Favourite blogs of 2007

19 December 2007

The Blackboard’s favourite blogs

Under the bridge here in London we
usually start our day with a nice
cup of tea and a Skype call with
Alex G in Bangkok. We then usually
have a look at various blogs to
find out what’s happening online.

So we thought that one of our last posts of 2007 should pay tribute to one of these morning institutions – our favourite: blogs, teas or parts of Alex G.

We decided on blogs because we don’t know that much about tea and couldn’t agree on a favourite part of Alex G.

So here are 7 to kick off with:

1. The Equity Kicker – This is one of my favourites and is run by an insightful VC chap named Nic Brisbourne. Nic has kindly sent us a few of his lists to use as start up content.

2. TechCrunch – this is a very difficult blog to keep up with due to its huge number of daily posts. But it helps us keep up to date with new online developments and is a must read for all internet startups. Thanks to Monu for telling us about it.

3. How to Change the World – This is Guy Kawasaki’s excellent “practical blog for impractical people”. Guy has kindly allowed us to re-publish his lists on the various lies people tell each other in business. Compelling and useful stuff.

4. Bokardo – Social Design by Joshua Porter is an excellent resource for thought-provoking conversation about social web design. What Joshua doesn’t know about this topic isn’t worth knowing.

5. A Donkey on the Edge is the brainchild of Dug Falby an old colleague of mine from TMW. As Dug puts it, his blog contains the content’s of Dug’s head, in no particular order. This was one of the first blogs I started reading and have found it a great resource for usability, information architecture and much more.

6. Modern Marketing – Blog by Collaborate PR & Marketing and run by James Cherkoff. Don’t be put off by the name, this is a cracker of a blog and is full of wisdom and useful insights. I saw James speak at a chinwag event earlier this year and he was so impressive I decided to check out his blog. I’m very glad I did.

7. Iain Tait’s crackunit blog is also well worth subscribing to. Iain’s tag line for it is random nuggets of things and stuff. This sums it up pretty well. Can’t remember where I found it but have been a regular reader for a while now.

The last blog I was going to tell you about today was Blognation – however they unfortunately went under earlier today – sad as it was an excellent site.

Til the next post.


Thundering forward

11 December 2007

A thank you from the blackboard

All continues to gather momentum under our railway arch here in Battersea this week. As the trains thunder overhead our brilliant beta testers are sending in all sorts of weird and wonderful lists for Paul to put inside his little black box the rest of us are not allowed to play with.

Some of our top lists so far include:

1. My favourite parts of the cell – Jeff Zweig
2. The best of Beijing – Dianne Hofmeyr
3. Where to play Ice Hockey in Bangkok – Bjorn Turmann
4. Favourite Orange County Surf Spots – Monu Joseph
5. 5 places so good I almost don’t want to tell you about them – Steve Catling

Seeing all these inspiring lists only reinforces our belief that our little site wont be that little for that long. Thanks to all for your contributions – please keep them coming.

Anyway, better get back to those spreadsheets, thanks for listening. More from us very soon.

Part 2 – The Early Days

3 December 2007

Of course there’s nothing quite like having a small amount of money to get you working fast and cutting costs. You aren’t a dotcom without some tales of hardship, so… Paul (and his server) is in his spare bedroom, Alex G is in an outhouse in his garden and Alex M and I are in an office under a railway bridge (try conducting a 3 way skype call with a train thundering overhead!).

snagsta HQ

We attended the A4U Affiliate Marketing Expo in London in October. The keynote presentation was by the quirky and inimitable Guy Philipson, chairman of the IAB. It was an incredible learning experience, but I still couldn’t help feeling there is something shady about affiliate marketing. There are few people out making a lot of money sitting at home setting up little pointless shell websites they optimize like crazy to promote random products on a short-term basis. It all feels a bit false – nothing like the genuine service we are planning to bring to market in the next few months! There is a more legitimate side to affiliate marketing which we hope to tap into as one of our revenue sources.

Choosing a name
Naming can be a tricky business. It presents your personality to the world. And sometimes determines who you are. If you read this article in the Times http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/book_extracts/article2804926.ece you’d know your son would be almost twice as likely to become a dentist if you named him Dennis! As most parents well tell you, it’s much better to name your baby before launch. It’s no different with websites. Except that, unlike children, your company url has to be unique. And since every url is either taken by a working website or being cyber-squatted by thieving gypsies who think buying and selling urls is a legitimate business it makes choosing a name a nightmare. We were desperate to launch our teaser site but simply couldn’t find a name we were all passionate about. In the end we picked 4 options, did a poll and then used hindsight bias to justify our decision!

Logo and Design
Having finally settled on a name we thought the hard part was over. How wrong we were! We’ve just discovered how ‘personal’ design is. Three fickle fellas is certainly not a recipe for success when it comes to logos and design!

And that’s where we are now – six months distilled down to two blogs a couple of paragraphs long. From this point on, we’ll be recording the highs and lows as they happen for all and sundry to pick over.

Next week we’ll look at how blogging influenced our thinking and strategy.

Today’s list…

Great sites that really helped us as we took the entrepreneurial leap

Pickydomains – www.pickydomains.com
If you’re struggling for a name set up a competition on this site.

Sitepoint – www.sitepoint.com
If you’re struggling for a logo or page design set up a competition on this site.

Elance – www.elance.com
Put your web development up for tender on this site. We haven’t used it yet but may use it to get our Facebook app done.

kuler – http://kuler.adobe.com
Great colour resource for your designers.

Web 2.0 design – http://www.webdesignfromscratch.com/web-2.0-design-style-guide.cfm
If you want to make sure your site follows current design best practise.

Companies House – http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/
A critical part of setting up a company. Just remember the website only works 9 to 5…

WordPress – www.wordpress.com
Any aspiring start-up needs a blog where they can start bigging themselves up. No better place than wordpress.