Quick Tap

It’s 75 minutes into the match. The score is 15-all. The team hasn’t been playing that well, truth be told.

Awarded a kickable penalty, Aaron Cruden (25 – currently starting first-five, but really second choice behind Dan Carter who is currently on sabbatical) along with Beauden Barrett (23 – up-and-coming, but on the night a replacement fullback) and Victor Vito (27, another reserve, back for his first game after last year being told he wasn’t up to the standard expected of an All Black) together spot an opportunity and decide, without even consulting Richie McCaw (33 – the captain on the field), to instead take the quick tap and go. It leads, a few minutes later, to the match winning try.

This is what Richie had to say afterwards:

“You’ve got to back the guys to have a crack. If they’re always looking to me they’ll never take an opportunity. I was ready to point at the posts but he thought better of it, and it paid off.”

And, the coach, Steve Hansen (55, for consistency):

“It was one of those games where someone had to take it by the scruff of the neck.”

We can only speculate about what might have been said all around if that decision hadn’t lead to a try and the match had ended a draw, or a loss. As it was the headline was “All Blacks lucky against inspired England” (really, that was luck?)

There is a massive organisation that exists to support the All Blacks – the NZRU board, CEO and high performance staff, the All Blacks selectors, coaching and management teams, including specialist coaches, media liaison, medical support staff etc, not to mention the many stakeholders (including all of us as fans).

But, I’m fascinated by how accountability and responsibility is delegated down to the youngest and least experienced, and the culture that is created within the team as a result. We would consider it remarkable for a 25 year old team member or 33 year old executive to be making big decisions in a large company, where the leaders tend to be much older and tenured. But, in the All Blacks, by the time you’re over 30 you’re as experienced as they get, and certainly considered old enough to handle the pressure of making decisions in the moment on the field.

How about In the organisation where you work? Do your junior staff have the freedom to respond to opportunities when they spot them? Or, do they do as they are told until they’ve done their time?

Reality Distortion Field

I found this fantastic rant by Dave Grohl, of Nirvana and Foo Fighters, describing his documentary Sound City:

“This movie wasn’t made for cynical middle-aged music critics, it was made for my daughter, or for the teenager down the street who’s trying to figure out how to start a band. When I think about kids watching a TV show like American Idol or The Voice, then they think, ‘Oh, OK, that’s how you become a musician, you stand in line for eight fucking hours with 800 people at a convention center and then you sing your heart out for someone and then they tell you it’s not fucking good enough.’ Can you imagine? It’s destroying the next generation of musicians! Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy an old fucking drum set and get in their garage and just suck. And get their friends to come in and they’ll suck, too. And then they’ll fucking start playing and they’ll have the best time they’ve ever had in their lives and then all of a sudden they’ll become Nirvana. Because that’s exactly what happened with Nirvana. Just a bunch of guys that had some shitty old instruments and they got together and started playing some noisy-ass shit, and they became the biggest band in the world. That can happen again! You don’t need a fucking computer or the Internet or The Voice or American Idol.”
Rock n Roll Jedi, Delta Sky Mag

I wonder if people in other vocations feel the same about how reality television distorts their experience?

Do chefs love MasterChef? Do property developers love The Block or Property Ladder? Do people who work with troubled kids love Super Nanny? Do architects love Grand Designs? Does anybody love The Beauty & The Geek?

I doubt it.

Because if you substitute musicians for start-up founders, what Dave Grohl described is exactly how I feel about Dragons Den and the like.

All of these shows are entertainment, which is fine. No harm, no foul. Very little reality, despite the name. Except that it seems that many people often fail to make that distinction.

Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, people do believe that entering a talent show is the path to a career as a singer, and they keep lining up every time there is a call for auditions. These train wreck shows seemingly have no problem finding folks who think that inviting cameras in to film their wedding planning or their house build or their blind date with a stranger is a normal and constructive thing, without appreciating that the only possible winner from that equation is the person selling advertising around the eventual show when it screens. Even the viewer, as entertained as they might be at the time, is a loser by any reasonable measure of opportunity cost.

It is, to use Dave Grohl’s patter, fucking nuts!

And, it makes me sad and angry to see it happening more and more in my industry.

A contrived start-up experience has as much in common with a real start-up as being a contestant in Survivor has with living unassisted in the Amazon for three weeks.

But, there is a large and growing group of people who think that the only way to a successful start-up is via an accelerator program, where they get locked in a room for twelve weeks, inundated by mentors, pressured into customer discovery and product pivots and whatever else is the buzzword de jour, taught to pitch and then pushed on stage to pimp their pre-pubescent start-up to a room full of investors. And then… who knows what?

This is just Startup Theatre: a scripted experience that has very little in common with the things that successful startups in the wild fill their days with, in my experience. The only thing missing is the film crew, although surely that can’t be far away.

The latest “season” of Lightning Lab had their demo day in Wellington last week.

This is how I saw it promoted on Twitter:

Seriously? Did it rain? Were folk hustled?

The people who are advising founders to approach investors in this way are naive and wrong. Be aware that you’re creating a significant selection bias by doing this, because smart investors do not want to be hustled and won’t be tricked into investing in your dinguses.

Likewise, if you think this is the best way to access people who you would otherwise struggle to connect with, you’re massively underestimating how easy it is to reach smart investors in a small place like New Zealand (or a large place like San Francisco, for that matter) if you have something compelling to pitch them. But you do have to get the train in front of the tender. Otherwise you’re not really a founder.

(I keep talking about smart investors, but I realise I haven’t ever explained what I mean by this. It’s possibly a subject for a future post, but for now I’ll define it simply as those who typically contribute more value than they capture, both in terms of dollars and, more importantly, in terms of advice and support.)

So far the results from these sort of programs locally are pretty skinny. But, we only need to do this a few more times before one of these companies becomes Dropbox or Airbnb. That’s how the maths works, right?

In fact, we believe in accelerators so much that we now have a government grant programme designed to accelerate accelerators. That’s four derivatives, if my calculus is correct!

(The questions I would ask those that approve this sort of funding are: a) how will you measure the impact you have on the companies who benefit from this investment?; and b) what is the control group?)

Please, don’t hold your breath.

You may reasonably ask: if this is so wrong, why is it increasingly common and popular?

I think the explanation is simply that doing a start-up is hard. And more than likely a complete waste of time and effort. So we’re all attracted to this sort of reality television approach because we think it might be an easier route, or increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

But, I think the short cut we hope to find in this approach is a mirage.

I tried to opt-out of this debate a while back, as I figured there was little chance that I would convince anybody who believed otherwise, and there was no shortage of better things to put my time and energy into. I still believe that. But, I’ve realised I never explained the alternative.

I think Dave Grohl has the answer: You have to enjoy the walk.

If you’re a would-be founder, don’t be impatient. Realise that the person promising you a short cut is probably trying to sell you something. Rather, find some friends to work with, and understand that for quite a while you’re going to suck. But suck in the knowledge that you’ll look back later and realise how much you enjoyed sucking, or more accurately how much you enjoyed sucking slightly less each day. Accept that it’s better to suck in relative obscurity. Don’t be tempted too soon by the glare of the spotlight. Tell your story to everybody who will listen, and if you have something that’s actually compelling word will spread. And know that after taking a few small steps forward each day you’ll look back and be staggered by how far you’ve come.

If you are a would-be investor, don’t be lazy and sit back expecting good ventures to come to you. New early-stage investors often fall into the trap of thinking their job is to pick which companies to invest in, but the smart investors realise that the best companies select their shareholders, rather than taking any money they can get. So, get out there and find the people working on interesting things and roll up your sleeves and help them out in whatever way you can. There is a huge dark net of start-ups, beyond the prominent few that make all the noise. Pick one or two, validate that they are willing to take guidance, and prove that you can contribute more than just cash. And then, when the time comes, there is a better chance they will choose to talk to you.

Of course, doing all of these things still provides no guarantee. Not every group of friends playing grunge in their garage in the 90s became Nirvana. Sorry I don’t have a better bridge to sell you. But, since you’ve read this far, I assume you’ve decided it’s all worth it, despite the odds.

What are ya?

I’m Chair of the Board of Directors at Vend.

In some ways, this is a role I stumbled into.

I was one of the original investors, back when Vend was just Vaughan. We would spend a day a month and go deep on the business model and strategy. It evolved into a “proper” board after we raised more money and we added Miki to be an independent third voice in those meetings. It has since levelled up several more times, most recently after Barry was added as a fourth director.

I have, on more than one occasion, been told that I don’t look like a chairperson.

I’d like the record to reflect that the company has done okay despite this. What was just Vaughan is now 122 people, more-or-less, working in four offices in Auckland, Melbourne, Toronto, and San Francisco. And counting. We’ve grown from a handful of brave initial customers to over 10,000 retailers who use Vend to run their businesses – selling everything from jewellery to polo geargasoline to music lessons. We’ve raised over $35m, from what would have seemed to us at the beginning to be a dream list of investors from NZ, Australia, Germany and the US. We’re trying to spend that wisely to fuel further growth.

I try not to be offended, because I doubt that was intended. But I am always tempted to ask what they think a chairperson looks like. Or what role they think would be more appropriate for me.

The thing is, I’ve never really looked like the things I was.

I didn’t look like a computer science student in 1994. I wore shoes, for a start.

I didn’t look like a management consultant in 1997. I borrowed a suit jacket for the job interview. I never really got comfortable wearing a suit and tie.

I didn’t look like a founder in 1999. I can only imagine what the property managers I was cold calling made of the sloppy kid trying to convince them to advertise on the “internet”.

I didn’t look like a manager in 2003, when I came back from London to run the growing development team at Trade Me.

I didn’t look like an angel investor in 2007, after we had sold the company and I was starting to think about what to do next.

I suppose this should give me confidence to not put too much weight on what others think I do or don’t look like today.

I figure the best thing is to show them what I am, by doing the job as well as I can, rather than waiting for their permission. Maybe doing that will cause them to change their mind about what makes a good director or chairperson. Or, maybe not. Whatever.

Who are you waiting on to tell you that you qualify?

PS I’m currently thinking about who could be the fifth person on the Vend board, and I’m determined to not limit ourselves just to people who look like directors. The ideal candidate would be somebody with a sales and marketing focus, ideally with experience in retail and/or small-medium business, who is excited to help us grow to the next level and beyond. Y’all are the closest thing I have to an old-boy network (and with the added benefit of not being all boys!), so if you know anybody who we should consider for this role please do let us know.

Full on Keynes

Here are three possible explanations for why we all feel so busy:

  1. We all spend too much precious time telling each other how busy we are, as if it were something to be proud of. (ref: this blog post)
  2. We all mistakenly believe we can have it all. And multitask. (we massively underestimate the switching costs)
  3. Men, of course! (at least according to this recent book review in the New Yorker – it’s unclear, as a man, who I should blame, but maybe I just need to lean in more, I don’t know?)

By the way, Keynes’ prediction was actually right, in my opinion: most of us struggle to do three hours of productive work per day. How else would we find the time for so much reality television otherwise?

As an experiment I’ve been trying to stop using the negative versions of the words we use to describe our activity, when we are unconsciously sympathising with each other: busy, stretched, slammed, etc. There are alternatives which are much more positive: full (as in full of interesting and awesome things), focussed, engaged.

Of course, using those words to describe your day does force you to consider how accurate they are as a description, and if not, maybe think again about how excited you are to be “busy”.

Give it a try.

Related Posts:

Remarkable Amazon Customer Support

If you make something remarkable then people will tell their friends. However, it’s sometimes overlooked that this is true for both remarkably good things and remarkably bad things.

For example…

Some time ago I was experimenting with publishing this blog to other channels, and signed up for an Amazon Kindle Publishing For Blogs account. For some reason I still don’t understand I couldn’t just use my existing Amazon account, so I created a new account using the same email address. I never took it much further than that.

Shortly after that, however, I started receiving emails from Amazon Vendor Central. Initially they were few and far between, announcing such irrelevant things as new fulfilment centres in West Columbia, SC and a new feature that allows you to download a bill of lading (BOL) for submitted routing requests. Annoying, but, infrequent enough to be ignored.

Late last year, when these morphed into regular monthly product update newsletters, I decided to unsubscribe. But, curiously, there was no “unsubscribe” link in the email footer (this was actually how it came to my attention, as I had recently swapped out my previously complicated email rules with a simple one that highlighted all emails containing the word “unsubscribe”). Instead there was this (emphasis mine!):

If you have questions, please sign in to Vendor Central at https://vendorcentral.amazon.com or Advantage Central at https://advantage.amazon.com and click Contact Us at the bottom of any page.
Please do not reply directly to this e-mail.

So, I tried to sign in to Vendor Central, but instead of a simple email preferences settings page I got this error message:

There was an error with your account
It looks like the email and password combination you used is meant for a different site. You can use this email and password combination for Kindle Publishing for Blogs, or use a different email and password combination for Vendor Central.

So, following the link to the Kindle Publishing for Blogs sub-site, I tried again:

Screenshot 2014-03-23 17.01.35

Bugger! Despite wasting more time trying to get around that road block, it was ultimately pointless, as it turns out there is no email preferences options on the account. Thou shalt be opted-in, it seems.

Next step was to use the recommend “Contact Us” option. I sent what I thought was a pretty straight forward request:

I want to unsubscribe from the newsletter emails, but there is no link provided in the messages or any obvious option on this website.

I immediately got an automated response from their ticket management system.

The following are the five (!) responses I received in reply to this request over the following weeks, in full unedited glory.

+ 1 day:

Greetings,

Thank you for writing to us.

I have contacted the appropriate team regarding the same. I will be sure to update you on the progress of these investigations as soon as I have additional information.

We appreciate your patience and understanding regarding this issue

Best regards,

Gopi Krishna
Amazon.com Vendor Services

+ 3 days:

Greetings,

I am forwarding the following case details to our department concerned. Rest assured, they will look into it and get back to you at the earliest with an update.

We appreciate your patience with us.

Best regards,

Gopi Krishna
Amazon.com Vendor Services

Poor Gopi doesn’t seem to be getting much attention from the department concerned (presumably the unsubscribe department?)

But, I was in luck, because he took it upon himself to escalate to his colleague, Manoj.

+ 4 days:

Dear Vendor,

Please note, I am working with the concerned team regarding this and will send you additional correspondence as soon as we have an update. This may take 3 days approximately.

Best regards,

Manoj Kumar
Amazon.com Vendor Services

The three day estimate, it turned out, was a little optimistic.

+ 10 days:

Dear Vendor,

Please note, I am still waiting for an update from the concerned team. I will send you additional correspondence as soon as we have an update from them.

Thank you for the patience.

Best regards,

Manoj Kumar
Amazon.com Vendor Services

Sadly the next message from Manoj was not so hopeful.

+ 17 days:

Dear Vendor,

As per the update from the concerned team, there is no way to “unsubscribe” vendors from vendor newsletters. Newsletters go out to all vendor central users as defined when the newsletter is setup. Therefore, you may report news letters to ‘Spam’ folder.

Thank you for your understanding.

If you have additional questions about your case, [number], please click [link]

If you have questions about a different issue, please review our Vendor Help
https://vendorcentral.amazon.com/gp/vendor/members/contactusapp

Please click one of the following links to let us know how we’re doing. Your input helps us improve the vendor experience.

Did we successfully answer your question?

If yes, click here:
[link]
If not, click here:
[link]

Best regards,

Manoj Kumar
Amazon.com Vendor Services

I clicked no.

Pretty remarkable.

Derivatives

Financial Derivatives

In finance, a derivative is a contract whose value is based on the performance of another underlying asset.

An option, for example, is an agreement to purchase a stock at some date in the future for a pre-agreed price. The option makes a profit or loss depending on whether the actual price on that future date is above or below the pre-agreed price. Once in place that option becomes something which can be valued and in some cases even traded independently of the underlying asset – although their prospects are inextricably linked, at least in one direction, because without the underlying company there is no option.

While some people have become famously rich as a result of derivatives, many are very critical of them – e.g. Warren Buffett called them “financial weapons of mass destruction” in 2002. A few years later a form of derivatives called Collateralised Debt Obligations (or CDOs) were one of the causes of the global financial crisis.

Mathematical Derivatives

In calculus, a derivative measures how much one value changes in response to changes in some other value.

For example, as an object moves we can measure its speed (the first derivative of its movement) and its acceleration (the second derivative of its movement).

Or, when measuring the revenues of a business we can consider the amount in dollars, the percentage revenue growth (the first derivative) or the acceleration in revenue growth (the second derivative). See: Size vs Growth vs Acceleration

Again, without the underlying objects, there are no derivatives.

Startup Derivatives

I’d like to propose some new types of derivatives for start-ups: all of the other people and organisations who depend on the founder/s and their ventures.

Active investors are first derivative founders. They are the tender not the engine, although many acting in this role think of themselves in opposite terms. Passive investors, or anybody investing indirectly via a group or fund, are second derivative founders, since they are two steps removed from the underlying venture.

Incubators and accelerators are first derivative ventures, since ultimately the success of an incubator or accelerator is a function of the ventures they work with.

Government grants are first derivative capital, in the hands of the founder. Allocated funding for government grants is second derivative capital, in the hands of the development agency. When the government funds a development agency to fund an incubator to fund ventures … well, I start to lose count of how derivative that is.

Mentors and consultants and advisors are first derivative team members (ref: this great tweet – most first derivative team members mistakenly believe that others ideas are more worthy than their own).

A shared working space is a first derivative office.

How does this help?

There are a lot of people who would like to see a bigger more vibrant and more successful ecosystem of startup ventures in New Zealand.

In order to achieve this more people need to realise that what we’re missing are more impressive underlying ventures. Until we have that we can layer on as many start-up derivatives as we like and it will make little difference.

Contrary to popular opinion, the derivatives are not pre-requisites, it’s the other way around.

Of course, not everybody can be a founder – indeed that would be an undesirable mess. But, if you are currently involved in a first, second or even third derivative capacity, my advice to you is to think about how you move up the chain, because that is how you will make a bigger impact.

Enough?

2013 Annual Report

chickenhavingfun

Never has a full year report been more accurately named. I tried to squeeze a lot in.

There were lots of exhausting but invigorating adventures…

I completed three of the Great Walks, without putting on tramping boots. We paddled the Whanganui River in the rain in January, I rode both the Queen Charlotte and Heaphy Tracks during winter, and then in September I ran the Abel Tasman Coastal Track (in 4h 44m).

I was a regular visitor to the Kaiteriteri MTB park and also completed a couple of rides over the Copper Mine track. I managed one night ride, and look forward to more next winter.

In spring I took our oldest on his first overnight tramp – from Caanan to Castle Rocks Hut on the Abel Tasman Inland Track via Moa Park.

We visited friends in Boulder Colorado and while there walked to the continental divide at the Rocky Mountain National Park.

There were also some less wet and muddy trips…

I spent two weeks in Singapore, on a return visit to the Joyful Frog Digital Incubator.

In Autumn, we spent a week in a camper van trip through central Otago, including my first trip over the Lindis Pass.

We soaked up some heat in Bali in July and I enjoyed some time in the snow (both cross-county and downhill varieties) in Queenstown in August.

We were delighted to attend a couple of family weddings – Josie & Lo in Stinson Beach California and Cam & Michelle in Auckland.

I saw some live sport, including both the All Blacks (v Australia) and the All Whites (v Mexico) in Wellington.

But without question the highlight was the Americas Cup in San Francisco in September (unfortunately we couldn’t stay for the whole thing, but left feeling pretty confident about the outcome, with the score at 4-1).

There was no shortage of work either…

It was my first full year on the Powershop board. I’m learning a lot.

I spent quite a bit of time in Wellington with the team at Southgate.

Early in the year we launched Triage. The critical response to that was overwhelming and flattering and unexpected. We briefly topped the productivity category and were featured in the US app store during the first week. However, we discovered in the process that financial success doesn’t necessarily follow from that any more. It was, in the first instance, a selfish project and it’s still the first app I use every morning.

We worked with Glen on Company Box, and later in the year we launched Rabble. We continue our search for the next big thing.

It was also a huge year for Vend.

We worked hard during the first part of the year to raise additional capital to continue to fuel our growth. In the course of just a few days in May it was exciting to announce the successful completion of that $8m round, welcoming some awesome new investors into the mix as part of that, and then to be recognised at the Hi-Tech Awards dinner in Auckland where we picked up awards for both Innovative Hi-Tech Service Product and the Hi-Tech Exporter of the Year (under $5M revenues)

Startups are squiggly, and unfortunately people mostly only tend to talk about the clean and easy bits. Vend is no different. Over the last year we’ve more than doubled the size of the team and the business has grown even faster. That creates some chewy challenges for those of us lucky enough to be working on it. It’s been excellent to be part of the story so far. Stand by for what we have planned for 2014!

In June I made a new investment, in Timely, and have enjoyed working with them too as they have started to build their team and hit their straps. I have high hopes.

It was an unbelievable year for Xero, which masks a bunch of other poorer decisions when you look further down the list of companies I’ve invested in over the last few years. It already seems nostalgic to look back on old tweets celebrating the day it passed a $1B valuation, way back in March.

I enjoyed Webstock in February, where I also MC’d at the Startup Alley and got to chat on stage with Derek Sivers.

As I look around there are no shortage of opportunities. It’s definitely an exciting time to be involved in early-stage technology companies in New Zealand.

I spent way too much time in my inbox. I received 13,653 messages and sent just over 6,000. That’s about the same volume as for the last few years, but having eliminated nearly all of the noise it subjectively felt like more of these required consideration than in the past. Even if I assume just one minute per message that still accounts for over five and a half full working weeks.

tweeted, probably more than I should have. And blogged, much less than I could have.

I spent 168 days away from home (taking 95 flights, visiting 20 cities in 6 countries and travelling over 82,000km, according to TripIt). That’s nearly half again more than the 113 days away I reported just two years ago, which I already thought was too many then. Not all of that was work, but I doubt that distinction matters to a 9 year old and 6 year old.

And, even when I was at home, there was always a lot going on there too…

We finally officially warmed our new house in March, complete with jenga, fireworks and feijoas. The lasting legacy of that weekend is a new haircut (inspired by Andre Agassi) and a street sign (inspired by a flippant comment on twitter).

I kept mostly fit and healthy. It’s now four years since I first dipped under 80kg and I haven’t been back since. But this is the third year in a row that I’ve ended slightly heavier than I started, so it would be nice to break that trend in the coming year.

There was some downtime, including a disconnected week in June. But, not nearly enough.

I started the year aspiring to focus, and failed miserably. All of the things listed above combined to mean I spent big chunks of the year red lining, feeling more anxious than vital.

I did a little experiment during the year – giving myself five points every day (roughly equivalent to one point for every three hours awake) as a way to track how I was actually spending my time. It made for some slightly uncomfortable pauses when I was asked what I was up to – I knew exactly, but didn’t always want to admit it. Various work commitments soaked up just over 800 of the 1820 points for the year (~44%), which is difficult to justify in retrospect. I did manage to carve out a decent chunk of time for myself (~16%) and family and friends (~28%), although both of those were significantly lower in the first part of the year (thanks, Observer Effect!)

Perhaps in 2014 I’ll be a bit more selfish?

Previous Annual Reports:

Much Ado About Nothing

For my own record, some tweets worth keeping from 2013:

Team Size != Success

DJ: How tremendous is Fatboy Slim?
Brad: The band of the 90′s, if you want to call it a band because it’s a one man name.

It’s easy to get seduced by the idea that in order to be successful you have to be big.

Maybe that was true in the past, but it’s not necessarily true now. And it makes it much harder to tell from the outside who is winning.

One of the exciting ventures I’m involved with at the moment is Vend. The team photos from the last few years shows that the team is growing quickly:

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

When we re-created the photo from 2011 with the much larger team in 2012, in the same location and same t-shirts, the comments on Twitter were interesting. Many of those sending their congratulations seemed to assume that big team = big success. Actually, the formula for companies in this situation in the short-term is more like big team = big payroll. The success comes later. Sometimes.

Luckily at Vend our underlying business has grown at an even faster rate than our headcount. Or, maybe it’s not luck?

It’s great to see that as the group gets bigger so does the potential to do something really impressive. Here is the 2013 team photo, taken last week, complete with colleagues who have joined us from the new offices in Melbourne, Toronto and San Francisco.

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

I can’t wait to see the 2014 version!

Another example.

Earlier this year Hawkes Bay based Majic Jungle Software launched an awesome iPhone/iPad game called The Blockheads. We were honoured to be part of the group helping to beta test it prior to launch, and it was great to see it develop over that time into a delightful and engaging game. It was no huge surprise to see it go on to top the iTunes downloads charts and create the third big success from this developer (1).

Again, it was interesting to see some of the reaction on Twitter:

As it turns out the “team” in this case is just Dave Frampton (2).

He’s the band of the 90′s, despite the one man name.

Maybe rather than celebrating raw number of people employed by our companies we should use the revenue per employee measure that Paul Callaghan used to talk about in his “Beyond the Farm and Theme Park” presentation:

I was fortunate to see Paul give that presentation in person a couple of times, and one of the numbers that really sticks with me is that there are only about 1.3m FTE jobs in NZ. The challenge we collectively have is to make as much from each of them as we can. Everybody from big companies through to individuals working by themselves both have a role to play.

It’s easy to complicate business, but actually the rules are very simple: in the long run you win by making stuff which is so great that people will pay you more for it than it costs you.

There are lots of different ways that you can organise yourself to achieve that outcome.


(1) Here in NZ we get very excited when our singers are top of the Billboard charts, or our movie makers are successful at the box office, but often overlook the equivalent regular successes notched up by local mobile application developers
(2) Dave was, of course, assisted by his lovely wife Emma

But, what do you do?

We’re excited to see the number of companies and people listed on Rabble growing.

We’re now up to 360 companies and 558 people in the directory.

We’ve just added Clean Tech and Life Sciences categories, in addition to Hardware and Services categories which were added a few weeks ago, so please feel free to add your listing to those.

If your company isn’t listed you can add it right now using the Add a Company button in the top right.

If your company is listed, please check to make sure that all of the people associated are also listed. It’s excellent to see some companies with their extended management team, investors and advisors all listed – e.g. Vend, Parrot Analytics and Timely. We’d love to see more!

Anybody already associated with the company can add the names and details of others who should also be listed, or you can click the “+ Add me to this company” link.

One of the things we’re very keen to encourage is a short and succinct description of each company, so that anybody browsing the directory can get a quick idea of what you do and if that is something they are interested in.

As it says on the form:

“Please no marketing bullshit! This should be a plain-English, no nonsense description of your product or service from a customer’s perspective.”

When we were putting together the initial list of companies we added the descriptions ourselves – generally starting with the description from the companies websites. It was amazing how often we would read all of the words (sometimes hundreds of words!) on the home page and still be left with the questions “But, what do you actually do?” and “Who is this for?”.

The best descriptions, in my opinion, have this form:

[Description of your product/service] for [Description of your target customer]

So simple!

And, some have done a great job of this:

Rabble-RedSeed Rabble-GoVocab

Rabble-Mindscape Rabble-AcuteCrew
(especially Acutecrew – rules are made to be broken!)

And, last but not least, my current favourite:

Rabble-CropLogic

But, many seem to struggle. It’s amazing to see otherwise intelligent people suddenly develop verbal diarrhoea when they come to try and describe their business.

We reserve the right to edit descriptions, to keep the site looking clean and usable.

The first thing we do is remove the company name, which just about everybody starts with. The cards already display the company name in a big bold font, there is no need to use up precious space in your description by repeating that. Likewise, we don’t need full legal names so you can leave off the “Limited”/”Ltd”.

Next we try and remove the nonsense words. It’s staggering how many people describe their service as “an online blah” or “cloud-based blah website” (really, as opposed to the non-cloud based websites also providing blah?) We also see lots of “world class this” or “unrivalled that” or the ever popular “beautiful and simple to use whatever” (interestingly, nobody ever describes their product as ugly or complicated).

Finally we edit anything which is written from the companies perspective rather than from the customers. We want these descriptions to appeal to people who might buy your stuff, or to those who might want to work with you or invest in you.

We all just want to know what you do, so please help us out and make it easy!

Enjoy! :-)

PS we still have a small number of orphan companies from the initial list please let us know if you can identify the correct people to be associated with any of those and we will link them up.

World Class

I love watching elite sports people competing under pressure.

This photo is taken from the London Olympics 10,000m final. The expressions on the three medalists’ faces tell the story…

MoFarrah

First: WTF, did that really happen?
Second: OMG, I’m a white dude winning a medal in a long-distance race at the Olympics!
Third: FML

The bronze medalist on this occasion was Kenenisa Bekele from Ethopia. The reason he’s looking a bit glum is that he was, and still is, the world record holder for this event, so no doubt was expecting more of himself on that evening.

(Interestingly, according to research, bronze medalists are usually happier than silver medalists – one possible explanation for this is that silver medalists compare themselves to the gold medal winner and wonder what could have been, where as bronze medalists compare themselves to the lower place getters and are happy to have a medal at all – success is all relative!)

Pace

It’s nearly impossible for the average person, watching on TV, to appreciate the speed that world class long distance runners run.

Bekele’s 10,000m world record is 27 min 17 sec, which is the equivalent of 100 consecutive 15.8 second 100m races. I doubt many people reading this could run a single 100m at that pace, if sprinting.

He ran the final kilometre of that race in 2 min 32 sec. Again, probably twice as fast as the average runner could go at full speed starting fresh, and he had already run 9km at world record pace before then!

There are only a handful of people on the planet who can sustain that sort of pace. If you watch any of the elite marathons you’ll see the leading group contains some designated pacemakers for the first 20 or 30km. They are themselves very, very good athletes, running at an eye watering pace, but they peel away eventually unable to stick with that speed over the critical final third of the race.

It’s difficult to find words to describe the gap between these guys and you and me.

The most obvious difference is genetic. Mo Farrah, the gold medalist above, is 1.75m (my height) but 58kg (somewhat less than my weight!) The world record holder, Bekele, is 54kg. That physiological difference is telling. Fewer than 40 people have ever run sub-27 mins for the 10,000m, and Chris Solinsky, at 74kg, is the only one heavier than 65kg.

But, of course, it’s much more than that. There are plenty of people born with the same genetics as those guys who never go on to athletic greatness. It takes half a lifetime of hard work to get to the start line capable of running at that pace. The media loves stories about people who come from nowhere to win, but these days those sort of performances are more than likely to attract suspicion rather than admiration. Most champions are well signposted, with a long history of improving performances from a very young age.

For example, Usain Bolt ran the 200m in 21.81sec in 2001, when he was 15, seven years before setting the world record of 19.30sec at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, with small but consistent improvement every year in between.

Or, consider Tiger Woods as a 2 year old:

Then a 14 year old (already a junior world champion, and scratch handicapper):

Then a 30 year old:

According to the video title this is the best shot ever played, which is a big claim, but possibly true – it was the 16th hole, in the final round of a major tournament and in an amazing setting. Imagine being Tom DiMarco who had to putt immediately after this! As it happened, he missed his gettable birdie putt and when on to lose to Tiger in a playoff.

Confidence

Standing on the breakwater, in front of the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco, on the morning of 7th September earlier this year waiting for race one of the Americas Cup to start, my heart rate was noticeably higher than it normally is. It’s hard to comprehend how the team themselves must have felt, given what they had personally invested in the whole event. Up close the fragility and bespoke-ness of the boat is much more obvious. They are designed and constructed to sail right on the limits.

Somehow those on board continue to operate and hold it all together despite those nerves. The very best actually seem to thrive on the pressure.

And, it wasn’t just physical. There was an amazing moment in the press conference after day four of racing. Team NZ were dominating the event at that stage, winning both races that day, and leading 6 to 1 overall in the first to 9 series (actually 6 to -1, as Oracle didn’t get to count their first two wins due to a penalty). Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill is asked how he was dealing with the pressure, and replies:

“I think the question is: imagine if these guys lost from here. What an upset that would be. They’ve almost got it in the bag. So, that’s my motivation. That would be one hell of a story, one hell of a comeback. And that’s the kind of thing that I’d like to be a part of. I’ve been involved in some big fight backs, with some big challenges, facing a lot of adversity. That would be the kind of thing I’d love to be involved in.”

You can see it starting around 21mins into this video:

Huge words, and with the benefit of hindsight quite prophetic. That’s a remarkable level of self-confidence bordering on cockiness. And it was a deliberate strategy. I’d love to know how much he actually believed himself deep down, that day.

Watch the video and imagine yourself in Dean Barker’s position, and wonder how you would respond to that sort of comment – not just immediately, but lying in bed trying to get to sleep that night and then looking across the water on the start-line the next day with him smiling back at you.

Bonus: Dean Barker, interviewed on Radio NZ recently about his experience in San Francisco.

Executing the Basics

If you get a chance to go to an All Blacks game be sure to get there early and watch the team warming up. Take some binoculars and just follow one player. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find it mesmerising to watch them run though a very methodical set of exercises as they prepare for the game.

There are hundreds of thousands of kids who grow up dreaming of being an All Black. There are thousands who play at 1st XV level, and every year there are a couple of hundred who play professionally and are eligible for selection. The breadth of that pyramid and the competition for places and desire to be part of the team that results probably goes a long way to explaining why the level of performance is so high at the very top.

It’s tempting to imagine that those who are picked have something magical that sets them apart from mere mortals. But, actually it’s not magic.

It was fascinating last year to work with some of the All Blacks and see them describe some of their roles in their own words, and understand the thinking and preparation that goes into the performances we all get to watch and enjoy (and heavily criticise when things, occasionally, don’t fall their way):

They are talking about the same skills that any weekend warrior has – passing, tackling, kicking – but these guys are able to perform those skills consistently under extreme pressure of time and space.

Or, as eloquently put by the NZ Herald after the Bledisloe Cup match in Wellington earlier this year:

“They are the rugby equivalent of the great Dutch football team of the 1970s, seemingly full of genius ploys when really, their whole game is about supreme execution of the basics.”
http://mobile.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.php?c_id=4&objectid=11113971

It’s very easy to talk about executing the basics. But, actually, just doing that consistently and despite all that is happening around you is enough to set you apart from nearly everybody else in the world.

Are you really?

The expression “world class” gets casually thrown around, like a frisbee at the beach on a sunny afternoon. But most people who use it actually have no concept.

In sport there is an obvious and massive gap between the elite few and everybody else. It’s tempting to bridge that gap in your mind and imagine that you could be a contender, but that doesn’t often stand up to much scrutiny.

And likewise in business. And especially in start-up businesses.

It seems so possible to start a company and dream big. Anybody could do it, right? I have a great idea for an app, if only I could find a developer to build it for me. Or, I’ve built this amazing dingus and just need to find some way to sell it (or even more delusionaly, I just need to get it out there and it will sell itself).

It is worth taking the time to ask yourself at the outset if you can be world class.

Do you have the desire to put in the years of hard slog and dedicated focus, to be able to push yourself to match the performance of the very best out there (keeping in mind that every founder thinks they can do in two years what always takes at least five, often seven, sometime even longer)?

Can you look your competitors in the eye and confidently know that you are mentally stronger and able to execute better when it counts? And, even if you don’t believe that, are you able to talk it up anyway, so at least they believe you do?

Are the basics so ingrained, due to consistent and repeated execution over time, that you’re able to repeat them almost mindlessly, even when time and other constraints are working against you?

Are you world class? Really?

Of course you can be world class. Don’t let me convince you otherwise.

But, you don’t achieve that by calling yourself world class.

You achieve that by competing with, and beating, the best in the world.

The cake is a lie!

Busy Busy

Here is a little thought experiment…

How do you feel about somebody who fills their house to overflowing with stuff, shuffling clutter from one room to another just in time as each space is needed during the day, leaving no spare room to take in anything new?

How do you feel about somebody who manages their finances right on the edge, spending every last cent of their credit card limit, transferring money from one account to another just in time to cover repayments, never quite sure if their next purchase will tip them into the red?

Neither of those sound ideal, right?

What about somebody who manages their time like this – i.e. fills their days with work, constantly juggles their to-do list as urgent tasks come and go, and leaves no spare time to do things well?

That’s also not great.

So, why do we romanticise our busyness?

Them: How have you been?
Us (said with pride): Oh, you know, busy busy!

I’ve caught myself replying like that a lot, over the last few months especially. I’ve been keeping an unsustainable number of plates spinning, and often finding myself lacking the time to do as good a job as I can and should on any one plate without exhausting myself. And, it’s clearly irrational when I put it like that, but people are generally impressed when I explain how I fill my days, rather than asking why I would possibly want or need so many plates.

Why do we do that?

Maybe it’s what we expect each other to say? Like the exhausted and knowing nods exchanged between two parents of newborns, safe in the knowledge that neither is getting enough sleep, perhaps we take comfort from connecting with others in the same situation.

Maybe it’s just easier to measure inputs, than to look for evidence of outputs? It’s easy to assume that if lots of work is being done then lots of things must be getting completed and completed well. It’s even easier to confuse activity for progress.

But, the cake is a lie.

Doing a good job nearly always means focus, and focus means saying no.

You can be busy or remarkable, but not both.

What do you choose?

Rabble Rousing

A couple of months ago we launched Rabble, the directory of kiwi technology companies.

We were blown away by the response. We started with just over 100 companies, from our own networks, and I had a small wager with the team that we would eventually be able to double this number. We ended up doing that within the first few days as many companies that were not listed were quick to get in touch as ask us to add them to the site. We now have just under 300 companies listed.

So, this week, we’re pleased to release the next version of the site. This adds a number of new things, which we think starts to make it really interesting for everybody:

People

First and foremost, we’ve added people, the most important thing in the world.

You can now join, create a profile and link to the company or companies that you are associated with.

For example, this is my profile:

http://www.rabble.co.nz/profiles/2-rowan-simpson

If you are already associated with a company on Rabble you should have received an email from us with instructions for completing your profile. Once you’ve done that you can add others to that company too. We will get in touch with anybody you add who is not already listed to ask them to join and create a profile.

We’d love to see every company on Rabble with a full list of founders, team members, investors, directors, advisors, etc.

One of the big advantages we have in New Zealand is that we’re all no more than one or two degrees of separation removed from anybody else. But, for some reason there is still sometimes a perception that it is difficult to get in touch with those within the industry who might be able to help you with your business. It’s really not, or at least doesn’t have to be. We hope that having this directory of companies and people available and searchable will make it even easier for everybody who is listed on the site to find the right connections when needed.

Unfortunately there are a few companies from the original list which currently don’t have any people associated:

http://www.rabble.co.nz/companies/orphans

If you can recommend the right people for us to add to these orphans to get them started that would be much appreciated – let us know at rabble@southgatelabs.com

New Categories

We originally launched with four categories: Software, SaaS, Marketplace and E-Commerce. We’ve now added three new categories: Mobile App, Hardware and Services.

If you have a company in any of these seven categories then you can now add yourself directly to the directory – look out for the blue “Add Company” button on the top right of the page. And, if you’d like to suggest other categories for us to add then please get in touch.

As well, we also allow each company to nominate the stage they are at: Pre-launch, Start-up, Growth or Established, and people searching on Rabble can filter the list of companies by category, stage and location to quickly find the companies they are interested in.

Jobs

The biggest constraint for just about all of the good startups we know is finding good people to join the team and help them grow the business.

It’s depressing to see many otherwise smart people working in boring jobs with large corporates while there are so many great opportunities open at local technology companies.

So, every company listed on Rabble can now include details of current vacancies on their company profile, and we’ve added a new Jobs section which summarises all of the jobs listed on the site.

To add a free job listing to your company, just use the “Add Jobs” link on the company page.

Investment Opportunities

Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, there is still a perception that there is a shortage of capital for growing technology companies in New Zealand.

However, that’s not to say that it is always easy to make the connection between the right company and the right investor.

So, we now allow any company listed on Rabble to indicate if they are currently seeking investment. Those that do will be listed on a new Investments section. Current rules mean we can only display this information to those who have confirmed they are eligible investors – there are instructions on the Investments section page which can help those who are eligible get setup with access.

There are still many investors who wait for opportunities to come to them, often unaware that this means they miss out on all of the best deals. Hopefully Rabble can allow those investors who are willing to cut out the middle man to connect and talk directly with companies who are seeking help.

Featured Companies

Each week we will feature remarkable companies on the Rabble homepage.

We’ve started with six companies with global ambitions, nominated by John Holt from the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco:

  • BIMStop - the building information management marketplace
  • Biomatters – bioinformatics software to speed up and simplify research for molecular biologists and biochemists
  • BookTrack – soundtracks for books
  • IndieReign - the independent film marketplace
  • Vend – retail point-of-sale software and inventory management
  • vWorkApp – dispatch and scheduling software

In the first two months we’ve had thousands of people use the site – so we hope that the exposure to qualified people we can give to companies in this spot will be valuable to them.

If you’re interested in being featured, or in choosing a list of featured companies for us, please get in touch.

There is heaps more we’d like to do with this. We’ve already spoken to a few different people with ideas for how the data that is captured in Rabble can be used to deliver value back to all of the companies listed. So, look out for some further developments over the coming weeks and months. And, if you can see some potential, we’d love to talk to you too.

But, for now, we mostly need your help to spread the word and in add more companies and people to the site.

If you’re not yet listed add yourself today. And, if you know of anybody we’re missing please tell them about us.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Diworsification

Investing in early-stage companies is risky, due to the massive disparity of possible outcomes.

There is a good chance you will lose all of the money you invest in any given venture, and a very small chance that the company will go on to become very valuable and make you look like a genius in the process for choosing to back them in the beginning.

It’s nearly impossible to tell for sure in advance which opportunities are the likely winners.

In response to this many would-be investors make the mistake of believing that they can reduce their exposure to this risk via diversification. That is, spread the money they invest across a portfolio of start-up companies, hoping that one of them will be a winner and offset the losses from the others. Or, more colloquially: “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket”.

The general theory is sound, and probably makes a lot of sense when investing in larger public companies.

“By diversifying, one loses the chance of having invested solely in the single asset that comes out best, but one also avoids having invested solely in the asset that comes out worst. That is the role of diversification: it narrows the range of possible outcomes.”

But, remember, the lower end of that range for private early-stage companies is still “you lose all your money”.

What does diversification cost?

Let’s say you have $10,000 to invest.

You could diversify by investing $1,000 into ten different ventures and hoping that at least one of them does well. Or, you could focus by investing the full $10,000 into a single venture and hoping that it does well.

Now let’s consider the extreme ends of the return spectrum for these two alternatives.

Remember, the odds of picking a winner in either case are very low, but the reward if you do can be spectacular – for the sake of this example let’s assume that each $1 invested could, just a few years later, be worth $3,000 or more (this is, very roughly, the return on the original $100,000 which was invested in Trade Me in 1999 when the company was sold to Fairfax in 2006).

What happens in our two scenarios in the best case (i.e. you pick a winner)?

If you diversified, you lose your money on nine of the ventures, but the $1,000 invested in the winner becomes $3 million. That’s not a bad result by any measure. However, in the second case, the $10,000 invested becomes $30 million!

What happens in the worst case (i.e. if you don’t pick a winner – remember, this is by far the most likely outcome)?

This is easy. In both cases you lose all of your money.

So, while a portfolio approach gives you more chances to pick a winner, the opportunity price you pay for that is a ten fold reduction in the best-case return, without any improvement on the worst-case outcome. And, the bigger the portfolio the lower the best-case return.

Of course, those are only the two extremes. What about the possible outcomes in between? It’s tempting to think these would be more common, by assuming that the possible returns from an early-stage investment are a normal distribution with the median being positive. But, that’s not the reality.

This graph shows the distribution of returns for a sample of early-stage investments. This is UK data, but it feels about right, from my experience. On a percentage basis, most early-stage investments result in the investor losing their money. The big wins are the very rare exception.

Angel Investment Returns

Source: Angel Investing – Promising Outcomes & Effective Strategies, by Robert E Wiltbank (pg 14)

If you assume no selection bias and a large enough portfolio, then the overall expected return is a little over $2 for every $1 invested.

But, in practice, the outcome for any individual investor is much more binary than most who take this approach realise.

Each investment you make is a discrete event – a separate spin of the roulette wheel, if you like. You can bet on the same number all night, and it doesn’t matter how many times you spin the wheel it doesn’t make it any more or less likely that you will hit the jackpot.

If you do pick a winner then your return is a simple function of how many other companies you have in your portfolio (more companies = lower return). If you don’t pick a winner then the number of losers is irrelevant.

How do you choose?

The common mythology says that one in ten start-up investments is a big winner. So, all you have to do is randomly pick ten companies and then sit back and wait for one of them to win, right?

Sadly, no!

There were two big assumptions in the logic above that we just brushed over, and which don’t stand up to much scrutiny when you look at the individual portfolio of any given early-stage investor.

The first, and more difficult, is the “no selection bias” assumption.

This is all about your judgement in picking great companies.

Are all of the companies you’re choosing to invest in potential big winners? Or, do you have a blind spot, which means that each investment is possibly flawed in the same way?

One common but often overlooked source of selection bias is your source of investments – what some investors call “deal flow”.

When you’re looking at public companies, you can buy shares in any company you choose to invest in, if you’re so inclined. But, with private early-stage companies it’s not so simple. The best companies (i.e. those most likely to be big winners) are generally able to pick their investors. If you’re waiting for companies to pitch to you, or insist on harsh investor-friendly terms, or want to invest passively from the sidelines rather than taking an active role in helping, then you probably have a selection bias – i.e. you only invest in more desperate companies.

This is one of the reasons why I advocate a founder-centric approach.

Those who take a portfolio approach often invest via syndicates. In that scenario it is very common, in my observation, for everybody in the syndicate to assume that somebody else has done the work to validate the potential of the investment, meaning actually nobody has.

It only takes a small amount of poor judgement to introduce a potentially fatal selection bias to a portfolio.

The second, and more easily dismissed, is the “large enough portfolio” assumption.

Perhaps if you could build up a portfolio of hundreds or thousands of early-stage companies then your return might be what the theory suggests it should be.

But, that’s not practical for most early-stage funds, let alone individual investors. We continue to believe, despite lots of evidence to the contrary, that there is a shortage of capital in New Zealand, when the reality is there are simply not that many investment-ready companies.

And, in either case, as we saw above, the larger the portfolio the lower the return if you do happen to pick a winner. Those building really big portfolios are backing themselves to pick multiple big winners, or one really big winner (aka “a moon shot”). You need to be fishing in a very large pool for this to be feasible.

Diversification == Lack of Focus

The last thing to consider is much more subjective.

For most ventures, removing a capital constraint only uncovers an execution constraint. The best early-stage investors understand that the money they invest is important as a ticket to the game, but the advice they give and the work they do to help the founders progress the business is much more impactful.

So the question then is not only how much money you’re willing to invest in early-stage companies, but also how much time. For most investors I know that quickly becomes the limiting factor.

Taking a portfolio approach means that both time and money are spread more thinly and much less likely to contribute to the success of the ventures. As Steve Jobs famously said, “focus means saying ‘no’”.

So, my advice to those thinking about investing in early-stage companies, for what it is worth, is put all of your eggs in one carefully selected basket and keep a close eye on it.

You may or may not pick a winner – remember these are start-ups we’re talking about so the odds of success are massively stacked against you either way. But if you’re going to take that sort of risk, you may as well set yourself up to enjoy the full up-side if you do get lucky. 

Note: Credit to Peter Lynch for coining the term ‘Diworsification‘. He used it to describe the situation where risk is already very low, so adding additional assets to a portfolio doesn’t help. I’m arguing that the same logic applies when risk is already very high.

Rabble

rab•ble n

    Those most likely to create the future

Today we’re pleased to launch Rabble, a directory of kiwi technology companies.

We’ve created this in response to a few problems that we’ve seen startup companies struggle with first hand.

We hope to help people who want to work on startups find a great place to work. The biggest constraint for just about all of the good startups we know is finding good people to join the team – and meanwhile, smart people continue to work for big, boring companies. We want to liberate a few from corporate slavery.

We hope to help investors to find better places to put their money to work. We despair to see people joining clubs in the pursuit of deal flow, unaware that the best opportunities are never going to come to them there. We know you have to work to be an investor of choice, but we also know that great companies are out there desperate to find the capital they need to get to the next stage. We want to make the connection.

Last but by no means least, we hope to help startups find the right advice and the things they need to get them moving faster – whether that is a clueful lawyer to assist with a shareholders’ agreement or a printer to help create the perfect t-shirt. We know that startups can be demanding but very rewarding clients, so if we can help those who want to help startups then that would be great.

But, to start with we just want to make a list. We’re putting the M back in MVP. We realise that a list by itself doesn’t really do any of the above very effectively, but we hope it’s a foundation to build on.

Check it out here: http://rabble.co.nz

We’ve focussed initially on four categories of companies:

  1. Those who sell desktop or mobile application software
  2. Those who sell hosted software on subscription (SaaS)
  3. Those who sell things online (eCommerce)
  4. Those who provide a software platform or marketplace

We’ll hopefully add more categories soon – we’re interested to hear what others you think we should add next.

We’ve added about 100 companies that we know of from our own networks and who have been mentioned in the media recently.

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list. If you would like us to include your company, or one that you know we’ve missed, please send the details to rabble@southgatelabs.com.

And, even if we already have your company listed we’d like to hear from you too, so we can make sure we have the right people associated with each listing. If you’d like us to update any details we may have incorrect, or even just add a better logo, get in touch and we can sort it out.

But, at this stage, we mostly need your help in spreading the word, on Twitter or Facebook or wherever. Please tell anybody you know who might be interested – perhaps they are potential employees looking for a job, perhaps they are investors wondering where to start, or perhaps they are suppliers who would like to work with startups. Either way, we hope that Rabble can help them.

Please let us know what you think. At this early stage any feedback is useful and appreciated.