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Archive for February, 2010

Check list for software and digital service productization

Recently I had an inspiring discussion with Kati Riikonen, a doer, who has been working with several companies from mobility, web and software development domains. We were exploring the needs, pros and cons of the productization of software and digital services. With Kati’s permission, I am sharing some experiences on the topic.

Fully productized service should roughly cover the following:

Pitch check list

  • Clearly differentiate from companies and competitor’s other existing services
  • Name with trademarks and legal protection
  • Short and clear customer promise
  • The elevator speech, a short and crisp 1-2 sentences description of the product or services

User experience check list

  • User experience design drivers and design blueprint
  • Product definition: detailed description of the functionality. This element can be a demo, specification, description or any other format

Assets check list

  • Marketing assets that can be distributed physically or digitally
  • Detailed sales guide, that can be distributed physically or digitally
  • Organized documentation of the service and its operations

Sell check list

  • Price, which can be told immediately and clearly
  • Distribution channel and sales people need to be able to sell the product within feasible investment of time & effort
  • Company’s own personnel and agents need to be able to tell with is being sold with few sentences
  • A client, who is about to buy the service or product, needs to be able to tell with few sentence what he/she is about to buy

Naturally one does not need to take the steps in the right order – we entrepreneurs seldom do! The above should be treated more as a reference.

Shortcuts work very well – often for a period of time. However, significant shortcuts can cause unnecessary resource needs later on. Here is an example:

The project had user experience elements well designed, but did shortcuts in most of the other areas.  User experience assets showcased the concept so well that the company was able to start sales mode immediately. It did not matter that the service did not even have a name – and it still does not have legally protected name.  It might sound an easy way to reduce the pain of productization, but now the company is facing an increasing amount of challenges with press and industry discussion. They are now spending a lot of effort and ‘air time’ to correct the misleading names and messages instead of focusing on their own pitch.

The next question is what level of productization is ‘good enough’ for public launches?

While waiting for the Part 2, post your experiences, questions & comments – thanks!

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Part 1 of this blog entry is here.

So you’ve got this busy life as well? Probably have quite a few gadgets and electronic devices around you. Sometimes you feel it takes too much time to learn to use the full potential of those devices. Sometimes they just make life more complicated than it should be, let alone updating those devices to the latest software. Of course if you have a Mac (as I do) and a Nokia phone, you know that there is no need to update the software (as it’s only possible with Windows). If you are having difficulties with these issues, think about your mother, and how she’s doing all that (she’s not).

You are in your car, driving as it is raining like never before. And you know your carpool passenger is waiting for you, in the rain… Even though the Wizard tells you that there are umbrellas for sale three hundred meters ahead, you know that by the time (according to the navigator, 3 minutes) you get to your passenger, she does not need it anymore.

As you’re approaching the carpool passenger, the phones confirm that you are meeting the right person. You can see how she looks like, and she can see (in her mobile phone) how you and your car look like. Her phone also show your “reliability status” – which is fine. You pick-up the passenger, your phone tells you how to navigate to the drop-off location, she confirms her Wizard a safe arrival and you continue to your own office.

While approaching the office, the security gates are opened automatically as it detects your safe arrival. While walking the stairs upstairs, the Wizard has a message from Jobita. You were asking for babysitters, remember? You have three offers, you pick one that your friends have used and you confirm a deal. One worry less, great!

During the day, in the meetings, the phone does not disturb you with messages you don’t want. Family messages have priority, however (thanks to Fambit service) – so you know when to answer your daughter’s call. And if you happen to forget about the next meeting marked in your calendar, the Wizard tells you when to leave to be on time, and even gives you the public transportation route plan if you wouldn’t have a car with you as you have this time.

It’s almost six o’clock. As you have agreed to meet your wife soon in a restaurant 10 blocks away, you call her to check with her everything is ok. You drive to the restaurant, the Wizard in your phone tells you the best parking options (based on real-time information from other users) and you easily find a parking place. You pay for that, naturally with the mobile phone again.

You have a nice dinner … and whenever you wonder what’s going on at home, you just check the life video feed from home. Cool. As it turns out to be a really memorable moment for both of you, you ask the waitress to take a picture with your phone. The Wizard knows what to do with the photos. It’s sent to your Life Album, as well as to your daughter’s phone. Soon the phones gives her feedback to the picture… obviously she would like to be with you. Oh no, maybe next time.

That’s it, an imaginary story what all a mobile phone could do to make your life a bit easier. As you can see, there’s no rocket science involved. All this is perfectly doable. Bits and bytes are available in some applications, maybe, but they are not really part of anybody normal life yet.

What do you think? Do you have better ideas how this should go? Let us know, feel free to comment!

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As part of the Venture Bonsai concept, we shot the first five elevator pitches today in Helsinki.

The idea is to make two videos for start-ups looking for funding: one public 100 seconds video and another 5 minutes non-public video which can be shown to potential investors.

To our knowledge, this is the first time elevator pitches are really made professionally.

Same questions were asked from each entrepreneur and if the answer filmed did not go well enough it was shot again. All the aspects of each answer were fine-tuned towards high quality of the message.

The filming itself was done by a professional as will be done the editing.

Looking forward seeing really cool videos next week!

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So you’ve got this busy life as well? Probably have quite a few gadgets and electronic devices around you. Sometimes you feel it takes too much time to learn to use the full potential of those devices. Sometimes they just make life more complicated than it should be, let alone updating those devices to the latest software. Of course if you have a Mac (as I do) and a Nokia phone, you know that there is no need to update the software (as it’s only possible with Windows). If you are having difficulties with these issues, think about your mother, and how she’s doing all that (she’s not).

The question of the day is the following: Why is managing life so complicated even though you have all these gadgets (or maybe because of that) that should be helping you? How should they help you?

Play a game?

Let’s envision a day how things could go if you would have what I call “Life Wizard”.

Let’s start with your mobile phone. It already knows

  • who you are
  • who you know
  • where you are (and where you should and should NOT be)
  • where you are going to be
  • who you communicate with

You wake up in the morning. It’s 6:45. You walk to the kitchen and take a quick look of your phone to see if you have any messages (yes, some people really do that). Now the Life Wizard knows that you are awake. It can also detect the movements and audio around it.

You grab your iPad, along with the breakfast and read the personalized news. There are certain benefits reading news on a device like this. It’s more local, more up-to-date and more relevant just for you. If your wife reads the news on the same device, the news may look different. And oh yes, even ads are customized for you.

While reading the news, an alert window pops up and wants to confirm something.

Are you are ready to leave in half an hour to a meeting marked in your calendar?

There are no worries with the weather, the traffic on the freeway is normal (traffic jam, as normal) so you may want to activate the carpooling in order to use the carpool lanes and avoid the bridge toll. You say “yes” and keep reading. Now the Life Wizard knows where you are going, what time, how and which route.

Rest of your family is now joining you for the breakfast so you put away the gadget. Time to talk person to person 🙂

Just before you leave the house, you remember that you don’t have a babysitter for the evening. No problem. You tap the screen of your iPad (you could really do it with your mobile or computer as well) and post an ad to Jobita. Outsourcing tasks to reliable people couldn’t be easier. The Wizard knows what you need, what time, where and what are the requirements for the candidates. Off you go!

You hit the road. Your navigator knows where you are going, and how to get the ride-sharing passenger onboard. Well, that’s because the Wizard told that, there is no need to enter the same information again.

The phone rings. It’s your Wizard calling. Well, using a mobile phone while driving is forbidden but hands-free audio is still ok. It’s about  weather this time, there is heavy rain ahead. So your passenger is going to be wet.

(more…)

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Last Friday we released some information on our crowdfunding project, now officially named as Venture Bonsai.

Venture Bonsai is a tool for companies (start-ups and others alike) enabling them run a crowdfunding-style financing round successfully.

I’ve covered some of the challenges of the crowdfunding model in my recent blog articles (Part 1 and Part 2). Venture Bonsai is about to solve some of those, if not all, challenges.

The key benefits of using Venture Bonsai are

  • Demystification of the crowdfunding process, and a funding process in general
  • Offers tools and processes to follow the financial regulations
  • Offers tools for acquiring or creating the key documents such as Business Plan, Shareholders’ Agreement and Term Sheet
  • Offers a platform for Vendor Due Diligence (DD), including DD done by certified partners
  • Includes tools for company valuation
  • Includes a “Show Room” for your marketing material
  • Includes “Elevator Pitch on the Video”
  • Includes communication tools required during and after the financing round
  • Tools for escrow account and signature mechanisms

We already have the first companies lined up to use this tool in the piloting phase. Venture Bonsai is also utilizing this model for its own funding process. Please contact us if you’d like to use the upcoming pilot as well.

We’ll be on a roadshow for Venture Bonsai as follows: London March 1st & 2nd, Silicon Valley March 4th to 8th. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more (as an entrepreneur, as an private/angel investor or as a partner).

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