Reflections on Startup life: Week 50

Did you miss me? It’s been bugging me all week that I haven’t yet done my weekly post. Let’s just all pretend this is Monday and move on :-)

After 50 weeks of this, I think it’s only the second time I haven’t posted on Monday yet. The excuse is a good one. I went camping with the family up in Buchan. Turns out that there are places in Victoria which DON’T GET THE INTERNET! Not even mobile reception (unless you’re with Tel$tra). So that was up until Tuesday, when we came home (Melbourne Cup day).

On Wednesday I had to get up early to return the hire car, then it was straight into the city for something new. For the next few weeks I’m working with Sustainability Victoria on some Social Media Analysis work, so I didn’t get a chance yesterday (was going to bash it out on the train, but battery was flat). So here I am, Thursday morning, writing Monday morning’s post.

So what’s going on around here — last weeks post was pretty brief. I think this is because we are getting busier.

We’ve just signed a couple of contracts — the consulting gig I’m working on at the moment with Sustainability Victoria and a development project with SportsGeek. We always thought we’d have to do some consulting work to help “keep the boat afloat”, but we also want to carefully select what we do — is it aligned to our values and interests, can we do a great job, do we like the people and is the work building the portfolio of experience for BinaryPlex? Both of these projects are fantastic in that they meet these criteria for us.

It’s something Alex and I have always spoken about. The reality is we’ve known for a while that we would need to do some consulting work, but we don’t want to “be” consultants. We’re an internet startup, it’s core to our DNA (and actually something I think we are getting MUCH better at being). The way to manage this is to make sure that the consulting work we do isn’t just a cash cow, but rather it grows and develops us and is aligned to our core expertise. We think that’s good for us, and good for our clients.

To help understand this — we’ve resisted opportunities to project manage, to do IT architecture work, or develop anything not aligned to social for money. While we still have some choice (ie. cash runway left) then we can afford to exercise this discretion. What I love about what we are doing is that we are passionate about it — I can’t think of anything more I’d rather be doing than what I’m working on in BinaryPlex; if we’re going to consult, then we retain our startup values by selecting work that we can be just as passionate about.

So on to startup related things — our newest project is coming along really well. One measure of success for any small team must be that you really want to use you’re own tool. With our new super secret project that will enter a limited closed beta this week, we’ve hit on something that we both desperately want to use. Every day we find new ways that it would be of use to us. Something <a href=”">both Alex and I have come to realise is that we have had a habit in the past year of developing things “to a market”, but not always tools we are passionate about ourselves. We love Tribalytic, but we don’t personally need to use it. Distlr was great and is a great idea, but neither of us actually watch TV (or have the necessary industry contacts). Our first project Hivemind is really needed by Enterprise, but while it was my problem at the time because I was so fresh out of Enterprise, it’s not anymore.

It’s an interesting reflection for me — logically I’m not sure about this (you should be able to design and build anything), but emotionally in small teams with limited time, the most efficient way to approach something is to have yourself as the core customers. This goes against a lot of conventional logic, but it’s something I’ve seen talked about a lot in startup circles and I’m beginning to see why. If you have a strong vision and need, then you don’t have to “slow down” to confirm every step before moving forwards. On the scale and speed we are trying to move, that weeks delay to arrange and hold a meeting is a killer. Of course you need customer feedback and validation and there is a responsibility that comes with customers around meeting their needs and requirements too. By all means learn from customers and how they use things, but if you have to stop to ask a customer before you can do anything, that’s a good sign you’re not a startup anymore!

Well, enough rambling on. Things to do, kids to get off to school and a city job to go to.


  • Contracts being signed. Every 10 days extends our runway by around a month and a half (2 weeks buys us about 6–8 weeks).
  • Great people, interesting projects.
  • Fun being back in an office environment again to change things up.

Lessons Learned

  • I don’t like being without internet access.
  • Although occasionally it’s probably good for me.

Goals this week

  • Consulting work.
  • Scheduling and planning for the next few weeks to balance various priorities.
  • Keeping our heads above water in the evenings with BinaryPlex related tasks.