Package like a pro – new packaging startup

PakibleI just came across Pakible, a packaging startup. A what? Yes, a packaging startup. As more and more people are selling making and selling their own products, it does nothing for its appearance to just stick it in a brown box you found at the supermarket. That is why I am really interested in Pakible. It brands 10 boxes for you for $10. That must be a bargain. To be honest, I am kind of annoyed that they do it in the US. I thing there is lots of opportunity for something like this worldwide.

Oh, and for those of you that have read the book The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss, here is another idea. Imagine combining a startup like Pakible with a drop shipping company and shipping your own product in your own branded box. That has to make you feel like Apple…

Let’s meet… Pick helps you find availability with your contacts

pick-screenshotAs you will know, I am always interested in meeting new people when I’ve got the time. There have been countless attempts to make that happen. Once, long ago, I even tried to build my own startup around this idea. However, I have yet to find one that is useful.
Yesterday Pick launched. It promises to make the process easier. I am interested to see what it does for me. Are you? Check when I am available at:

Free iPhoto with Yosimite

iPhoto-iconGood news for Mac owners that still use iPhoto 9 and are now upgrading their Mac to Yosimite. Only last week it would still have cost you money to upgrade your iPhoto 9 version up to the newer app store version. Which is the main reason why I never did it. After all, iPhoto 9 was working fine, so there was no need. But now that I upgraded to Yosimity, all of a sudden it did not start anymore. At first I was annoyed that Apple would force me to buy the new iPhoto through not making the OS X update compatible. But when checking, the new app was now free from the app store. Nice.

PO-raad niet geïnteresseerd in basisonderwijs buiten de Randstad?

Doet het basisonderwijs buiten de Randstad er nog wel toe voor de PO-Raad, de sectorraad voor het basisonderwijs in Nederland. Of tenminste, ik dacht tot nog toe dat de PO-raad de sectorraad was voor heel Nederland. Maar vanochtend las ik met verbazing de uitspraak van de voorzitter van de PO-raad, Rinda den Besten, op Naar aanleiding van het sluiten van 100 scholen in heel Nederland legde ze een duidelijke scheiding tussen de Randstad -het deel van Nederland dat er blijkbaar toe doet- en de rest van Nederland.
Tegenover de NOS verklaart zij over het sluiten van scholen in dorpen:

“Die dorpen liggen vooral in de krimpgebieden. In Noord-Groningen, Zeeland en Limburg. Daar is de leerlingendaling het grootst. Dat betekent dat er dus meer basisscholen verdwijnen of moeten samenwerken.

Maar ook de Randstad, en het midden van het land krijgen er nu mee te maken. “Het komt dichterbij”, zegt Den Besten.”

Over het algemeen een prima uitspraak, wat mij betreft, maar dat laatste “Het komt dichterbij” schoot bij mij wel even verkeerd. Alsof je het over iets hebt dat tot nu toe helemaal geen enkele relatie heeft gehad tot het werk van de sectorraad voor het basisonderwijs. Pas nu het langzaam naar de Randstad toe kruipt “komt het dichterbij”. Het klinkt als iets engs dat het basisonderwijs besluipt vanuit donkere uithoeken. Was het daar gebleven, dan had niemand er last van gehad, maar nu “komt het dichterbij”. Laten we zeggen dat dit mij op zijn minst zorgen baart voor de manier waarop de PO-raad kijkt naar de belangen van het basisonderwijs buiten de randstad.

HP retires webOS

290502-hp-webos-logoEverybody knew this was coming and most people didn’t even buy into webOS at the beginning. But the final word is out. HP is retiring its webOS for HP mobile devices on the 15th of January 2015. The app store will still be open until November 1st and updates can be submitted until the 10th. HP promises the device will still work after the 15th of January 2015, but you can no longer retrieve a lost password. Which might be tricky.

Anyway, the end of an ill fated era. Lots of people didn’t really believe the Palm phone series would work, and as a self fulfilling prophesy they sure didn’t. HP says it is now 3 years after they sold their last device and it is time to end the whole thing. Interestingly, webOS now has been openSourced and is apparently sponsored by LG that uses it in their smart TV’s. So, there might be an opening there for that handful of Palm owners. They might still be able to watch some TV on their devices.

Can we move away from watches, please?, I know, I am probably not the one to say anything, but I am getting annoyed by the fact that wearables are now defined by watches. It seems that when you are now considering new technology, it really just is the same technology, but in a watch. To me the whole thing has probably come to a climax with’s watch that was presented at Dreamforce yesterday. The whole idea of having to wear a jacket with a battery pack to make sure your watch will actually work for 2.5 days is incredibly stupid. (Even though charging through touching the sleeve sounds pretty cool.) Just as a backpack that will count your steps and weigh you. Whoever thought of this? I mean, honestly. Yes, I understand that there are millions of people wearing watches and that it can be pretty convenient to see on your watch whether you need to ignore yet another call or message. But a backpack that counts your steps? Couldn’t the watch itself do that? Or leave it to the phone in your pocket? And then, I haven’t started about battery life yet. A phone should be something that you set and forget. You wear it around your wrist for the convenience of knowing the time, and perhaps doing some other fancy things. But you really don’t want to have an item that you rely on to tell you when to be where and then find out that you forgot to charge it that one night and subsequently miss your train, your meeting with your boss and getting fired in the process. Ok, that might be putting it a bit too strongly, but in my opinion a watch should at least be capable of being on for a while. The Pebble lasts a week on a charge, so that will at least allow you to be at work on time, perhaps leaving you late for church on Sunday when you forget to charge it.

seiko-msDo I hate watches? Not really. Even though I haven’t really worn one for years. Do I hate smart watches? Nope, not that either. In fact, some 20 years ago, when Seiko released the Message Watch, I was one of the first to own one. Even though reception in my area was flaky to say the least and there weren’t many useful services. But man, did it feel cool to have that. So, 20 years later, we really are just back at that stage, albeit with bigger full color and touch displays. Great.

But whatever happened to real progress? Don’t knock me here, but honestly, Google Glass was a cool wearable that we don’t really hear about anymore. At least it was something that really added to your every day experience. Though you would probably need a backpack of batteries to have it work throughout the day. Where is the real innovation here? Another display on your wrist is not going to change your world. So, even though I might end up with a smart watch again at some point -if I find a useful one- I am really just looking forward to the next step. What will it be? Levi’s smart pants? The i501.0?

Marc Andreessen and how a VC sees 6M in seed funding


Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 11.20.46On Tuesday, Marc Andreessen tweeted an insight into how VC’s treat the amounts of money raised and the labels attached to them. His tweet said:

Cautionary note: No competent VC is actually fooled when you show up after raising $6M in seed financing and say you’re now raising an A!

Obviously he was quickly answered by lots of people offering examples of companies that raised more than 6 million dollars in their seed round. However, if you follow the conversation, I do not think that the amount raised in a seed round was his motivation to tweet about this. It was about making startup founders aware about the way VC’s look at startups. Startup founders need to be aware that VC’s will put you in their own naming of your round, regardless of what you call it yourself.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 11.20.46In one of his later tweets, he puts the limit for seed funding at about 3 million. Saying that if you go beyond that, it will be seen as raising an A round. And with that statement he also shows how he feels competent VC’s should look at a company that has raised beyond that 3M mark. Because even though you might knock on their doors to raise a round A, in his opinion a VC should be looking at you as raising a B. The difference being that you will be judged much harder on your progress, your product and your traction. They need to be up to B standards to be able to raise that extra cash.

To me, this also shows that startups have to be intelligent about the amount of money they are raising at which stage. Even if you have an opportunity to raise more, that might not always be beneficial. Because you might not have the insight that raising 4M will get you ready for being judged to B round standards. Which might mean that raising under 3M and be able to raise more in future rounds might be much more beneficial to your startup.

The 4 options for highly congratulated people

Google even congratulates me

Google even congratulates me, but I cannot find a way to say thanks to them personally.

Can you remember waiting for the postman for hand written cards and only receiving two handfuls on your birthday? I can. I would be overjoyed to get them and then display them for weeks. I bet you recognize the feeling. But what a contrast with today. The internet changes everything. Even before breakfast I had over 50 birthday wishes and they keep on coming from all over the world. And as a highly congratulated person, we now have options we never had before…

1. Ignore them
Yes, I know, totally rude. But that really is like it was in the old days. We would get the cards, but we would never send one back. Or did you? I sure did not. But now, we would consider that rude. Or at least, I would. Why? Because there is a difference in the way I congratulate you through social media. It is like shaking your hand. And I wouldn’t like it if I would shake your hand and congratulate you, with you doing something completely different at the same time and ignoring me. So, for me, the first option is probably the worst.

2. Send a general thank you message
This is something that has been getting popular lately. Messages like “I want to thank everyone who has congratulated me today, and I am so overwhelmed by the amount of reactions that I cannot possibly answer to all of them personally.” It seems like a nice thing to do. But is it? I doubt it. There are countless people that have taken time out of their busy schedule to acknowledge your existence and to send you their best wishes. So, how do you repay them? By getting up in a crowded room and saying “Thanks folks, it is great that you all want to shake my hand, but I am not going to shake yours.” Again, that does not really feel good, now does it?

3. Acknowledge the congratulations, then do a general message
Another option. You can like, favorite, +1 or otherwise acknowledge the question. That at least gives people the general idea that you have seen that they want to congratulate you. But you are still not actually interacting with them. It is sitting at your desk, doing your work while sticking your left hand out and keeping your head down so people can shake your hand but not disturb you wile doing it. And then the next morning you get up and say “Oh, yes and thanks everyone who shook my hand. You know who you are and I appreciate it.” Yeah, right. Like I am going to come up to shake that hand again.

4. Thank them. Personally.
For me, this is the only option. People are initiating a conversation with me. They are sticking their hands out waiting to shake mine. So I need to grab theirs and shake them, look them in the eye and respond to them. There really is no other way. You might think I have nothing better to do, but in reality, I love it when people take time out of their busy schedule to show me they appreciate me. Even though it has been a quickly scribbled message on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Ello or another network. By responding, I make sure that they know I appreciate them too. So, yes, this is taking time, but it is also a great way to get back in touch.

Want to test it? Drop me a message. I will respond to all of them personally. I promise. Though it might not be in the first 5 seconds. ;)

De drempel van iOS8

Opmerkingen over iOS8 op TwitterGisteravond konden eigenaren van iPhones en iPads voor het eerst versie 8 installeren van het besturingssysteem, iOS. Dat klinkt natuurlijk goed, maar Apple had er een behoorlijke hobbel in gestopt. Om iOS8 te installeren moest je tenminste 5,6 Gigabyte vrije ruimte hebben op je iPhone of iPad. Dat is nogal wat, zeker als je het basismodel met 16Gb geheugen hebt. Dat betekent dat je bijna een derde van het telefoongeheugen vrij moet maken als je de update uit wilt voeren. Voor veel gebruikers betekende dat, dat ze foto’s, filmpjes, apps, muziek en andere dingen weg moesten gooien van hun iPhone of iPad. Dat is nogal een stap voor een toestel dat je altijd bij je hebt en waarmee je eigenlijk je leven vastlegt.

Gelukkig heeft Apple weinig gebruikers, maar heel veel fans. Mensen die de stap naar een nieuwe iOS toch wel gaan zetten en bereid zijn om daar veel voor te doen. Net zoals ze al veel geld over hadden voor hun telefoon, tablet en accessoires en vaak bereid zijn om iets nieuws aan te schaffen als het uitkomt. Toch is de stap om daadwerkelijk informatie van de telefoon te verwijderen een hele nieuwe. En een stap die veel tijd kost. Toch deden heel veel mensen het. Maar Twitter en Facebook stonden vol met de berichten van mensen die er niet heel gelukkig mee waren.

Is de Volkswagen up! gevaarlijk en eng? De reclame zegt van wel.

Volkswagen-up-aboIk heb altijd gedacht dat de Volkswagen up! gewoon een leuk klein autootje was. Maar de nieuwe reclamereeks voor de Volkswagen up! heeft mij toch even aan het denken gezet. In de reclame wordt een nieuw up! abonnement aangeprezen, waarmee je de up! kunt rijden tegen een redelijk laag maandbedrag. Maar aan het einde komt er ineens een opvallende twist in de reclame.

Toegegeven, de Golden Earring klinkt natuurlijk gewoon lekker. Als er ergens een keer een verzameling met “beste muziek om bij auto te rijden” uitgebracht wordt, dan staat Radar Love er wel op. Dus, dacht Volkswagen, laten we daarmee onze reclame besluiten. Zo gezegd zo gedaan. Ik heb niet goed genoeg geluisterd of er een echte parodie op is gemaakt, of dat mijn brein een Mama appelsap deed. Maar het viel mij op dat de Golden Earring ineens leek te zingen:

I’ve been drivin’ an up!, my hand’s wet on the wheel

En in eerste instantie klinkt dat gewoon lekker. Je ziet Barry Hay al met leren jack en zonnebril achter het stuur van een up! door Den Haag scheuren. En dan dringt de waarheid ineens tot je door. De up! is gewoon eng, of in ieder geval heb je je handen er aan vol om hem te rijden. Want Barry zit wel met natte handjes achter het stuur. Dat overkomt mij nooit in een auto, behalve na een gevaarlijke situatie waarbij de adrenaline door mijn aderen stroomt en het zweet in mijn handen staat.

Sorry Volkswagen, ik denk dat ik de up! toch maar aan mij voorbij laat gaan…

Reading up on the taxi protests has made me wonder whether any of them ever downloaded music

Though you might find this a strange title, please bear with me. Since the launch of Uber, I have been following the company with interest. I love the service. If I am somewhere where I need a taxi, I will first check if there is an Uber available. Why? Not necessarily because of the service itself, but because of the way it fits me.

I like things to be easy for me. I dislike standing in the streets of Paris at night and having to wave my arms off to get a taxi to stop, only to almost experience a case of involuntary kamikaze. Ok, granted, there are many great taxi drivers. Honest. But I like the convenience of a service that I can call wherever I am, that comes to me and that allows me to pay regardless of whether I am carrying cash. And that has changed the way I use taxi’s.

Great. But how about those protests? Are they stupid? Not really. In a way I can see their point. But then again, I cannot. After all, the world is changing. Technology has given us opportunities to do things in ways we had never thought possible 10 years ago. In 2009 I sat at a dinner with the CEO of a large newspaper who was complaining about newspaper sales going down. I asked him why he was surprised. After all, newspapers and their business models have been around since around the 12th century. It was bound to change someday. A couple of months later, I was at a table with several Swiss bankers that assured me that the world would always need banks. Naturally, I showed them that there were initiatives around that could make them completely obsolete.

Times are changing. Business models are changing and the expectations of our customers change faster than most of our businesses can. After all, the taxi licensing system cannot just be scrapped overnight. However, both the taxi drivers as well as the governments need to be prepared to consider doing just that. And I know that that is going to be hard. But creating a way to keep your business profitable against the expectations of your customers is not going to work for long. After all, how many of those artists will have benefitted from (il)legal downloading of songs? Not too long ago they only expected to be purchasing full albums at record stores. And if I may remind you, many of those have had to close. I never saw those on strike either. Not that anyone would have noticed.

The whole idea here is to move on. Yes, you are in an old profession that has cost you a large investment, but what are the earnings in the future? If the only way you can earn money is through the protection of your industry, I am sorry, but you have lost already.

Your tone of voice defines you

The tone of voice in the contact you have with your customers defines you in their minds. This is much more serious than most people think. Because their return business relies on how they feel about you. And that could very well be different from what you believe has been your attitude towards them.

As an example, I just sent an email to a vendor in the US that I have bought an item from. I thanked him for the item, but also told him that Dutch customs read the paperwork he included with the item and charged me extra duties for it. I thought it nice to inform him of this matter because I had never had that happen with his colleague vendors. So, I reckoned he might like to know. Then the return email arrives in which the vendor basically tells me that I just need to suck it up and that it is not his fault.

Granted, he is right. It is not his fault that I got charged extra and he did list that taxes and duties are my responsibility. However, it is the tone of voice of the email that makes me unhappy. By the end of the message, I was feeling as if it were my fault that I bought from him in the first place. And that is the message that will stick. Meaning that I will not do business with George again, if I can help it.

If you get something that you might feel is a complaint from a client, make sure you respond to it correctly. Sympathy goes a long way in securing a next order. If this guy had told me: “Hey, I am sorry to hear that. Thanks for sharing and next time I send something out, I will check whether there are other ways to do this.” That would have made a world of difference. I would have appreciated the response and would have bought from him again.

Be friendly and be compassionate. You often don’t have to offer anything that costs you anything. But if the client feels like you care, that will make all the difference.