Startups vs Corporations, and what happens in between

Why founders of startups get replaced by the board when the startup starts to grow fast? Why many startups fail to integrate into the parent company after the acquisition? And why big corporations struggle to launch a successful startup from within?

Concept of RPV

RPV stands for Resources, Processes and Valuves.


At the initial stage of a company, all you need are good and reliable people that can get the job done i.e resources. At this stage resources are crucial, if you have a web technology startup and happen to find a great coder and UX developer then you are in luck. On the other hand, if you happen to hire the wrong developer, you will have a tough time launching that MVP (minimum-viable-product) of yours. Similarly, if your lead developer leaves at this stage to a competitor startup, it can greatly affect your product and even your startup as a whole. But this is also the stage where it’s easiest to solve your company’s problems, because most of the problems will be related to resources and usually they can be settled by hiring a new guy or firing an existing employee.


When your startup is at the stage where it has a product or service that is selling like hot cakes, and you start hiring a lot more people to grow both your company and its revenue, that’s where the processes come in. That’s because you want your operations, customer service, support, billing etc to be run efficiently. That’s when you start to setup company wide processes, different processes for different teams and departments, KPIs (key-performance-indicators), SLAs (service-level-agreements), SOPs (standard-operating-procedures) etc. This is the stage when efficiency is most important to the company, because efficiency is directly related to company’s revenues.

rpv startup


The final stage is when a particular startup has become an established corporation. At this stage “company values” are normally setup to guide the employees in their daily work, dealings and most importantly in decision making. Values are guiding principles that dictate how the company is run in all walks of its life. At this stage, while still important, resources won’t be as important as they were at the “resources stage”. Hiring and firing happens quite often. Individual opinions within the company doesn’t really have any weight unless the person is a c-level. Continue reading

Usability: Designing for Large Screen Smartphones

Designing for Thumbs

In his analysis of 1,333 observations of smartphones in use, Steven Hoober found about 75% of people rely on their thumb and 49% rely on a one-handed grip to get things done on their phones. On large screens (over four inches) those kinds of behaviors can stretch people’s thumbs well past their comfort zone as they try to reach controls positioned at the top of their device.


What moves the price of Bitcoin up?

Last week Microsoft announced that it is now accepting bitcoin for app purchases on Windows phones and Xbox. Many bitcoin enthusiasts were hopeful that this would positively affect the price of bitcoin and also facilitate the wider usage of bitcoin among gamers and general public at large. However, the news of Microsoft accepting Bitcoin went unaffected just like the previous news of Dell accepting bitcoin or DISH accepting bitcoin or Expedia accepting bitcoins for booking hotels and etc etc In fact, the price of bitcoin is hovering at $330-$350 which is one of the lowest in 2014.

What affects the price of Bitcoin?

What is mentioned above are some of the good examples of what does not affect the price of Bitcoin. That means, retailers simply accepting bitcoin alongside cash and credit card payments do not make people suddenly want to use bitcoin in their daily lives. Things that would make people want to use Bitcoin would be, for example:

  • Cheaper and more convenient international remittance services  (..than Western Union or traditional Bank Wire Transfers) – e.g; Imagine construction workers in Dubai sending money back to India without even visiting a bank branch and at a fraction of a cost.
  • Making it easier for freelancers to get paid, particularly from people or companies who reside in different countries
  • Making mobile banking and micro-payments available to feature phone users via the traditional SMS technology (61% of world’s population is still not connected to internet). Telcos could play a big role in this area.
  • Being able to auto-reload your smart cards when the credit on it approaches certain minimum threshold (this could easily be done by smart contracts on blockchain)
  • Decentralization of platforms via blockchain technology;
    • decentralized cloud storage services – this would mean emergence of truly cloud services that would make “100% uptime” a possibility
    • decentralized publishing services – this would mean certain countries not being able to ban as easily as they ban Twitter at the moment
    • decentralized finance and banking services – this would mean possibility of  banking systems working 24/7, instead of 9-to-5, thus improving efficiency
    • decentralized voting services – making elections transparent and every single vote accountable and traceable (without disclosing the personal details of the voters of course)
    • etc etc

As you can see from the examples listed above, there is a stark difference between the news that we have been hearing for the past 12 months. So far, what we have been seeing in the news is that retailers are accepting Bitcoins. They are treating Bitcoin purely as an additional payment option to Credit Cards. For the average Joe, this doesn’t give any compelling reason for him to start paying with Bitcoin instead of his Credit Card.  Continue reading

Preceden: Timeline Generator Tool

I might have found the timeline generator tool that I have been looking for – it’s clean, simple and user-friendly. You can easily generate timelines for your small projects and export them in PDF, CSV or embed them in your websites (as seen below).

Free version allows you to add up to 5 tasks per project (which is quite less), pro version costs $29 that allows you to add unlimited number of tasks per project. The fee is a one-time fee which gives you lifetime pro membership.


Usability: Delete Confirmations Done Right

Here is a great way of implementing delete confirmations in web app interfaces. It’s intuitive and usable. It’s done within the same “delete” button but with an extra click. This is how it works, you click once on the button and it will change its state to confirmation button, you click again to confirm deletion.

It’s way better than the overlay popups in the middle of the screen or other too creative ways that go counter-intuitive to the usability of the web app.

delete action done right

It’s from, kudos to them for making their UI user-friendly.

Competition is for Losers

Peter Thiel is no stranger to Startup World. He is the co-founder of PayPal and investor in Facebook, Quora, Artsy, PandoDaily, AdRoll, Reddit and many more.

He has an interesting viewpoint when it comes to Startups and how they should be managed, in order to be successful. For the past decade, methodologies like Customer Development and Lean Startup have been popular. The central idea in these methodologies are around customers, and that your idea (hypothesis) must be tested against potential customers in order to be successful, and based on customers’ feedback you should tweak your initial idea (pivot) to achieve a sustainable and repeatable business model that generates revenue.

Peter Thiel is sceptical about these methodologies. He says that customers might not always be right and listening to them to guide your business’ destiny might not be the right approach. He encourages entrepreneurs to start startups that do in order of magnitude better than the existing competitors, rather than doing incremental improvements as the Lean Startup methodology suggests. He also advises entrepreneurs to go for monopoly when starting a startup, doing something that dominates the market i.e avoiding competition and aiming for monopoly. He says “Competition is for losers”.

He also questions the education system in leading Universities that teach Entrepreneurship, he says that currently our education system instills and inculcates in future entrepreneurs to compete and to be a better competitor rather than doing something unique that makes competition irrelevant or difficult for others to compete with your startup.

Personally, what he puts forward is definitely something interesting and somewhat refreshing. It kind of reminds me of Steve Jobs’ beliefs. He was the type of person where he would say “customers do not know what they want.. etc”. But I think Customer Development and Lean Startup Methodologies are not mutually exclusive to what Peter Thiel is suggesting, in fact they can still be used to help reach product-market-fit.

Below is a video of him giving a lecture in Stanford in “Business Strategy and Monopoly Theory” where he expounds on the above mentioned ideas of his:

Note: If you are based in Malaysia, you can order his book from Bookurve with free shipping. I ordered mine already together with Eric Schmidt’s “How Google Works“, should be arriving next week.

Startups Around Blockchain Technology

When you mention Bitcoin, first thing that comes to people’s minds are that it’s an anonymous digital currency (it’s actually far from anonymous but that’s a discussion for another post). So it’s primarily associated with “digital money” for majority of people.

But it’s much more than that. The underlying technology that Bitcoin is built upon is called Blockchain. Blockchain in simple terms is a decentralized platform that keeps track of all the transactions ever executed on the platform. It’s transparent and it’s decentralized, in other words no central government or banking institution controls it. There are major “nodes” (or servers) that keep copy of all the transactions, and there are many other computers that sync to those nodes.

Various types of “apps” can be built on top of Blockchain, it just so happens that the first “app” is a digital money app called Bitcoin. This was intentional by the founder(s) of the Bitcoin (Satoshi Nakamoto, a person or a group of people) to include the money part within the first release of the Blockchain, so that it serves as a reward for the miners (people who solve complex algorithms to generate Bitcoin) and node maintainers to earn monetary value for their contribution to the blockchain. In simplistic terms, bitcoin to blockchain is like gmail to internet. One is a platform and a protocol, and another is an app that is built on that platform/protocol.

Types of Apps being built around Blockchain Technology

Lots of interesting startups are being developed around Blockchain. Below are some of them. I’m not going to cover the ordinary ones like Bitcoin Exchange Platforms, Bitcoin Wallets, Bitcoin Payment Processing Gateways, Bitcoin Debit Cards etc. Rather will be mentioning the more interesting ones that are leveraging on the Blockchain Technology and not necessarily the currency Bitcoin itself;

Payroll System

  • Bitwage – bitcoin based payroll system for companies. Especially useful in paying international employees or freelancer workers.

Cloud Storage

  • – Think of it as the truly decentralized version of Dropbox, where your files’ chunks will be stored in thousands of other members’ PCs.
  • – Data storage network and electronic currency based on Bitcoin.
  • – Normal hosting with a twist, just pay with bitcoin and no need to provide bank details.

Crowd Funding

  • Counterparty – raise funding for your startup. Think of it as a Stock Exchange based on blockchain technology that allows you to IPO on your own.
  • Koinify – Crowd funding platform specifically for blockchain related startups

Continue reading