In Cyprus for a few days

Didn’t write a post for a while as I didn’t have anything worth mentioning to share. I’ve been working and learning intensively for the last few months and now for the last couple of days I’m in Cyprus to visit my family and take a short break from my life in Scotland.

Catching up with friends made me realise how much I’ve grown since 2010. Being an entrepreneur and screwing up shit lots of times probably plays a role to my “growth”.

Most of my friends received their degrees as well and are having their first jobs.

I have to note that the Cypriot economy has faced a huge decline during the global economic crisis period. I had a couple of conversations with some people who started their own small businesses and I had the opportunity to talk to friends that work for established international companies; these are some of the ways people try to help the island to get back on its feet.

It’s nice to see, but I see a lack of business education. The small business owners don’t really know their target audiences and their market in general. They also tend to use as their only marketing tool their Facebook page, that’s not the way to go.

In the other hand established firms seem to have a difficulty to let the wrong employees go. This tends to cause problems and bottom line it won’t really help the economy recover anytime soon.

This post is very informal and it’s just my way of saying that there is a big need for entrepreneurial/business education in the island of Cyprus. People also need to start thinking global for once.

Pitching

I suck at pitching Groupmates. I think, mainly because of the number of people that are adding effort and ideas in the pitch’s content.

During the second day of the Converge Challenge’s 2 days training, we focused on pitching. Now I think I am ready to submit a video pitch before the 7th, the deadline of the application.

During the training the follow points were emphasized:

– First consider who’s my audience? What are the audience’s expectations, what do they know, what do they need?

Points to include (not in particular order):

1 – Introduce myself: Name, Company, Position
2 – What’s the problem i’m solving?
3 – What’s my solution and USP (Magic)?
4 – Market size?
5 – Team (When our team is actually something really strong, at the current stage we can skip it)
6 – Current status (Trialed it? Prototype? Funding? Awards? Customer feedback? [Show that someone else believes in what we are doing])
7 – Call to action

Use an anecdote, example, a statistic, a quote, a testimonial, a visual aid (prop, slide, video-clip), analogies, metaphors..things that can grab the audience’s attention, add some color in what I am talking about.

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Preparing for an interview to land a job I love.

Shower √

Pill before food √

Shower and pill before breakfast are done. The two frist things I do every morning before I start reading news and then move on to the rest of my day. I’ve already read some news – mostly business, new product, and marketing related such as today’s three articles of my choice.

1. Tricks about Windows 10 from the @verge: http://www.theverge.com/2015/7/29/9060177/microsoft-windows-10-update-changes-browser-start-menu-cortana-xbox – The reason for reading this is obvious, I updated my Windows yesterday.

2. My marketing and new product reading material came together in a post by @TheNextWeb regarding Tagplay, a tool that lets you update you update your website using your own social media profiles: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/07/29/tagplay-lets-you-manage-website-content-using-social-media-and-hashtags/ – I guess I found my toy for this weekend.

3. Third but not least is a post by one of my favourite life hackers, investor and author, Tim Ferriss. The post is named the Not-To-Do list. We all know that we do things that kill our productivity, here is a list of 9 habits: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/07/29/tagplay-lets-you-manage-website-content-using-social-media-and-hashtags/

Today I won’t leave my home before 12 noon, though. You probably noticed that this is my first post in a long while. Since January 2015, I’ve been dealing with health issues such as depression and stress. Needless to say, I ended up in the doctor’s office about a month ago, with unexplained pains etc. That is where the pill before breakfast comes, I need to help my nervous system to work properly and digest food properly. This is a small part of my treatment. The most important part of my treatment is changing my diet, going back to the gym, and find a job that I love and provides me with income.

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Law firms

Never use the same law firm for your patents that the university you’re dealing with is, the university is a bigger customer, they’ll destroy you.

I asked if it’s a good idea to have accounts with two law firms. The answer was no. I think I’ll need to learn for myself though.

If you’re shipping your products with any company such as FedEx, try to have two accounts in case of strikes.

 

Converge challenge day 1

For all of you in Scotland who are students or recent graduates and are thinking to start a business I suggest you to give a try to the Converge Challenge.

Alister Minty, the first person to talk to us today, asks who made a research for him or any other of the trainers before coming to the training. No-one did, and that will help us remember to do so every time we are attending a meeting with someone in relation to our company.

Alister’s background is quite interesting, so I’d suggest you look him up. He is one of the Indigo Vision founders.

30 second pitch is on!

From the pitches, I can say there are many nice and promising businesses. Hopefully people will think the same about us.

Amongst there is a company who sold out its stock initially, and Alister’s interesting question was “How painful was it when people wanted your product, but you couldn’t provide it to them?” – My suggestion, is that you think about it, and have scenarios in place to react to that.

The other one was a question about the return policy. Think about your strategy as well.

Cash

Businesses consume a lot of cash! Want to raise investment? Network, drink lots of bad coffee, and begin in a creative way.

The responsibility you have when you ask for investment, is the commitment of telling the truth. If you lie in order to get the cash, you can lose everything and more!

 

Communication VS Collaboration

The argument

There has been an argument we’ve been trying to answer at Groupmates for a while now. The argument in question is what does a communication online tool offer and what does a collaboration online tool offer?

Communication VS Collaboration

When someone simply asks what is communication or what is collaboration, the answer is very simple. The two definitions:

Communication is the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.

Collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce something.

But after defining a concept, we need to actually create the tools necessary for people to use based on the concept.

Groupmates VS others

In order to understand our differences with our competition, we had to first understand what is the aim (or the aims) of our competitors’ technologies. It turns out that most of them [competitors] are developing tools, amazing technologies which allow their users to communicate in different forms. It could be through instant messages, video or voice communication, through exchanging documents or more. No matter where we looked, the main element was communication.

At Groupmates it has been clear since we started in July 2014 that our main objective is collaboration and that should remain in our technology’s core. But knowing what you want to achieve is the first element. Then you need to figure out how to achieve it, and finally making sure that people or specific segments of people need it.

What do we know?

Today we are certain that students in higher education need proper collaboration environments. How do we know? Simple, we asked them.

We also started asking several business owners and employees from different business types and sizes, about their challenges when it comes to collaboration. They all say that there are many ways for their teams to communicate, but there are messages that are forgotten, or tasks that remain unfinished, and lots of mistakes that cost to their businesses money; money they could save if they could avoid basic misunderstandings.

We are not the first to figure that out though, some lovely people at Cognisco, a company that specializes in different areas of human resources, undertook a research about 7 years ago, with the aim to figure out the real costs behind employees misunderstanding. A screenshot of the research findings is going to give you the message.

$37B wasted every year!

 

The saddest thing is that most businesses don’t even realize that the problem exists before we actually ask them a couple of questions which lead them to the realization of the problem.

How do we make sure that you collaborate on Groupmates?

In order to make sure that Groupmates is developed and designed with collaboration in its core we had to go back to the basics and give a more complete definition to collaboration; a definition that we could then take and make it into a feasible product.

With communication being an essential element of collaboration, we make clear that for collaboration to take place, a team/group of people needs to have a clear common goal in mind. Each group member, also needs to have access to the right information at any time they may need it. The right information will help the groupmates to start conversations with the right people, take decisions with confidence and more.

To make sure that we make this happen, we need to ask the right questions and also make it super easy for the users. Easy to use is essential, as for collaboration to happen online, every member of the group should be using the same tool, otherwise is useless.

Asking the right questions could be tricky. For this reason we are currently working with a scientist who helps us understand how groups of people work together more effectively in theory. Then we take this theory and we try to understand it in a more practical manner. After we really understand the theory, we design a function. When the function is designed, is necessary that we ask current and potential users of what they think about it. Then we try to develop it.

There is no part of our development process that is easy to do. In order to do it right, we need a lot of work. From now on, I will try to post some of my understandings on how groups work according to cognitive science, biology, philosophy of mind, psychology and more sciences. I will also try to include findings from my conversations with different institutions and explain to the few readers of this blog how we may make use of these understandings and findings. I won’t share any information about new tools that our team at Groupmates or what it may be disclosed information for safety reasons.