All posts in New Projects

  • 2015: MyIntent to learn


    My first company, Applingua Ltd, is now over four years old. When I quit my previous job and started my first company I looked at it as a training programme. I told my friends and family that I couldn’t afford to study for a masters and instead would start and run my own business for a year. I hoped that I would learn by doing all the legal, accounting, finance and management myself; and by researching and overcoming all the stumbling blocks that many first time business owners are confronted with.

    It’s impossible to quantify how much I learned in that first year. Not just the hard facts, but also the emotional roller coaster of getting clients, invoicing, setting pricing. Non payers and managing subcontractors. It wasn’t overly difficult, but it did take a lot of brain power and that was tiring.

    As the years have gone by, running the business has become almost second nature. The process has stayed more or less the same and I’ve found myself having to read up on certain topics much less than I once had to. In some respects, my need to learn at work has diminished.

    In November I found myself at a Startup Mixer in San Francisco, where one guy, Chris Pan, took to the stage to tell the room about his project, MyIntent. He described the MyIntent bracelet as ‘wearable technology’ and gave what the British might call a ‘sugary-sweet, love-peace-and-harmony’ speech about what is essentially a wearable imprinted metal drain pipe washer. I rolled my eyes, tutted and wondered if I could exit the auditorium without being seen. For all intents and purposes I was not willing to learn what he had to say.

    Later in the evening I came across the MyIntent stall and scratched my head as to why anyone in their right mind would be impressed by this low-grade metal ring. Through sheer curiosity and the much more open-mindedness of my friend, Xenia Menzies, we approached the stall where one of their reps asked us out straight, “What’s your word?”. I looked at her perplexed, what on Earth was she asking me? “What’s your word?,” she repeated, “You know, what one word defines or describes your purpose in life? Why are you here? What is your intent?”.

    I would have thought this was a question that required weeks of introverted thought and consideration, but in that single moment only one thing kept coming to the front of my mind, something I had consistently told friends over the years, “all I ever want to do is learn”.

    “Sorry?”, the rep replied.

    “To learn! Learn. Learn, is my word”.

    For two months now I have worn this little metal washer with pride. On more than one occasion, when I’ve felt like avoiding going out of my comfort zone, or felt too lazy to read an article, I’ve noticed this little imprinted word shining back at me, reminding me to learn. Its neurolinguistic properties remind me of Mauricio Estrella’s Medium story about how changing his password, changed his life. It may sound kitsch, but the power of one word, repeated over and over again is immense.

    This simple, throw-away washer has had a big impact on my enthusiasm for 2015 and the possibilities of what I can achieve not only in my private, but also my in professional life and Applingua’s own success. I’ve decided that it’s time to learn at work again full time. To grow my business and to take it to new levels. In some ways to reinvent it and to learn from the process, whether it succeeds or fails. MyIntent is to learn this year, and that’s what makes 2015 so exciting. I was wrong, Chris Pan, and you were most definitely right.

    So, what’s your word?

  • Cardiff Start Launch

    10 months ago I wrote a post on the start of a new community of entrepreneurs in Cardiff. After months of meet-ups, socials and not-so-great delivery pizza, we finally launched Cardiff Start.

    On 11th April, over 200 people landed in City Hall for the grand opening of Cardiff Start. People from all walks of life came, from those interested in running their own businesses to those Cardiff’s creative movement. The video above is a short clip detailing what we’re all about.

    Check out the Cardiff Start website if you’re interested.

  • Small steps towards a big future: Cardiff Start.

    Cardiff Start Hack Night
    Take a good look at the picture above. What does it look like to you?

    A weekly team meeting at a creative agency perhaps? A brainstorming session for the latest client project? But wait. The clock reads 8:10 and there’s beer on the table so it’s probably quite late in the day, right? They all look pretty relaxed though so they must know each other quite well and not care that much about working late.

    The reality is quite different. Many of the fourteen people who attended Cardiff Start’s first Hack Night had never even met before, let alone worked together. Each of the people around this table at some point have started or have been influential in the creation of a new company in or around the Cardiff area. And all these people want to create a community that aids others starting up in this young, vibrant and creative capital city.

    The mission is simple: Cardiff Start wants to connect people who make Cardiff an awesome place to start up. The aim is to foster a community that shares knowledge, offers advice and attracts investment for new tech, creative, online and digital startups. Cardiff Start also wants to highlight the benefits of Wales’ most connected city and the great facilities on offer.

    After months of discussion on the 180-strong Facebook group, the group now aims to meet regularly, with participants giving up their own time to push the community forward. During the first four hour Hack Night, strides were made deciding an initial strategy, basic branding and a new website. The group will meet again on September 11th to discuss the next steps. 

    This is a really exciting time for our capital city. I recently moved my own company, Applingua, into the city centre and haven’t looked back since. It’s amazing to see so many people wanting to help each other without any ulterior motive. Exactly what a community should be! 

    Special thanks to Alex Kavel who organised the Hack Night; Michelle Davies and IndyCube for hosting; and of course Neil Cocker, who planted the first seeds.

    Go to all-new Cardiff Start website or participate in our active Facebook group.

  • Certainly not the first, hopefully the last

    There are blogs on the Wayback Machine that I wrote in 2001 on Blogger. Then, through the years, there’s been TypePads and WordPress installs, Joomla attempts and even a few iWeb blogs. There are still probably 3 Tumblr blogs out there with my name on them, never to be touched again.

    And that’s my problem.

    Despite writing blog after blog, I never seem to get anywhere. I write two posts, get bored, come back 6 months later, write two more posts and so the cycle continues. Hopefully that’s where this blog will differ.

    It won’t concentrate on one particular topic, although tech and politics will probably come up often. I’m going to just blog away about everything and anything I feel like. Let’s see how this one goes…