General update

12 June 2007

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog front, haven’t even been tagging so much on del.icio.us mainly because two new projects has rather taken up a lot of time. The first was setting up a new company jbsh LLP that actually took a lot less cognitive effort than I’d expected. This post (and a few others) will be cross-posted. If things work out (how often does that happen?) this will become more of a personal blog and jbsh will become my professional / work musings.

So the other thing that that’s taken my time has been helping a start-up get through the business plan writing and raising finance process. They’re based in Canada which has led to rather more late nights (thank God for Skype) than is probably healthy but a fantastic business proposition so worth it. Actually there’s a third project looking at a new innovation / funding support network mechanism in Bristol (oh and applying for jobs in case the previous 3 don’t pay the mortgage)!

In working with Howard and the team I’ve given myself a crash course in Canada’s education system, their Provincial structure (and I mean that non-pejoratively) and also looked in some depth at different funding options. I’m not a financial advisor so I’m not in a position to tell Howard what to do, but I can read widely and offer perspectives so that when he does talk to a qualified advisor he’s already prepared.

Fortunately, in this day and age, there are loads of great resources and people that are sharing their experiences (as I will in the coming days/weeks/months). Wil Schroter has a great new blog / venture called Go Big! that has been a source of information and moral support. I’ve been a long time reader of Rick Segal and his thoughts, comments and notes on the Canadian scene. I’ve recently found (through Rick’s blog) Suzanne Dingwall Williams and her Venture Law Lines blog. Nivi and the team over at Venture Hacks have been another fantastic source of Term Sheet Hacks that have been chock full of ideas, comment and humour.

So I’ve got a draft business plan, an executive summary / pitch proposal, some financial spreadsheets and a digital address book of contacts. Lots of meetings (virtual for me, face-to-face for Howard) and with a fair wind and following sea we should be working up the full product for release next year. There’s a hybrid version that should be ready for the end of this year to kick-start the revenue. More to follow…

One of the great things about Devon is the landscape and rural idyll, it’s also one of the draw backs. With so much green and pleasant (for the UK at least) there aren’t the urban centres that make for prime broadband & WiFi hot spots. This can make it look like there’s not much happening out in the sticks.

An hour with Barnaby Harris in the Dartbridge Inn, has confirmed that the truth is out there and it’s knowledge based. Devon & Cornwall have always had a creative industries strength (SW Screen, Culture South West, Creative Enterprise, Interactive SW, i-DAT & others, that and surfing; you can even take a degree in it here). What is beginning to punch through is the benefit of broadband that overcomes the geographical limitations of the A38. The local development agency (SWRDA) together with the EU has invested in the infrastructure but the businesses never really knew what to do with it. Early demonstrations of the technology were impressive, but lacked a fundamental reason for being (other than the funding) so consequently didn’t survive after the funding ran out.
What’s now happening, and what Barnaby linked up very eloquently, is a convergence of software features in social networking and a better understanding of the Read / Write web for businesses, together with sufficient bandwidth to make business work.

All of this set in the context of a conversation that ranged from the earliest social networking at Xerox where early field engineers would meet up to discuss customer service and informally coordinate their parts management to minimise the value held by each engineer but maintain acceptable service levels for customers, through to Swarm Teams and the principles of Beer Mat Entrepreneur. Barnaby also touched on WiredWest and more social/business networking in the Abbey Inn over the A38 on a Friday evening to discuss and network innovative wired businesses and individuals.

Access to finance is always a popular topic in start up and innovation circles and we discussed various micro finance initiatives such as Zopa and some of the more agile VC and Angel funding programmes that are beginning to take off. As we began to wrap up (I had to be in Exeter), Barnaby mentioned 8Apps.com as another social, collaborative, productivity tool. Masses going on and more to follow.

ITV Local

17 July 2006

ITV local digital delivery – collapse of business models. Still scheduled?

Video on demand – google , yahoo & ebay as shock to system – public interaction and uploading? Editorial and fair use? Teachers TV streamed.

12 towns around the region – user tagged (not yet)?
Community & What’s on?

Compliance with ITV guidance – editorial vetting. Friends reunited dating?

Live broadcast from events.

Search & reuse – ITV Local keywords – don’t know about rights & CC. Discussion forum but not running so couldn’t demo (server crash). Download for a fee?

Not quite a YouTube.com killer, but quality by association could be a clincher for educational use.

Evidence of impact – lots of good news: lots of and increasing use of Interactive Whiteboards; use of mobile technologies increasing. Flash stats (all from 2005 data):

  • 69% of Primary and 42% of Secondary schools using IW (up from 11% and 12% respectively in 2004)– assumed to be a good thing, some scepticism in audience over validity and value of measure
  • 38% of Primary and 21% of Secondary schools using internet resources in teaching (up from 14% & 10%)
  • 52% Secondary schools have a ‘learning platform’ (VLE)
  • 56% Primary schools don’t have a ‘learning platform’

A popular choice for those learning platforms are Open Source solutions – quickly followed by ‘but there’s no judgement, just an observation’…

There was an observation that there was some good quality resources being produced (perhaps driven or facilitated by eLCs) – but that there was no innovation, so perhaps an unusual definition of ‘good’.

Unfortunately I had to leave before the event was completed.

BEN

Maximising returns vs Monetising networks

Andy Martin – Harrison Cowley Knowing as many people as possible – optimim number? A networking plan? Which contacts, at what level and where? Write elevator pitches for FL (15-30 sec)

Colin Alison – 3Cs Community Maven – magpies, expert on sector / technicalities / people Connector – Read the Tipping Point? – viral marketing

Neil Auty – Available 4 What're the pain points – what's you're solution / salve?

Again, apologies to speakers not mentioned.

Paul Tyler – Bamzooki Success in innovative projects? Metrics, Regular competitions / shows Bamzooki goes global? Only a small % need to contribute directly – 6.4% available share on digital channel – 450k per episodes – 1m page impressions per week during broadcast – sub-set lurkers – sub-set download (circa 1m) – sub-set message board 1k per week – other message boards? – build zooks but only know upload figures 14.5k – – danger of over democratisation, measure of success in level of surprising content – fansites – cutting edge vs mainstream and do kids care? (suffers from delay in gratification vs Sodaplay instant gratification of Sodaplay – showcase through web rather than TV) 100,000 active users = 10 contributors

Blackbeard Connection What's the hook, what's in it for me, personal control

Gary Pope – KidsIndustries – Kids Get Older Younger (invented age compression – toy companies taking their eye off the ball) – language, emotion, physical development constant – social develop increasing? – 2yr olds learning mouse skills – childrens' personalities (+132? up to 7yrs when it coalesces – kind of like of graphic equaliser) – Lev Vygotsky children at play? always 18 months or a heads height above chronological age – zone of proximal development (just out of your depth – maximum learning) – sociometric status (revered, enjoyed, rejected, forgotten) most kids float between – peer pressure critical

Richard Deverell – BBC Children's – 2012 vision Changing world for broadcast – web Personal & public simultaneously – becoming universal, mobile, ubiquitous – fundamental changes to broadcast business models arising from on-demand – working towards 1 month back catalog – no loyalty to channel brands, possibly program brands – CBBC 4 m users per month (overtaken broadcast ) – 84% of children live in digital area – DRM issues? – ideas across relevant platforms – challenges over 5-7 yrs – differenciators, risk management – – share increasing irrelevant as measure of success – audience understanding of media and production – pan-platforms media base, different mixes of skills