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Why I moved from Android to iOS and more...

Why I moved from Android to iOS

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve been a long-time Android devotee. My Android phones have included the Nexus 4, the Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy S Series devices and an HTC One. I also had a couple of Android tablets, although they were never as good as our iPads.
I loved the phones though. Parity because I have a strong affinity for open systems, and partly for certain features, most notably swipe keyboards.
Recently I have only wanted to own stock Android devices. I’ve had too many bad experiences with the bloat-ware that other manufacturers put on their devices in what I believe is an important futile attempt to differentiate.
That has me waiting each year for the new Google Nexus phone to be released, but last year I was disappointed when the Nexus 6 was announced. That thing is almost as big as an iPad mini! I get that lots of people like their phones huge, but not me.
So I stuck with my Nexus 5 longer than I otherwise would have, and even got a Moto 360 smartwatch to go with it. But last month the battery life started to decline precipitously and annoying software glitches started coming more regularly.
So time to get a new phone.
I looked a bit at other Android devices, and I think there may be others running stock Android now, but I pretty quickly figured I wanted an iPhone. Over the years the reasons I went for Android have slowly eroded. Apple has been getting more open whilst Android has been getting more closed to the point where there isn’t much to choose between the ecosystems. Also, and importantly for me, since iOS8 you can swipe keyboards on the iPhone. On top of that most startups release on iOS before Android and with an iPhone I would be better able to test new new apps.
So when I got my iPhone last week I was curious to see how the switch would go. The overall conclusion is that there isn’t much difference between using an iPhone and an Android. Despite all the tribalism the hardware is largely commoditised.
Turning to the detail, there were some switching pains. It took me a while to find a Twitter client that would let me quickly access my Twitter lists and save to Instapaper, but then I found Tweetbot. I also spent a bit of time finding a mail client that was as good as the native Gmail app on Android. I’m using CloudMagic now, and so far it’s been pretty fast.
And some things have been better. Most notably my whole family is now on Apple devices and that means FaceTime is super convenient for us all. Additionally, over the first few days a couple of the apps are a bit better ( e.g. the calendar app Fantastical). Finally, I’m away skiing with the ICE group of entrepreneurs this weekend and one of us made the lookbook and itinerary into an app, only for iOS.
There were some things that are better on Android too. I loved having my calendar as a home screen widget and the way apps are organised works better for me on Android than on iOS.
That leaves me happy with my iPhone, but there isn’t much in it.

UK venture investment up 57% to £1.5bn

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 16.02.24

I’ve written before that over the last year or so it has felt like we are approaching critical mass in the UK startup ecosystem. This data from corporate finance firm Ascendant shows why: investment grew a whopping 57% to £1.5bn last year.

The true test will be whether we are able to sustain this level of activity in 2015 and beyond. Absent a big macro-economic shock I think that we will. It certainly seems like there is more money coming into the market – viz the Google Ventures UK team making their first investment with a $60m injection into Kobalt.


Jeff Bezos says to align yourself with your customer

I just saw this quote from Jeff Bezos on A Founder’s Notebook:

Another thing that we [Amazon] believe is pretty fundamental is that the world is getting increasingly transparent—that information perfection is on the rise. If you believe that, it becomes strategically smart to align yourself with the customer. You think about marketing differently. If in the old world you devoted 30% of your attention to building a great service and 70% of your attention to shouting about it, in the new world that inverts.

Just about everything I read from Bezos is on the money and this is no exception. The big driver of increasing transparency and information perfection is social media. Everyone has a printing press these days and it’s no longer possible for companies to control the message. Hence it makes sense to invest more in product and correspondingly less in sales.

This is doubly true for startups for whom it is increasingly true that there is no other strategy than to win by having the best product, and often the best product by a mile. When competing with large incumbents the rule of thumb is that winning requires having a 10x better product.

Finally, think of product as encompassing the whole user experience, from sales and marketing through delivery to after sales care.


Management lessons for startups from great French restaurants – five quick reminders

Steve Denning, a business professor whose work I mostly value for it’s reminder that focusing on the customer is the only route to value creation, has been touring France and visiting Michelin starred restaurants. He observed the following management traits at successful three starred restaurants that have been around for decades. You can also find them at successful startups:

  • There is no complacency
  • Care is taken to make good initial impressions
  • They do the simple things well
  • They create unexpected pleasures
  • They fix mistakes

You can read Denning’s full post here.


Everyone should be a writer

Blogging has been great for me over the last eight years. It’s helped build my profile, get to know many great people, stay in touch with many others, and maybe most importantly sharpen and deepen my thinking on numerous topics.

These benefits are open to anyone who writes well. We love it when we see entrepreneurs who promote their companies through effective blogging and we encourage everyone at Forward Partners to get publishing.

Yet there are many more people who try and write than are successful with it. A big part of the challenge is simply getting started. Knowing what to say and finding a tone of voice before you have an audience is difficult and time consuming. And writing makes you vulnerable.

Publishing platforms like LinkedIn and Medium make finding an audience much easier these days, but it’s still daunting.

Simply starting is the answer. And then sticking with it. I remember my first weeks of blogging in 2006 – they were painful!

Next up is writing effective content. The reason I’m writing on this subject this morning is that I’ve just read six great tips for effective writing:

  1. know your audience (once you have one…)
  2. write for skim readers – spend time writing great headlines, divide the content into short sections and make your important points stand out (I could do more of this)
  3. don’t show off (a little bit is ok, but don’t over do it – look for the right balance)
  4. keep it simple – short words, short sentences (again I could do better here)
  5. spend time making your sentences easy to read (it’s hard, but worth it)
  6. inject voice and personality into your writing (another thing on my ‘must improve’ list)

It’s been quite therapeutic writing this post! Do go the source material for more detail.




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