Dot.com with Good Idea

A couple of weeks ago, I got invited the wedding reception of an ex-colleague. The bash was at the function room of a well appointed pub in North London. The wedding present list was online, ok lists can be a bit assumptive, however this one was cool. The thing that struck me was how well the whole online thing leant itself to wedding presents:

– You don’t have wrap the present

– don’t worry about bringing it along to the bash

– don’t look too mean or extravagant compared to other guests

– they won’t get damaged in the traditional family punch-up that happens at these events

Oh yeah, the party was good and all.

Renaissance Chambara in we like Microsoft Product Scandal

Feted not slated

Actually we like three:

Word 5.1 for the Mac in the early 1990s. A word processor that had a reasonable real world speed and all the features that you still use now. Hell, I still use the Word 5.1 layout in my version of Office X. Stripe out the fat, speed bump it and reinvent Word Mr Balmer – less is more. Your competitors are already doing it, have a look at Nisus Writer Express

– Excel for the mac. Some truths Microsoft made the best spreadsheet, now I realise that thats as contraversal as saying that Poll Tax was a good thing, but I’ve used alternatives like Lotus 1-2-3, ClarisWorks, AppleWorks, QuattroPro and they sucked. They got kicked because Excel is better – there I’ve said it

– Number three is MSN’s Slate magazine. I had avoided Slate in favour of Salon, partly because I thought that it would have some of the attributes of other Microsoft products:

– bloated

– useless

– lacking in quality

– full of profane language

– low on anything meaningful (like the Microsoft Executive emails)

Slate is actually a damn good read with varied content and a quality of writing that is close to that of the New Yorker, but for a younger audience. Check it out, seriously.

VC Do’s and Don’ts

Eric Dunn, general partner with Cardinal Venture Capital wrote the following guide for pitching VCs. This was originally posted on AlwaysOn:

Figure out what the audience already knows. If you have included a long market overview in your presentation, but are presenting to an industry veteran, you almost certainly win points for skipping quickly through the overview. Figure out what the audience doesn’t know. Conversely, there’s no rule against giving a brief introduction before starting your prepared pitch: “Just in case you aren’t familiar with the automated test equipment market, let me outline for you the major categories and who the market leaders are….” Then take a few minutes off the cuff.

Explain acronyms and terms of art. Your audience is probably ashamed to ask what the LEAP protocol or the IFX standard is, so unless you are sure that everyone in your audience knows what it means, give them a break.

Track your audience. If you are getting blank stares from the audience, it could mean that they don’t understand, or it could mean you’re belaboring the obvious. Break stride and ask to find out which it is.

Answer questions crisply. It’s better to say “I don’t know” or “I’ll have to get back to you on that” than to waffle with an incomplete or inaccurate answer.

What Doesn’t Work

Unbalanced presentations. Don’t succumb to the temptation to dwell on your personal area of expertise. A dozen slides on the technical attributes of the product, or on the details of the proposed sales organization, is almost certainly too much.

Spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Although your audience will cut some slack for non-native-English speakers, there’s really no reason not to get this stuff right.

Math errors. Not fatal, but math mistakes definitely chip away at your credibility.

Hiding the ball. If your CTO is about to resign, you lose far more points when potential investors find out later than if you are up front about it.

Arrogance. Most entrepreneurs have a lot to be proud of, but the best I have seen retain their humility no matter how successful they become.

Selling the wrong point. If the critical question is price performance, don’t spend 15 minutes on channel strategy.

Preaching to the choir. If an investor says “OK, we accept that this is a $5 billion market,” stop! Once you have convinced your audience of a point, you lose ground (for obtuseness) by going on to make additional arguments.

For many entrepreneurs, these suggestions for improving investor pitches will be old hat. But all entrepreneurs should recognize that even a great business can’t shine through a low-quality pitch. Good pitches mean investment decisions are made on the merits of the underlying business, and that’s in everyone’s interest.

Sandwich Ideas

If its near the end of the month and payday is too far gone, (our payday is the 15th of every month). Making your own sandwichs is the last resort, if you have to make them you can at least make something that doesn’t draw inspiration from British Rail cuisine. Pret A Manger the McDonalds owned sandwich shop has put some helpful recipes here.

X-Type Giveaway

In order to promote the Jaguar X-type in the USA Jaguar are having a draw for a rare-as-hens-teeth black Apple iPod. In addition, they are also offering some trendy as MP3s for you to download.

The tracks are by west coast house act Kascade doing a Moby, ambient outfit Zero 7 and drum n’ bass group DB and Stakka. Get’em while you can!