Not another Social Network!

Hy start-ups and ideabuilders,

Here’s an open letter to you guys. If you happen to have a marvelous idea about a social network? Stop right there. It’s cool but you need to have an edge. I was watching The Verge Small Empires with an episode about “Rap Genius”. A social website that got 15.000.000$ in funding. The idea behind the website is that lyrics from Rap songs are decoded about their meaning and history.

The artists can provide information about the song but also you and I can contribute to the lyrics information. I think of it more as a Rap Wikipedia. The fun fact is that unknown artist can get a voice in the rap world. I know YouTube is the birthplace for “unknown and unsigned artists” but this has more “Street Cred”. Once an artist has enough reputation on the website, Rap Genius calls them up and verifies them as a “Rap Genius Verified Artist”.

The cool thing about Rap Genius is that they got 2 edges. 1 they had an idea of only doing lyrics of Rap music but along the lines they accepted poetry, speeches, …  2 they are discovering new artists, new speechwriters, new songwriters, … Maybe you could say along the line, they have found themselves a record label and by implication a business model.

A social network where people just can communicate and build communities and share, we already have enough of those websites. It’s better to go in a niche market. A good example: pick a sport and build a social network around that. I’m building a social golf website at the moment where you can pick your golf buddy with the same interests and handicap.

If you don’t got an edge or unique feature with your new social network, you should stop right here

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Back to basics

Back-to-Basics-smaller

Back to basics: the clichés of the European startup market.

  1. Look at me and my PowerPoint presentation at this cool startup event.
  2. We don’t have a business model, but it’s a really cool idea.
  3. I’ve just started this company, but I don’t have liquidity or a daytime job to cover my expenses.
  4. We got into this accelerator program and lost about 45% of our shares.
  5. We raised a 6 figure number.
  6. I am a serial entrepreneur, CEO, Managing Director

 

When I look at all these things above, I get a bit frustrated. Many people make it seem like everything is cool and awesome in the startup world. Too be honest, it’s a whole lot different when you got bills to pay, rent an apartment, want to maintain a social life, etc.

In January 2012 I decided to start life, to start working and not take the big jump by founding my own company. However, I kept a close eye on what was going on in the startup scene: helping startups, bringing them ideas and sometimes even getting involved in one or two. For me, this is a way to silently and slowly build towards that day when I’m going to leap to the other side: my own company.

Anno 2013, start-ups are growing fast and rapidly. I’m currently involved in 3 start-up projects and still have a daytime job. My daytime job pays my rent, bills, transportation, phone, food and entertainment. I solely work on these 3 projects after work. There’s plenty of time between 6 PM and 12 PM to get things done. We also live in a society that lets you have 2 days off each week. Think about it… OMG 2 times 24 hours where I can do what I want.

I take this time to work at my dining room table in my apartment; I don’t need a co-working space that is only open during working hours.

When you read the first stories from Silicon Valley, from Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak to Bill Gates and Paul Allen. These guys had a daytime job before they leaped into the deep.Jobs worked at Atari whilst founding Apple, Wozniak was working at IBM, and Gates and Allen bluffed their way into selling a piece of software that hadn’t been written yet.

Don’t quit your daytime job just yet. Work after working hours, in the weekends, and you’ll see quick enough whether your project is feasible and scalable. You’ll know when the time is ripe to quit your daytime job and jump into the wild.

Somewhat friendlier

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.” Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’ They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,” but he got $10!”
“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than me!”
“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”
“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Idealabs – the first Belgium Start-Up Accelerator

Idealabs – not just a lab filled with ideas and people, oh and before I forget start-upmoney.

Idealabs is an inspirational start up accelerator program. It’s the first one in Belgium, I think, that explains the big turn out at the launch event.
Different types of people can apply for the bootcamp: product designers, IT-people, students or just people with a very good idea.
Good news! You can still apply till the 5th of August.

Continue reading

Competition: use it or loose it.

Last month I’ve been occupied with doing Events. It’s every summer From July till beginning of September.
We’ve done the biggest events like this one:

A 100.000 people dance event:

And the best festival in the world:

http://www.rockwerchter.be

So it has been a busy summer. Now usually I only work with partners (Red Bull, BM projects, Sensation) and not with competitors I was questioning myself why not actually?

I’m a free man working as an independent freelancer. Broadening my network can only make me bigger  or am I wrong here?
Why do I have the feeling then I’m betraying my partners, I think you have to do this with some kind of humility an delicacy. It’s like art you like it or you don’t like it, but if it’s really good  painting a lot of people will like it

The choice you make to work for  someone is not a marriage contract, it’s more like a contract of living next to each other.
So going to make the choice of using competition. Maybe you should to in the future, it’s better to work with each other then against each other.

Catching the mainstream or searching for the niche?

Start with a golden idea:

One of the biggest questions you need to ask before you start your company :”am I going to be a competitor or an innovator”. Most people think that they can do both, I think you can’t be an innovative competitor.

Or you do something that is all ready done but you do it in a different way. Like my social media image/brand building or you just make a good Facebook website for a company. Then you are kind of an innovative competitor.

Being innovative is doing something that hasn’t been done before or is doing something in an entirely new way.

I’ll give you an example which everybody can relate to:

  • Being a competitor: is going to a meeting in a suite
  • Being a competitive innovator: is like saying going to a meeting in a suite but without a tie
  • Being an innovator: is not dressing up at all.

The idea of being the competitive innovator will be picked up by the rest very fast and it becomes like a trend so everybody will be a competitor again in the end.

It’s like the second part of my business idea: executive business trips combined with unique pleasure and taste moments. It’s real niche market. Nobody else is doing it: everybody is doing this: “how to save money on your trip”. My slogan is spend money to earn money. It’s an investment. People tell me I’m crazy that there isn’t a market for it.

Well let’s create a market! RED (Ruben Evens Dreams) wins!

Terms, terms, terms but no content

Hy everybody,

after a long month of studying. I realized something important, I had to learn a lot of marketing terms. How nice it is, that I can throw around some terms and theories, that I learned,  to impress people who know something about Marketing.

But after a meeting for my new internship next year. I knew something was missing and I had to fill up the blank spots. Say for instance Image Building: I know what the term means, but how am I going to Mark It and Fill It up with creative ideas. So I got a new theory: It’s called Bad Planning:

  1. Draw up a marketing plan
  2. Now get some creative ideas in it
  3. Then put the terms on it.

When you have to sell your product to other people (maybe impress them in the progress):

  1. Say the terms
  2. Then put the creative ideas with it
  3. Then show them the entire marketing plan.

It’s not reverse psychology that I’m preaching, it’s easier for marketing people as well as management people to understand the terms with your ideas right next to it.