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Startups

  • Scaling: Don’t become a victim of your own success

    A common issue with online startups is that they only start thinking about scalability once their site goes down. Many of the big startups also experience this phenomenon (e.g Twitter, Tumbler). They take note and spring into action only once the issue has occurred, which almost always has a detrimental effect on the user experience. Unexepected traffic spikes that could be generated by something as simple as a post on a reputable tech news site can bring your site to its knees almost instantaneously. In that brief moment of fame, your site crashes and all those potential new readers/customers/fans...

  • Five difficulties facing startups in China

    There’s a legend about a Chinese monk who, after years of meditating atop a high, isolated mountain, envisioned the world’s first circular disk. Careful to keep his ideas to himself, the monk swore on oath not to speak to anyone until he had completed his invention. One day, a traveller from the West, fair in skin but foul of heart, passed by a town the monk frequented. He had heard of the silent monk and decided to test him. He managed to get the monk intoxicated enough to reveal his secret of the circular disk. The traveller took the...

  • Diaspora scores on privacy but will it ever go mainstream?

    Diaspora, the open source social network that puts user privacy above all else, is now rolling out in private alpha. The question is: can it hold its own against Facebook, or MySpace, or even Ning?  Early indications seem to indicate that the answer is no. Although Facebook has run into backlash several times over its approach to users’ information, it continues to grow like gangbusters, surpassing more than 550-million unique users in October, according to ComScore. Clearly, privacy concerns are something plenty of people pay lip service to, but rarely do anything about.  If Diaspora is to succeed, it will need...

  • What a startup can learn from a restaurant menu

    It's often said that one of the biggest challenges for an entrepreneur is focus. Naturally, this is coupled with multiple challenges like cash flow, growth management, and your general sanity. It's also said that the great thing about being an entrepreneur is the freedom that comes with it. However, that freedom is largely illusionary unless you are running a lifestyle company or you've hit the megabucks early. Most entrepreneurs find themselves shackled by other responsibilities: Responsibility for the talent in the organisation, strategic direction of the company, trying to build more with less, the demanding pace of the new startup...

  • Evly.com first look: Will this new crowdsourcing social network work?

    Sometimes it just so happens that a new technology service really speaks to you. The first time I saw Groupon, I thought that it was one of the most compelling services seen in quite some time. Clearly I was not the only one. Google is rumoured to have made an offer to acquire Groupon for US$3-billion. My first look at Evly however did not elicit quite the same initial reaction. The crowdsourcing social network had a soft launch this month. Its founder, Eran Eyal, of Springleap fame, touted their efforts as cutting-edge and having the potential to revolutionise the internet. Based...

  • Four things large companies can learn from startups

    Any startup company is agile by design and necessity. There are certain characteristics of a startup that make an agile approach come naturally, and allows startups to achieve far more in a month than some larger companies do in a quarter. Paying attention to these key principles, one can encourage the startup approach in larger organisations - not just in the design and development teams, but beyond to all areas of the business. As a disclaimer, let me say upfront: this is not a technical discussion. It’s not about how to implement a specific Agile methodology, but more about finding...

  • Nigeria’s rapidly growing online job search market

    When you start talking about online employment sites, you're likely to mention global behemoths such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, both originating from the United States. Or perhaps you think about the UK's Reed.co.uk or India's Naukri.com. But with the success of these online career sites as an example, Nigerian entrepreneurs are finally keying into the online job search market. Today there are probably over 100 online job sites in Nigeria, all offering to match employers and employees, but with different business models and technical functionality. Some of the most popular online job sites in Nigeria include Jobberman.com, CareersNigeria.com (which I...

  • Qwiki and Storify: Disruptive storytelling comes of age

    On October 26, Qwiki, a new "information experience" platform, opened its doors to pre-invited users as an Alpha web product. As this year’s winning startup of TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, a lot of expectation is riding on co-founder and CEO, Doug Imbruce, who is promising to do nothing less than change the way we receive information. In its current form, Qwiki trawls the API’s of the web (including Wikipedia, Google Maps, LinkedIn, Yelp and others) to assemble (mostly) coherent, interactive videos on over 2- million topics, from the French Revolution to The Godfather movies and Thabo Mbeki. Every slice...

  • Why Angel funding is killing innovation

    I'm a fan of Max Levchin and his fellow Paypal alumni because this group has spent the past five years creating many of the more interesting Silicon Valley startups. Levchin recently sold Slide to Google and he is an investor in Yelp and several other startups. And he is still young and has a lot more to add to his Wikipedia page before he is done. Levchin writes on his blog, but only very...

  • Tynt: A business built on ‘copy and paste’

    Who would think that there is a business in providing an online copy and paste service? Tynt believes that there is a very large opportunity even though it hasn't yet figured out how best to monetise it. Tynt provides publishers with a way of monitoring how and where content is being shared. A reader highlights some text and pastes it into an email or a blog post and Tynt automatically adds a link to the original content. A dashboard shows publishers what has been copied and where it is being shared. Multiply this simple action across tens of millions of web...