Background to the Mandarin Madness Idea

This is cross posted from the Startup Weekend Melbourne Google Groups Forum.
Hey its Matt from Native Tongue.

Most of you know I flew down from Sydney for this event. I was here for work as well, but stayed the extra few days for the first startup weekend.

My motivation for participating was to take on the best entrepreneurs from Melbourne. My idea took the title. Admittedly, my team is all from Melbourne, but the idea is from Sydney =).

I thought that everyone was supposed to pitch an idea, and was worried that I didn’t have one. So I came up with the idea the night before the competition. But I knew it had to be tested and feedback was needed, ala customer development (see Steve Blank).

When I got on the plane to Melbourne, I pitched it to the people sitting next to me. It was the first time I pitched it, and I knew I had to make the vision simple: “Making language easy to learn”. They liked it. When I was at work on Thursday in our Melbourne office, I pitched it to as many people as I could, and used that feedback to refine my pitch. About 50% liked it.

I was staying at an Airbnb place, and I pitched it to one of the housemates on Friday night just before I came to the event. That’s why I was 30mins late. She liked it as well. That’s when I knew it was good.

I never stopped pitching the idea and believing in it. Allen and I actually never did a full practice together – we were the two people pitching to the judging panel. We did a few rough practices towards the last 1 hour, mostly separately and put the slides together like 5 mins before the deadline. But I had pitched it so many times, at least 40 times that weekend that I didn’t need the slides. I knew what the vision was and how to sell it.

I also knew what was possible and what was not possible in 2 days, given my background in web design. I’m actually not a developer, but I have worked at a web development agency for 3 years and knew what to do and the process.

This is actually the first startup event I’ve entered. I didn’t mention this (in my winning speech), but I went to SXSW in March and went to a bunch of lean startup sessions called “Battle of The Apps” with a judging panel of Eric Ries, Dave McClure and Robert Scoble. That’s when I found out about the lean startup model. I also attended the StartupBus finals, and I knew what it took to win. I saw what the best entrepreneurs were doing from the Valley, New York, and around the world.

I think what is really underrated are the mentors. Although they kept interrupting us, I listened to each one of them and I took the best parts out of each one’s advice. To be successful, you need to surround yourself with smart people. The presentation I gave, had elements of Leni, Humprey, Glen and a few other mentor’s in there.

So I’m laying down the challenge to everyone in Melbourne. I took the title back to Sydney. Come up to Sydney for the next one, because we want the best hackers / entrepreneurs up here. We want to go up against the best.

Sydney 1, Melbourne 0.

Come and get it =p


p.s. My team is going to keep working on our product.

Launch to the world with Launchrock

I noticed that a few of the startups I’ve been talking to at SXSW and in Silicon Valley were using signup pages powered by LaunchRock.

I was sharing a co-working space with Josh, the co founder of FlyByMiles. He was a finalist in the StartupBus challenge on the Silicon Valley Bus, and was working on his new website. He had a Launchrock page.

The day before, I met Zombies In Real Life, a Sydney based startup that won the Startmate Challenge. They also had a Launchrock page for beta invites.

If you have a business idea, usually the first thing that most people will do is buy the URL. Well, the next thing you need to do is sign up to a LaunchRock page! So rather than have a domain registrar holding page like a boring godaddy page with affiliate links, or a holding page with “come back here later”, you should create a launchrock page and start signing people up for beta invites. It only take a couple of minutes to create a page and it appears that you can customise it as well.

Its a very simple idea but killer. So many new websites need it. I’ve noticed that you don’t need to have a very complex idea to be successful. Create something simple and intuitive to use – look at Dropbox. The technology stack might be complex in the backend, but for the user its so convenient to use. The LaunchRock or Dropbox idea is not new, its been around for a while. But they seem to make the experience easy to use and possibly do it better than anyone else. More on this later.

As more startups launch using LaunchRock, they’ll probably have the inside running on new companies and goss on what’s new! For now, check out the Discover LaunchRock page for what was hot at SXSW 2011. I’m sure they’ll soon have their own discovery page made up of new startups on LaunchRock.

For more on LaunchRock, check out their blog on how it works.

I’m out like GoDaddy pages,

Matt Ho.

Anyclip demo

I first heard of anyclip when they received runnerups in the techcrunch50 awards. So I signed up to the private beta immediately to test it out. I’m still waiting on my invite though.

Now, I’ve just seen the demo video and I really dig it!

A service that lets you find “Any moment from any film ever made”. That’s a very powerful tagline. Kinda like the Bill Gates vision “A computer on every desk”.

Watch the entire video for the demo and the questioning.

FYI the guys on the judging panel are:

– Scobelizer (Robert Scoble) is a huge tech blogger, former Microsoft guy

– Sean Parker, founding president of Facebook and co-founded Napster, Plaxo and Causes. And now joined Yammer!

– Reid Hoffman, once an aspiring Academic and Rhodes scholar (i think), founder of Linkedin and mentor to many of the top web 2.0 CEO’s

– Dick Costas, founder of Feedburner, Head of Google Social Products, and now COO of Twitter

– Mike ?, he used to be chief engineer at Mozilla Firefox, now Chief Engineer @ Facebook.

As you can see, its the who’s who of Silicon Valley.

Essentially they:
1) Aggregate short form video (less than 4 mins)
2) Allow people to metatag and categorise
3) have monetization models so you can buy the video or download or rent it

There are valid questions around legals, getting buy-in from the studios re content and also discovery.

Discovery is a good point, because that’s how I find a lot of interesting content on youtube from browsing other videos. I also think its going to be an incredible challenge getting the studios on board. But they did it with Hulu via a JV.

Ultimately, the guys behind it are right suggesting that it reinvigorates our love of movies. By me watching that scene from the Big Lebowski, I wanted to go to the video shop and rent it immediately. It might encourage others to go find the torrent, but they were never going to buy it anyway.

My other question is that can’t Youtube do all of the above? Youtube’s biggest problem at the moment, is that the most watched videos and biggest traffic driver is amateur videos. Not professional. If the anyclip guys have figured out a way to automatically tag, categorise and scale it, that could be a winner.

I’m out like long form video,

Matt aka Inspiredworlds