27 October 2008

Thanks to Tsahi Levent-Levi, we have made it to this release of Carnival Mobilists. It's hosted on Radvision blog.

Thanks a lot and I can recommend you to read this release of Carnival.

26 October 2008

Mobile Marketing Mess

I have visited Communication Wednesday conference in the Prague about two weeks ago. It was organized by Tuesday business Network, where Wirenode is a member.

The topic was targeted mobile marketing and there were people from marketing & advertising agencies, mobile operators and mobile technology companies present (more than 100 people). Most people at the conference were talking about bright future of mobile marketing. On other hand, people from companies who already invested in it and tried it on their own skin were less optimistic about how it helped them. It looks like we have still a lot of work to do.

The biggest problem, which I think we have in mobile marketing, is its fragmentation. I will try to illustrate it on this picture (feedback is welcomed). Traditional media usually have one form of advertisement. It can be print advertisement in magazines, sound clip in the radio or TV commercial in TV. It’s easy to explain how it works to potential person interested in it. Also it is clear how much does it costs and how many people will see it. Some of those advertisements are evolving for some time already.

In mobile marketing, we have so many different types of it and all ends in the phone, that it’s almost impossible to explain. For example on our Czech market, the situation is like this:

Mobile operators are offering mobile banners on their mobile portals (Vodafone live!, O2 Active and t-zones). They are offering it to companies, who usually don’t have their own mobile websites, but we can fix this problem for them. Nostromo is offering branded games and in-game advertisement. CrazyTomato is offering Bluetooth marketing. Tagg is offering QR codes, ATS is offering SMS and MMS, O2 is offering sponsored calls and Wirenode together with Micromedia are offering mobile landing pages.

All those companies including ours are talking to marketing agencies (to the same one) about their offer and how it can be useful for their clients. I myself have visited more than five of those agencies in last month and I am only talking about the possibilities of the mobile web with them.

People from marketing must be totally confused about our offerings. I myself strongly believe in the future of mobile marketing, but I think it will be something else than what we see today.

Some of companies named in this article are offering more than one technology. On a 60 minute meeting with a marketing person, it not possible to explain more than one of those very tech ideas. If a marketing person hears about all of them during one month, he would better spend the client budget in TV.

The main reason I think that mobile marketing will evolve slower than we all would like it because this fragmentation. I understand that it is necessary to try everything and find out what is working and what is not, but it will be a long run for this industry.

Only one person at the conference had an idea, that we first should ask the client what is his goal and what he wants to achieve. When we know it, it should not matter for the client, which form of advertising it is (sms, mms, etc…) but only if he got results he need.

So next time you will be explaining to somebody why the mobile marketing is cool and all its possibilities, ask what is the client goal.

04 October 2008

Easy - Central Europe Investment Marketplace Prague Conference

I have visited Easy conference in Prague yesterday. There were 30 selected startups with their stands and 15 of them were presenting.

For me it was good experience, where I have seen how other EU startups present their projects. If I can compare it with USA startups and pitches I have seen at TC40 conference last year, American level of presenting is much better than European. It's sad, but true.
At the conference, there were about 5 medical/biotech companies presenting. For me, it was sort of funny, because I had no idea, what they were talking about. So now I understand that in my presentation about Wirenode, slide called "Technology" was not useful at all. Non IT people could not get what I was talking about.

To the ITC startups from the conference, I will write only about the ones I liked at least a little bit.:

GuardSec - (camera to phone/web streaming used for protecting the houses/offices). This is a startup which belongs to the Naveed Gill, former director of Tiscali Czech Republic. I have been talking with Naveed, if he could help us and get us in contact with anybody, who might be interested in licensing our platform, but we did not agreed on cooperation yet.
His latest startup idea makes sense, but I don’t know how he will compete with software, which camera makers are bundling with Pc camera sales. The software is very similar to what he does.

eVision - They are making some SW on top of Microsoft SharePoint and they have a lot of customers between governments and banks. I don’t know why they want investment. From my perspective, they are good SW company oriented on business sector and they need a good sales person and not investment.

OnTheRoad - Service for travelers. It can create "travel blog" from your posts you are doing during your trip. The site web site has really nice design. The CEO is a former CTO of the Czech second biggest internet portal.

Renzoo - They are creating Mobile marketing platform similar to ours. Good news for us is that we are about a year ahead in development than they are. After I talked with the CEO, I think our companies might cooperate together, at lease share some info about what ideas customer likes and which not.

Locify - Mobile application, which works with your location and adds it to different mobile or internet services. Their website is nice, I have also seen how the application work and it works ok, but I think it will be difficult to get revenue stream.

BuzzMedia - It's a Czech version of Federated Media company. They cooperate with Czech top bloggers. The owner, Pavel Neuman is the Czech premium blogger about startups, aka Czech Techcrunch ;-)

Its hard to tell, who will be a "winner" in two years, but all of them have a chance and are "playing".

About money and valuation:
Each company has to present a slide about they revenue forecast. For me, it was a sad moment, because about a year ago, I made the same hockey stick chart about Wirenode. Almost all presenting companies were at zero revenues in 2007 and they are planning to have about Euro 2.000.000, - in revenues in 2011. I wish them luck, but after my experience, I think no one will be able to achieve this.

About presenters:
Some of the CEO presenting were trying to impress investors with their track record and CV. From my perspective, why somebody with a 17 years expertise in project management starts a crazy company? I don’t know. The crazy ideas don’t look crazy to a person, who creates them.
One particular presenter were telling us, that he was pitching his startup to Adobe, and they did not wanted to buy it, but wanted to employ him and Google did not wanted to buy his startup but they wanted to employ him too. He presented this as his success.
Anyway, good luck to all Easy startups. It was a good event.