The Disruptive Entrepreneur's Dilemma

Andrew Mobbs, managing director of the Hatchery, has a big dream. He wants to move the world off of credit cards and onto using their cell phones to pay for things. He’s not the first to have that dream, but I think he’s thought through some of the problems better than other people I’ve talked to about this so far. He is in Silicon Valley today, visiting from London, UK, which is where he’s located.

But that’s not what was interesting about my breakfast with him this morning. What I found really interesting was his dilemma as an entrepreneur. What is it?

1. His product is too difficult to use, so it needs some more work. That takes capital, but he’s not able to land Silicon Valley capital (at least not yet).
2. Because he’s chosen a “boil the ocean” strategy (getting, say, Starbucks or Amazon to adopt his technology) he’s finding it hard to get adoption.
3. Because he doesn’t have adoption, investors aren’t interested.
4. Plus he’s going against big companies (PayPal, Visa, MC, American Express) which makes investors nervous, unless you have a clear differentiator that’ll be defendable for some time.

Compare his story to Omar Hamoui’s story, CEO of Admob, a mobile advertising network. He walked into Sequoia Capital and had a term sheet in his hands in about 24 hours. I interviewed him yesterday, and we’ll have his story of how he did that up on FastCompany.tv in a few weeks (we start our daily video show tomorrow, and have about three weeks of shows stored on our Seagate hard drives right now).

How did Admob land the capital it needed?

1. They had customers and rapid growth BEFORE they walked onto Sand Hill Road.
2. They didn’t try to boil the ocean, nor did they try to go up against entrenched competitors.
3. One thing common is both picked the rapidly-growing world of mobile.

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see if Andrew gets any feedback based on the 18-minute conversation we had this morning on Qik. My feedback to him?

Instead of trying to get in front of the CEO of Visa, Starbucks, Facebook, or getting a VC like Sequoia, or even an investor like Jeff Clavier to pay attention to him, I’d do some new work. I’d hang out at Stanford with Dave McClure, who teaches a Facebook class there. If Andrew gets a couple of Facebook app developers to build his payment techology into their apps, then he’d have something to show investors. Plus, he’d probably have millions of people trying his technology and he’d be able to learn from their usage model.

Translation: don’t try to boil the ocean, just pick off a small bucket of water, boil that first, then work on the ocean later.

What do you think?

Either way, it’s pretty rare that entrepreneurs let you look into an early-stage company and some of the challenges that it faces trying to get a new idea and a new company started.

Comments

  1. This post shows how behind the times we have become in the US (from a technology standpoint) lately.

    Mobile phone payments is not a dream…it is reality.

    Using your mobile (cell phone for American English speakers) to make payments is the norm in Asia, Western Europe and now even so called “backwards” countries in Eastern Europe and Africa.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_payment

    Maybe soon we can get caught up here in the US with the rest of the world.

    Or maybe we will continue living in the Matrix…thinking we are ahead of the rest of the world when in reality we are falling further and further behind….where are Neo and Morpheus when we need them :-)

  2. This post shows how behind the times we have become in the US (from a technology standpoint) lately.

    Mobile phone payments is not a dream…it is reality.

    Using your mobile (cell phone for American English speakers) to make payments is the norm in Asia, Western Europe and now even so called “backwards” countries in Eastern Europe and Africa.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_payment

    Maybe soon we can get caught up here in the US with the rest of the world.

    Or maybe we will continue living in the Matrix…thinking we are ahead of the rest of the world when in reality we are falling further and further behind….where are Neo and Morpheus when we need them :-)

  3. i agree with james. when i was in tokyo. people used their mobile devices to pay for items. there was a scanning device that you waved your mobile phone over to pay for goods. credit cards are not used as often as here in the states and plus, they are not always accepted. cash is the most popular form of payment.

    even at a small sushi-ya in a town outside of tokyo, they used wireless devices. when i requested the check an old woman came up to our table with a wand, waved it across our plates and the check magically printed out on a wireless handheld device. quite amazing!

  4. i agree with james. when i was in tokyo. people used their mobile devices to pay for items. there was a scanning device that you waved your mobile phone over to pay for goods. credit cards are not used as often as here in the states and plus, they are not always accepted. cash is the most popular form of payment.

    even at a small sushi-ya in a town outside of tokyo, they used wireless devices. when i requested the check an old woman came up to our table with a wand, waved it across our plates and the check magically printed out on a wireless handheld device. quite amazing!

  5. he should talk to the mobile phone companies first and foremost… they already a billing relationship with the customer and are always interested in making more money. Once you have one or two mobile operators on board the next step would be to get the Starbucks, McDonals etc. of the world.

  6. he should talk to the mobile phone companies first and foremost… they already a billing relationship with the customer and are always interested in making more money. Once you have one or two mobile operators on board the next step would be to get the Starbucks, McDonals etc. of the world.

  7. It’s bad enough Visa, MasterCard, and my bank know where I spend my money, now I need to worry about my cell phone provider too? Given how quickly they hand over data to the government, doesn’t anybody else see this as a problem?

  8. It’s bad enough Visa, MasterCard, and my bank know where I spend my money, now I need to worry about my cell phone provider too? Given how quickly they hand over data to the government, doesn’t anybody else see this as a problem?

  9. The bigger thing to note is how difficult it is for UK startups to raise serious money.

    Like Loic Le Meur and Peter Nixey, Europeans need to go west to raise proper money.

  10. The bigger thing to note is how difficult it is for UK startups to raise serious money.

    Like Loic Le Meur and Peter Nixey, Europeans need to go west to raise proper money.

  11. There’s really no shortage of venture capital in Europe. If you want to build a billion dollar software tech company in Europe by using European VC money, it’s perfectly possible to do it (e.g. see Skype or MySQL).

    As for this particular system, I don’t know enough about the business issues to comment from a position of knowledge.

    However, a few things spring to mind:

    1) For me, if my phone is going to replace my credit cards, then it has to be at *least* as easy to use as my credit cards. Otherwise, I’m just not going to use it. This system looked like being a pain to use – lots of key presses and entering numbers I don’t know, and then waiting for sometime, and then handing the phone over for a barcode to be scanned. In Europe, a credit card transaction in a store takes five key presses (4-digit PIN, plus hitting the ENTER button). And that’s it. About five seconds in total transaction time. If the whole transaction on the phone is going to take longer than that, why would anyone going to bother using it?

    2) In London, there are *already* services in operation that let you use your mobile phone to pay for things e.g. parking. Not saying they work well. I’m just saying that there *already* services up and running that do this; and my impression is that most people don’t use them (probably because they’re too much of a pain to use).

    3) In the UK, there are *already* loyalty-based promotional payment schemes that do work *really* well on mobile phones, based around SMS text messaging (SMS obviously works on *all* phones super-reliably, so you don’t need anything fancy, like an iPhone of which there are almost none in the market). For example, two for the price of one movie theatre tickets. People do use these services. Why? First, they’re super-easy and prety quick to use (maybe adds about 15 seconds to the total transaction time) . Second, the benefit is that you get something for free, which makes it worth people’s total transaction time taking longer than five seconds.

    Bottom line: if this company’s system has some compelling advantages over the existing competition that’s already in the market, it’s not obvious to a non-specialist like me what they are.

  12. There’s really no shortage of venture capital in Europe. If you want to build a billion dollar software tech company in Europe by using European VC money, it’s perfectly possible to do it (e.g. see Skype or MySQL).

    As for this particular system, I don’t know enough about the business issues to comment from a position of knowledge.

    However, a few things spring to mind:

    1) For me, if my phone is going to replace my credit cards, then it has to be at *least* as easy to use as my credit cards. Otherwise, I’m just not going to use it. This system looked like being a pain to use – lots of key presses and entering numbers I don’t know, and then waiting for sometime, and then handing the phone over for a barcode to be scanned. In Europe, a credit card transaction in a store takes five key presses (4-digit PIN, plus hitting the ENTER button). And that’s it. About five seconds in total transaction time. If the whole transaction on the phone is going to take longer than that, why would anyone going to bother using it?

    2) In London, there are *already* services in operation that let you use your mobile phone to pay for things e.g. parking. Not saying they work well. I’m just saying that there *already* services up and running that do this; and my impression is that most people don’t use them (probably because they’re too much of a pain to use).

    3) In the UK, there are *already* loyalty-based promotional payment schemes that do work *really* well on mobile phones, based around SMS text messaging (SMS obviously works on *all* phones super-reliably, so you don’t need anything fancy, like an iPhone of which there are almost none in the market). For example, two for the price of one movie theatre tickets. People do use these services. Why? First, they’re super-easy and prety quick to use (maybe adds about 15 seconds to the total transaction time) . Second, the benefit is that you get something for free, which makes it worth people’s total transaction time taking longer than five seconds.

    Bottom line: if this company’s system has some compelling advantages over the existing competition that’s already in the market, it’s not obvious to a non-specialist like me what they are.

  13. Simon,

    Your first point (ease of use) is the big one in my mind. I can see it being _better_, using my mobile to pay stuff .. but how easy is it right now?

    I don’t know much about the reality of using a phone payment system, here in Australia we seem to be behind even the behind times :).

    Well, we do have kangaroos. So that’s always a bonus.

  14. Simon,

    Your first point (ease of use) is the big one in my mind. I can see it being _better_, using my mobile to pay stuff .. but how easy is it right now?

    I don’t know much about the reality of using a phone payment system, here in Australia we seem to be behind even the behind times :).

    Well, we do have kangaroos. So that’s always a bonus.

  15. I like the bucket of water versus the ocean anology.

    PS: Fastcompany.tv videos won’t play in Opera :(

  16. I like the bucket of water versus the ocean anology.

    PS: Fastcompany.tv videos won’t play in Opera :(

  17. Disruptive technologies not only have to do something differently but they also have to truly be so compellingly useful that users will adopt it quickly and willingly. While the case for making payments with cell phones is convenient and powerful (and already established in many global markets), you’ll notice that this application is most popular and useful in countries where credit cards have a lot less penetration than credit cards (read: anywhere BUT North America).

    Using PayPal as an example of a disruptive technology is actually a poor analogy. PayPal has always been more of a complementary technology that built itself on the established infrastructure provided by the credit card networks. So rather than trying to generate “buzz” as a disruptive technology, Andrew may well want to re-think his strategy as a complementary – or add-on – idea. Even so, after looking over all of the information on their wesbite, I’m still trying to see what truly differentiates them from any other company that offers payments using a cell phone.

    Sometimes, just because you came up with an idea that you haven’t found anywhere else yet doesn’t always mean it’s all that original. The toughest part of coming up with a new product is being coldly objective enough to let it go if you realize a lot of other people are already doing it wall. If you don’t do it yourself, the VC’s will surely tell you soon enough.

  18. Disruptive technologies not only have to do something differently but they also have to truly be so compellingly useful that users will adopt it quickly and willingly. While the case for making payments with cell phones is convenient and powerful (and already established in many global markets), you’ll notice that this application is most popular and useful in countries where credit cards have a lot less penetration than credit cards (read: anywhere BUT North America).

    Using PayPal as an example of a disruptive technology is actually a poor analogy. PayPal has always been more of a complementary technology that built itself on the established infrastructure provided by the credit card networks. So rather than trying to generate “buzz” as a disruptive technology, Andrew may well want to re-think his strategy as a complementary – or add-on – idea. Even so, after looking over all of the information on their wesbite, I’m still trying to see what truly differentiates them from any other company that offers payments using a cell phone.

    Sometimes, just because you came up with an idea that you haven’t found anywhere else yet doesn’t always mean it’s all that original. The toughest part of coming up with a new product is being coldly objective enough to let it go if you realize a lot of other people are already doing it wall. If you don’t do it yourself, the VC’s will surely tell you soon enough.

  19. What do you think?

    Trainwreck, high on ideas, low on fuel, not like they are original ideas anyways, monetizing and spamming mobile phones, gee, great biz plan(s). Not enough standardization and lack of real-world implementation keeping it from being a payment system.

  20. What do you think?

    Trainwreck, high on ideas, low on fuel, not like they are original ideas anyways, monetizing and spamming mobile phones, gee, great biz plan(s). Not enough standardization and lack of real-world implementation keeping it from being a payment system.

  21. Thank you to all of you for your constructive comments, and thanks again Robert for meeting with me this morning.

    The focus of Robert’s post is obviously our current marketing dilemma which he covers really well, but the video probably doesn’t do the product the justice it deserves if you are watching it from a purely technical perspective.

    We are really excited by the interest you have all shown since this went live this afternoon so I have setup a product blog where I hope I have answered many of your tech questions as well as provided you with more insight into the product and our current strategy. Rather than detract from the focus of this post I thought it would be better for us to engage in a conversation about the tech and idea in a separate forum.

    Please take a look at http://blog.pocketduo.com and leave your further feedback and comments on that site- specifically about the product and tech.

    Thanks again to all of you for taking the time to share your thoughts and please continue to post your ideas regarding our marketing dilemma on Robert’s outstanding blog.

  22. Thank you to all of you for your constructive comments, and thanks again Robert for meeting with me this morning.

    The focus of Robert’s post is obviously our current marketing dilemma which he covers really well, but the video probably doesn’t do the product the justice it deserves if you are watching it from a purely technical perspective.

    We are really excited by the interest you have all shown since this went live this afternoon so I have setup a product blog where I hope I have answered many of your tech questions as well as provided you with more insight into the product and our current strategy. Rather than detract from the focus of this post I thought it would be better for us to engage in a conversation about the tech and idea in a separate forum.

    Please take a look at http://blog.pocketduo.com and leave your further feedback and comments on that site- specifically about the product and tech.

    Thanks again to all of you for taking the time to share your thoughts and please continue to post your ideas regarding our marketing dilemma on Robert’s outstanding blog.

  23. “Bucket of Water and the Ocean” – good point for the budding entrepreneurs

    Considering the current problems in mobile phone payment(security, spams, transaction complexity) most would prefer the Credit Cards. However the world keeps changing.

    In Mobile Phone payment I will have one advantage, unlike waiting till the month end for the credit card statements, mobile phones can be programmed to keep track of all the expenses. Handy Expense Tracker [;)]

  24. “Bucket of Water and the Ocean” – good point for the budding entrepreneurs

    Considering the current problems in mobile phone payment(security, spams, transaction complexity) most would prefer the Credit Cards. However the world keeps changing.

    In Mobile Phone payment I will have one advantage, unlike waiting till the month end for the credit card statements, mobile phones can be programmed to keep track of all the expenses. Handy Expense Tracker [;)]

  25. Japan and Hong Kong already have this in place.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suica

    It’s a Sony touchless IC technology that is being used for train fares, bus fares, paying for goods at convenience stores and other retail outlets and is also being used for intra-Japan airline flights (your phone is your ID and boarding pass.)

    We are living in the future, it’s just not evenly distributed.

  26. Japan and Hong Kong already have this in place.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suica

    It’s a Sony touchless IC technology that is being used for train fares, bus fares, paying for goods at convenience stores and other retail outlets and is also being used for intra-Japan airline flights (your phone is your ID and boarding pass.)

    We are living in the future, it’s just not evenly distributed.

  27. Based on the points above (not the video), I would definitely get out of the entrenchment focus. Not because it’s wrong to focus on the big buys, but because you’ll need use-cases, cash, and users to develop your solution and convince them. By focussing on small users first (retailers, suppliers, etc.), and working together with them, you can achieve some of that.

    As someone mentioned, lots of companies in Asia are doing this kind of thing, I think a recent boston consulting group study (google “local dynamos”) lists some of these companies in emerging economies, which are doing quite well. These guys found ways to do it efficiently and cost-effective, I suggest learning from them.

    Don’t give up! Don’t be too stubborn about your strategy either.

  28. Based on the points above (not the video), I would definitely get out of the entrenchment focus. Not because it’s wrong to focus on the big buys, but because you’ll need use-cases, cash, and users to develop your solution and convince them. By focussing on small users first (retailers, suppliers, etc.), and working together with them, you can achieve some of that.

    As someone mentioned, lots of companies in Asia are doing this kind of thing, I think a recent boston consulting group study (google “local dynamos”) lists some of these companies in emerging economies, which are doing quite well. These guys found ways to do it efficiently and cost-effective, I suggest learning from them.

    Don’t give up! Don’t be too stubborn about your strategy either.

  29. @7 I could be wrong, but as I understand it, 90% of Seesmic’s money came out of London, UK (i.e. $5.5M from Atomico in London, and $500K from a group of Loic’s friends and angels in Silicon Valley).

    Having said that, it’s true that some ideas will get funded a lot more easily in Silicon Valley than they will in Europe. That’s particularly the case if the startup is working in a domain where there’s a big concenration of expertise in Silicon Valley compared to the geographic location they startup is in.

  30. @7 I could be wrong, but as I understand it, 90% of Seesmic’s money came out of London, UK (i.e. $5.5M from Atomico in London, and $500K from a group of Loic’s friends and angels in Silicon Valley).

    Having said that, it’s true that some ideas will get funded a lot more easily in Silicon Valley than they will in Europe. That’s particularly the case if the startup is working in a domain where there’s a big concenration of expertise in Silicon Valley compared to the geographic location they startup is in.

  31. Mobile phones as credit cards is at least 10 years old, these guys need to understand why previous plays failed. In “web 1.0″ the “ocean boil” plans failed usually because they needed to use a lot of money to take benefits away from existing incumbents, who predictably said “F*** Off”. As others have said, best is to pick a niche and implement there first.

  32. Mobile phones as credit cards is at least 10 years old, these guys need to understand why previous plays failed. In “web 1.0″ the “ocean boil” plans failed usually because they needed to use a lot of money to take benefits away from existing incumbents, who predictably said “F*** Off”. As others have said, best is to pick a niche and implement there first.

  33. @Simon “There’s really no shortage of venture capital in Europe. ”

    Not true. There is no shortage of growth capital. There is no shortage of seed capital. There is a major shortage of Venture Capital for Series A with early stage companies. I dont know if you have raised capital for an early stage company in Europe, but if you have tried you’ll know there are literally only a handful of VCs who understand the tech ecosystem fully AND are prepared to invest early stage.

    “If you want to build a billion dollar software tech company in Europe by using European VC money, it’s perfectly possible to do it”

    I’d challenge you to give me 5 companies in this category who have grown to a billion dollar company, purely on European VC money (let alone UK), other than rolling out the usual suspects such as Skype et al. In contrast, I can probably name you 20 U.S. in the consumer internet sector, without breaking a sweat.

    There is problem in Europe – its the equity gap. And its big. There are of course always exceptions to the rule, but in general U.S. seed investment is larger, and VC investment is earlier. In contrast, seed investment in the UK/Europe is smaller and VCs invest much later. That leaves a gaping hole between around £250,000 and £2m ($500k and $4m U.S.)

    Everyone knows this, everyone will discuss it private, but nobody wants to spoil the party at European conferences by saying it. Which is a pity, as it needs to be said; because there is so much good stuff going on in Europe in the startup scene, thats its a disgrace that more support and more risk capital is not made available early enough.

    Europeans (of which I am one) sometimes ask why there is no Yahoo, Google, Flickr, YouTube, MySpace etc etc of Europe; I believe the reason is what I have just described. Sadly, the same fate awaits us again in 4 years time when the consumer mobile internet services mature, and the same conversation will be had again.

    The U.S. is now heavily investing in mobile startups and I believe has every chance to over take Europe in mobile services and take up, within 18 to 24 months. You read it here first.

    The European tech sector needs to wake up to this reality and do something about it; until it does the U.S. will continue to dominate North American and European markets with web and mobile consumer brands, because they invest earlier and more aggressively, in more companies.

    That was the gospel according to St. Andrew.

  34. @Simon “There’s really no shortage of venture capital in Europe. ”

    Not true. There is no shortage of growth capital. There is no shortage of seed capital. There is a major shortage of Venture Capital for Series A with early stage companies. I dont know if you have raised capital for an early stage company in Europe, but if you have tried you’ll know there are literally only a handful of VCs who understand the tech ecosystem fully AND are prepared to invest early stage.

    “If you want to build a billion dollar software tech company in Europe by using European VC money, it’s perfectly possible to do it”

    I’d challenge you to give me 5 companies in this category who have grown to a billion dollar company, purely on European VC money (let alone UK), other than rolling out the usual suspects such as Skype et al. In contrast, I can probably name you 20 U.S. in the consumer internet sector, without breaking a sweat.

    There is problem in Europe – its the equity gap. And its big. There are of course always exceptions to the rule, but in general U.S. seed investment is larger, and VC investment is earlier. In contrast, seed investment in the UK/Europe is smaller and VCs invest much later. That leaves a gaping hole between around £250,000 and £2m ($500k and $4m U.S.)

    Everyone knows this, everyone will discuss it private, but nobody wants to spoil the party at European conferences by saying it. Which is a pity, as it needs to be said; because there is so much good stuff going on in Europe in the startup scene, thats its a disgrace that more support and more risk capital is not made available early enough.

    Europeans (of which I am one) sometimes ask why there is no Yahoo, Google, Flickr, YouTube, MySpace etc etc of Europe; I believe the reason is what I have just described. Sadly, the same fate awaits us again in 4 years time when the consumer mobile internet services mature, and the same conversation will be had again.

    The U.S. is now heavily investing in mobile startups and I believe has every chance to over take Europe in mobile services and take up, within 18 to 24 months. You read it here first.

    The European tech sector needs to wake up to this reality and do something about it; until it does the U.S. will continue to dominate North American and European markets with web and mobile consumer brands, because they invest earlier and more aggressively, in more companies.

    That was the gospel according to St. Andrew.

  35. Andrew, I’m not claiming that Europe is as good a place for a start-up as Silicon Valley for startups. It’s not. I am saying, however, that now European tech companies are *starting* to see billion-dollar exits. That’s a big step forward from where we used to be. It used to be impossible to do this. Today, it’s possible. The exits achieved by the “usual suspects” is starting to raise the level of ambition among VCs for what European start-ups can achieve… and more VCs are getting interested in actually doing what it takes to make this happen. And, you’re now seeing the best European VC groups in syndicates with the best US VC groups. So, things have really been improving in recent years.

    Also, what I would say is that, very often, I’ve seen entrepreneurs complain – vocally – that they can’t get funded… and the real reason is because what they have isn’t good enough and they’re not credible as individuals. Not that the money isn’t there for the right opportunities. In other words, the quality of start-ups in Europe is often lower than the quality of start-ups in the US.

    You’re right, though, there are aren’t many really good VC groups that get this stuff, and that are preared to lead early stage investments (including seed investments simply for “ideas”).

    In Europe, for entrepreneurs that are credible, and who have something interesting to offer, the challenge isn’t to get an early stage company funded by VCs. The challenge is to hang on to enough equity to make it *worth* taking VC money. The problem I have with European VCs is that the deals they offer to entrepreneurs are often incredibly poor compared to the deals offered in the US. Which means that Europe has a shortage of serial entrepreneurs… after they been screwed once by their investors, entrepreneurs aren’t so keen to let it happen again.

  36. Andrew, I’m not claiming that Europe is as good a place for a start-up as Silicon Valley for startups. It’s not. I am saying, however, that now European tech companies are *starting* to see billion-dollar exits. That’s a big step forward from where we used to be. It used to be impossible to do this. Today, it’s possible. The exits achieved by the “usual suspects” is starting to raise the level of ambition among VCs for what European start-ups can achieve… and more VCs are getting interested in actually doing what it takes to make this happen. And, you’re now seeing the best European VC groups in syndicates with the best US VC groups. So, things have really been improving in recent years.

    Also, what I would say is that, very often, I’ve seen entrepreneurs complain – vocally – that they can’t get funded… and the real reason is because what they have isn’t good enough and they’re not credible as individuals. Not that the money isn’t there for the right opportunities. In other words, the quality of start-ups in Europe is often lower than the quality of start-ups in the US.

    You’re right, though, there are aren’t many really good VC groups that get this stuff, and that are preared to lead early stage investments (including seed investments simply for “ideas”).

    In Europe, for entrepreneurs that are credible, and who have something interesting to offer, the challenge isn’t to get an early stage company funded by VCs. The challenge is to hang on to enough equity to make it *worth* taking VC money. The problem I have with European VCs is that the deals they offer to entrepreneurs are often incredibly poor compared to the deals offered in the US. Which means that Europe has a shortage of serial entrepreneurs… after they been screwed once by their investors, entrepreneurs aren’t so keen to let it happen again.

  37. I still don’t see a compelling need here.

    Andrew identifies

    1. places like taxis that don’t handle a credit card. This problem is already going away in NYC, I expect it might be easier to solve the problem that way.

    2. situations with high credit card fraud problems. Where are those? Paying for online content (or ASP service like 37signals) could be one, since there’s no physical good shipped.

    Finding the niche audiences with the compelling need seems like the right place to start… (identify multiple options, to find cases with less need to BoilTheOcean).

  38. I still don’t see a compelling need here.

    Andrew identifies

    1. places like taxis that don’t handle a credit card. This problem is already going away in NYC, I expect it might be easier to solve the problem that way.

    2. situations with high credit card fraud problems. Where are those? Paying for online content (or ASP service like 37signals) could be one, since there’s no physical good shipped.

    Finding the niche audiences with the compelling need seems like the right place to start… (identify multiple options, to find cases with less need to BoilTheOcean).

  39. Simon, thats an argument we hear all the time, but I’m afraid there is a steady stream of these same complaining entrepreneurs who go west and do get funded.

    So one can thus believe either that:

    (i) Their business plans got a lot better after the “guidance” they got in Europe, or

    (ii) US VC’s are dumb money who fund any in-credible individual off the plane from the UK

    Or, if you believe neither of the above, you are left with….

  40. Simon, thats an argument we hear all the time, but I’m afraid there is a steady stream of these same complaining entrepreneurs who go west and do get funded.

    So one can thus believe either that:

    (i) Their business plans got a lot better after the “guidance” they got in Europe, or

    (ii) US VC’s are dumb money who fund any in-credible individual off the plane from the UK

    Or, if you believe neither of the above, you are left with….

  41. Alan, you make an interesting assertion that there’s “steady stream” of entrepreneurs that can’t get funded by European investors, but do get funding by moving to the US.

    It would beinteresting to look a few examples to see:

    a) Which companies/entrepreneurs these are that couldn’t get funded in Europe

    b) and which US VCs invested in them

    Do you have any data on this that you can share?

    As for the question of dumb VCs… Well, there are plenty of dumb VCs around, in both Europe and the US. And there are plenty of VCs, even the smart ones, that sometimes make appalling investment decisions i.e. even the good VC groups fund plenty of companies that are quite obviously rubbish.

  42. Alan, you make an interesting assertion that there’s “steady stream” of entrepreneurs that can’t get funded by European investors, but do get funding by moving to the US.

    It would beinteresting to look a few examples to see:

    a) Which companies/entrepreneurs these are that couldn’t get funded in Europe

    b) and which US VCs invested in them

    Do you have any data on this that you can share?

    As for the question of dumb VCs… Well, there are plenty of dumb VCs around, in both Europe and the US. And there are plenty of VCs, even the smart ones, that sometimes make appalling investment decisions i.e. even the good VC groups fund plenty of companies that are quite obviously rubbish.

  43. Noca is a micropayments service going up against the big credit card companies that has taken this advice and started at the Facebook app level, hoping to appeal to smaller developers before moving up the ladder.

  44. Noca is a micropayments service going up against the big credit card companies that has taken this advice and started at the Facebook app level, hoping to appeal to smaller developers before moving up the ladder.

  45. > In Mobile Phone payment I will have one advantage, unlike waiting till the month end for the credit card statements, mobile phones can be programmed to keep track of all the expenses. Handy Expense Tracker [;)]

    What wait? The websites for my credit card companies show me transactions as soon as they’re posted. I’m pretty sure that quicken would download them if I’d let it.

  46. > In Mobile Phone payment I will have one advantage, unlike waiting till the month end for the credit card statements, mobile phones can be programmed to keep track of all the expenses. Handy Expense Tracker [;)]

    What wait? The websites for my credit card companies show me transactions as soon as they’re posted. I’m pretty sure that quicken would download them if I’d let it.

  47. AdMob was relatively early into mobile advertising game (I believe they beat Google to market), whereas your friend from London does not seem like he’s getting in “early.”

  48. AdMob was relatively early into mobile advertising game (I believe they beat Google to market), whereas your friend from London does not seem like he’s getting in “early.”

  49. welcome to the world of mobile payments. at eZee we spent a lot of time and money on this space, and decided to pull out into better areas of mobility. the mobile space, done the right way (i.e. not P2P and i’m not talking about banking) is a bitch due to the ecosystem. the issue is not technology.

  50. welcome to the world of mobile payments. at eZee we spent a lot of time and money on this space, and decided to pull out into better areas of mobility. the mobile space, done the right way (i.e. not P2P and i’m not talking about banking) is a bitch due to the ecosystem. the issue is not technology.