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And I also learn. I learn how it feels when you take money from customers. I learn how to charge for my work. How my 6 months hard-working in programming, havent give me any cent yet, while a few minutes of service, can give me a real dollar.

via Milo Kong!.

Milo Kong – a simple “no brainer” business that makes money.

no matter what kind of business/startups you are starting, you need a solid revenue model. With it, you can start to scale and truly appreciate the feedback you are getting. without one, you will be wasting your time because “remember” you are running a business still.

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Businesses are able to enjoy 400% tax breaks or 60% cash payout for investments in innovation and productivity improvements under the PIC scheme.

Productivity and Innovation Credit Workshop | Plug-In@Blk71.

Startups are all about the Execution, but I also strongly believe in managing a good cashflow so I’m very careful with Intraix spending, always keeping burn rate in check and when there is a scheme to save money, I will always jump on it.

PIC is a scheme announced to help SME (including startups) to get back 60% of their spending. In other words, if you buy a MacBook Air for your employee, you will pay the full sum but you can submit a claim through PIC and you will get back 60% of the spending. “How awesome is that!“(certainly helps in my cashflow) but the application process is somewhat confusing and when I ask my some of fellow startup friends, they do not even know of these initiatives.

This Friday, Plug-In@Blk71 is holding a PIC workshop. This is an awesome opportunity for me to whack them with questions. For those who are frustrated in the application process like me, this is the time to get back your 60% cash spending.

p/s yes, MacBook is consider as a productivity tool

We Have All Grown Up

as we head home after our office warming, I feel we have grown up and are stronger now

as we head home after our office warming, I feel we have grown up and are stronger now

Intraix had it’s office warming on Friday and like to say a big Thank You to all of you who came. Thank you so much for taking your time off. I feel so love when I see you guys visiting us, I apologised for the fast moving pizzas but I hope the drinks can make up for it. You guys are awesome! it’s mushy to write this but… Continue reading

Should startups work together?

Working Together

As you read this post, Intraix will launching our mobile app at the ECo Day Out 2013 @ South West. This an annual event by South West CDC to highlight and educate the community on environmental issues like energy conservation and the 4Rs. For the past month, we have been preparing for the launch and I really learn a lot from launching the app. From time management, to bug testing and even communication among team members Continue reading

WordPress.com and its distributed workforce

“I would say going into the office every day is a productivity loss,” Mullenweg says. “Most offices are fairly soul-crushing environments. I think part of the reason is that they’re… via Matt Mullenweg: Distributed Workforces are All About Results.

I first learn about wordpress begin a distributed company from Philip at my first wordpress meetup. He shared his experience as a Theme Wrangler at Automattic Inc (the parent company for wordpress.com and many others) and the working culture. And I’m actually pretty amazed that for a company like Automattic Inc that runs wordpress.com has only  have 131 employees.

The best thing about it is the employees are located around the world. They are distributed. The tradition thinking is to have all employees under the one roof so the “boss” can see what the employees and doing also to build up the culture in the firm. But Automattic has build it’s own culture by begin distributed. They have also proven themselves to produce results just like what Matt mentioned. (see left)

So I was pretty interested in the tools they used for communicating, things like emails I guess would be the most important tool. But I was wrong, Philip shared he had checked his email for work stuff less than 20 times (i may remember wrongly, figures could be lower) since he join Automattic. And he shared the few tools they use.

They are:

  1. The P2 wordpress theme - a twitter like interface blog theme and everything is transparent in the company. maybe for co-workers salary and super secretive stuff but mostly all informations are shared on their P2, so everyone knows what’s happening in the company
  2. IRC – sharing between team members, if I did not remember wrongly; the teams are no larger than 10)
  3. Jabber - the original IM service based on XMPP and one of the key nodes on the XMPP network.

Sometimes we hear fellow startups facing problems with their outsourcing partners, we have the same application tools for us and Automattic has done it so well. It’s true that Automattic is communicating to it’s employees while we are to our outsourcing partners but I believe the key lies in communication and executions.

Using internet technology to break communication barriers and everyone can be working at their comfort area is so awesome. This also means that Automattic can get talent not just in US but also around the world and they will not have issues with things like visa or even employment passesFurethermore, because they are located in different time zone, there are always engineers looking after the site. Maybe this is why wordpress.com downtime is so low.

With the talent crunch in Singapore and employment restriction, I really loves this idea of running a distributed company and I would certainly love my startup to be manage in a similar manner. How about you? What is your take on distributed workforce?

How do you fight a price war?

The Tariff War in Our Talking History

How do you fight a price war? – At Bikeroger, we run and avoid it at all cost. This is because we know that it’s going to be a lose-lose situation for both retailers. Unless, you are huge capital or have a cost advantage against your competitor.

For example, Walmart is one who practiced low cost leadership strategy extremely well.

But what if you are a startup or a new business in town with limited budget?

Here’s a situation Bikeroger faced a few weeks ago.

We posted up a picture of cycling jerseys up for sale at S$49 on our facebook page. Response was good and managed to have quite a bit of conversions. Customer Troy came and posted about our competitors pricing, which was lower.

Now at this point, if you were the community manager what would you do?

A few things I can think of.

  1. You can lower you price – but there’s nothing more frustrating than being constantly forced to lower your price simply in order to make a sale.
  2. You can bluffed – says that the quality of you stuff is better knowing that it’s not true because you are selling identical items
  3. You can be honest – simply share with your customers that your cost structure wasn’t competitive enough (Be truthful)
  4. You can remain silent and not reply to the comment – but mind you this is facebook, not replying means bad

We went for 3 (be truthful) because we know transparency is the best especially in retailing because if you lied and got find out it would be whole lot worst. I sincerely thank Troy for his comment because without him I would have thought our pricing was competitive. I also shared with him that we are not able to compete on that pricing and how we actually compete in terms of service.

True customers WANT to spend money with you… True customers also understand that you have a business to run here, with bills & salaries to pay – adill (founder of woothemes)

And reading the book “delivering happiness“ by Tony Hsieh. I learn a lot on how customer service makes a different in retailing, especially for an e-commerce site like Bikeroger (Timbuk2 did the same thing to me)

So beside services how else would you suggest to compete in a price war? Love to discuss

ThinkUp: Social Media Insights Platform

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ThinkUp: Social Media Insights Platform

if you are a blogger,
if you are someone who like taking control of your posting on social media,
if you like getting attention on the web.

Thinkup is for you. It allows you to retrive your social media data and gives you the analytics on what’s hot and what’s not. Best of all, it’s free.

I just discovered it today :D

Passion. The one thing that drives entrepreneurs.

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Passion. The one thing that drives entrepreneurs.

I mean how crazy can we get right? Right after graduation instead of following the usual route of finding a job, we went straight into starting a business. Thinking that we can change the world. And during the journey, while your fellow classmates are earning just enough to cover their student loans, you barely have enough to cover your meals.

Everyday, when you reach home, you parents will be asking when are you going to start bring money back to support the family.

When your friends get their first paycheck, they celebrate with big purchases or even big dinning treats. They ask you along but you say no “thank you” I’m busy. But in fact, you just do not have that disposable income for it.

And when you get a seed fund, you friends ask you out for celebration and you still say no “thank you” I’m busy. Why, because you are responsible, you are workaholic and you want to ship out your product fast.

All above and many more are what real #startuplife is about. This is Singapore not Silicon Valley. If Passion is not the thing that drives us, I do not know what else is.

Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/peckying
Well Done:) peckying for the poster!!!

 

Plug-in@Blk71 is more than FREE pizzas.

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Last november, I posted about the hottest place for Startups in Singapore and that’s Plug-in@Blk71. When we first moved into Blk71, it was just a hot-desking space to me, in another words “a free space” where we do not have to pay rent. A space where we can get super-fast internet that many are downloading their ass off the torrents. A space where we enjoy the “freezing” aircon and many times I have to wear my team NUS jacket when the outside temperature is soaring high :D And finally a place where startups get to enjoy FREE food after startup events.

As time passes, I feel different. Plug-in has become a place much more than the perks above. It is now a place where I make new friends, learn new stuff and stay up to date with the latest startup scene in Singapore. Everyday is different at Plug-in, there are many startup events and these become an opportunity for a startup to network. But what I loved most are friends I made and the things I learn from them. You  can speak to anyone inside Plug-in and almost 100% someone will offer their help, and if that person does not know he/she would certainly refer you to someone who does. There are tons of talent in Plug-in. if all of us combine, we are facebook x100. :)))

Just like today, we had a small lepak session where we get to know everyone in the house, understanding what each other are doing. Besides startup related activities, there are also running/badminton/movie sessions. Plug-in@Blk71 just about food to me. I think NOT, it’s more like a family.

Every entrepreneurs dream to is grow a big company or build something that leaves a legacy. So it comes a time when we need to leave Plug-in either because it’s a nursing ground for startups and we leave for either 2 reasons.

  • we have grow out of seed stage
  • or the business idea fail
both are good in a way, because if we grow out from seed stage than it’s time to welcome others to join the Plug-in family and received TLC. And if it’s the other way, it’s also a indicator for the entrepreneurs to move on – just like Drew Houston (Dropbox).

Switching Cost For Mobile Reading Applications

I love reading articles online and I use Readability (now) to help me saved the contents that I can read later. I chose readability over instapaper and Read It Later (now pocket) because it’s totally FREE.

Here is an article from lifehacker that compares the 3 services. A very interesting and useful article if you are trying to find out which service suits you.

Instapaper and RIL (used to) charge for their mobile application. Although they are much more integrated with 3rd party apps as compared to readability but this problem is easily solved by using IFTTT.

Readability have a clean, good for reading interface :) definitely the app for reading text articles. Now RIL is now renamed Pocket and it’s free. I tried Pocket and I think there might be a chance that Pocket replace Readability

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readability certainly the mobile app for reading. big clean clear fonts. you can see how much articles I have on it 261 :D

Pocket offers a slightly (in my opinion) poorer UI by it allows us to store/search for videos and images. This feature certainly attracts me.

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Thumbnails make the home page pretty interesting.

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One of my favorite feature.

Both applications are free now on mobile. I wonder if Instapaper would be free soon for it’s mobile app.

A few interesting questions came up as I blog about this post.

  1. If you are using Readability would you change to Pocket that offers more multimedia features?
  2. How is the switching cost like for you towards mobile reading applications?
  3. How do you think applications like Readability, Pocket or Instapaper can increase their users switching cost?

Would love to hear from you people :D