Growth pains for start-ups, The ICEHOUSE team

5.00 to 7.30pm, Thursday 30 September, Simpson Grierson, 88 Lumley St, Auckland,  New Zealand

This is our premier event of the year and one not to be missed!

Andy Hamilton will lead a discussion on what The ICEHOUSE has learnt working with start-ups over the last 9 years and will bring along some live start-ups for dissection:

1.      Live Links: Jason Roberts

2.      Visitor Parking: Martin Cleland-Pottie

3.      Piggy: Kurtis Andrews

Go to the Events Page of the  the Auckland ICT website for full details of the event and to RSVP.

This is the monthly networking meeting of Auckland ICT.  If you have not been before, do come along as we hold some of the best networking events in town.

Simon Fawkes
Business to Markets Ltd
Auckland ICT


Wow that’s a great solution, but what is the problem?

How you define the problem can have a major impact on the solution.  Too often an elegant or clever solution is developed without sufficient analysis of the problem and the underlying causes.

Engineers are renowned for wanting clarity.  “Tell us what the problem is and then we will devise a solution”.  What appears to be the problem may be a symptom of a deeper and more pervasive problem.

The solution may also have little to do with the problem no longer existing.  Several factors may be at play.   A good example of this is the dramatic fall in crime in New York City in the 1990’s, which Malcolm Gladwell discusses in “The Tipping Point”.

So take time to probe. The Mindshop tool “the Five Why’s” can be an effective way to do this.  By repeating the question “why” you can peel away at the layers of symptoms that are hiding the root cause of the problem.  You may need to ask more than five questions before you get to the root cause of the problem.

Once you think you have got to the underlying problem, check this with other people including those who are not too close to the problem.  You are then in a far better position to start working on possible solutions.  This is where creativity can play an important role, but that will be the topic of another post.

Don’t be distracted by myths. The Million Dollar Space Pen Myth is, according to Dwayne A. Day, just that, a myth. The pens never cost a lot of money and the resource-strapped Russians were not smarter.  The multi-billion dollar space pen and the Russian pencil is folklore, no matter how appealing the story may sound.  As the saying goes “never let the facts get in the way of a good story”.

So put far more effort into probing until you are confident you have identified the underlying problem. Then check and double-check before you start to consider possible solutions.

Simon Fawkes
Business to Markets Ltd

Trans-Tasman Link-up with Business Gold Coast

Win a trip for two to the Gold Coast!

5.oo-7.30pm, Thursday 26 August 2010. Takapuna, North Shore City, New Zealand

Business Gold Coast is kindly offering return flights from Auckland for two people to the beautiful Gold Coast as well as two nights accommodation and a business meeting program with Gold Coast City Council.

The Trans-Tasman Link-up will provide the opportunity to meet with representatives from the city and investigate opportunities to expand into Australia or partner with a Gold Coast business.

We will be showing a DVD that features six IT companies and the Gold Coast Innovation Centre. Go to the Events Page of the  the Auckland ICT website for full details of the event and to RSVP.

This is the monthly networking meeting of Auckland ICT.  If you have not been before, do come along as we hold some of the best networking events in town!

Simon Fawkes
Business to Markets Ltd
Auckland ICT

LAN Airlines: “Third World” not OneWorld

I had a horrendous experience with LAN Airlines when I flew from Rio de Janeiro to Auckland via Santiago in early July.

I kept a note of the main events as they occurred and typed a full account on my iPhone at the start of the delayed flight from Santiago to Auckland.  I then fell ill and it took most of July to recover my health.  I sent the LAN Airlines Complaint 31 Jul 10 v1 on 30 July to Qantas and World Aviation, the LAN representative in New Zealand.  I have received no response from World Aviation. I did at least receive an apology from Qantas, but the offer of a free Qantas Club Lounge pass at Auckland Airport is not much of an inducement to fly with Qantas again.

There are some important matters to consider in any business:

  • planning adverse events, be they internal or external
  • how you react when problems do occur
  • what you do afterwards to repair the customer relationship
  • learning and improving your internal and customer management procedures

If you are running an airline, these are “mission critical” rather than “nice to have”.  From my experience, LAN Airlines scores very badly on all counts.

Main Issues (in sequential order)

  1. Santiago via Sao Paulo.  This was also my first (sour) taste of what LAN Airlines offers as “customer service”.
  2. 14 hour delay in Santiago, with only 3½ hours in bed.
  3. A complete lack of planning and very poor communication with passengers at Santiago airport.
  4. Absence of policies and procedures for dealing with cancelled flights, arranging transport and hotels and dealing with non-Spanish speaking passengers.
  5. A culture of indifference, inaction and lack of any initiative.
  6. Poor staff selection and training.

The real issue is not the appalling treatment we suffered, but passenger safety. Given the extent of the incompetence of the ground staff and the poor service by the cabin crew, what confidence could I be expected to have in the standards of aircraft maintenance.  How well the cabin crew would respond in an emergency?

In addition, what does Qantas expect from its code share partners?

Finally, as a consultant specialising in helping New Zealand companies grow in export markets, it is a real concern that such a vital trade and tourism link for both New Zealand and Australia is at the mercy of a third-rate airline.

Simon Fawkes
Business to Markets Ltd

How memorable and clear is your offering?

This poster caught my attention as I was waiting to talk to a class of post-graduate marketing students.

The title was of interest, as a niece in South Africa is setting up a similar business. I tore off one of the strips and then on reading it realised that the slip did not have the vital information “editing & proofreading”.

Rebecca Bradley

This proved to be a great opener to my talk to the marketing students. I wrote on the whiteboard:

Then I asked:
  • Who has heard of Rebecca Bradley? No-one.
  • Who has any idea of what products or services she offers? Again no-one.

This is a real shame, because she gets full marks in my book for getting a number of things right, such as:

  • A clear statement of offering “editing and proofreading services”
  • An advert targeted at students with a special offer with reasonable conditions.
  • Recognition that students who do not have English as their first language are likely to value her services.
  • Finding the right target market: a university with a high proportion of overseas students.

What is more, the simple one-page website is well-worded, as you might expect, and covers all the basics. So make sure you do not fall into the trap of forgetting the obvious. It can help to get someone who does not know your business to check your marketing material.

A great example of getting it all right comes from my favourite post : “Indian Weddings” – so what is your niche?

Also, be wary about using your own name as your business or domain name, unless you are an entertainer or a politician for example. It usually takes time and money to build a recognised brand, but that really should be the subject of  another post.

Simon Fawkes
Business to Markets Ltd