I am back…

I have not been spending nearly enough time on the things that I really enjoy. My cameras have been stuck in their bags for months now as the move from Perth to Brisbane took its toll.  It started back in September when my kids moved to Brisbane with their mom.  I then started the tedious process of flying back and forth between East and West on a fortnightly basis (with some frequent detours to Melbourne, Hobart and Adelaide thrown in to mix things up a bit…)

I finally moved into my new spot in Indooroopilly at the end of January and I am enjoying Queensland immensely (and I am getting used to the humidity!)  I will make it my mission in the coming months to spend more time behind my cameras (Canon EOS 70D and 1200D, GoPro Hero 4 and iPhone 6S) and also to get the results up here on the site.

Time lapse – first quick attempt

I recently set up my Canon EOS 600D DSLR on a tripod and hooked it up to my iPhone using Triggertrap. This clip condenses 12 minutes of footage down to 6 seconds. I imported the images in Adobe Lightroom and created the time lapse video with some of the standard features in Lightroom. I will be doing a lot more timelapse photography in the future, so please check back often.

Apple – end of an era?

I have been in a love affair with Apple products for over a decade – since I got my first iPod.  I have owned several iterations of Apple products over the last 10 years – at last count there were 16 Apple branded products in my collection.  However – the affair is waning.  The has been a steady decline in the quality of Apple’s operating systems across the board during the last 12 months.  OS X Mavericks left me unimpressed – in fact, I am not happy with this version at all.  After a clean install of the last OS X on a new MacBook Pro I am still plagued with several performance issues.  OS X Lion booted up in next to no time and the application launchpad was ready.  In Mavericks I have to wait several minutes for the applications to be loaded in the launchpad.  Once the apps are finally visible clicking on an app very often results in no real reaction for several seconds… not what I expected from an upgraded OS.

I have also decided to switch from my iPhone to a Windows Phone – and I have not had a single regret since the switch.  LIkewise iOS 7.1 left me with feelings of regret after the upgrade.  It is definitely slower on my iPhone 4s as well as on my iPad (4th generation with Retina display).

The last straw was when I tried to do some video editing using the latest version of iMovie.  The source was a movie shot on my iPhone.  Not only did iMovie not recognise my iPhone (I had to manually download the file and import it into iMovie) but trying to get a timecode to show while scrubbing through the source file was impossible.  How on earth is that even possible?  A movie shot on Apple hardware with an Apple mobile OS, downloaded to an Apple MacBook Pro and edited with an Apple application – major fail!  In the end I fired up Adobe Premiere Pro on Windows 8.1 (running on Bootcamp on my MacBook) and edited the video without any issues.  Windows/Adobe even recognised my iPhone and allowed me to import the movie without any issues whatsoever.

I have spoken to a number of fellow Apple lovers recently and it seems that my feelings are not the exception.  Come on, Apple – what is going on??

iPad and WordPress – too easy!

I finally got an iPad2 and I am loving it. In my mind this is going to be one of the best business tools I have at my disposal. The ability to leave my trusty MacBook Pro at the office and only take my iPad to meetings is something that I am very excited about.

The WordPress app for the iPad is also pretty cool – this is my first post using the app and I am quite impresses with the features available. I will definitely be blogging more often using this combination.

Market Research: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

I have been reviewing a number of business plans and requests for investment from a number of different prospective clients in the last 6 months.  One common thread that ran through all these proposals was market research – more specifically – competitive research and market segmentation.  I was very impressed with the quality of research in some cases and quite surprised with the lack of research in other cases.

Market research cannot be neglected – if you don’t understand your market and the competitive landscape intimately you are bound to waste a lot of time and effort going nowhere.  A number of key aspects that should form part of your business model and the supporting business case can only be defined once you have conducted thorough market research.  I have discussed the key aspects below – I know that this may seem like common sense stuff, but in my experience the saying “Common sense is not always common practice” is still very true.

Market Segmentation & Value Proposition Your idea to build a product or service is supported by a need in the market for this product or service, right?  There is a burning need/problem that will be addressed by your product or service.  If you can clearly answer the question: “What do I sell?” then you have started to define your product or service.  I discussed this in more detail in a previous post on this blog.  Your product or service will also be used by individuals or businesses in a specific market segment.  Again you need to answer a question – in this case: “Who will buy my product or service?”  You can only start with quality market research once you have clearly defined what you sell and who you sell to as this will feed into your market research to understand the competitive landscape as well as the macro and micro economic drivers in your target market.  You may find that there is an industry term for your specific market as well as comprehensive market research outlining the market prospects, size and competitors for this specific market segment.  Your market research should cover at least the following main topics – this is not a definitive list by any means, but a very good starting point.

  1. Total market size and your commercial opportunity in this market.
  2. Your product and its unique value proposition.
  3. Competitors, their products and their value propositions.
  4. A side by side comparison of your product vs. the competition and why you will stand out from the crowd.
  5. Barriers to entry, switching costs and “stickiness” – why would your clients continue to use your product or service and not switch to the competition.
  6. Economic drivers that will affect this market segment – this could include legislative, regulatory and other drivers that will affect your market positively and negatively.
  7. How do you plan to gain market share – what is your sales/distribution model.
Possible investors will very quickly spot the fact that your market research is not on par – nothing will kill your chances for securing funds if 10 minutes of desktop research (i.e. Google searches!) show that you have missed the major competitors.  Also, try to back up your research results with facts and figures – and use these figures as inputs to build your commercial model.
Entrepreneurs should have a solid believe in their business or product, but don’t let blind faith in your venture cause you to get tunnel vision when doing research.  Ask a trusted friend or family member to do some independent research – you may be very surprised with what they turn up!

20mm drill bit or 20mm hole – what do you really need?

While cleaning out some old folders recently I came across a brilliant article that was published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, authored by Professor Clayton M. Christensen and others.  The article is entitled “Finding the Right Job for Your Product”.  The title pretty much sums up what the article is about – products are purchased for a specific purpose – or to perform a specific job.

The challenge is that buyer behaviour cannot always be predicted via demographics or psychographics – buyers will purchase or “hire” a product to get a job done.  The “job” can be defined as the “fundamental problem a customer needs to resolve in a given situation” according to Prof. Christensen.  You buy a 20mm drill bit not because you need a drill bit, but because your specific need is a 20mm hole.  The drill bit is purely “hired” to perform the “job” of drilling a 20mm hole.  Once you view your market in from this perspective you will also realise that the real competition should now be viewed as other job candidates to perform the same job or task.

This also implies that market segmentation is becoming a very critical decision for organisations.   Segmenting markets in the traditional way according to product features or customer demographics will result in static market segmentation schemes.  Customer buying behaviour is more driven by the specific need and the job to be done than how they fit into this static market segmentation scheme.  Fully grasping the diverse aspects that make up the job to be done will have a very positive impact on improving products.  You can only improve a product if the product will be able to do the “job” better.

If you are interested in obtaining the full article you can purchase it from the MIT Sloan Management Review website.