Ideas vs Execution vs the Founder

You know why some startups that are working on some of the great ideas/products fail? You would think that they have a great idea, have a great team, and have a backing of the leading VC firms in the industry, but often times they end up in the dead pool after a few years.

There are of course many reasons for their failure, but to drive the idea of this post, ceteris paribus – mostly it’s because of the person, the leader, the entrepreneur behind the idea. Yes, I think, one of the most important requirements for a startup to succeed is to have a founder who is absolutely obsessed with his/her idea (provided that product/market fit has been achieved), very passionate about it and driven by it on daily basis. And most importantly, he/she is involved in all the important decisions about the product; from marketing to design to product features to User Interfaces… etc, basically end-to-end involvement. This is necessary. It’s a pre-requisite. Especially in the early years of a startup.

It’s when founder decides to heavily delegate (or even outsource) the product development to someone else, that the problem arises. Unfortunately, this is what happens in some startups; the founder would be too focused on the business development part of the startup and have little involvement in the product development part. Or some entrepreneurs who have money would setup a company and hire someone else to run their startup for him/her. Or some entrepreneurs would decide to outsource the most important part of the startup (i.e product development part) to third party companies.

It’s also why big corporations have struggled to churn out great ideas into successful products and services. Because, in big companies, new ideas would come from top management as a directive and passed to relevant divisions and subsequently to Product Managers or “Product Owners” for execution. This kind of delegation, especially for the new and innovative ideas can be disastrous. On top of that, big corporations would have layers and layers of red tape and processes that hinder the efficient execution of an idea. Inter-department collaboration on launching new ideas can be a real pain too.

So, it’s no surprise why Amazon allowed hugely successful Zappos to run independently after its acquisition in 2009. Or why Walt Disney kept Pixar as a separate entity after its acquisition in 2006. It’s precisely for the reason to keep the company culture alive and untainted, to keep the acquired company lean and efficient. And most importantly, to let the passionate people behind these companies to run them.

Steve Jobs have said on this topic spot on in his 1995 interview called “The Lost Interview“;

You know, one of the things that really hurt Apple was after I left John Sculley got a very serious disease. It’s the disease of thinking that a really great idea is 90% of the work. And if you just tell all these other people “here’s this great idea,” then of course they can go off and make it happen.

And the problem with that is that there’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. And as you evolve that great idea, it changes and grows. It never comes out like it starts because you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it. And you also find there are tremendous trade-offs that you have to make. There are just certain things you can’t make electrons do. There are certain things you can’t make plastic do. Or glass do. Or factories do. Or robots do.

Designing a product is keeping five thousand things in your brain and fitting them all together in new and different ways to get what you want. And every day you discover something new that is a new problem or a new opportunity to fit these things together a little differently.

And it’s that process that is the magic.

And because of this, you can’t outsource your idea to someone else to make it successful for you!

Future of Bitcoin or How to buy Bitcoins locally

Future of Bitcoin

The future of Bitcoin or crypto-currencies in general are now largely left to Governments and Central Banks to decide and steer. Otherwise technologically it has proven to be an effective medium of exchange that has certain advantages over the current fiat money and services built around them.

Bitcoin’s Advantage

Bitcoin has particularly major advantage over the current international money remittance services, such as Western Union, MoneyGram or traditional Bank Wire Transfers, which normally charge up to 15% service fee. As for Bitcoin, sending and receiving bitcoins is free and almost instant.

Another area where Bitcoin has clear advantage is, over online payment gateways. Usually eCommerce sites use 3rd party payment processing systems like PayPal, WorldPay, 2Checkout and other Credit Card processing systems. These services normally take a cut from each transaction that happen on eCommerce sites. With the implementation of Bitcoin as the payment option, eCommerce sites could reduce their reliance on 3rd party payment processing systems and increase their revenue margin. Since, using Bitcoin would mean “no more incurring transaction fees” for each transaction.

Bitcoin Regulation

On the other hand, since Bitcoin is not governed by any Government or Central Bank, Governments have been quite worried on the possible misuse of Bitcoins; particularly in the areas of money laundering, buying and selling of illegal things etc.

So far, governments are struggling to set a direction for Bitcoin. Singapore government has stated that it’s not going to interfere with Bitcoin usage for the time being. On the other hand, China has taken a stricter approach by restricting the definition of Bitcoin as “commodity” rather than “currency”, and banning the usage of Bitcoins as payment options online. As for Swiss parliament, they are going to vote on treating Bitcoin as a foreign currency sometime next year. Other governments have taken the “wait and see” approach for the time being.

So, yes, a lot of uncertainty out there for Bitcoin. And each of these news from Governments and Central Banks have been adding more volatility to the already volatile Bitcoin prices.

How to buy Bitcoins in your Country

Startups in some countries have been more active than others when it comes to building Bitcoin related businesses, particularly exchange platforms for buying and selling Bitcoins. Following is a list of such platforms that allow you to buy and sell Bitcoins with your local bank accounts. Continue reading

Rise of the Crypto-Coins

Bitcoin’s popularity has resulted in dozens of other similar crypto-coins (currencies). CoinMarketCap, a website that tracks these crypto-currencies lists some 43 of them at the moment, new ones are regularly added.

Bitcoin’s price has surged from just $17 earlier this year to over $1100 at the moment, all just within the span of 12 months. This confidence in bitcoin as the possible boundary-less currency for the future, has also affected the prices of other crypto-currencies. Most of them has seen a double digit growth in their prices for the past few months (if you don’t take into account the daily high volatility that they experience).

While it’s relatively easy to buy bitcoins now from sites like mtgox, btc-e and VirWox etc (here is a full list), it’s not very straightforward to buy the less established coins like litecoin, which has the 2nd largest market capitalization at the moment. Litecoin is being likened to “silver” by its supporters, while they consider bitcoin as “gold”. Continue reading

Buying Twitter Shares Today?

In few hours, Twitter will be going public on the New York Stock Exchange. Its IPO price is set at $26 per share, which will value twitter at about $14 bil. It will be a historic moment for this 7 year old company that revolutionized social media and how people communicate and disseminate information online.

How does it fare with other tech companies:

  • Google – $1021 per share
  • Apple – $520 per share
  • LinkedIn – $220 per share
  • Facebook – $49 per share
  • Twitter – $26 per share

Here is an interesting chart that shows how much money you would have made if you had invested $1,000 when they were going public.


Source: statista

There are few online platforms that allow you to buy CFDs on shares of Twitter, such as Plus500, eToro, fxprimus etc.

Will you be buying CFDs on shares of Twitter?

Update: 08-Nov-13: Twitter shares closed at $45 yesterday, which brought ROI of 73.15%. Not bad at all, huh?

Warning: Please note that your capital may be at risk.

Escape – Malaysian Video On Demand Service

My previous post was about watching the likes of netflix and hulu outside of the US. If you are Malaysian, you can now enjoy a similar local Video On Demand (VOD) service called Escape that is launched by Celcom recently. (www.escnow.com)

Escape is exclusively for Celcom customers at the moment. Registration is straight forward, as long as you are holding Celcom number, you can register for it. Both prepaid and postpaid numbers are eligible. Payment for the movies is also straight forward, since the payment is directly deducted from your credit (for prepaid) and added to your monthly bills (for postpaid). Continue reading

How to Watch Netflix and Hulu Outside of US

Netflix and Hulu are popular VOD (Video On Demand) services in the United States. Unfortunately it takes ages for these services to come to countries like Malaysia. Spotify took more than a year after it launched its services in the US in July 2011.

Luckily, with little bit of tweaks here and there, you can watch these US restricted services anywhere in the world. In this post, I will cover how this can be done. You don’t have to be technical person to do this.

1. Get a VPN (Virtual Private Network)

What this means is that, you connect to a server that is based in the US, and all your connections to sites like Netflix and Hulu and the internet in general will be treated as if your computer is located in the US. That is because, you will be connecting to internet via the US server and not directly from your own computer which has a Malaysian IP address for example.

Free vs Paid VPNs

There are a lot of free VPNs out there. However you need to be cautious when you are using these free services. Because you wouldn’t know if they are really secure and private as they claim to be. Or some of the services could be setup with a malicious intent – that is to steal people’s data. For this reason, while you are connected to VPN, never ever do online banking or check your emails or login to Facebook etc. Especially, when you are using the free services.

Another disadvantage of the free VPN services, since they are free, many people will be using them. Therefore, the connection might not be very stable as the bandwidth gets clogged and connection might get disconnected often. This will definitely spoil your Netflix experience.

Below we will cover three types of VPNs; Continue reading