Monthly Archives: July 2012

My Animated Product Demo – Scripts

Last Tues, I explored the idea to create a self-made animated video to promote products.

Some few useful steps are introduced by Grumomedia who has helped many YC startups to create their promotion video. Rather than spending 3~4k and outsource it, I decided to create one myself. It will be tough but I think it is an necessary skill for startups in SG as we dont have access resources many Silicon Value guys enjoyed.

Writing has always been a challenge for me. The scripts took me more than 3hrs to complete and it is in Chinese. The main reason for the challenge, I believe is, my own understanding about the product.

Who are our users? What do they concern? What are their experience or current situation that make them want to use our product? What are the features we can offer? What are the advantages we have compare to existing products?

The good thing about writing, as I always believe but not often  executed, is you can solidate your ideas and share them easily. You have to really think through all the questions you face before you can complete your stories. Otherwise, most of time, the answer you think you know may only stands on the sand. When you are really questioned my friends or investors, you will scratch your head and try to defend yourself on the spot.

It is very hard to argue with your own mind. Writing, instead, can free up some of your memory and  give you more mental capacity to argue against yourself.

Furthermore, once you complete your writing, you can send to your partners to review at their convenient time and give them the buffer to think about it rather than argue at the same time while both of your thoughts are pre-mature.

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Some Thoughts after NTUV Makan Night

NTUV has organized an sharing events about Sara Blakely who is featured by Forbes as the youngest self-mad billionaire

Some thoughts may have been long stated else where, but still worth record here for refreshing and reminding.

Embrace what you don’t know

    If you do not know something along your journey, you should think of it as a good opportunity. As a fresh starter, you can learn creatively on how to solve the problem you faced
    Put your passion in it and learn from the beginning critically

Do not need to share your ideas with your friends, families or colleagues for validation purpose

    This is quite counter-intuitive than my original understanding. As she explains, most of time, they dont understand what you are talking about or where is your idea coming from. Hence you receive doubles or wasting your time try to explain to, or worse argue with them what you are going to do. And at the end of the day, you may feel “may be this is not really a good idea”
    Instead, if you have an idea, you should validate them with your customers. You should be clearly identify your customers/market and the problems you are helping them to solve. You should take actions to ask or observe you customers

Ask for Forgiveness not permission

    This cannot be stress more and has been mentioned by many advisors. And I totally agree on this. My belief is, rules are set to the personal who follow them.

Fred offered some additional tips after the sharing sessions about entrepreneurship

VC and Investors are looking for

  • Differentiation of your product
  • Your customer and market
  • Scalability of your idea
  • Your team

How do you decide when is crossing line for your venture?

    When you have nothing left in your bank account and intend to use credit cards
    Think twice before you really need to use your credit card

How to stay perseverance?

    List down 50~60 reasons why you cannot reach your goal or complete the journey. Do it 21 days. Think about any reasons you come-up with.
    Then ask yourself, are these a validate strong reason that I should give up what I have dreamed?

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What I Like and Dont Like as Tech Guy

I met an old university friends late afternoon today. We did some casual talks about old friends and catch up about each other.

What quickly caught my attention was his frustration about the information organisation in the company. He works as a cargo broker and handles more than a hundred buy/sell request from owner, customer, and other brokers. And guess how does he handle all these communications, find the matching, and close the deal? Email, mental capacity, and experience.

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This is an unbelievable solution for me. For every deal they close, they will receive hundreds if not thousands of brokerage fee. But the way the do business for me is just absurd. I dont think technology can solve every problem they faced day-to-day, but their technology adoption is like we are back to the 1990s. (I remember thats the days of Michael Jordan)

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We talked more about his situation and some possible reasons behind. We agreed to meet again after he think and observe further with the questions I leave to him.

On my way home later, I started to think about our conservation. Not for the content itself, but for this kind of problems in general.

I grew up and educated in a the world of information technology. Writing codes, design program, and apply smart algorithms just make me feel accomplished and enjoyable. I am proud of my passion towards technology and believe in software eats the world.

And because of this passion, I have always willing to try out something new and mastered a set of new skills from basic desktop application, to web and mobile, and to more recent ones in data analytics. Not even I broaden by field, I also actively seeking new paradigms to deepen my understanding in each individual field, SaaS, test-driven development, agile project, etc.

Two more characters developed during the process of learning new kills that might be more important to me is the confidence I accumulated as well as the curiosity fostered. I would feel very excited and know that I will be able to solve new problems I face even in fields outside software development. And yes, I am a happy developer.

But since last year, I start to feel something is missing. I have equipped with all different armors, but I lack of a hard real problem to shoot. I am lack of the perspective from a business world. I barely knows people from other industries rather than IT or Finance.

Problems my friend is facing are not unusual. Many industries may not work as what I have expected. There is not so much business intelligence or predictive analysis in every industry. While I am trying so hard to find a painful problem in a niche market, there are many niche market with for more painful problems waiting to be solved.

Having written so much, I am here to urge myself to go to industries and areas I haven’t explored before. I should get myself out of home more often and find opportunities to with people from other industries.

Before I close up, I think one more advantage as a tech guys is the ability to take actions. Of course this is not exclusive, but more likely to be. A person who do not like to be challenge intellectually will complain and avoid it. On the other hand, people will try to solve the problem from the root.

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Physical Taobao

This is a very innovative retail shop at least for me. It is like the motor and brick Taobao and ebay.

Instead of filling the whole shop with owner’s items, they rent out the shelve space to smaller business. The shop also provide administrative stuff to maintain and sell items for them. For a stand-alone shop of this size, the monthly rental can easily go over 7k. While top level box in this shop costs only $70 and box in the middle which is the most expensive ones cost about $130.

It provides a really good solutions for part-time sellers who don’t have the time and risk appetite to open their own shops in a crowded shopping mall.

However, I think the cost allocated to boxes located at different levels are highly misplaced. The middle level boxes worth much more than the top level ones, even much higher than the 2nd top level ones. The lower 2 levels should also cost more than the upper 2 levels.

Based on my observation, customers are mainly looking for items in the middle. As this is the most comfortable position for them. At this level, they do not need to put a lot of efforts to raise their heads up, stand on their tiptoe, or bend their knees. At this level they can stand close to the window and slight lower their head to searching for items attract them. Only a few taller male customers bother to raise their head and take a look at items above them. I tried myself (1.78m). I just manage to scan items near the window on 2nd top level. For items that located deep inside the box, I will have to make some effort and raise my toe. Top level? No way.

Interesting enough, the lower 2 levels attract some attentions. As they moving around the shop, they keep lower their heads. In some cases, they may spot some interesting items with peripheral vision. They will then look closer by bending their knees and waist. It works especially well with kids, as some of them even put their needs on the floor when they find something at the bottom level. But top level, no one bothers.

Another fact affect the customers movement is the shells stand in the middle. It is position to the right hand side of the door. As a result, customers unconsciously choose to explore the more spacious left side of the shelves. Hence, I think boxes on the left should cost more than the ones on the right.

Shelves on the far behind? Logically it should be the 2nd wall to be explored by customers and cost more than those on the right. But those shelves are higher than the floor of the shelves. In order to stand close, customer need to step up a few stairs. Of course, those additional efforts drive them direct to the shelves on the right (they do make a quick scan through, but quickly lose interest to stand closer).

One last thoughts about the shop. It attracts a lot more customers compare to neighbors. I think mainly attribute to 2 factors. First, items displayed are cheep. Eg an iPhone protector cost only $10 in the shop compare to more than $20 in other stand-alone booth. Second, people like the feeling to searching for some great deals for their decorative, replaceable stuff. As the shop is selling items from a variety of sellers, customers would tell themselves ‘let’s check whether there are something new and cheap coming’.

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Tools to Know Websites

I am trying to locate a good web hosting service with flexible plan and strong technical support. As the web is so cluster with different solution (by search “web hosting” in google), it really give me a big headache to make the decision. Then I realize, the best solution is to learn from an existing popular or successful sites. By understanding which service they choose, we will get a pretty good benchmark to cater to my own business.

After an extensive search on how to find out more information about others site, I encounter a few handy tools

WhoIs.net — Get you to the contact information about the domain owner. If you are really keen to get the domain from them.

WhoIsHostingThis.com — It will show you the hosting service used by site. It even provide comparison and reviews about 300+ hosting services. Highly recommended!!

YouGetSignal.com — Find out who is hosting with you. This is also a way to evaluate the capacity of you hosting service. Of course, it also determined by which  hosting play you choose.

DoubleClick Ad Planner — Give you the detail analysis of the site traffic, even the breakdown of visitors bio-geo information. There are actually many more tools too analyze traffic data like this,  this, and this post. But Double click is the most detail and simple one to get started for me.

Just-Ping.com — This one is interesting but you may not worry about this most of time. It will actually whether your site can be accessed around the world like China. Unless you are a popular with potential sensitive content why do you care.

Good luck with your business and site creation 🙂

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How to Use Lambda in Python

First Python supports Functional Programming, which means you can pass a function to another function to do something.

def subFunc(x):
return x%3 == 0

result = realFunc(subFunc, range(2,20))

Lambda is to replace subFunc with an anonymous function, eg

result = realFunc(lamda x: x%3 == 0, range(2,20))

Second Lambda can be used to replace constant inside a function

def add_const(n): return lamda x: x+n
f = add_const(2)
g = add_const(3)
print f(10), g(10) #result 12, 13

F, G are different function share similar logics.

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