Tag Archives: technology
'Upstart Business' is a phrase that seems to be creeping into the journalistic language used on tech and entrepreneurial blogs in the US. The first time I heard it I thought the writer was simply playing with the normal term 'startup' to be witty and focus on a particularly ballsy and inspiring effort of a young entrepreneur. Then a week or two later I read it again elsewhere. This got me thinking: Was 'upstart' just a meme that one clever writer used once and then suddenly caught on with the blogging fraternity or is it now a well known and accepted term? More to the point does its origin matter and is it more important to ask which is better?
Googling the term, you get a myriad of results. Many are for business or consultancy related groups and services that use the 'upstart' interchangeably with 'startup'.
The online dictionary definitions which appear are all similar to this one:
n. A person of humble origin who attains sudden wealth, power, or importance, especially one made immodest or presumptuous by the change; a parvenu.
adj. 1. Suddenly raised to a position of consequence.
2. Self-important; presumptuous.
Reading between the lines in the tech blogs it appears that the difference is this; 'Startups' are entrepreneurial businesses that begin with external funding from venture capital from their inception. However, 'Upstart' businesses begin without significant external funding, just savings and personal loans from friends and family and usually the founders maintain all equity. This is in keeping with the upstart definition, springing from humble origins to wealth, rather than having lots of cash to play with before you have a customer.
A Big Upstart
Felix Dennis, author of the refreshingly direct, 'How to Get Rich', is very much in the upstart mould and believes a business owner should do everything in their power to hold on to the most equity possible. Each percentage of equity you manage to own, could be worth millions when you eventually sell your business. In one chapter he describes how two important employees at his magazine demanded a small share of the business or they'd start a rival publication.
He instantly called their bluff, fired them and wished them well in their new venture. Within a few years their business was bust and they were back working for him, no hard feelings. When he sold up and moved on, that tiny percentage they had demanded was worth millions; his baby, his millions. Dennis put it in uncompromising terms:
Talent is indispensable, although it is always replaceable.
Just remember the simple rules concerning talent:
Identify It, Hire It, Nurture It, Reward It, Protect It. And when the time comes, Fire It.
There's been a lot of buzz and backlash these last few months around the tech blogs, websites and forums regarding this controversial new bill which was due to go before the US Congress. SOPA or Stop Online Piracy Act and the parallel PIPA or Protect IP Act, both aim to protect the Intellectual Property market and industry, protect jobs and revenue and is said to be necessary to strengthen enforcement of copyright laws, especially against foreign websites.
In many ways that sounds quite reasonable. Intellectual Property and copyright owners must have some rights to protect their creations, don't they? They do and they should. That aspect is not the problem with the bill, what is the problem is the knock on effects and the potential for severely excessive use of the bill against freedom of speech as well as destabilising and making less secure the foundations and very structure of the internet.
The eminent Yoast of Yoast SEO fame, one of the foremost and respected WordPress SEO experts unusually ventured into political territory with a recent blog post strongly against SOPA entitled Stop SOPA Help the Internet. In it he directed attention to a video concisely explaining the the very real dangers the bill poses to the safety of the Internet as well as freedom of speech and entrepreneurial innovation. Watch this video as it's a concise summing up of the argument against SOPA:
So who supports SOPA and who's against it? Hollywood and the entertainment industries such as the big studios and tv networks, book publishers and music industry players support it which isn't a huge surprise. View the complete list of SOPA supporters here. More enlightening maybe, are the lists of those in strong opposition or express concern with SOPA. All the big tech and internet companies are there; Facebook, Google etc but also the usually non-political WordPress and somewhat subversive but pro-democracy organisations such as 4chan. The anti-SOPA list really is a who's who of the internet, tech and pro-free speech, first amendment world.
Maybe more interestingly again however, GoDaddy, Electronic Arts, Sony and Nintendo were on the pro-SOPA side and defected over, many believe due to the extraordinary public outcry against the bill and the bad PR for those who supported it.
There was a crucial turning point for the anti-SOPA camp when the White House stated that they will not support the bill.
"While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,"
Nicely put by the White House. Artists need to get paid otherwise they will struggle to make more art. But we're not really talking that much about 'artists' here, we're talking about cases being brought by large Hollywood studios, tv companies, and giant corporations, many that churn out repetitive low grade schlock. These are the companies that could afford to take advantage of the SOPA bill, even banning personal youtube videos and accounts that have their song in the background.
Still, they have a right to protect that schlock or indeed quality work, as any author does. Almost everyone, supporters and detractors of the SOPA bill, agree that it is well meaning in what it's trying to do in protecting Intellectual Property rights and the jobs of those who create works, it's just how it plans to do that and on the devastating tertiary impact it will have that people massively disagree.
A few hours following the White House opposition to the bill, Congress shelved SOPA putting off action on the it indefinitely. It's quite refreshing when democracy and the voice of the people is listened to, but it's equally terrifying how close we came to this madness becoming reality. Obama may have been the final nail in SOPA's coffin, in this guise. But how long before it's back with a different name but a similar danger to freedom of speech?
Formula for a Profitable Groupon Deal: (See right) So many businesses have been crippled by not fully thinking out their discount deal. This awesome info graphic should steer any would be Deal-maker into safer and more profitable territory.
Top 10 Reasons Why Venture Capital Backed Companies Fail: VC expert Eric Jackson writes for Forbes about his own experiences and observations on the core factors why some VC backed Startups fail.
Superbowl to be Streamed Live to US Mobile Phones: The biggest sporting event in the US is to be officially streamed live by NBC for the first time to be viewable on computers and mobile devices.
The Neurons that Shaped Human Civilisation: In this TED video, neurologist VS Ramachandran explains Mirror Neurons, neurological firings that allow us to imitate and empathise with people and behaviours around us that sculpted human development and may be the bridge between science and the humanities.
We're at the stage where we're uploading loads of video content that we've produced up to our video content delivery provider (BitsOnTheRun - they rock). One really important thing I've been working on is the design of the video page template. This is the page that our customers are going to spend most of their time on, viewing training videos, so it's crucial that they are well laid out and are very usable. (more…)
WordPress is easy for non-technical users. One of the most important things for me is that non-techies can log in and edit their website quickly and easily, and because of WordPress’s quite intuitive admin screen, the support requirements are easier.