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I wanted to post this as a pin-up or reminder for myself of some really high value insights of one of Silicon Valley’s most successful entrepreneurs. This was a summary of a Ryan Mac’s summary from the lecture series he did at Stanford.

http://t.co/mwvy7BLqu5 #ForbesGreatestHits

1. Globalization is not (all there is to) progress.

There is no innovation going from from 1 to n and copying something somebody else has done. To be great, you have to do something new and important. All great companies went from 0 to 1. They solved a problem in a unique way.

2. It is better to be right than to be contrarian.

Value tends to be hidden. The key question is: What important truth do very few people agree with you on? The business version of this is: What valuable company is nobody building? A certain degree of contrarianism is embedded in these questions. Wrestling with them can lead to important truths.

3. Secrets exist.

They are discoverable.

4. Capitalism and competition are antonyms, not synonyms.

Competition in practice it is destructive and should be avoided. Better to think about how to run away from the fighting and build a monopoly business instead.

5. People lie.

We overlook the importance of sales and distribution. Betting distribution right is crucial; most companies fail because of distribution problems, not technology problems. One must understand the theatre of sales.

6. Much of life is a power law.

Things are (not) normally distributed but follow a power-law distribution, which can be counter-intuitive and uncomfortable. Some companies succeed wildly. Most fail and go to zero. Finding the company that falls on the right tail of the distribution is absolutely crucial.

7. A bad plan is better than no plan. A good plan is even better.

Take a meaningful swing at something big. Playing it safe has serious costs and may not be as safe as it is perceived to be. You must have a plan. Without it you are resigning your fate to chance.

8. Foundations matter.

Thiel’s Law: A startup messed up at its foundation cannot be fixed. Founding mistakes will amplify and destroy companies from within. Think carefully about keeping people’s motivations and incentives aligned.

9. Founders are different.

Founders are at the extremes on both ends: they are extreme insiders and extreme outsiders, disagreeable and charismatic, infamous and famous.

10. Find a frontier and go for it.

Quoting from Ryan Mac
” There is something importantly singular about each new thing. There is a mini singularity whenever you start a company or make a key life decision. In a very real sense, the life of every person is a singularity.

The obvious question is what you should do with your singularity. The obvious answer, unfortunately, has been to follow the well-trodden path. You are constantly encouraged to play it safe and be conventional. The future, we are told, is just probabilities and statistics. You are a statistic.

But the obvious answer is wrong. That is selling yourself short. There are still many large white spaces on the map of human knowledge. You can go discover them. So do it. Get out there and fill in the blank spaces. Every single moment is a possibility to go to these new places and explore them.

There is perhaps no specific time that is necessarily right to start your company or start your life. But some times and some moments seem more auspicious than others. Now is such a moment. If we don’t take charge and usher in the future—if you don’t take charge of your life—there is the sense that no one else will.”

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This week I facilitated an event for eGroup.org.au members, the main Western Australian group representing Internet entrepreneurs.

The thrust of the evening was training on Lean Startup principals created by Eric Ries and Steve Blank. We can learn from a book or we can learn by doing. Rather than make this a lecture I decided to turn this into an experience.

The structure of the evening was split into an intial Brainstorming session in teams, generating as many new business ideas as possible. To put an edge on it the teams were to pitch their two best ideas to the larger group. It such a total success with everyone having a ball and some brilliant ideas pitched. Individuls then voted on the best pitches and then formed into teams to work on these business ideas.

The teams then used the Lean Canvas to flesh out the detailed business model for each idea, again pitching to the group at the conclusion.

There were about 30 Internet entrepreneurs taking part and the feedback was that people loved it. I am certainly a fan of the Lean Startup principals. I recall seeing a presentation in Palo Alto or Mountain View in 2009 on this very subject and wonder if it was Eric Ries. I felt at the time that it was one of the most important ideas I had learned from Silicon Valley.

Here is the advertisement to the eGroup.org.au

Entrepreneurs aspire to be SERIAL entrepreneurs.

This months eGroup is an opportunity to stretch outside your normal thinking framework and experience the power of group thinking processes which you can then apply in your own business.

We have picked a set of the best idea generators used by start-up entrepreneurs and will working together in groups to develop a series of never-seen-before online business concepts, which we’ll build into mashups and then turn these into robust business models. What is more the process will be compressed into just a 120 minute experience.

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A quick acknowledgement to everyone who helped run this evening.

It was an amazing success. We told the VC’s to be gentle and I think next time we should just let them be themselves.

It was jammed to the rafters, standing room only and with many people having to watch from outside the doors. Well over 100 attendees plus judges, pitching teams and organisors.

Special thanks to Kris Borgraeve for volunteering to MC the event. To Barry Winwood for helping manage the flow and ensuring everyone’s pitch deck was ready to go. To IBM for agreeing to host the event within their offices.

I’ll look at doing another one of these for LESANZ in 12 months time.


I have been on the LESANZ.org committee and looking at how we can build the profile of the organisation in Perth. I came up with the idea of holding a pitch event because it would introduce innovators with the corporate advisors, IP lawyers, and Patent Attorney’s tha make up most of the LESANZ organisation.

It was just an idea until my friend Kris Borgraeve agreed to help by agreeing to be the Master of Ceremonies, something he has had a lot of experience running for Belgian TV. It has taken about 10 days fulltime effort to pull this together and we now have a brilliant line up of innovators across the full specrum from engineering, chemical engineering, bio-technology and of course IT. It’s amazing to see the diversity of top quality ideas that are ready for investment.

We now have over 100 attendees registered and hosting it in the IBM building will be perfect but its going to be jammed to the rafters. It goes to show that Perth is brimming with innovation and entreprenuership. There were a lot of people who would like to have registered but could not with the short notice. Clearly there is a strong market for doing more of this. It was only a one off event but perhaps we will run it again.

Given the amount of work I’ve put in to creating this I have decided in the end that I will be pitching GoPC.net tonight.




Join us for an entertaining night of high-energy, nail-biting, quick-fire pitches from some of our most promising innovators and entrepreneurs as they battle it out to raise an eye brow from our panel of judges, a den of seasoned Angel and Venture Capitalists.

Hosted by IBM at their West Perth conference facility and moderated by Belgian TV News Anchor Kris Borgraeve, we have assembled a lineup of technology businesses ready to pitch their opportunity at the judges. Contestants have just 5-minutes to cover the highlights and
convince the panel of their viability and market opportunity before the judges are let loose with scalpels to critique each pitch.

This is going to be a night at the intersection between entrepreneurs, executives, investors and thought-leaders. A cross-networking event designed to help you meet the new faces on the brink of commercialising innovations which may be flying well under your radar.

For innovators and entrepreneurs this is your opportunity to network with the entire eco-system of professionals and experts involved in nurturing the commercialisation process.

The Judging Panel: 

Liddy McCall – Yuuwa Capital

An experienced lawyer and fund manager, Liddy has been involved in technology commercialisation for over 10 years. As a Director at Macquarie Bank she was focused on mergers and acquisitions in Sydney and North America. Liddy co-founded a number of biotech companies including ICeutica Inc which was acquired last year by a US pharmaceutical company. Most recently, Liddy co-founded Yuuwa Capital which is a $40M early-stage
venture capital firm based in Perth.

Stephen Llanwarne – Tech Angel

After forging a career in IT technologies used by investment banks such as Nat West Capital Markets, Stephen moved to London where he ran the IT systems for Deutsche Bank, Bankers Trust and Merrill Lych. Stephen was a Founding Partner CIO at Zurich Capital Markets and in
2004 became an active business angel investing in start-ups. Stephen is a founding investor of www.Mig33.com, the worlds largest mobile social-network, www.moboom.com a mobile web development platform and of www.dsc-it.com, a local software house. In addition, Stephen advises on a number of other start-ups.

Rob Newman – Stone Ridge Ventures

Rob has a successful track record as a technology entrepreneur in both Australia and Silicon Valley. He has twice founded businesses based on technology from WA Universities with a combined market value of over $200M. As a Ph.D. student Rob invented and co-founded QPSX
Communications Pty Ltd which supplied technology to telecommunication carriers across the world. Rob also founded Atmosphere Networks to commercialise technology from Curtin University which securing US Venture Capital and was ultimately acquired by Ditech Communications. Rob is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Stone Ridge Ventures a leading WA technology venture capital firm.

The Moderator:

Kris Borgraeve holds a Master’s Degree in TV Journalism. He spent 10 years as a prime time TV news anchor, TV talk show host, radio host and news journalist in Belgium producing stories and live-reporting for VTM, RTL-TVI and Sky News. He co-founded MultiMedia Makers, a video production company which produces TV News quality video for the Internet enabling businesses to better communicate their message. Kris relocated the business to Australia in 2010 and is a Foreign Correspondent for European TV stations. He speaks fluent English, French, Spanish, German and Dutch.

Event Details

Date: Wednesday 8 August 2012
Time: 5:15 pm
Arrival and pre-drinks
5:45 pm Pitches and Judging
7:15 pm
Drinks, Food and Networking
8:30 pm Event concludes
Venue: IBM
Conference Facility, Level 1
1060 Hay Street, West Perth WA 6005
Parking: Street parking in surrounding Hay Street, Parliament Place,
Murray Street
Cost: LES members:
$  25; Non members: $  50; Students: $ 10   *incl GST
RSVP: Monday 6
August 2012
Book: Book
online here:
Visa or MasterCard accepted or advise EFT/ChequeThe tax receipt will be emailed to the recipient immediately upon

Due to catering, cancellations received after the RSVP
date will not be refunded. Dietary requirements to be advised to the
Secretariat when booking is made.


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Some clear direct advice to help me with pitching in Silicon Valley from Mr Walter Newman that are worth immortalising

Short is good.
Long is bad.
When long seems good, its bad.
When short seems bad, its good.

Walter is a highly decorated WWII veteran (including the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur), a leading San Francisco businessman and city councellor, philanthropist, community leader and friend.  I regularly walk with Walter through the Presideo on Sunday mornings along with his son John Newman, Ben Lyon, Edgar Stone, Dianne, cousin Geoff, and other family friends.

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The moment after something new is invented and people see it, its obvious to everyone and seems as though it was always there.

I met a very intelligent eBusiness entrepreneur on Friday who had not heard of the concept of a virtual PC desktop or cloud computing before.  He told me, with some consideration, that it might start to catch on in about 2-3 years time.   Gartner Research predict the virtual PC desktop industry will be worth $65billion in 3 years time representing 40% of the professional desktop market.

I’m now pitching for our next investment round in GoPC.net (early expansion stage).    When I raised our first external investment round in 2007 the concept of a virtual PC desktop was, for most of the savvy investors I pitched too, completely intangible.  We raised the round it but it was a lot harder than I expected.  I’ve since seen many Web2.0 pitches in Silicon Valley and I understand how investors find these businesses so unquantifiable and risky.

It frustrates me when people think of GoPC.net as a vague, emerging, intangible technology.   So our new pitch now is based on hard physical demonstrable facts.    It leads with a case example from one of our enterprise customers this year who reduced a $600,000 IT upgrade to a mere $30,000 representing 95% cost saving.   GoPC.net is a physical infrastructure replacement.  It’s tangible, the customers are real and they are saving a fortune.    There’s also an adjunct business opportunity for GoPC.net’s Channel Partners.  In this case example, the implementation and migration project for our partner netted them $70,000 revenue in the first 6 months.  From now on anything that customer does will involve GoPC.net and the channel partner.   So its extremely tangible and the funding raised from this next round is to drive growth through sales.

We are now making extensive use of video to make complex concepts visual.  And we use live case studies to show how physically real it is.  It’s a simple subscription revenue model that replaces a business IT infrastructure for 1/10th of the cost, 1/10th of the logistics and 1/10th of the support ongoing.   In the case of GoPC.net, the Cloud Platforms and AppStores draw market share away from Microsoft and hardware.   It’s a physical business that we’ve managed to virtualize.

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Here is a video newsreel taken last week about cloud computing by TheMultiMediaInstitute.  Kris Bogaeves and Els van de Veire are a TV news anchor and producer/journalist from Belgium.  Their story was researching cloud computing and the sweeping changes it is bringing to both the business world and to individual personal computing.

Full credit to them, as they condensed 6 hours of interviews and filming into a very crisp 2 minute summary of where cloud computing is heading today.

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