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>Yesterday I read a very interesting post by Fred Wilson, a prominent VC specialized in web and mobile start-ups (his fund has invested in stars like Twitter, Zynga of Farmville’s fame and Foursquare, to name a few). Although he was focused on seed funds, to me the most relevant point he makes is that technology companies require less and less capital to get started and to prove their merit:
This is a welcome change, as successful entrepreneurial teams get to keep more equity and the investors run less risk. It also tilts the balance of power towards the founders and away from investors (see the Foursquare example in Fred’s post).
The main reasons for this great shift is the increased availability of open and often free platforms to build web and mobile products. For instance, at Frogtek we are using Android (free and open-source!) to build our mobile point of sale, and we are using Google App Engine (free under a generous threshold of activity) for our web components, including hosting and servers somewhere in the Cloud. All this means we get to experiment and build a functioning product without any technology investments beyond Mac computers and some affordable workflow tools.
It is great that this structural change is lowering the entry bar for rich world start-ups selling to rich world consumers. But it could have an even happier impact on tech start-ups that cater to the poor such as ourselves. Not only the experimentation phase is cheaper and faster, also the operational costs are lowered, which is great news when you’re serving low-income consumers.
Finally, this shift is also making the first steps easier for start-ups located in emerging economies, as all these platforms are available anywhere on the planet (mostly). With the parallel and fast diffusion of mobile phones in those markets, the future is bright for those who want to build local solutions to local problems using the best technology the world has to offer. We’ll definitely be paying attention!
Today the tech team has started a blog to tell the story of building a high-tech product for low-income customers. It’ll be quite techie and in Spanish, focused on Agile techniques, quality assurance, kanban boards, test-driven development and so forth.
Hopefully they will inspire other top software engineers to tackle the many problems at the Base of the Pyramid that can be solved or at least alleviated with smartphones and Internet applications. They sure have inspired me with their first post!
For a while we have had different demos of our product Tiendatek in youtube. But Kristel, our fantastic graphic designer and multimedia queen, has put together a phenomenal overview video designed to greet the shopkeepers that buy our product.
We are now working on a set of tutorial videos that explain how to conduct the key operations on the phone like making a sale or a purchase, register an expense and see the financial reports. The goal is to have a simple and self-explaining product that brings with it all the training needed to operate it.
The shopkeepers will then buy the product, open the box, watch the videos and get started without any further human interaction. We’re still a while away from that but getting closer!
Today Echoing Green announced the newest class of fellows for 2010. They are 16 new nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid organizations in the fields of human rights, health, the environment, and education, among other fields. And they were chosen from a pool of 1,000 applicants from 73 countries, that’s some serious competition!
I attended the finalist event in New York, where some of the new fellows gave their 1 minute pitch to an audience of more than five hundred people. It was a great experience to hear directly from them about all those great ideas. And it was humbling for me to realize yet again what a great community we are part of. Happy to see all this talent coming to help make the world a better place!
Check out all the cool videos explaining their ventures on the website!
>For the last few weeks we have been working on a website for our Tiendatekweb product. We wanted it to show the features of the product but also be simple and lean to facilitate downloads from low-bandwidth connections. It also had to provide a way for interested shopkeepers to contact us.
So after a bit of work, here you have it: http://tiendatekweb.com/
In the near term we will add a blog for shopkeepers, a customer support forum and access to financial reports for each shopkeeper. Lots of work still to go!
Please feel free to give us your feedback, it is always welcome!
>Frogtek on GlobbTV the new online TV for IT profesionals.
We hope this is the first one of many others this year!.
As soon as we had a workable prototype of our product TiendaTek, we looked for a handful of enthusiastic and outspoken shopkeepers that could help us with their feedback and ideas. These shopkeepers have been incredibly patient with our bugs and losses of data. And they have also been tremendously beneficial shaping the end product.
Now that we are getting ready for a commercial launch, two of them have stepped forward to join our Operations team. Given their shopkeeper background and their knowledge of the application, we are sure they will be great at sales and support!
So please welcome Harby (in the picture above) and Boris (in the video below, where he shows how he uses our phone app)!