My #Invent2016 Predictions…. ego bruised already.

The joys of startup ideas and judging panels, you never know how these things are going to go. Now the post I did was based on gut, not data. Lack of data means lack of  the reduction of risk….. so my predictions on the group and final winners was with little certainty anyway.

I had my thoughts and the judges had theirs.

So far Jase, not great.

So 50% of my group winner predictions have gone already, plus my predicted finalist is out. Ah well, such is life… I didn’t put money on it so no one lost out. I’ve got my opinions and for once I’m keeping them to myself.

Consumer Internet

Finalists: VenueBooker, Orca Money, E+Press and Locate A Locum

Prediction: Orca Money

Engineering

Finalists: Embed, JumPack, PetalRod and SmartVent

Prediction: Embed

Agri Science

Finalists: Copeland Spirits, Green Lizard Tech, Oran Oak and Purple Magic

Prediction: Purple Magic (Hunch on name alone)

Life and Health

Finalists: Take Ten, TILT, Kraydel and ECGeasy

Prediction: TILT

Electronics

Finalists: PacTec, PayOx, Point Energy and SnapIt

Prediction: PacTec

Enterprise Software

Finalists: Elemental, The Shield, Right Revenue and SpaceHop

Prediction: SpaceHop

I salute any startup getting this far in the first place, it’s not easy. Putting heart and soul in to an idea takes guts and determination. So well done to all of them. I can’t put my finger on a winner though, it’s now wide open and I don’t know enough about them. The finals are going to be very interesting.

 

The Day #IoT Lost All Credibility

Are you working on an IoT startup? A lot of them are starting to sound like ideas devised from a bunch of village idiots dosed up on Buckfast on a Sunday afternoon.

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Buckfast: Aiding Entrepreneurial Plans Since 1976……

The Day It Died

The day it ended, the day the IoT community should read and hang it’s head in shame came yesterday. And boy I bit my tongue.

iotmadness

Really! Really! Shock people when their bank balance gets too low? Is what the world is going to come to, I honestly don’t want part of this stupid dream world.

Currently it’s about consumer choice, but find me a consume who wants to be tagged to their bank, no one….. did market research ever enter the minds of the “ideas men and women”? And whats worse is that the BBC gave it an audience, the Tech section needs A GET IN THE SEA tab and quickly.

Just because API’s can talk to each other doesn’t mean they should. Should I get a shock from really annoying friend to tell me (not remind me, TELL ME) to get a bottle milk as I’m nearly running out? NO BECAUSE I HAVE EYES! FLIP. I would put money on the fact a blind person would not need IoT for using their sense of touch to figure the same problem out.

The End Of IoT

What you have witnessed reader is the marked beginning of the end of consumer IoT devices, there are no transforming ideas. People don’t want to be tracked and their data content “put in the cloud” so they can be marketed to.

Enterprise problems are cumbersome and boring but they do make money, mainly because they will never put up with this insane nonsense of new IoT ideas. Mud. Wall. Stick…. I doubt it.

 

The Eurovision Voting Aftermath – #Eurovision #Voting #Data

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The changes to the voting did make Eurovision more exciting, that’s for sure. It also kept the bookies on their toes, just watching the odds for Spain go from 100/1, to 20/1 to 100/1 was enough to tell me how changeable the whole thing was going to be.

The Public Vote Changes Everything

The arguments of politicised voting, well the jury votes seemed fairly level headed all in all and at the half way point Australia were in the lead. That made sense, as the song was strong.

Without coming to conclusions too quickly without further analysis I think it’s fair to say the cultural sway of the voting lies with the public.

Consistency is key

Now not looking at any other previous voting but if a country can consistently poll over 8.4 points then they’re on to a winner. The public weren’t buying into the Australian entry (just in case we had to watch next year’s final at 11pm at night ’til 3am, though that wasn’t the case at all).

Poland was an interesting case, though by the halfway stage there was no real chance of winning the public vote was high and it totally re-arranged the scoreboard.

Country Avg. Jury Vote Avg. Public Vote Avg.
Australia 8.42 5.16 6.79
Ukraine 8.79 8.07 8.43
Russia 6.5 8.80 7.65
Poland 1.75 6.34 4.04

Interestingly the Russian jury didn’t give Ukraine a single vote, neither the Ukraine jury give anything to Russia. The public on the other hand went the complete opposite Russia giving 10 to Ukraine and Ukraine giving 12 to Russia. Kind of dispelling any myth that the respective juries were up to something.

And the UK?

The public know when they don’t like something. Only Australia, Ireland and Malta public votes scored the UK any points and even those weren’t that high. And while the jury vote saved face a little; Albania, Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Malta, Russia, San Marino and Serbia; the message was clear for the rest of Europe, there’s no such thing as Brexit vote handout.

Country Avg. Jury Vote Avg. Public Vote
United Kingdom 5.4 2.66 4.03

The new Voting Is a Keeper….

I’m fairly sure the bookies will be waking up and pouring through the voting and calculating new odds methods for next year. This voting though I think is to say, it certainly made things more exciting.

Anyone hoping for some sweeteners from Europe for the UK to send positive vibes for June 23rd, well I think it’s fairly clear they really don’t care that much.

 

Stuff #Eurovision Betting Odds! It’s #Invent2016 Semi Finals! #data #northernireland #startups

Invent is the new Eurovision!

When you know that Australia are 1/4 to end in the top five of Eurovision it’s time to focus on something else. So I turn my attention to Northern Ireland’s finest….

The closest thing we’ve got to a man singing in a dress is Alex Kane (fair play to him for keeping his word), all he needs is the beard and we have NI’s own Conchita, may not be a good idea to order an award cake though.

alexkane

Finding Data On The Invent Semis…

With tea in hand and the sun shining (like three days in a row now, Cecilia’s on annual leave surely) I went about digging around the 24 finalists. I had good intentions to sit down and methodically go through each entry of the Invent2016 semi finalists and get some data. The original plan was to manually trawl through the excellent Mattermark website and get the growth scores and other juicy numbers….. I gave up.

The simple fact of the matter is that anything early stage has to work hard on getting some searchable data out there. Whether that’s a Crunchbase listing, some sort of social media thing and a listing on Angel.co. It’s all relative and remember, Northern Ireland Startups need the one big gold mine moment where all eyes look here and see more gold to be mined. So exposure to the masses is key.

Because a lot of these companies are very early stage and prototypes it’s very difficult to get any good data on them. And as I’m so out of the loop with the startup sewing circle knowing much about these ideas is pretty much impossible. So I resort to mere guesswork…. why the heck not. It currently beats looking at odds checker and knowing Russia are basically going to win Eurovision.

My Methodology…

Do you really think I have one with a lack of data. Two words: Startup Sexy. That’s my methodology.

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Nailing My Predictions To The Mast

I’m going to look at each category and with the minimum of Yorkshire/Hampshire wit and sarcasm predict the winner of each category and then have a go for the overall winner. It seems I am an idiot, I’m sure there’s easier ways to live life.

One observation and I’ve come across this before. Be careful which category you are in. I think Locate A Locum is enterprise and SpaceHop is more consumer, that might have an impact on the group winners. Just a thought….

Consumer Internet

Finalists: VenueBooker, Orca Money, E+Press and Locate A Locum

Prediction: Orca Money

Engineering

Finalists: Embed, JumPack, PetalRod and SmartVent

Prediction: Embed

Agri Science

Finalists: Copeland Spirits, Green Lizard Tech, Oran Oak and Purple Magic

Prediction: Purple Magic (Hunch on name alone)

Life and Health

Finalists: Take Ten, TILT, Kraydel and ECGeasy

Prediction: TILT

Electronics

Finalists: PacTec, PayOx, Point Energy and SnapIt

Prediction: PacTec

Enterprise Software

Finalists: Elemental, The Shield, Right Revenue and SpaceHop

Prediction: SpaceHop

The Overall Winner?

Really difficult to know as there’s nothing gut wrenchingly jumping out at me. So I’m going to hazard a guess with Orca Money with an each way on SpaceHop. Though let’s be honest I’d not risk any of my own money on a bet.

I’m too risk averse.

Best of luck to all the competitors.

Northern Ireland: The Start of the Goldrush. #startups #technology #business

Ever heard the phrase, “[place] is the new Silicon Valley!”, then look around the room to look for the dismayed facial reactions as people inwardly say to themselves, “not again”. I’ve been there numerous times. I then fold up my little soapbox for the next time someone suggests such a notion.

San Francisco’s Few Hundred

Prior to the gold rush the population of San Francisco was just a few hundred people. The gold rush brought, because of one big event, population, job demand and vastly improved infrastructure.

It also brought shovels…. lots of them.John_Sutter_and_the_California_Gold_Rush

The catalyst for change was the lure of gold. Though that didn’t happen for many the resulting cascade of projects, land development and other things meant that the gold rush did indeed create wealth. Quality of life improves and everyone is happy. And while I’ve wheeled out the old “selling shovels” quote when it comes to startups it wasn’t entirely accurate in it’s origination.

So Where’s NI’s Catalyst for Startup Glory?

I’ve been racking my brains for a little while about when the last big exit happened, one that would have a wide reach. The acquisition of Wombat certainly is up there, the right product at the right time, acquired by NYSE. This possibly opened the door for what could happen to software in Northern Ireland. Possibly Cybersource, possibly First Derivatives…. there are others who’d fit the bill I’m sure.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) attracts the companies and creates job creation, and I’m all for that, what I’m looking for is a full on startup catalyst that shines a light on the province. One that the world cannot ignore. Thing is FDI costs us money and it generates that wonderful phrase “will contribute £x to the local economy”, usually in the form of tea and sandwiches I’m assuming. Shame there isn’t an app where I could order that on the phone.

It’s unlikely the FDI will ever run out but we have to ask the question about when the tax breaks dry up what the long term effects will be. Let’s not forget, NYSE sold technology on and will move out if they haven’t done already.

While we all gush over how Game of Thrones is doing wonders for the North Coast and beyond, our second thought should be the “what next?”, series don’t last forever so it makes solid sense to be slightly cynical and ask that very question. It shouldn’t be about legacy but the continual potential wins. Our over reliance for someone else to come in replaces the real need that NI needs a big gold rush idea that will act as a catalyst for infrastructure change.

Perhaps that answer lies in the lack lustre enthusiasm of NI and Ireland investors to put serious money in the series B, C, D etc rounds. Where are the $5m, $10m and $25m deals? The NI broad economy is gear to our closest neighbours down south or over to the mainland. And don’t tell it would never happen over here, because it could, you just need someone with amazing ambition and the confidence to just flick her or his hair at a brick wall and it just move out of the way.

Since Analytics Engines and Brewbot has any startup raised $1m+ investment recently? Great if someone did, I just don’t remember reading it.

Enlarged Infrastructure = Enlarged Income Stream

Right now infrastructure is kind of lacking. Kelvin promised untold riches (well everyone apart from Hibernia Atlantic promised jobs, huge broadband speeds and caviar) but the reality was far from what was promised.  How can NI be the BigData beacon it wants to be when you can’t realistically shift data in a timely manner. If I wanted to send 2 petabytes of storage to AWS Dublin I’d be better off jumping on a bus from Derry.

It’s not just an internet connection. Easier planning, better transport links (faster trains would be nice) would all make NI a better bet for incoming companies. What we still need is the next big catalyst that makes the business hot spots of the world wake up (including London) with a lure so good they’ll be tripping over themselves to get there.

Yeah it sounds unlikely but let’s not forget, it happened in San Francisco who had a fraction of the population but a really good set of entrepreneurial minds. It can be done.

 

 

 

The Startup Weight Watchers Connection #startups #programmes

The X-Factor rated back story….

Two years ago I wrote a post called “Startups: The Passion and the Paradox“, it was written at a time I was facing, what felt like, an out of my hands decision*. On the one hand it would help me on the other it could paralyse me from the neck down. Things like that focus your mind, sat at keyboard I wrote the words to startups thinking those were possibly going to be the last. And it’s amazing at times like that how clear and precise your thoughts can be.

m2

On the plus side I had Bayes theorem and 100% trust in the man doing the surgery. To some people’s dismay I’m sure, the operation was a success (“oh man he’ll never shut up now!”). So the idea this morning was to revisit that post, then I changed my mind. I don’t where the thought came from but it was staring me in the face. Startups are like attendees of Weight Watchers….

Weight Watchers: The Perfect Repeat Business

The Weight Watchers business plan from 2001 says to shareholders, “demonstrated a consistent pattern of repeat enrollment over a number of years,” – Basically those who enrolled on it lost weight in the short term but then ended up rejoining as they put the weight on again. Weight Watchers growth is based on repeat business and they full well know it. In fact I would wager most of the other diet programmes have exactly the same model. Losing weight it hard.

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Startup Accelerators and Programmes to help you “realise your startup potential” and “get you to investor readiness” are essentially doing the same thing. Enable you to a point of growth and then watch the majority get not growth and go back to the beginning.

We’re All Looking For the New Startup Diet

I’ve done, you’ve done it and I’d say even those who claim have not to have, have. “The new money is in…..”, that my friend is your new startup diet. It changes monthly, weekly even. It’s apps, it’s iOS watch apps, it’s machine learning, it’s big data, it’s chatbots (but run by humans)….. the list goes on, the startup diet mutates into a new thing with predictable fanfares in the tech press.

So for three months we go investing our energy in to this new diet thinking it’ll do wonders. It doesn’t. Yup got this product that’s going nowhere, so back to the drawing board. I wonder what diet everyone is doing now?

And so the cycle continues.

And All The While….

While all of this is going on, your local accelerator/mentor (for what a lot of them are worth)/government backed investment programme, well they turn a blind eye to all of this knowing one thing. You’ll be back. And while you are coming back the money can be claimed to cover their costs and pay the salaries while the startups struggle. The lure of £20k is big when the bank account is empty and non of the founding team have eaten properly for a few months.

It’s the Weight Watchers model. Startups are the desperate dieters wanting to make it big in the world of business, the real winners are the ones telling them they can do it.

The conclusion to me is that if you want to lose weight then do a startup, then another and then another.

The ones I think that make it are the ones who look at the mass exodus and then go in the opposite direction with the market data under arm. Going against any diet that is in vogue at the moment, growth is on their terms and not that of an advisor. Watching the market like a hawk and adjusting accordingly. Thing is, especially where I live, these folk are rare. It’s easier to follow the crowd and take the short term benefits without thinking about the long term implications.

* I could have stopped the process of having the operation at any time, and near very nearly did. Once the shock had worn off then I was actually all on for sorting this out. If you’ve ever watched the keynote I did at Beltech 2014 I can’t tell you the agony I was in while walking around on stage.

Confirmation Bias Consumes It’s Next Willing Victim, Mike Nesbitt #nipolitics #prediction

nesbittAs human beings we tend to over estimate our own predictions and beliefs. When someone has a deep connection with the thing they are estimating
then the bias tends to increase again.

So spare a thought for Mike Nesbitt who put his overconfidence, admirably, on the line with the exposure to public ridicule where requested. In all honesty he wasn’t that far out, a prediction of 18/19 with an actual of 16. Oddly enough he’d revise his estimate down 10% then he’d be in the right area (see weather men and women of the world over estimate the chance of rain by 10% and under estimate the chance sun by 10%).

It’s also very hard to predict anything where the last event was, in reality, five years out. If anything Mr. Nesbitt only reminded us that prediction is hard when there’s a lack of data.

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So Mr. Nesbitt, I know you’re not reading this and I’m neither a supporter or affiliate of the party, but at least you stuck your neck on the line and letting the BBC make a meal out of it. Next time though, revise down 10%

 

#nitechrank – The Northern Ireland tech jobs index. (@nitechrank)

The History

The #nitechrank index came about because of two things, firstly it was prompted by a piece by Naomi McMullan in The Profit Margin podcast, secondly I had an unused twitter account so I might as well put it to some use.

2188835-stock-index-on-the-computer-monitor

Why Do This?

I’ve not seen a reliable score of the NI Tech jobs market, so I thought it would be nice to give something back and provide one. You never know it might even become a regular segment on the Profit Margin….

The Methodology

The index is calculated from a selection of programming language jobs that are listed on the nijobs.com website. The score is a combination of the search results for the following languages/skills:

  • Java
  • Hadoop
  • PHP
  • Perl
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • iOS
  • C++

Today is the first day, so this is just to establish the baseline.

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All subsequent index calculations will be based off today’s baseline figure and then posted to twitter every day. I’ll automate it at some point but for now I’ll publish them while I’m having a cup of tea and waking up.

You can follow the @nitechrank twitter account and get the daily updates, nothing else will be posted there. If anyone has any ideas then I’m all ears too and you can email me at jasonbell@datasentiment.com

 

 

Co-Founder/Mentor Selection, could you “Tinderise” it? #startups #math #data @fryrsquared

The Story So Far…

For those who’ve had the sheer bravery to keep up with my ramblings, I salute you. Annoyingly I created another Linkedin profile as you are a professional leper if you don’t have one it appears. So I’m there in name and spirit but I’m not accepting any recruiter spam, I’m 100% happy where I am thank you.

The net result of reopening the Pandora’s box of professional ego storage was that I got two offers of being a mentor on “a fantastic new product” and even more annoying for you dear reader, that got me thinking. How did a founder come to that conclusion so quickly. Did my Linkedin invitation just trigger that thought? Was it the catalyst of, “Oh there’s Jase, I should ask him” or was the founder playing a game of, “the next annoyed idiot that emails me is going to get asked”?

All possible scenarios and I’ve seen all of them been played out.

When in Doubt, Fry R Square It.

When it comes to putting one set of people (in this instance, founders) seeking another set of people (in this instance potential co-founders or mentors) then I think of the work of Dr Hannah Fry.

Dr Fry attempting to eat a Subway Foot Long, assuming it's Chicken Teriyaki or something.... I hope she doesn't read this then tell me she's vegetarian.

Dr Fry attempting to eat a Subway Foot Long, assuming it’s Chicken Teriyaki or something along those lines…. I hope she doesn’t read this then tell me she’s vegetarian.

So my semi fiendish plan to pair founders with the mentors of their dreams/nightmares is to use something I first learned from Dr Fry, optimal stopping theory.

My interest in maths and stats happened way after I left school, I code and I read a lot. After writing the book on Machine Learning* I’ve wanted to extend what I know. Now I have the OU phoning me up, “those Maths modules you chose, the next bit it pay for them……”, anyway I digress slightly.

At some mad networking event you decide that you are not leaving until you find your mentor. So first work out how many people you are going to talk to. Okay, there are 50 people in the room…. the golden number you need to remember right now is 37%. That’s your lottery ticket right there.

In other words, fifty divided by one hundred and times by 37… she or he is your target to pin down, they are the chosen one. Okay, 18.5, let’s round up and say that you have to shot, “YOU’RE NUMBER 19, YOU ARE THE ONE, SIGN HERE!”, you could even do all this with Paul Hardcastle playing in the background. The rest of them, well that’s just a risk you’ll have to take.

Note: Normally I find that investors, mentors and potential co founders, well they talk to you about their entire life story, how great it is to be in the tech sector (they obviously weren’t there for the dot com bust, I was, it was hell), and how AI chatbots are the next new thing that’s going to replace email. Then they hand you a card and say….. “email me”. 

So You Aren’t At The Networking Event

A Yorkshireman living 70 miles from Belfast where the networking meetings happen, well it’s not going to return dividends, not that I’m looking, but let’s imagine.

So I need another method. If you watched “Horizon: How To Find Love Online” you’ll know that the app Tinder was used in the brutal writing off of the 37%. With the likes of Linkedin and Angel.co does it not make sense to apply the same to mentor/cofo searching? Another ranked pool of people seeking out other interested people for evenings of meetings, funding applications and investor pitches.

Tinder-630x350

Swipe your way through (this is apparently what the kids do) 37% of a number of users you’re willing to write off and…. the mentor of your dreams! So much work taken out, you’ll be thanking me, actually no, Dr Fry, later. I cannot, and will not, take any credit for this.

Now what would be funny would be if Elon Musk came up within the first n results and you had to move on, you’d be kicking yourself for days. There’s got to be another blog post just on working out the probability of such a thing happening. Another time perhaps, right now we have the Timmy Number to contend with.

I Can Just See It Now….

I’m expecting in two or three weeks time a phone call, saying that they applied the optimal stopping rule to a network meeting and it’s all gone horribly wrong.

Well I’m not responsible, you had the the choice to ignore this blog post completely. I’m just wondering who’ll give it go:)

If you want to know more about the optimal stopping theory and other interesting choosing algorithms then Dr Hannah Fry’s book, “The Mathematics of Love: Patterns, Proofs and the Search for the Ultimate Equation“, is definately worth a look.

* And for those who want a challenge, the Chinese and Korean translations of my book are coming out in the next few months.

Why are we allowed to #bet on already concluded #events?

Recently I posted on the probability of David Cameron leaving Downing Street over the  Panama papers scandal. I suggested a more accurate way of looking at probability was to see who was putting money on it.

What is alarming is the other games on the betting sites….

For a Man Who Doesn’t Like Sport……

….I’ve worked on a lot of sporting themed stuff. My first internet job was in 1997 working at PA/Sporting Life on the website. I learned Perl on the back of a KitKat wrapper, I worked on one of the first digital pools coupons and I also worked on the very first online betting site, BetOnline.

The team were into horses, some owned them, some knew the finer detail of the numbers of the sport and I’d say 95% of them had betting accounts. I didn’t bet, just wasn’t in my nature too and to be honest it still isn’t.

Later I worked with SportsFusion working on a bunch of sites including prediction markets, I learned way too much about PIN machines.

Guessing Stuff

Is a certain outcome going to happen? That’s it in a nutshell.

The Slots

Random chance like slot machines add to the excitement (if you like that kinda thing). The old slot machines could be calculated with a degree of certainty. Three rings, ten pictures on a ring, so the odds of the jackpot were going to be 103, basically 1 in 1000. Even with the 0.1% chance of that event happening it does limit the payout a company would put it.

To make it more exciting, just add more pictures to the reels. They did and upped it to 22 thus making it a 0.01% chance. Still not exciting enough for some I’m sure.

Things changed in the digital revolution with the introduction of random number generators the odds became less and less. In certain countries there is a percentage of funds a machine has to pay out but it’s still less certain than the old mechanical slots.

Sports Betting

Regardless of whether it’s horses, greyhounds, football (or any form of Sportsball for that matter) you can bet on an outcome.  Fixed odds is fairly normal and there’s also Parimutuel betting where all the money for the bet is pooled together and is then split against the number of people who picked the correct outcome.

You can bet on just about anything now, politics, fantasy sports, digital virtual sports and television programmes. And it’s the last one that is open to certain amounts of abuse.

The Great British Bet Off

So when a tv show kicks off a new series and there’s a competitive element then the bookies will very quickly have a market open for it. All very well if it’s live but I still don’t think it’s a good idea. Recorded programmes, like The Great British Bake Off, are made by production companies and broadcast by other companies, so guess what, they already know the outcome but can still bet on it.

It looks bad when the production company, allegedly, starts opening up betting accounts and betting on the winner.

Would you bet on a drama? Why would you bet on a drama? Who’s going to get bumped off on Game of Thrones, yup there’s a market for that too.

Just seems to me that if something’s already recorded with an outcome then all bets are off, someone somewhere knows the outcome and therefore it’s not really a random outcome.

Minor rant over…..

 

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