Reflections on Start-Up life: Week 44

It was a short week, I worked Monday and Tuesday then from Wednesday I’ve been off on leave. It’s been a great holiday so far. Much needed, yet I can’t shake the feeling I’m “cheating” on myself — this is time to be putting in, not taking off.

Still, the start-up world never stops, it just slows down. I can’t confess to fully stepping away from the laptop (or the iPhone and email!).

I’ve been keeping up with my reading and researching. Two big pieces of news happened last week., a web based Twitter client announced a deal to sell to AOL. Then on Wednesday the big news was that Twitter launched the “New Twitter” website. So guess what our big idea (Project X) is — yeah, a Twitter client.

You can’t beat that for timing! We think we’ll play with a radical new Twitter client idea on Monday, and on Wednesday Twitter launch a radical new Twitter client. Does it change the plan, not really — the idea we have is sufficiently niche and differentiated that the new Twitter client and what we have in mind don’t compete. It does however potentially change the investment landscape. As we read “you won’t find an investor now willing to touch anything with the words 140 or Twitter in the pitch”.

Still, even post the New Twitter announcement, Alex has continued to talk and pitch with Angels and the Angel Community and the interest is still there. What’s clear is that there is a major proof point for this idea which is “will people switch to use our client in the niche we are after”. If yes, we have a winner. If no, it may as well die now.

So Alex continues with the prototype, and I continue lining up some meetings while on leave for when I get back to see how this can play out.

Perhaps the highlight of the holiday (from a work perspective) so far was a phone call I received on Thursday. I was sitting enjoying lunch at Wet ‘N Wild when I noticed a missed call. Turns out that our press release had made it’s way to the desk of the right person inside The Australian and they wanted to write about us for an article published today here

I rang them back and did an on the spot “interview” covering the key points of Tribalytic while surrounded by the sounds of screaming kids having fun. It was great! What’s pleasing now is that our press release has yielded some decent online coverage and some good contacts for the next time now — we have contacts with the right people who cover our type of product and marketplace.

The right contacts are critical — if you want a “big bang” then you need to let people know well ahead of time and co-ordinate. Not knowing who to talk to makes this hard and you end up with a “spray and pray”. My advice though, it’s worth it. If you don’t know who to tell, tell everyone and hope, it’s better than doing nothing. I doubt we will do such a broad and general press release of this sort however again now we have some contacts.

I had an opportunity to apply for a contract before we left. It was an interesting decision process. On the one hand, we could make some good money that would help us out for several months. On the other, it would put everything on hold for 3–6 months. It was a tough call, but we (Alex and I) decided to stick with our start-up guns — you have to be in the game to play the game. We are not ready to step back yet.

Perhaps the interesting part of the this process is the regard we have for each other. I think that sometimes we try and second guess each other too much — it’s a natural human instinct, we are both “nice guys” and we don’t want to see either of us get burnt in this start-up process. Yet it’s not always what’s best for BinaryPlex. We need to be a lot more ruthless about asking “What’s best for the business” not “What’s best for Tim or Alex”.

That doesn’t mean we have to be horrible to each other at all — quite the opposite in fact (that would be bad for business). But when we worry about each other too much, we break down an important balance. If I’m making my decision in part based on what’s best for me, then I rely on Alex providing a perspective purely on what’s best for BinaryPlex. This makes sure we have a balanced decision process and I can sound off my own personal objectives against his reasoned view on what’s right for the company.

We have another shorter term opportunity which is better aligned for which we also need to make a hard decision on very shortly. The positive here is that there is work (consulting / contracting) around, the challenge — when do we have to take it. And will it be there when we need it if we don’t?

Our SEO efforts of several weeks ago are paying off, although we are ranking too high in some areas perhaps unintentionally. I had a very strange meeting with someone who had rung us up and against my better judgement I went to meet him, not sure what he was wanting. Turns out he thought we were experts in something because he found our site, while we thought he wanted to buy Tribalytic. After 15 minutes we had this “aha” moment where we realised neither of us was who we thought. We politely ended the meeting in record time and left.

For me the rest of the week is keeping things bubbling over while also enjoying my break. Lots of interesting things to keep working on and thinking about. For now, Australia zoo and Bindy the Jungle girl beckon.


  • Holidays and lots of time with the family
  • Interview with The Australian

Lessons Learnt

  • Calypso Bay at Wet and Wild not best place to do an interview
  • What you write in your press release and what the journalist runs prove to be two different things. The press release so far seems to be more a teaser to get an interview rather than something that’s used as written (I’m sure that happens, but so far they’ve been what’s baited the hook, not the outcome).
  • Even on holidays you can’t stop. Not that I really wanted to.

Goal this week

  • Few more theme parks
  • Start lining up meetings for next week so I can hit the road running when I get back.