Posts Tagged ‘proof of concept’

Backup vs Murphy’s Law – My Take

This blog post has been inspired by events, not to me, but to a colleague of mine. Our discussion, was interesting, funny and insightful, but I thought hey why not share my experiences and what I use to teach others how to live a safer, “backup” driven life.

I live on Murphy’s law, for those of you who do not know what it is, “If anything can go wrong, it will” and with extensions “At the most inopportune time” and my favorite “it will be all your fault, and everyone will know it”. Basically it means that whatever you do, the closer you get to success the greater the chance of failing terribly, at the last moment. Therefore successful people are those who plan for the inevitable or develop habits which reduce this possibility.

My first experience with disaster came as part of my first job, an internship with an IT company many years ago. I was given the task of entering 2 years worth of petty cash transactions into an Excel spreadsheet, which I was saving on a floppy drive (yes we used them at that time). Anyway I worked on the file for 3 weeks, and then just as I was done (at the most inopportune moment), the floppy drive crashed, yes beyond repair, it was a mechanical fault. Since then I have never lost another file again, and I would like to share what I do, it may be a little extreme, but hey I am paranoid.

Maintain Multiple File Versions

Seems simple, but when do you decide to make a new version. My rules for creating versions are simple:
– At each major change in structure or layout or content
– Each day

So many files, oh yes, I create an “Archive” directory in each folder I work in so that I move the older files in there, till I next need them. At times never. Also I name all my files the same way FileNameDDMMMYY for example BackupBlogPost11Jul12.txt (that I am working in now). Tomorrow I will create a new version of the file BackupBlogPost12Jul12.txt.

Email – Copy Yourself

Strange, why not keep it in Sent Items, no way, I always copy myself on each and every communication. Some people would argue that “Sent Items” in MS Outlook or web mail is good enough, but I think not.

The advantages are:
– Since I apply rules to file my emails and Labels in Gmail, I only focus on the Incoming mail and can empty Sent Items and Drafts as often as I need to.
– I can find all threads and timestamps for when I sent the communications (I had to retrieve a contract ammendment sent 3 years before in one case)
– Thanks to Gmail I do not have to delete any emails so its a permanent record

Backup

Yeap the same old story, its like washing my hands, nope really, but backups are over-rated and always forgotten because they are somewhat of a dark art. They have to be simple, reliable and automated. For personal use my backup options are:
– Dropbox seems like I have over 4GB now
– Google Docs becoming more interesting since I can edit the files using Docs and Spreadsheets
– Online Tools that suit the type of file at hand

File Storage – Magnetic vs Flash

I do not trust flash drives, and I believe Magnetic drives (HDDs) are more resilient but I am yet to have my mind corrected.

What do you do in your case? Please share your thoughts in comments.

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Startup Weekend Day 3 – 60 sec pitch, Customer Validation, Business Value, Wrap Up and Lessons Learnt

Day 3 of the weekend was entirely focused on validating the target customers, revenue numbers, business models and completing the proof of concepts for the pitches to the judges at the end of the day.

How did the morning begin, well we found out that we did not have to develop a platform as there was one tried and tested platform, so it would make it easier for the team to develop a proof of concept. This also opened up an alternate revenue stream for implementation and hosting which was really great as that was one big business risk.

We also had a great discussion with one of the mentors, Sean Krepp of Grameen Foundation, who is currently involved in a lot of data collection and monitoring, on the business models, value propositions, risks and how to laser focus on a customer problem.

Dry Run for Final Pitch

Dry Run for Final Pitch

The strange thing about Day 3 – Sunday was that the energy levles were ebbing towards empty as the timelines etched towars the finish line. The first checkpoint was at 12 noon where we had to present the first draft of the final pitch presentation to the mentors who were around as a “dry run”. Thank God for the mentors because they were relentless in their pursit of information, updates, validation of customers, revenue models and business justification.

The afternoon was slow as we got all ready for the presentations with finalizing the documentation for the presentation. We emptied the rooms and organized the ares for the last pitch. Well finally the judges arrived, and it was with great fanfare that the final pitches began, and of course Databud was the first off the tracks, and we had a great time “first presenters” always do.

The Guest of Honor, Hon. Ham Mulira, arrived during the pitches, and from my vantage point seemed to enjoy the energy and vitality that was going on. He seemed to be going back in time to when he was younger I think, coding in C on those UNIX machines.

Databud Final Pitch to Judges

Databud Final Pitch to Judges

Well after the speeches, the judges went to to deliberate and we had a few words from the Guest of Honor. Just as Hon. Ham Mulira was getting up, one of our mentors, Reinier Battenberg, did a Kanye West, and asked the attendees in the room to give the lead organizer, Richard Zulu, a round of applause for organizing such an event and being such a community leader.

Hon. Ham Mulira was eloquent, in touch with the times and gave a great rendition of his days, but his take away quote as “You do not have to be great to be start, but you have to start to be great”. After he introduced two of his guests, great manners for a big man.

Once the speeches were done it was time to wait for the judges to come back and announce the top three apps of the evening which were Sonda, MyZiki and BetOM.

While we may not have won we had a great time, for me it was a great learning experience and a once-in-a-lifetime event. Of course now I will be attending hackathlons and similar events whenever I can get a chance to improve and further develop my skills.

Final Pitch to Judges - Front View

Final Pitch to Judges – Front View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE:

Follow the experiences from the first two days at:

  1. Startup Weekend Kampala – Day 1 – Ideas, Pitches, Teams
  2. Startup Weekend Day 2 – Platform, Mentors, Coding, Product Positioning, Decisions during Execution

 

Startup Weekend Day 2 – Platform, Mentors, Coding, Product Positioning, Decisions during Execution

Day 2 started well, but what I can say is that it was a rollercoaster of a day I must say with ups and downs but well here it is. The day started early as there was a lot of energy from the night before, I got to the venue by 8:00am checked in and setup my laptop as I waited for my team mates to arrive.

The plan of the day was to develop a navigable prototype as a proof of concept that this is possible. Once I had a cup of caffeine, oh yes so much of this stuff is needed for such events that a dedicated coffee maker is inevitable … it was off to meet the mentors who were moving around and talking to the different teams.

The first mentors, Reinier Battenberg and Deborah Elzie, offered the first blow of the day, we were not the only players in the market and a new player had just launched 3 weeks prior to the startup weekend and they had lotsa datasets. This was the first crushing blow to our flight in the clouds, however on talking with other mentors the advice we got was “differentiate yourselves from the competition” – now this is the beauty of having mentors around because they help you navigate the valleys as you find them.

Well back to work we went, as we prepared for the 12noon checkpoint with renewed energy. The focus of the 12noon checkpoint was to practice the 60 second pitch, and sent targets for the 4pm checkpoint. This checkpoint provides a valuable status check from the “code product” to focus on the business model, value proposition, revenue and cost projections, etc … basically the business side of the apps.

Well it was back to work code, revenue models, more research on how to differentiate ourselves from the competition. Between noon and 4pm, all I can say is the rooms were intense with coding, thinking planning, etc.

In summary Day 2 was execute on the run, re-think and refine while on the run. What an experience … we worked long and hard into the night getting ready for the final sprint towards the finish line …

UPDATE:

Follow the action for Day 1 and Day 3 at:

  1. Startup Weekend Kampala – Day 1 – Ideas, Pitches, Teams
  2. Startup Weekend Day 3 – 60 sec pitch, Customer Validation, Business Value, Wrap Up and Lessons Learnt
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