Snapchat Spectacles – 20:20 Vision Or Myopic Mistake?

The brand formerly known as Snapchat has been making headlines this week with two pretty big announcements. The first was the name change to ‘Snap Inc.’ (signifying a diversification of the brand away from simply video messaging apps); the second was that of Spectacles (‘Specs’) – the latest in wearable video technology.

Specs are modified sunglasses which allow you to record video clips of varying lengths – either 10, 20 or 30 seconds. They’re available in three colours (black, teal and coral); rechargeable (the case doubles as a charging dock); and store snaps internally until the user transfers them (via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) them to a smartphone to view and share on Snapchat (this is all eerily similar to the plot of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror episode ‘The Entire History of You’).

 

There’s a lot to be said for the latest Snap innovation, and it comes in parallel a new brand direction (they are already now describing themselves as ‘a camera company’). This is a bold move for a brand who, just a few days ago, were known only for the sharing of ephemeral video clips.

Are Specs the new Glass?

Well on paper they could be mistaken for the most recent incarnation of Google Glass – remember how well those devices did in 2012? Sure, they still see resurgences in certain niche sectors from time to time, but they never did reach the mass-market consumer heights Google was aiming for. However with the Specs there are some key differences:

1. Appearance

Google Glass was criticised for the ‘nerdy’ appearance and the fact that they seemed too futuristic or ‘dorky’. It took Google 2 years to take this feedback and transform the design into something more fashionable – and even helpful, with the incorporation of prescription lenses – but it seems to have been too little, too late. Specs definitely look more fashionable – though this is of course slightly subjective.

2. Price

Glass was originally priced at £1,000 for developers – the consumer-ready version never materialised. Whilst Glass appeared to be expensive, it incorporated a lot of features and had a wider range of uses than Specs do. Specs have only one function – recording video – and the price reflects that – at $130 (£100) for the Specs, charger and charging case, the price seems to be spot-on for early adopters. and for their target market: Ray-Ban wearing teens.

3. Marketing

Google decided to drip-feed Glass to the market, whilst pushing a high price and promising to change lives – this excluded a lot of excited adopters and limited the overall appeal of the device. However, Snap have a done a great job here – Spectacles are a cool design, simple to use, and will be sold at an accessible price point. They’ll be drip feeding the product to the market in limited numbers, much like Google did previously, but the price will not exclude those they seek to interest.

“We’re going to take a slow approach to rolling them out…it’s about us figuring out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like it.” (Snap CEO – Evan Spegal)

They’re also launching at the right time – the number of people using video doubled between 2009 and 2013. Video is more widely created and shared than it was when Google Glass launched – 54% of adult internet users post original photos or videos online that they themselves have created, so the audience is already primed and waiting for this creation.

4. Privacy

One of Google Glass’s main pitfalls was privacy – they were quickly banned from public places including bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas. There were many difficulties in overcoming the public’s fear of being recorded without giving consent and ultimately, the limitations and fears overcame the excitement, causing the demise of the device.

Snap Spectacles offer the very same feature which caused the demise of Glass – in fact, it is the only feature, so how are they planning to avoid the same fate we have already witnessed with Glass? Lights. The Spectacles feature a light on the inside to let the wearer know that recording is taking place – as well as an external light alerting those around the wearer that the glasses are recording. Whilst slightly more prominent than the ‘recording’ light on Google Glass – this doesn’t really solve the issue.

Despite the design and product features that Snap have incorporated into the spectacles (that are all arguably aimed at countering the invasion of privacy issue that basically sunk Google Glass), I don’t think it’s enough. People are, more than ever, aware of privacy and the risk of having it invaded, either first hand (being covertly filmed) or second hand (having photos/videos hacked and stolen from online storage). However I don’t believe Snap fully deal with the main reason Google glass was essentially a wearables fail: privacy. Ok, so there are a features that have clearly been included to counter the whole privacy thing, but I don’t think they’re enough to take it mass-market.

I think the majority of people are still not comfortable with the prospect of being spied on by people wearing devices that record what they’re doing. For me this is a major hurdle that any wearables product needs to leap, and I’m not sure Snap have delivered enough here to do that. They may nail some key segments – 18-24 year olds specifically – who are more comfortable sharing everything they do online, and are already using their app all day. And in this they also have the potential to increasing their 63% UK market share; but they also risk alienating the more security-conscious technology adopters, who are likely to react this like they reacted to Google Glass.

What do you think? Let me know below, or on Twitter @bradindigital

Brexit Food

The Brexit Fallout: Where Do We Go From Here?

In my last blog post, I discussed the possibilities facing small businesses in London if the EU referendum resulted in Britain leaving the EU. Unfortunately, that possibility became reality on the morning of 24th June and the resulting turmoil has left the business world in a state of disquiet, anxiety and for some, utter shock.

 

What’s The Damage So Far?

As soon as the news was reported that a 52% majority had voted to leave the EU, the reality and effects of that decision became noticeable. Within 12 hours:

  • The pound fell in value (to the lowest level against the US dollar in 32 years)
  • The FTSE 250 fell by 14% from the previous day’s closing figures
  • The 15 richest people in the UK lost a total of £4 billion collectively as markets plunged
  • Many businesses, such as Vodafone, have warned that they plan to move their business out of the UK if trade agreements fail
  • 25% of company directors plan to initiate hiring freezes during the uncertainty ahead

I know there’s an overwhelming demand for people to ‘stop going on about it’, but I really don’t think most people understand the damage that will be caused if we cut our ties with Europe. If we stop talking about it, we will never get anywhere. There’s no plan without communication.

The only certain thing about uncertainty is that it is uncertain. The uncertainty alone freezes decision making in business, and this causes the economy to stop growing and even shrink, leading to what media outlets are terming ‘Texit’ – the presumption that tech companies will leave Britain, as Britain leaves the EU.

This doesn’t just cause issues for ‘the rich’ and ‘business leaders’, it directly impacts every single person who contributes to society. Right at this moment it makes more sense to setup a business outside of the UK than it does inside it. People seem to have forgotten that our economy is primarily built on service based companies, the contribution of which has steadily grown from 46% in 1948 to 78% in 2012.

These companies can be based anywhere in the world, but choose to be here because of the EU, our relationship with EU countries, and the certainty/stability of the pound. I would love someone to explain to me how this Brexit thing helps us in any way that isn’t someway driven by a generic statement like ‘wanting change’. Wanting change to our political system is a good thing and in my opinion is needed. However, people have been hoodwinked into thinking that leaving the EU means that we will somehow see new economic opportunity and growth.

Already, just over a week later there is buyer’s remorse from many in the Leave camp as well as those who voted to remain, and there is confusion over what to do next.

 

So what now?

We need to snap out of the haze. Like Baroness Lane Fox I believe we need to accept what has happened and begin to take a progressive view on how to move forwards. In the words of her letter to the Evening Standard “The worst thing to do now would be dwell on the result and not look to the future”. I 100% agree.

Now is the time to take a progressive view, remain dynamic and revert to Entrepreneur 101: remain agile and look for opportunities. It’s easy to look at the current situation and become so overwhelmed with uncertainty and fear that you stop trying altogether. I know that things might seem a bit hopeless right now, but I invite you to look at this from a different perspective: now is the time to make your mark! Take the opportunity to overcome adversity, stare odds which are stacked against you square in the eyes, and say “My business and entrepreneurial spirit will overcome this, this is not going to hold us back.”

There will be challenging times, but also opportunities. As global tech investment firm Atomico stated, some of the largest companies around today were born in tough economic times; “Entrepreneurs are resilient. We’ve seen this over and over again. Microsoft and FedEx started out in the 1973–1975 oil crisis and US recession. Skype was founded in 2002, during what was still the dotcom nuclear winter. Airbnb, Spotify and Uber were born during the 2008–2009 financial crisis. This, if it turns out to be a crisis, will be no different.”

The future is ours, and it’s up to us to make it work in our favour.

Why Brexit Would Destroy UK Tech

 

Two major events are happening in the British tech industry this week – the EU referendum and London Tech Week. Of course, the possibility of Brexit becoming reality has been a hot topic within the opening speeches at London Tech Week, and the statements and statistics put forward have served to strengthen my belief that remaining in the EU is the best option for UK start-ups.

 

The UK is the home of the Unicorn

London Tech Week launched with a keynote speech from Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners, in which he stated that “London has become the best city in the world to create and scale tech companies”, and backed this up with figures showing that over $10bn has been invested in London’s tech sector.

London has built a reputation as a global tech hub through innovation and applying the productive benefits of technological advances to other areas of production – such as disability and medical aids, emission reduction and innovative building materials. My concern is that, in leaving the EU, London’s tech start-ups will lose access to many of the factors driving this success.

Currently, Europe is leading the way in producing sustainable start-ups, with European tech companies being valued at 18 times their revenue generation, in stark contrast to the US tech companies, which are valued at an average of 46 times their revenue generation. According to GP Bullhound’s Annual European Unicorns Report, Europe is currently home to 47 billion-dollar digital start-ups – a majority of which (18) are based in London – showing that London truly is the home of the Unicorn Start-up.

 

Brexit would likely destroy London’s ‘Tech Hub’ status.

I am not alone in this opinion, either. Many leading tech businesses have put their names to letters urging the UK to remain a member of the EU. The UK heads of IBM, Microsoft and SAP joined 32 other business leaders in signing an open letter, whilst are among 1,280 business leaders to have signed another and hundreds of tech start-ups and entrepreneurs have signed a separate letter. Former Google Chrome Marketing UK head and founder of the Sup App, Richard Pleeth also shares my sentiments, alongside 87% of Tech London Advocates, as does the highly respected entrepreneur Richard Branson:

 

This does not mean that voting to remain within the EU will mean that there will be no change to the British tech industry, however. Both potential results will trigger change within laws and regulations and tech companies – both start-ups and established businesses alike, will have to make rapid changes in order to keep up. But it is glaringly obvious that a ‘remain’ outcome is less likely to destroy Britain’s technology-driven capital and will mean less disruption for businesses overall.

If Britain was not in the EU, every stage of the process – from Business Development through to invoicing clients – would have been much harder for my business ‘E-tale’. Doing business in Europe and essentially exporting software was easy. We took this for granted until we began working in regions like Russia and Brazil where the level of paperwork and tax info required is out of hand! Brazil have various import taxes that make it really hard for an international supplier to be competitive, whilst Russia is less about the tax and more about the paperwork needed to ever get paid.

The admin costs of just finding out what the trading rules are outside Europe and the US is a cost that most start-ups are unable to bare. However, trading in the European Union was almost exactly like trading in the UK – sharing many of the same regulations and requirements and making understanding the whole process much simpler. In addition to this, having a strong European client base was a huge factor when E-tale was purchased by ChannelAdvisor in 2014.

I am not saying that I would have dismissed the thought of starting a business outside of the European Union, just that it would have been a lot harder, arduous and more expensive to do so. The opportunities for expansion and innovation would have been severely limited by not having access to EU markets and regulations.

For medium to large businesses, the impact of a Brexit result will be damaging, but will not be as devastating as the effects it will have on start-ups and entrepreneurs. New businesses and those still in the planning phase will be left stranded, lost and in need of severe guidance, should Thursday’s result see the UK leave the EU. A Brexit result would severely restrict, and in some cases destroy, those businesses currently starting up in London’s many tech hubs.

My experience at the Techpreneur Expo

This post is about my experience of the talks I held from a jam-packed two days at the Techpreneur Expo in London at Kensington Olympia. The event was part of the 34th Business Show, which showcases hundreds of business over the two days, some of those are startups, and that’s what really interested me about the event. My ‘start, scale and sell’ masterclass was a sell-out event.

 

Each day I had six one-hour sessions on ranging topics, I began the day at 11 am with a talk on ‘Evaluating your idea’. This session focused on knowing if your idea was a winning idea; I was able to speak about my own experiences in the starting up stage and how I created my own ideas.

 

At 12 pm, I held a session on ‘From start-up to scale-up’. This was when I had a chance to speak about how I achieved making my start-up into a fully-fledged business and more importantly preventing things from breaking.

 

The 1 pm session was on booking meetings, how to get in front of the big companies even if you don’t have the budget to do so. I was in this position myself, not so long ago and I love sharing my experiences on this, so hopefully my knowledge can help others.

 

The next session at 2 pm was on ‘the competition’, I think it’s important that you can speak to your competition but remain credible at the same time. From my experience, I was talking about some of the bigger companies I had personally dealt with, but I am hoping my advice can be taken out of context and be applied to any competition circumstances.

 

The sessions at 3 pm and 4 pm were on selling your company; I mainly spoke about when and why you should sell and then preparing for the process. I only sold my start-up ‘E-Tale’ in 2014, so the process is still very memorable.

 

The day was a huge success, especially seeing as it was my first speaking engagement of this type; I must admit I was a bit nervous at the beginning of the day! I was hoping to get lots of feedback from the event, as I am writing a book and hoping the tips will help me in the process

 

I also got asked a few questions throughout the day; it was great to see lots of people were so interested in the talks and wanted to know more.

 

I would love to hear if you attended the Techpreneur expo or the Business Show, especially if you attended one of my sessions! Leave a comment below, I love to hear feedback!

Start, Scale and Sell Masterclass – 3rd/4th December 2015

Earlier this year I was luckily invited to speak at the ‘Techpreneur Expo’ this coming December. The Techpreneur Expo is part of the 34th Business Show, which showcases other key speakers. The speakers include motivational speakers and business leaders, such as Touker Suleyman from the BBC show Dragons Den.

My masterclass will have the following itinerary across both days:

•    11:00 – Evaluating your Idea – How to know if you are onto a winner!

•    12:00 – From Start-up to Scale-up – Preparing for the big time.

•    13:00 – Booking Meetings – How to get in front of big companies without a big budget.

•    14:00 – The Competition – How to speak about the competition and remain credible.

•    15:00 – Selling Your Company – Part 1 – When should you sell your company.

•    16:00 – Selling Your Company – Part 2 – How to prepare for Due Diligence.

Having created and successfully sold a start-up in the tech sector, I am hopeful that I can share some of my learnings in the hope this will help others do the same. The masterclass sessions will very much be a workshop and I will be open to ANY questions on the day. I think this event should really be a great networking opportunity for everyone involved, including me! I always love to hear others ideas and hope I can help in some way, as I know how difficult the startup world can be.

Important information:

Date: 3rd and 4th December 2015.

Time: First masterclass at 11 am and run every hour until 4 pm on both days!

Price: FREE but you must register!

Location: Olympia London (Not far from Kensington Olympia station).

Hello!

Hopefully you have already read my bio to get to know a bit about me, but I wanted to give an insight into what I want to achieve from this blog…

I want to be able to give my own perspective on the current technology market and trends, based on my own knowledge from being an entrepreneur myself after working for a technology company for a number of years. I have lots of thoughts I want to share and I am equally keen to hear others thoughts too!

Something that’s interested me for quite a while now is how growing technology could be used by large, major brands, how these trends will impact their businesses but also how these trends could be capitalised on and monetised.

This blog will hopefully be a space where I can share examples of how technology is moving forwards and being used, I also have a passion for technology and start-up businesses, I will be attending a number of events over the next year and will be sure to blog about them.

I would love to hear any feedback about my blog and I hope you enjoy the material I post, I’m aiming to update once a week  at least, so please check back!

Brad