Thursday, June 25, 2015

Gmail and Google Calendar

If you use Gmail then by default you also get Google Calendar. If you then book a hotel from Booking.com or a place to stay from Airbnb or the airline reservation system Amadeus sends you a confirmation of your flight tickets then these stay-s and flights are automatically inserted into your Google Calendar. This is quite convenient - you don't need to insert them manually. But.....

...but this also means that Google reads through all your e-mails, analyzes them and creates a database of all your travelling plans. So not only does Google know where you are - it also knows where you will be! Who knows what else the automatic e-mail parsing software detects, maps and registers?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The value of The Brand

A T-shirt is produced in China, a multi-national fashion brand prints a logo on it and buys it for 2 euros. The shirt is shipped and put on sale in a fashion boutique in Stockholm, Berlin, Paris or Milan. A Chinese tourist buys the shirt that is now called Gant, Tommy Hilfiger or Ralph Lauren for 30 euros. Who are the winners and who are the losers in this model?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Google Analytics IQ

I managed to pass the Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam. If you need help in measuring and improving your websites commercial performance just ask me!


Thursday, June 4, 2015

The startup investment boom

Lately there have been many positive news about investments coming to Estonian startups. For example $1,2M in VitalFields and $1,8M in Monese. This is very good for the Baltic-Nordic and European and especially for the Estonian startup scene. With the interest rates at 0 and the stock and real estate markets already overvalued the world changing startups are indeed a viable option for investing.

However I would still urge to keep the feet on the ground and get more focus on real business like revenue, paying customers, net profit and dividends. Think about the following questions:

- Why does getting an investment make such big news whereas getting a bankloan does not? After all an investor expects 1000% return (a bank 10-16%/year).
- Why is offering a free socialnetwork service to million users seen as good business whereas giving out free apples on the street to million bypassers seems a very stupid idea? After all apples do grow on the trees also for free.
- If three people have worked on a business idea for 12 months and are offering 10% of equity for 300 000 euros (which seems to be a quite common case for the first investment round) then have they really created something worth 3Meur? That is 83keur per month per person?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Places to find ICT specialists and to find work for ICT specialists

A few months ago a Swedish ICT consultancy marketplace opened its new service at www.resrc.se. Mainly it has jobs for consultants living or at least speaking swedish (or danish or finnish), but you can probably find also work if you are fluent in english there.

For the Estonian market I started a LinkedIN group here. So if you are an ICT specialist or need one then you are most welcome to check it out. Here is also a link to Work in Estonia IT jobs page.

Please write in comments if you know other websites or places for the Nordic and Baltic ICT consultancy market!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Wrong focus in the startup buzz

Following the startup buzz - the news, the mentorship programs, the blogs - one easily gets the impression that the most important things for a startup are pitching, finding capital and creating an exit strategy. Well, in my experience this is wrong and perhaps one of the reason for over-emphasizing these topics is the hunt for news.
 The event of getting funded is usually presented as a huge success story in the press. It is rarely mentioned that the investors do want their money (x20) back, the sooner the better and it is the startup who has to deliver that. Getting funded is rarely presented as giving 3 drops of blood to the VC, but in a way it is so.
 Similarly controversial is the buzz around Exits. The Exits do make good news as someone makes millions with them. At the same time the news do not mention that for a successful exit the company needs to maximise the income from customers (short termp profits prevale), minimize personell costs (keep only the employees needed for day to day operations) and sell the whole thing to a corporation who then merges the employees and business to its big machinery.

 While pitching, funding and exits get a lot of attention in the startup buzz then one rarely sees any coverage about people management. It seems that management, coaching, training and developing the team are something only the big companies need and that are irrelevant in startups. And this, of course, is absolutely wrong. I have managed a number of different teams and I have never seen a person who just works. Everyone wants to know where is the company going, what is his/her personal development plan and wants to have his/her say in how to organize the work in the best way. These, among with topics like handling relationships, communication in the team, solving problems and finding the best way eveyone can contribute, are areas where startups and all other businesses do need mentoring and focus also.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Suomi nousuun!

(This post is meant as a motivational to Finnish politicians.)

I have visited Finland for a couple of times in the last weeks and talked to finns living both in Finland and Estonia. For some reason there is a note of depression whenever the topic of Finnish economy comes up. Government deciding nothing for 5 years and Russian sanctions tend to come up. It is far from the optimistic bostadsbubbla that one sees in Sweden. The most amazing was a story of a Finnish IT startup with only finnish employees and customers that had just moved to ....Tallinn, because of the energy they feel in Tallinn.

So what might be the reason for this? One might guess that taxes are one, but actually it is not only that. It is the bureaucracy, non-business related costs, insurances and all type of licenses and rules. Let me shock the finnish business community with the following prices and facts about Estonia:
- Accounting services cost 50-70 eur/month for a small company and that includes making the annual report.
- Bank costs and services are the same as for ordinary people. That means 2,5 eur/month for a bankcard I think.
- There are not very many mandatory insurances...actually none for most of the businesses
- There is no corporate tax on your revenues if you don't take them out as dividends
- With e-residency you can do all the transactions online from wherever in the world.
- Most of the paperwork can be done online. In fact I have not seen the accountant of my little company for 5 years now and I have never visited the tax or other authorities physically. You can sign all the documents and reports digitally.

So here is what to do in the IT business! Incorporate in Estonia. Buy resources from all over the world, e.g. India, Belarus, Poland. Put it all together to a service in Estonia and sell it to Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. (I can give a few tips on how to do it) ...or maybe the Finnish politicians will cut down the bureaucracy? ...and the Finnish insurance and banking sector will cut down their prices for businesses? I do hope so, because I love Finland.