D RISK IT – An app to get your fundraising on track

Driskit logo rgbA large part of my work involves helping companies with their fund-raising. I turn down over 90% of the companies that land on my desk because quite simply they are not investment ready, let alone deal ready. Even though the proposition often seems to be quite good, if not excellent, there are still many other reasons why an investor is likely to reject it. This all makes for a lot of frustrated entrepreneurs out there. Well, I’ve decided to do something about it by taking some of the real world processes, guidance and help that I give out and wrapping it all up in a smartphone app. The app is called ‘D Risk It‘ because that’s what founders ultimately need to do when they are configuring a deal proposition for investors; they need to de-risk it.

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The app should be ready Autumn 2013. If this sounds interesting then you can follow the link to do a simple registration and get an alert when the app is ready …. www.drisk.it

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My 3 ‘Can’t-Live-Without’ iPhone apps

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I thought I’d take a break from the topic of investment and fundraising for a while and instead  start the New Year on a lighter note by spending a little time reflecting on three of my ‘must have‘ apps. I’ve picked on these three because they really are cornerstone apps for me and vitally important to the way I work; on-the-go and across several devices. Below is an outline of my top three but I would really like to hear some of yours too.

1PW_Graphic1 Password (£5.49):  This one is totally indispensable for me. These days we all have so many passwords to remember and we need access to them across several devices. I hold and use somewhere between 50-75 passwords for website access and all manor of logins. The high level of encryption and the excellent data management make 1PW an app that is definitely a must have for me. When I upload or change a password on one device then it is synced automatically across the others. The key feature of this app is that all you ever need remember is ‘one password.’ Even though you might make a different log-in for each website, this application recognises the URL and feeds in the log-in details automatically, as long as you give it your 1PW master password. There are other neat futures too, like the ability to store wallet information such as bank or bank card information (really handy when you are out and asked for some verification information), or the ability in a PC browser to recognise the website and let you type your 1PW password to open up the access without launching the application. However, the cost to have the application across all devices (laptop, mobile and tablet) is over £40. For me, still worth it for such a vital application.

DropBox_GraphicDropbox (Free):  For around 6 years now I’ve been storing ‘everything’ in the cloud. My hard drive has only been used for nothing but storage of the files and apps that it was born with on its OS installation birthday. I used to use iDisc before Apple knocked it on the head mid-2012. For a while I found myself scrambling around as iCloud was not going to support file storage and synchronisation. I was nervous about transferring everything over to Dropbox but I’m pleased to say it’s been up to the job. Making things even better, these these days many application makers build in the option to synchronise or back-up to Dropbox. Everything I do is in the cloud; no more saving things on hard drives.

ScannerPocket Scanner (£1.49):  This one is sooooo useful. I mainly use if for scanning important documents when I am on-the-go then emailing the resulting PDF back to my email for safe keeping, storage or to view at a more convenient time.

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I’d also like to take some time here to acknowledge some really rather naff apps that should be a lot better. I love Linked In and use it daily but the iOS app for me is truly naff, with no consistency with website product. A mention here also to every WiFi printer app I’ve ever used.

I’d be interested to know what is the most expensive app on your phone. Mine is not a business app but an ornithology app I brought a few years ago to encourage me to get out a little more and go for more walks. For a few years I got into bird spotting with an app weighing in at around £13.

Got time to tell me the most expensive app on your phone, or what apps have become totally indispensable for you? Any that are truly useless and frustrating?

iPhone 4 > A Cappuccino Warrior Comes of Age

>>  The iPhone 4 has been around since June 2010 but it is the hand-held device I have been waiting 9 years for. 

For years I have been lugging around laptops to coffee shops, service stations, hotel lounges, trade events and onto aeroplane flights. It’s always been very important to be able to work remotely but in 2001 I began to see the possibilities for a less cumbersome way to work; a way to work remotely without a laptop.

Apart from my first Apple Mac computer (A Macintosh Plus) a desktop that I brought in 1996, it’s been laptops all the way; starting with an Apple PowerBook 100. Being a freelancer with no fixed office abode, I preferred the freedom that came with picking up and putting down your machine to suit. In the early days I would usually be the only person sitting in the coffee shop with my laptop doing my work. Soon after, other laptops would appear around me. Laptop, mobile phone and constant cappuccino was all we remote workers required to be productive. For a long time, of those with laptops, I was usually the only person with an Apple Mac. Windows users would frequently sneer and bark out their well worn mantra of Macs being only of any use for those in creative industries. I used to try and educate but you know what it’s like, some people are just set in their ways and don’t want to admit that there might be another way.visor-neoGROUP

In those early days (2001) there came along a company called Palm and with their pocket device, the Palm Handspring Visor Neo.  It made no major technological breakthroughs but it showed me that one day there might be a future beyond laptops. By now the laptop’s weight was actually giving me minor back problems, especially after a days back-to-back meetings around London. It’s so long ago that I can hardly remember why I loved that little Palm device. I had to use a silly little stylus to write and navigate the device (not always a smooth experience). The web browsing experience was slow, clumsy and frustrating (no data packages then, just hoping around looking for WiFi hotspots) but worth the trouble if you needed a telephone number in a hurry.  Composing an email or entering text into a Word document was done via a stylus pen. All very slow and not very accurate but then I discovered that I could use a bluetooth keyboard with my Palm device. This was so cool. With just a small light shoulder bag I could now carry my mobile, Palm Neo and bluetooth keyboard and although the browsing experience was slow, I could now write emails or compile documents quite quickly with the aid of my fold-out bluetooth keyboard. However, beyond writing emails, the experience was still a very limited one and I knew that a leap in technology and a wait of several years would be necessary before I carry my working tools in a small shoulder bag (even in pockets) without having to also budget for occasional physiotherapy for shoulder pains.

Fast forward 9 years and the iPhone 4 with its ability to compose / edit emails and text documents, full webpage viewing experience and countless other beautiful features. The iPhone’s touchscreen keyboard though is not up to the task of facilitating a day’s work in a coffee shop. It’s fine for short tasks but my stumpy short fat fingers tend to wain after time. The iPhone 4 however was the first iPhone device to allow bluetooth connection to external devices. So now I get to use a laptop sized keyboard along with the excellent web experience and full application functionality of the iPhone 4.

IFOf course the iPad affects a quantum leap in the mobile working experience but I can’t put it in my pocket and it’s a tad too big to fit in my mini shoulder bag. One day soon I expect to buy an iPad but for now, even nearly one year since its launch, my iPhone 4 still thrills me. Time for another cappuccino me thinks!

App Store Revenue Strategies (Wolfram Alpha & Other Apps)

Anyone visiting recently will have noticed a lack of content since the last article but September’s article seems to have dropped off my blog and I don’t know why. Anyway, I have recovered a poor early draft of the post “Summer Shoots” which can now be seen underneath this article.

There’s a lot of focus on the Apple app store at the moment. Having become a revenue channel / revenue stream in itself, the tech industry as of late has been able to review and assess its progress since the opening of the app store’s doors from July 2008. Wiki states there are currently around 85,000 third party apps within the store, with over 2bn total downloads to date.

One of the issues a company faces, when trying decide where their iPhone app sits within a product revenue strategy, is to try and chart the financial returns and decide what revenue to model to employ. Whether to give away the app to encourage increased contact points, brand awareness or a value-add benefit for the brand, or to just do a straight unit fee charge. This week has started with postings on this topic with a mini debate on a welcome addition to the app store family from Wolfram Alpha.  This is a fantastic application that I am not sure I really know how to use fully but have a sneaking suspicion  that this is going to be an incredibly useful tool for me once I learn how to use it (Note to self, “see if there’s anything on YouTube perhaps?”). Wiki calls it an ‘answer engine‘ but its kind of a data crunching tool that does searches using the parameters that you feed it and comes back with data answers. However, the headline issues relating to their iPhone app launch all centre around the pricing of the application as it hits the app store. I’m sure I saw it last night on my iPhone at £29 (TechCrunch have it as $50. Is that the same as £29?). TechCrunch are not convinced with the current price tag, as anyone who uses the service will know, the app store is not a place for venders to realize full price on their software. It’s the place to go and see what free stuff you can find that might be worth pulling onto your iPhone. Next come the apps that you don’t mind paying a little bit more for. For me, the £1.79 I paid for my little Chirp bird spotting app was bargain of the year. However, as I look though my iPhone apps, aside from the freebees and fun stuff, the only “must have” app on my phone is 1Password. This comes in at £2.99 for the standard version or the big boy app at £4.99. I’m currently debating whether or not to ‘splash out’ by bring over a favourite mind mapping tool of mine that I use on the laptop called MindManager (made by MindJet and weighing in at a hefty $349). The scaled back, stripped back iPhone app version of the product is on my UK iPhone at £4.99.

The MindJet approach above illustrates the typical approach adopted by companies who usually discount (or give away free) a reduced feature set of their product on the app store. Possibly to help introduce their product to a new audience or to consolidate their brand in the market place but either way, the thing about the app store, aside from taking a punt on various frivolous games or utilities, its not the place where you go to get more the more serious and weighty software apps. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be but at the moment that is not how it is generally used. Sales of this particular app will be keenly watched over the next 12 months. Apple have always maintained that they don’t really make much out of the app store, like its a loss-leader but maybe they are starting to look at taking their app store to the next level. Good luck Wolfram, let’s see what you can do.

As a little aside, how about this article which says that Apple are soon to allow free apps to themselves offer ‘In-app purchases.’ That means you can download an app that itself can bill customers.  Might the likes of Ebay, Skype and PayPal be the first to lead the way here with iPhone billing.

Whilst here talking around iPhone apps and the app store, I was quite excited to learn of a new developers kit that can be downloaded to help you make your own iPhone apps. It comes from a company called Tap Lynx and here’s an article on the product/company.

Anyone there like to comment on their iPhone app ‘buying’ or downloading strategy, are you a freebees only type of person? What are the apps that you don’t mind paying £5 or over for? Has anyone had to configure an app pricing strategy? I’d be interested to hear any thoughts or comments on any of this.

GruvMe – New Kid On The Media Block

I’ve just picked up on something that could be very big news for the delivery of multimedia on mobile platforms. A free application download called GruvMe enables you to pull down HD quality movies, videos, music and games on your mobile – most platforms are supported. This of course could have huge implications for Apple’s iPhone and iTunes. It’s only in public beta at the moment but this has definitely got to be one to watch.

A related article is here.

M3X Media’s website is here.

iPhone App Revenues

Although there are some great developer success stories, it’s not all glory for mobile app developers. Streaming Colour (the makers of an iPhone game widget) explain their revenues from a $4.99 iPhone game they have made called Dapple. This article is quite interesting because the metrics of costs and royalties are broken down. He has incurred a heavy front-end development cost of $32,000, which gives his break-even of around selling 9,150 units but has sold around 151 copies, despite great reviews. His next step is to bring the price point down by producing a ‘lite’ version with the hope of bringing in more volume.

The full article can be seen here.

Free The Postcode

I saw an interesting article on TechCrunch about our national postcode database and how the Post Office owns it and only currently sell it on with a high-end corporate price tag. The article informs that if there was an alternative free postcode database system that could be developed via GPS collaboration, this would open up a host of location oriented apps. The Techcrunch article can be seen here.

I was so looking forward to exercising my citizen’s protest against the Post Office. I now have the app on my iPhone after visiting the iTunes store (here) but I can’t seem to get it started. It seems that I have to get my location accuracy to under 50 meters. I’m sitting here in my apartment popping in the postcode and it still says over 1000 meters. How did you get on with it? I still think it’s a good idea.