing to hear the answer you don't want to hear. I'm not sure you can ever really be prepared for it, and stay optimistic in the process.
Anyway, the second half went downhill. I didn't get quite the response I wanted to hear. Got me stressed. I then interpreted messages to be personal messages and in return hurt someone who is very dear to me.
Life in a startup is a roller coaster (or maybe New England weather). Perseverance, keep motivated and patience are the game. I hope I'll learn to see it through.

Here's some good reading on the team process that was new to me...

I want one: TMO UK Launches 3G Blackberry Bold

Blackberry Bold: I want one
(3G) UK : T-Mobile announced an expansion of its BlackBerry smartphone portfolio with the launch of the BlackBerry Bold smartphone from Research In Motion (RIM), which will be available in shops and online from September 2008.

The BlackBerry Bold features a premium design and unprecedented performance to increase the ability of T-Mobile customers to work effectively whilst away from the office. As the first BlackBerry smartphone available from T-Mobile to support 3G (HSDPA) networks, the BlackBerry Bold allows business users to download email attachments, stream video or render web pages more quickly than ever before. T-Mobile's 3G network coverage is among the best in the UK and will provide almost complete population coverage by 2009 as a result of the innovative 3G radio access network sharing agreement with 3 UK

For additional high-speed network coverage, the BlackBerry Bold smartphone supports the 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi® standards. It is also the first BlackBerry smartphone to support tri-band HSDPA high-speed networks around the world, including the Far East.

With this powerful new smartphone, users can talk on the phone while sending and receiving email or accessing the web, and the BlackBerry Bold also allows users to download Word, Excel or PowerPoint email attachments and edit them directly on the handset with the preinstalled DataViz® Documents to Go® software suite “ a great advantage for those working on the go. The BlackBerry Bold also comes with a 2 megapixel camera that supports video capture and a media player for taking entertainment on the go. It includes 1 GB of on-board storage memory, as well as a microSD/SDHC memory card slot for additional storage of music, video, pictures and office documents*.

The BlackBerry Bold will be available to all T-Mobile Business 1-Plan customers. The Business 1-Plan tariff enables companies to reap more value from their mobile communications investment by building a truly flexible allowance of voice, data, texts and international calls “ removing the complexity of surrounding costs by providing one simple plan tailored to meet the user's mobile communication needs.

Business 1-Plan includes calls from the UK to Europe and North America as T-Mobile recognises that many business transactions are no longer confined to the UK.

Oliver Chivers, Head of Business Marketing, T-Mobile UK, said: As greater number of businesses recognise the benefits of mobile working, demand for mobile broadband connectivity speeds is escalating rapidly. T-Mobile customers using the BlackBerry Bold smartphone will have access to one of the most innovative mobile business devices on the market supported by a network that independent tests reveal delivers a superior mobile broadband experience. For the business world, this translates into opportunities to extend the boundaries of productivity and efficiency."

The BlackBerry Bold also features integrated GPS with support for location based applications and services such as satellite navigation with local search capabilities, a valuable tool for remote and mobile workers traveling to a meeting at a new venue or for locating the nearest petrol station. It also features Bluetooth® 2.0, with support for hands-free headsets, stereo headsets, car kits and other Bluetooth peripherals

Adding to its wealth of functionality, the BlackBerry Bold provides access to email (including attachment viewing), text and instant messaging, organiser, web and other mobile applications. Chivers adds: We already know that business users are incrediblyenamoured with the capabilities of their BlackBerry smartphones. The BlackBerry Bold from T-Mobile offers all the features they expect, as well as a range of advanced functionality that enhance its business benefits. We are sure it will prove a popular choice with both SME and enterprise customers

Congrats to the RIM & Marvel team!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

TMO USA Gets it

T-Mobile US reverses mobile content business modelI've been lucky to witness a change in operator's state of mind regarding how they handle content on their portals. One could see the continuum between full control over what's happening on-deck (Orange is a great example with their brand-awareness driven complete portal) and the opposite. The opposite approach is that the operator will choose a handful operator agnostic players in each category, and feature those on their deck.
What's the difference in business models?
In the former, the operator is the customer. They buy/license the content, the technology, and they make the relationship with the vendor work forever, if possible. They are responsible when their revenues drop because people would rather go P2P+Sideload. The operator has an upfront cost (which they would clearly like to avoid) and higher share of the recurring revenues. The vendor may get something upfront, but (specifically in the music busienss) very little in the long run on recurring revenues share.
That business model is not aligned with the win-win strategy which motivates both the operator and vendor to create a healthy long-term service to the fan that would create a solid recurring revenue channel.
The latter, the vendor has the responsibility to create a successful product (they claim they know what they're doing right?) and launch it to their audience. The operator offers access to their subs and exposure on marketing slots, in return to a no-upfront fees and lower share on the recurring revenues.
That works.
No upfront fees, a universal (perhaps white-labeled) product that allows the vendor to launch in multiple context in an economic fashion, and high motivation to create a long term sticky service.
Vodafone UK got it a while back, and now TMO US is announcing something similar.
The real open network.

The Story Behind Sting's Onstage Shave In NYC

Billboard has the story of Sting's shave during concert, and they say it was a product placement for a NY Men's grooming club. They say no money exchanged hands. I could see how the club would be mighty fine with that arrangement, but why on earth would Sting go through this for free? Sorry, the "desperate to look innovative" story doesn't work for me.
If anyone could enlighten me....

(Added:) I usually look for pictures to make my posts just a bit more fun. couldn't find one I liked so went and watched the video. Apologies to Sting's fans, I am one too. But this made me sick. Talk about advertising intrusiveness.