Nano Blogging

From books to blogs – this is how we would describe the first part of our world’s transition from traditional knowledge stores to ‘snack learning’.

Then we move from blogs to micro blogging with Twitter and Facebook enabling short sharing.

But in the process we lost a few dimensions of knowledge and insight.

The micro blogging time line is linear. Your latest tweets and posts are at the top. 

But true sharing like writing is multi-dimensional.

At Coinr we have created a new form of writing called nano blogging.

Coinr is the world’s first nanoblog platform for individuals, groups and organisations.

Shorter is sweeter and simpler.

Structure and connecting posts enables richness in nano blogging.

So while a coin / card on Coinr is the ultimate in brief, it is actually more useful and informative than longer individual posts like traditional social media because you have almost unlimited number of interconnected items giving context and nuance.

We think it is a better way for many use cases.

Oh, and for the record, it is nothing like Flutter but we do get a kick ( and a few laughs) out of Coinr concepts we were kicking around around a decade ago becoming satire.

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Principle Based Design

At coinr.com we exist to make money easier for small businesses and professionals.

This is a general statement so lets unpack it.

We really like to focus on value creation as a wider definition of money, value creation is a lot more than a bank account balance.

Value creation (and value capture) is a very different experience from one business to the next and may be a combination of tangibles and intangibles.

Intangibles may include good will and non-wealth value creation such as a positive social impact in the community.

Because all businesses are different we are trying a new design approach that has been around for decades but never really crossed the bridge to the internet.

We call this approach Principle Based Design, a set of common goals that when tested individually make sense as a mandatory (or at least typical) use case or feature expectation for our products (and productised services).

Each Principle in our view must have a test, a rationale for why it is important.

So lets get started with our first four principles, feel free to contribute your own expectations  in the comments but remember we are aiming for the SME / SMB platform space for release in mid 2017.

  1. All links and user paths are trackable journeys(‘who did what when and how from where to where and ideally why they did it’) because if we don’t have an audit trail of their journey we can’t optimise it and we need analytics to improve experience and utilisation.
  2. All data has implicit contextual dimensions that are immutable parts of the audit trail including –
    persona (who are they including intermediaries and proxies);
    location (where are they including geography offline and place within the site/app/device/network online e.g. latitude, longitude, IP address and user/app profiles identifying device/browser) and
    time (when including allowance for multi-entity activities that cross timezones) because these dimensions are crucial to the trackable journey, non-repudiation and value added services.
    This includes bots and devices acting autonomously or semi-autonomously with an end-user mandate.
  3. All experiences should be largely consistent, the user paradigm should be transferable across use cases as much as possible e.g. user session, data on a coin/card, links to other coins/cards, audit trails on all cards and users, data and often users having an organisational (org) context, orgs may have inter-relationship contexts  – these may all be shared features/paradigms in most user experiences in coinr.com
  4. All user paradigms should be simple, based on popular standards and limited (via artificial scarcity if necessary) in number where ever possible because adding a plethora of new distinctive experiences typically slows the user cognition down, reduces the potential user population and reduces the benefit of faster (applied or re-applied) learning based on past experience. This is a design choice to restrict innovation in paradigms and prioritise higher instead the innovation in data within those paradigms. For example principle 3 above already lists six major paradigms so growth needs to be limited in order to maintain simplicity and speed of adoption.

It keeps getting bigger

There has been some commentary from the US lately that the consumer and small business space is no longer appealing for internet based businesses.

We note there were similar conversations only 18 months ago saying the world would no get any more big new social networks (this was just prior to pinterest taking off) and subsequently commentators globally realising a whole huge market segment (mainly female and those who think visually) had simply been missed or underserved. A fairly large oversight.

We prefer to side with Dave McClure’s view on this one. His recent post ‘the internet keeps getting bigger’ is very informative, especially once combined with insight from others on usability, communication and marketplace formation which shows that our goals here at coinr are meeting truly enduring needs and have never been more achievable.

Back Again

Sorry about that, we went quiet for a while. We haven’t posted on the blog for weeks, we are not ignoring you, we have certainly not been on holidays, we have just been really busy seeking insights and doing SydStart and other events and reconfiguring our business.

Seeking Insights

A fair bit of progress being made, some changes and a lot of insight in recent weeks.

The key insights we have had were triggered by Startup Weekend and Lean Startup Machine weekend, both of which were hosted in our building by Fishburners and both draw a lot of material and key concepts from the amazing Lean Startup movement started by Eric Ries.  We have been following Eric’s work since the outset (along with other spin off initiatives of substance like Startup Compass and Startup Genome) and really enjoyed seeing him in person in Sydney recently thanks to Verner Vogels and Simone Brunozzi and team from Amazon Web Services (AWS) which we use and often recommend.

We are not newbies to Lean. On the contrary we mentor people in it. But the appealing aspect is the more you learn the more you gain and hence want to learn more. The Lean movement to me is about accelerating business building by testing assumptions, validating your decisions faster and hence cheaper which lowers risk and speeds time to market of meaningful products.

We have been watching our competitors closely for over a year now while we quietly built some foundations but even though we have been (highly in my view) productive there has been a nagging concern about speed to market.

Lets put this in context, the market needs I am talking about (information management, customer engagement, financial management) are long term issues for small and medium businesses. Generations of people have come and gone through small business without substantial progress in many industries.

Sure you can grab an ecommerce site and basic payments easily but anything mildly distinctive requires a much more material investment of time and money using integration platforms like zapier, iftt and onesaas or custom database tools and enterprise resource management (ERP) or enterprise information management tools like salesforce.com, force.com, quickbase from intuit and similar. Sometimes you need all of the above plus of course the accounting system like xero or saasu or quickbooks or SAP or netsuite.

Needless to say your average small business owner is time poor and if they are lucky enough to grown into a medium size business they are often even more time poor.

To compound the issue, investing in applications is not an obvious move since the landscape is constantly moving and the risk of picking the wrong thing is clearly going to be much larger than continuing to cut down the tree with a less-than-sharp axe.

The good part is our brand continues to be suitable and appealing to the segment and people trust it and draw some (surprisingly accurate) expected positioning statements from the visual identity even though we have done little to communicate or refine it. Words that keep getting used are simple, finance, financial management, stores, customers, payments. All of which are in the zone. So hopefully once the platform is more developed the education burden will be lower than most startups.

Another great part is our segment is still under served. Despite more innovation than SMEs have ever seen in mobile technology, native apps and web apps the space is still wide open. One slide from SydStart (reproduced above with credit to Matt Barrie CEO from Freelancer.com) shows the cross border flows we how to also leverage from as small businesses realise that technology can not just serve them in isolation but enable their seamless participation in markets and in fact over time this will be critical to survival. Further the number of social networks continues to grow (Pinterest and Instagram are remarkable examples) and businesses large and small continue to struggle to use channels customers prefer.

Insights Lead To Reconfiguring

So we haven’t really pivoted in the classic tech startup sense of the word but the above insights (and a lot more industry specific  vertical ones I can’t discuss for competitive reasons) have lead to a reconfiguration. It has meant a bit of soul searching but the outcomes have been worthwhile. I hope we can keep that rate of learning up.

So our main insights were seemingly obvious, focus and simplify.

We have cut the modules from 50+ to under 20 (with more to go) and the use cases from 500+ to under 200 and falling.

More importantly we have made the user paradigms less abstract and much more real world using terms that relate to physical things and non-physical but plain language things all from the real world. This might sound obvious but when you are dealing with horizontal services (we want to be the next yammer + salesforce + paypal) then you have to avoid getting bogged down in narrow use cases but still stay close to ‘the problem’.

The result has been a dramatic simplification of the user interface and hopefully also the user experience. It has resulted in some additional implementation complexity but the underlying themes, data structures and operating principles are now much more elegant and robust from design to implementation so we are all pretty happy with the results.

  • Coinr Cards (Unique identifiers and profiles for real things like – Offers/Deals, People, Businesses, Payment authorities, Services, Products, Tickets, Touch Points)
  • Coinr Boxes (Smart and Simple collections of Coinr Cards)
  • Links (Relationships between cards)
  • Channels (apps and web apps and physical enablers such as RFID or QR codes of the above)

I won’t let the cat out of the bag by talking in too much detail here but sufficient to say we will be doing more user feedback and testing workshops soon.

Events

The events have largely been ones that just happen at this time of the year, we stay involved because it keeps us close the community. They are a distraction strictly speaking but a worthwhile one in the long term, it is amazing how many business opportunities get generated for us from these events.

I mentioned SydStart earlier, this is something that is now officially amazing, 1,000 tech startup entrepreneurs in one place listening to some of the best in the world and then those vying to be the next winners. Forty speakers and amazing networking. Pitches. An expo with dozens of companies. It was huge.

We also ran the internal visioning sessions for Fishburners and similar ones for the major stakeholders (Google, Optus, City of Sydney, UTS) and are also working on refining the brand before the next phase of growth. Fishburners recently became the largest in Australia and is well on the way to regional and global significance in the tech startup scene.

I attended the inauguraal engagement session with City of Sydney reaching out to tech startups as one of only twenty leaders in the space. It is early days but the focus is worthwhile, learning is being shared and a lot more to come here.

I attended the NSW Govt ICT Ministerial forum with briefings from the Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner and Finance & Services Minister Greg Pearce with panel sessions from the industry leaders helping them. Their breadth is remarkable and encouraging and it is great to see NSW as a leader in the local industry but we still have a great deal more to do with tech startups a the state level and the federal level including getting our Prime Minister Julia Gillard to realise we already own the (now nearly five years old) brand Silicon Beach Australia so calling for it to be started is demonstrating lack of awareness at best. The good part is we grabbed it before the cities of LA and Rio who are recent ambit claimers of Silicon Beach.

I also hosted (master of ceremonies) at SydStart and TiE Conference Sydney, attended various investor briefings (tech startups and incubators only) and conducted the usual extensive mentoring and coaching sessions for startups and corporates alone, as part of Cooper & Co (rebranding from Cooper Sydney) and within the accelerators I am involved with in the ecosystem. Plus of course the usual guest speaking and lecturing gigs. This is *all* now being trimmed back and having gatekeepers applied  so we can all focus more on the delivery phase of coinr.

Wrapping Up

On Insights – We hope to continue these, especially better customer problem assumption validation. We recommend you try Lean Startup using the links above.

On Reconfiguring – We are confident we are on an even better more direct track even though it is probably not a big pivot.

On Events – The key message is over 50 events last quarter will become about 5 this quarter as the focus strategy gets implemented.

Back to the grind stone. Cheers, Pete.

The world's easiest way to save.

The Private Business Platform

Coinr The Private Business Platform is coming.

Owners and other stakeholders in all small and medium businesses rejoice!

Our vision for coinr was always to provide hundreds (if not thousands!) of useful information services for you and your business in an easy integrated way so time-poor business owners can get on with innovating while we handle all your information systems needs with minimal or zero customisation.

Lots of people out there provide e-commerce software and basic accounting software but we are aiming for the stars, a simple to use yet comprehensive platform in one website that handles your specific needs with a simple ‘click-to-customise’ approach you can be up and running in minutes then gets better suited to your needs every day.

We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, so coinr will integrate over time with your popular services.

Realistically such a huge range of services takes time to build and integrate smoothly, so we didn’t expect to be telling you about this for some time, probably not until mid 2013. But we are (a little) ahead of schedule.

Already we have twenty core services all with responsive design so they work on mobiles, tablets, laptops and desktops.

Some of the core services we have developed provide messaging, authentication, third party authentication, security layers, page publishing, analytics, short links with a/b testing, payments, anonymous social connection, notes, geo location, contacts, info snippets and a lot more.

We are just starting to pilot these services with wholesale customers. They are all medium size businesses or small businesses that aspire to be medium sized or even large one day. You can see our own internal pilot program using some of these services (which many people thought was a core product but really it is our first ‘retail demo app’ we call the coinr box web app.

A web app works on all devices and looks like an app, you can even easily add an icon to your phone’s home screen, but you don’t need to go to the app store or app market place to download it, just browse to the coinrbox.com site.

So small and medium businesses can soon rejoice, we expect to have some more services and apps out soon.