Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Create like a god, command like a king, work as a slave

In his blog, Pablo Brenner lists Rules for Revolutionaries by Guy Kawasaki as one of his favorite books. The book' s subtitle is "Create like a god, command like a king, work as a slave".

I guess you can characterise the successful entrepreneur as someone that creates like a god, commands like a king and works as a slave. As someone who studied psychology for many years, Pablo should know that you can diagnose this kind of person as something else: a schyzofrenic. Wikipedia tells us that one of the main characterizations of schyzofrenia is significant social or occupational dysfuntion.

Let's be realistic: if you can command like a king and create like a god, you have to be out of your mind to work as a slave. Not that there aren't many of these, I see them every day. The worst part of it is that many entrepreneurs that I know, enjoy most the slave part.

So here is a niche market: a psychological clinic for entrepreneurs. Convince them to drop one of the three. Or maybe two. They could start by enjoying a bit of Second Life. But they could do much better: get a First Life.

Here is a challenge for you Pablo: how would you characterize the Venture Capitalist?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Effort Estimates for a Cup of Coffee

I always have the same problem with my IT manager. Every time I ask for an estimate, he comes up with a huge number. On the other side, my marketing people always come up with a very optimistic figure. So I decided to make a little test. I asked my marketing manager how long it would take to make a cup of coffee. "Less than thirty seconds" she replied.

I then asked my IT manager the same question. He divided the task into small subtasks, and estimated each one of them:
  • Open the cupboard - 2 sec
  • Take a mug and place it on the table - 2 secs
  • Close the cupboard - 1 sec
  • Pick the jar - 1 sec
  • Take out the jar lid - 1 sec
  • Place the lid on the table - 1 sec
  • Place the jar under the tap - 1 sec
  • Open the tap - 1 sec
  • Wait for the jar to fill up - 15 secs
  • Place the lid back on the jar - 1 sec
  • Place the jar on the table - 1 sec
  • Press the ON button - 1 sec
  • Wait for the water to boil - 30 secs
  • Open the cupboard - 1 sec
  • Take the coffee jar - 1 sec
  • Place the coffee jar on the table - 1 sec
  • Close the cupboard - 1 sec
  • Open the drawer - 1 sec
  • Take a spoon - 1 sec
  • Close the drawer - 1 sec
  • Open the coffee jar - 2 secs
  • Fill the spoon with coffee - 1 sec
  • Place the coffee inside the mug - 2 secs
  • Close the coffee jar - 2 secs
  • Place the coffee jar back in the cupboard - 5 secs (includes opening, etc)
  • Take the water jar - 1 sec
  • Fill the mug - 5 secs
  • Place the water jar back in its place - 2 secs
  • ... (the list goes on: add sugar, add milk, stir, wash the teaspoon, wash the mug, which itself consist of over ten taskst, etc)
When the list was complete, it added up to over 10 minutes. "Wait," said the IT guy. "We still have to compute the proportional part of the effort taken by the purchase of coffee, cleaning up, etc. And of course, we should not forget that preparing this estimate took some 10 minutes, over how many cups should we divide that? And should we take this conversation into account? On second thoughts, I may have been too optimistic in some of the tasks. Taking everything into account, I would price it based on 30 minutes. If we add another resource we could bring the time down, but the cost would go up"

"No wonder we are losing business" I said while I was sipping my third cup of coffee that morning.

The lesson: if you divide the task into small enough tasks, any estimate will look too optimistic.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Are 90% of your potential customers unserved?

The US is the largest economy in the world, representing some 5% of the world's population, and around 25% of the world's GDP. This means that if you are a US-based online retailer selling only to US customers, you are ignoring 95% of your potential customers. "Most are dirt-poor" you may say. Well, that is probably true. But even if 90% of them are dirt-poor, that still leaves a market twice as big as the US.

Not convinced? See these figures. There are 400.000 millionaires in Russia alone, while the UK is home to over half a million of them. According to Morgan Stanley, there are 100 million potential buyers for luxury goods in China today. One hundred million people, wanting to buy luxury goods just in China! And guess what? Luxury goods in China are much more expensive than in the US. If you sell luxury goods, you should certainly not be ignoring overseas markets.

What should you be doing? To start with, take orders from abroad. Most retailers only accept orders from the US. That is a big mistake. Take the necessary measures to prevent fraud, but why reject the orders? Just requiring a scanned copy of the credit card and passport will greately reduce fraud. You would be surprised to find out how many foreign customers are even ready to pay extra money just to buy from you, a US-based retailer. You need to take into account that shipping will be a bit more expensive (shop around for prices). It is important to state clearly that customs clearance is the customer's responsibility.

Of course, you should not stop there, you should actively reach out to your customers. Here are some ideas:
  • Translate your pages into as many languages as possible. It is much simpler and cheaper than you may think. Try posting a translation project in www.guru.com, you'll see how cheap it is.
  • Have a virtual phone number in your main markets. It will make your customers much more comfortable. Again, it is really cheap, you can get a virtual number from jetnumbers.com for just $20 a month. For just $200 a month you will look like a multinational, with phone numbers in London, Paris, Hong Kong, Mexico City and a few others. You can become the world's smalles multi-national!!
  • You can also hire a company to answer the phone for you, and even take orders. Prices are in the $0.20 per minute range.
In summary, the world is a large place. Any retailer selling only in the US is constraining itself to a small portion of the world's market.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My pics

Great post, Nate!
I love white chocolate, just in case!...
OK, so the first pic, is here in Montevideo, Uruguay, just having fun with my friends on a spring day this past year.
The second one is me when I
was a little girl with who is
still my best friend. I am the blond one...

Now, I wanna see yours!
Kari-

Blogging ideas

Ppl! Today I found myself scratching my head, wondering about what our next post should be...so I said to myself, why not post a post about what should we post. So here I am, asking for cooperation from you, the client, co-worker, bored Internet surfer or whoever. One idea that came to mind was to post pics of everyone here in the Admin. depart, when we were all younger; I wonder what Sergio (our CTO) looked like when he was in high school...
Who ever posts the best pic will receive any chocolate bar of their choice; in case you were wondering I will be the judge of who wins; and if you think that i can be bought well... I love soccer and need some new boots (my size is 91/2 USA).
Please remember we are always trying to keep this blog fun and unique. To accomplish our goal of having a great company blog we NEED feed back!!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Schorr family

This is my family: Jessica (sister), Bruno (Dad) , Ghilda (Mom) and I (Nathan) at a weeding a few weeks back.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Share Pictures of your Family with us



Hi evryone,
This is Andres Bzurovski, the owner of JetNumbers.
I am inaugurating a new section in this blog, the photo album; we want every customer and friend to share their pics with us.
For me JetNumbers is a big family, therefore we want to know everyone and share our experiences altogether.

I will kick off by posting a pic of my lovely daughter Lara.
She is 4 months old.
Comments are more than welcomed, thanks.

The iPhone is finally here!


Although we have nothing to do with Apple, the subject is still telephony related; most of us here at the office have been waiting months for this announcement and Stevie J. finally gave it a green light today at MacWorld. It seems that it will be the holy grail of smartphones.

A little 'bout the JN team

I have so many things that I want to write about here on the company blog...I honestly don't know were to start! So i guess i will try to tell you a little bit more about myself and JetNumbers Inc.
I was born on January 16 back in 1984 (yes my b-day is a few days away) in Buffalo, NY; I am the second child of Bruno and Ghilda both of whom are Uruguayan and were college students at the time. Over the next few years my family moved around the world, from Buffalo to Kansas City to Riyadh, SA to Montevideo, Uruguay. Besides the moving, I had a wonderful childhood...a childhood that greatly shaped who I am today. I am currently attending Universidad ORT Uruguay and am majoring in business and administration; I have about a year left to finish up with my studies.

About two months ago, I was approached by Karina Szmulewicz a friend/classmate to join a communications start-up company called JetNumbers Inc. So when Kari told me about the company and its objectives, I was immediately attracted to the idea of taking up my first full-time job, about a week later on the 17 of November I became a member of the JetNumbers team here in Uruguay. So that is my history in a nutshell. Now I've got to tell you a little about JetNumbers Inc. and it's management team.

Company History:

JetNumbers Inc. is a pioneer in the area of virtual numbers, offering numbers in over 30 countries. It was created by Andrés Bzurovski and Sergio Fogel in December 2005, with its launching a few months later on the 10 of July of 2006 JetNumbers’ goal is to provide a simple and cost effective form of communication for users around the world. JetNumbers Inc. is currently made up of 11 techies and the management team.

JetNumbers Inc. is based in East Bushwick, New Jersey. Our management team and costumer support division is located in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The JetNumbers administration is made-up of four teamates: Andrés (CEO), Sergio (CTO), Karina Szmulewicz (Account Executive) and myself.

Andrés has studied technology at the University of Northampton in the United Kingdom as well as a degree in marketing from the University ORT Uruguay. Andrés is the founder of Before, a software company, leader in Uruguay.

Sergio Fogel posses a BA and a Master’s of Computer Science from Technion in Haifa, Israel and an MBA from INSEAD (Fontainebleau). He has worked as a Laboratory Investigator at IBM in Haifa, Israel. Sergio was also the commercial manager for Oracle in Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. He also founded elAgora.com and Uniotel S.A.

Karina Szmulewicz is currently finishing up her studies at the Universidad ORT Uruguay and is majoring in business and administration.

Uniotel, the parent company of JetNumbers was started in 2001. Uniotel is the leader of private international telephoning in Uruguay; the company has developed a high quality fibre optics network which permits us to lend a quality telephone service which meets international standards. Uniotel owns operating licenses in Uruguay and USA, as well as agreements with more than 20 carriers’ world wide. The company has and will continue to export technology to countries in North and South America as well as Africa.

Technological aspect:

A virtual phone number is a telephone number is used to route calls to the user's actual phone number or numbers. Virtual phone numbers are often used to enable long distance service without incurring long distance charges in IP telephony and for call forwarding services, such as find-me/follow-me.

A virtual phone number makes it possible for someone within a specified area code call anyone in another area code as if it were a local call. Here's how it works: A customer asks their service provider to assign them a virtual phone number within a desired area code. When someone in that area code dials the virtual phone number, the call registers as if it were local, but seamlessly maps to the customer's actual telephone number.

In find me / follow me, a user may be assigned a virtual phone number. When that number is dialled, the call may be routed among a number of phone numbers at various locations.

Our technology does not require any type of installation for the user. We assign the user a phone number in the desired country or region. The user has a web page where they can decide where the calls should ring. For instance, the user can choose to have a phone number in New York, and take the calls in their mobile phone in Barcelona. That way, their friends and family back home can call locally. If the client later go for a trip to France, they can buy a SIM card in France, and change the number so that it rings there. The user can also set the number to take voice mails, and send these via email.

Blogging:

Just like I stated in my last (first) entry, JetNumbers got mixed up in a discussion between social net workers, Jason Calacanis (ex-CEO of Netscape.com) and Kevin Rose the founder of Digg.com. Everyone here at JetNumbers felt that we were unfairly portrayed by Calacanis and were unable to defend ourselves against the trashing brought on by Calacanis´ poor investigating. Although the accusations were horrendous and off the wall...we got what we set out to do...our name all over the net. We went from 700 sites that mentioned us, to nearly 11,000 from one day to another! Any publicity helps at this stage in time. The investigation translated into nearly 120 new accounts for JetNumbers, so our betting on ruffling feathers paided off! As a consequence of our inability to defend ourselves, we decided to start the blog! The blog will not only provide a window into our offices but will also keep everyone up-to-date with news about tech developments at the office as well as a place to get customer feed-back and questions.

Here are some links to people that wrote about the Digg incident:


Please feel free to comment about this subject...actually please comment about my marketing tactic; I want to know what you think about it!

I will try to post about twice a week.
Salutations to everyone and remember...GET LOCAL!

Monday, January 8, 2007

First post!

Hello world! My name is Nathan Schorr, I am the Business Development Manager at JetNumbers Inc. I have been designated to the project of launching our company blog, however this blog will not only be about our service but also everything that can be related with virtual numbers and the communications industry.
The idea of starting a blog came to mind a few weeks back when JetNumbers was involved in an ethical discussion between social network users and myself (I will be posting more about this later). During the entire ordeal, JetNumbers was dishonestly brandished and we were unable to defend ourselves, hence the reason for starting this blog.
What do we, as a company, want to get out of this blog? Well, we want to establish a transparent form of communication between our clients, our team here at JetNumbers and anyone that is interested in new forms of communication. Basically, we want to hear more from you.
So, hello world, here comes JetNumbers!