Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Twitter is a bag of w**k!

I've just been at an establishment trying to buy something, doesn't matter which one, and had dreadful service. My immediate thought:

I'll tweet about this, that'll show them

What a load of passive-aggressive nonsense.

Tweeting, blogging and the rest allow us to whinge about bad service without having to face up to the people we're whinging about. In fact they encourage it.

I find myself standing there, working myself up into a disgruntled fury, safe in the knowledge that I can explode onto twitter and receive reassuring affirmation that I'm justified in feeling so insulted.

If I'm having bad service I should challenge the person there and then. Politely, calmly, assertively but then, when it's happening to the person who is exacting this distress upon me.

A friend recently tweeted about losing a bit of his soul in Carphone Warehouse, within seconds someone had @ replied to him asking him what was wrong.

Excellent, my friend thought, he asked them for an email address he could send a more detailed description of his issue to, it would have stretched way past 140 characters, and...nothing.

He asked again...nothing.

So Carphone Warehouse engagement 10/10, follow though 0/10.

Actually, while I'm having a twitter rant, auto follow and tracking really annoy me as well. I actually find it quite intimidating. I'm find myself getting nervous about mentioning any company in case they start following (stalking) me.

I mentioned about taking my iPhone unto CPW for a repair, seconds later 'Hi I'm Justin and i work for CPW....blah, blah'.

I mentioned the Beastie Boys this morning in a tweet. Next thing I know the Beastie Boys are following me. Their account following 8,000, 1 update, a link to their web site. Nonsense.

Leave me alone!

I like a lot about twitter but a lot of the content is starting to devalue the core proposition for me.

It's crossroads time for twitter. It's in danger of becoming the domain of celebrities and 'engaging' companies and not a place I want to inhabit.

Nottingham University Student Venture Challenge

I had the pleasure last week of being invited to address the Nottingham University Student Venture Challenge awards.

My talk 'Being an Entrepreneur' took a fairly candid whizz through my story from graduating Nottingham University in 1997 to the success I now enjoy leading Esendex.

I included a few warts. My audience were just starting their entrepreneurlal journeys, hopefully some of my experiences and thoughts would be useful.

The evening was the culmination of many months of work by the student business teams, judges, mentors and the Nottingham University Business School team.

As I had arrived at the end of the process, I only got to hear the 3 minute elevator pitches from the 5 finalists. All sounded like promising propositions and I was left thinking that I wished I'd been involved in the judging, seen the full pitches and delved into the young entrepreneur's minds to learn more.

The winner was Andrew Webber with Sonix Media, his venture to provide a new software approach to learning a musical instrument. The other finalist that caught my eye was Alejandro Macedo with bGrantez a service to manage student placements in Spain.

What I liked about these in particular was not only were they both innovative, applying a new solution to an existing problem, but they were both obviously actually in progress.

Andrew had a working demo of his solution that demonstrated his unique approach. Alejandro was actually building the web site that was to be the hub of his service.

I've lost count of the number of people who I've met who have written a business plan about an idea and stopped their. Waiting for someone to confirm that it's a good idea by giving them the money they need to try it out.

So I wish Andrew, Alejandro and all the other finalists the best of luck with their ventures and thank Dan Edge and his team for the opportunity to speak.

I've included the slideshow below to give you a flavour of what I talked about.

Virtual Mobile Numbers - Out of Bundle?

I heard something rather worrying yesterday. It seems that some mobile network operators are taking SMS messages to virtual mobile numbers out of bundle.

This means that when someone sends an SMS to a virtual mobile number instead of being deducted from the SMS allowance that comes with their contract, the message is billed on top.

This is not the same as operators charging SMS messages to virtual mobile numbers that look like UK numbers but are actually hosted off-shore, like Tyn-Tec's Isle of Man number range. This is apparently happening to UK mainland numbers from Vodafone, Orange, etc.

This is crazy and very short-sighted, but unfortunately typical.

Over the years ay Esendex we have time and time again convinced our customers to use Virtual Mobile Numbers when communication with their customers via SMS.

Just broadcast to customers and you might as well be shouting at them. Give customers a reply path and you are interacting.

Where virtual mobile numbers differ from shortcodes is that as far as the recipient is concerned they are just like any other mobile number, and, importantly, SMS to them are billed liked any other mobile number.

This means there is very little resistance from the customers to interact. The messages are essentially free and more interaction occurs.

I don't understand why an operator would stand in the way of this.

Interaction = more engaged subscribers = more messages = plan upgrades = higher ARPU

Isn't that how it works?

I've had some brief interactions with operator interconnect teams and based on these experiences I suspect this is where this 'initiative' originated.

There is very much a sense of 'we're not doing it so we're going to do our damndest to spoil it for everyone else', like a petulant school child.

Am I wrong?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

My Second Bike Race

Slightly more successful this week. Stayed with the leading bunch pretty much all the way.

Fast and furious at times. Cornering literally shoulder to shoulder with other riders at speed was a real buzz.

When I got to 10 laps to go I was confident that I would finish with the pack and really started to enjoy myself.

I experimented with different positions in the pack, different lines round corners and straights and was planning to be somewhere near the front when the final sprints kicked in. Not to join them, I hasten to add, just to get a view on what happened and how more experienced riders got themselves ready.

Unfortunately I was caught the wrong side of a crash on the final lap. Nasty one, we were travelling at around 35mph at the time. I ran out of road to navigate round it and my race was over.

Absolutely hooked, training hard now and maybe, just maybe I'll trouble the leaders in a few races time.

Found this picture of me in action

Sunday, 15 March 2009

My First Bike Race

I took a step into the unknown this weekend and competed in my first bike race. A 22 lap criterium at Darley Moor Motor Racing Circuit, near Ashbourne, Derbs.

Armed with my new British Cycling race licence I joined over a 100 other cyclists all gunning for the top ten positions where national ranking points were available.

I didn't trouble the leaders.

I've posted about it on the Beeston Cycling Club web site: A Racing Education