Monday, August 31, 2009

Anthill VC Panel Discussion

Went along to Venture Capital Design, a panel discussion hosted by Anthill. It was OK, although the lack of microphones and chairs was a little wearing. I found a couple of interesting things :-

1) Convertable notes are a good way of raising finance as debt and then converting it into equity. Not sure of the details, but it sounds like a good way of getting investment without being tied to interest rates and repayments for ever. For a startup the chance of getting debt investment is looking close to zero, but for second round it could be interesting.

2) It's easier (apparently) or as easy to raise big money - ie AU$108M for redbubble as it is to raise small money. I guess there's some kind of clue there about how much a first time entrepreneur is trusted.

Overall though the evening fell between two (non existent) stools. When it comes down to it, there really isn't much common ground between VC and Design. Yes designers need VC, and startups need good design - but they're not part of the same continuum.

Monday, August 10, 2009

DataMovie a finalist in $100K business competition

Enterprize is a $100K competition for businesses run by the University of Queensland. We found out last week that we've got through to the finals, and the press release made it public today - amazing.

The DataMovie team - Jerry Shea, Colin Cooper and myself created a focussed 8 page summary of the DataMovie idea and UQ clearly liked it. Seeing the competition for the prize it's awe inspiring. We're up against carbon nanotubes, cancer drugs and other great ideas - of course our ideas are hot too, it's just an incredible vote of confidence to be selected. It's upto us now to create the best business plan, pitch and presentation to put ourselves in with a fighting chance of the main prize.

In the meantime thanks to University of Queenlands business school for putting on the competition and giving us the chance to pitch our ideas to so many people - we couldn't wish for a better start.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Replay the Day goes live

Announcing the very first DataMovie release for the general public. It show's a real time excerpt from the ASX of the top 10 shares (ANZ, BHP, Commonwealth, NAB, QBE, Telstra, Westfield, Westpac, Woodside and Woolworths) traded early on 6th August 2009.

The technology used to create this is still in ongoing development, but we have been running real time analysis of the entire ASX100 for many months - the techniques work really well, we're now at the stage where IP protection and commercialisation are concentrating the mind. The P of POC has been well and truly proven.

Being able to animate many many dimensions of data for any stock we want gives us so much capability it can be overwhelming. For instance the YouTube video shows realtime calculuation and diplsay of of Relative Volume. As far as we are aware this is a world first, the first time that relative volume has been shown live in an animated trading chart. And that really is the tip of ice berg, 20 seconds of YouTube goodness isn't big enough to show what we're capable of, so keep watching.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

James Lovelock turns 90

I've been reading James Lovelock's (originator of the Gaia theory) biography and it highlights some fascinating background from one of our greatest scientists. The bottom line is that it doesn't matter how good the science is, without a good address, job title and backing from your peers you have no credibility - the reward for ability, talent and thinking outside the box is somewhere between score and indifference. That wouldn't be a problem apart from the impact that 30 years delay has caused.

Back to lovelock, first off I had assumed he was in his prime, maybe touching 70, but no he's just turned 90 (July 26 to be precise), he was doing his undergraduate degree during the war (WW2), his ideas really do define the phrase 'ahead of his time'. He's also a real hard core scientist, along the way to Gaia - which I'd previously thought was strong on circumstance but weak on science, he invented the ECD, the core device that allows miniscule concentrations of compounds within other gases. He used that to identify the levels of CFCs in the atmosphere and the ozone threat that caused.

As it says in the biography he's published papers from A-Z, anthropology to zoology, he's a genuine scientist/polymath, yet without the validation of a university or research address his papers wouldn't have been published at all. The whole Gaia idea has been circulating for more than 30 years, and even now we're bickering about the best approach to reduce carbon. Brilliance and ability is just not enough to persuade your average man in the street/politician to do something.

My core takeaway from Gaia is that everything is connected, even those little things that don't appear to matter, yep they do, there's a connection there somewhere. Six degrees of seperation isn't just a film or a wish fulfilment idea it's reality.