Auckland Startup Weekend

This weekend was my second time at Auckland Startup Weekend – I helped form the team for an idea pitched by our team leader – around connecting recent university graduates with businesses.


Presenting at Auckland Startup Weekend

As is always the case at Startup Weekend, I had an amazing time and learned heaps!


The team in the middle of intense discussions with the great mentors.


Winning Second Place (!) at Auckland Startup Weekend

I love taking group trips, but sometimes the planning can be complex – collating all the options, deciding on which ones, knowing how much it will cost, and keeping all the info available and up to date.

This weekend I went to Auckland Startup Weekend, hosted at Massey University, and I pitched an idea for a shared travel itinerary – a tool that lets you plan a trip with friends, build an interary, and track costs.


Pitching on Friday afternoon.

We formed a team, and we were off!


The team.

After a busy 54 hours, we pitched to the panel of judges on Sunday evening – after their deliberation, the winners were announced, and we are honoured to be placed second out of the 12 teams participating!


Receiving our second place prize.

What a fantastic experience!


A great collage by @JanineBarr


Why does Apple NZ’s homepage replace Twitter with JetBlue?

Apple is promoting it’s appstore, which has reached over 25 billion app downloads.  I recently read a blog post about Apple’s deep Twitter and Yelp integration — for example Siri uses Yelp for restaurant suggestions, much to Google’s dismay — and the blog mentioned the obvious presence of the Twitter app icon in the promotion’s marketing material.

I was surprised when I visited the Apple NZ homepage to notice that the Twitter app icon has been replaced by that of US airline JetBlue.  Guitar Hero is replaced with the Martha Stewart app.

Given that Yelp and ebay are front-of-stage with their low penetration in NZ, I wonder if this is some kind of bizarre reverse localisation.  And Martha Stewart over Guitar Hero.  Honestly?


US home page – note the Twitter app to the left of the screen.

NZ home page – note Twitter has been replaced with JetBlue.

Shazam fails on design thinking

You know that awesome feeling when you hear that awesome new song on the radio?  It’s maybe the second or third time you’ve heard it, and it’s the new song, it’s the best new song you’ve heard since the last one.  You are tired of all the music on your iPod and you really want to add this new one to your playlist.

You need this song.

So you Shazam it!  You grab your phone, launch Shazam, tap the big blue logo, and patiently watch the clock tick around, getting bigger and smaller, as you discretely hold your phone up to the nearest speaker.  The song just ended, so no chance to record it again–lucky you got it first time!    Sending.  Yes!  Then you wait eagerly, your eyes locked intently to your phone waiting to see who the artist is, what the song is.  This is the song that will make your playlist worth listening to again.  So exited!!

Then, you get this:

Ugh.  You get that knot in your stomach.  Great, you think.  No match.  No song.  No singing in the shower.  No playing your favourite new song back-to-back until you have accidentally memorised all the lyrics.  What a horrible feeling!


Since my iPhone is 2 years old, I am thinking about replacing it with an Android phone, but I want to check that all the “important” apps I use would also be available on Android, so I went to the Android Market to search for the main ones.  When I searched for Shazam, this screen came up:

I instantly felt that same knot in my stomach.  But I shouldn’t feel that, I should feel good because I have just found out that one of my favourite apps is available on Android.  It’s that logo, that’s what feels wrong.  Why do I feel so bad when I see that logo?

Ah… it’s the “failed to find your awesome new song” logo.  And the feeling that accompanies it too.

Shazam, you have failed at design thinking.

Green Ratings for Green Growth

My colleague Thomas Watson (@thomaspwatson) entered the Pure Advantage Green Growth competition.  In his entry, Thomas explains how a Green Rating system will help grow sustainable business in New Zealand and help unlock the potential of green business.

Great work Tom!  View and vote for Thomas’ entry here.

Intergen Dynamics Day 2011

I attended the morning sessions of Intergen’s Dynamics Day today, and I really enjoyed it.

Key takeaways were:

  • Miners using an Xbox Kinect interface with Microsoft Dynamics so they are able to make updates to their ERP by waving their arms in the air, rather than having to decontaminate and remove all their safety gear to use a keyboard
  • The suggestion that a green fields business app suite could consist of:
    • Office 365
    • Dynamics CRM Online
    • Windows Azure
    • Xero or Dynamics NAV, depending on your scale
  • Cloud should be the default choice for new deployments
  • Office 365 will drive customers to the cloud
  • When integrating systems, wherever possible integrate using web services rather than directly connecting to the database, as this will help in the future if you choose to move to SaaS cloud deployment (e.g. From Dynamics CRM on premise to Dynamics CRM Online)
Something else I didn’t know: Facebook likes are integrated into Bing search results.  Won’t make me change from Google, but interesting to know.

Managing a Whale of a time

Are you making profits on all your customers?  If you listen to Kaplan and Narayanan (2001)¹ you might be wailing about your Whale Curve of customer profitability.

In last semester’s Accounting 321 paper “Strategic Management Accounting” the syllabus covered Activity Based Costing (ABC) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in relation to Customer Profitability Analysis, but something relating to all of these which I found quite interesting is the Whale Curve of customer profitability.

If your organisation implements ABC and CRM, not only will you be able to allocate your costs to your cost drivers, but also to each of your individual customers.  Kaplan and Narayanan (2001) bring the 20/80 rule to a new level, where they suggest that by performing a whale curve analysis, you may find the most profitable 20% of your customers bring in between 150% and 300% of your total profits.

Surely that can’t be, because your profits can never be more than your profits!  They continue that the middle 70% of customers are generally break-even, while you will lose money on the last 10% – the losses on these last customers bring profits back to the 100% level.  You can see this pattern on the graph below.

What now?  Well, if your CRM software can tell you which customers you are making the most money on, you can focus your efforts to retain them as customers.  You can also focus your efforts on the profit-losing customers, to find out why they are losing money.  Are they on the wrong products?  Do they pay late?  Are you charging them too little?  Knowing what makes them unprofitable allow you to make decisions to manage these unprofitable customers to profitability – and if this can’t be done, perhaps you need to consider dropping them as customers.

But bare in mind that CRM isn’t a one-stop-shop to making your customers profitable.  CRM is a tool in the Management Accountant’s toolset, which works alongside ABC, ABM, Activity Based Pricing, and a few other concepts, to help your organisation gain competitive advantage.

Anyone keen to update Wikipedia?

1. Kaplan, R.S., and V.G. Narayanan, 2001. “Measuring and managing customer profitability”, Journal of Cost Management, September/October: 5-15