Results tagged “business” from VANTAN.ORG

Ladies StepOut at Geek Terminal!

September 18, 2008 1:47 AM

Had a great gathering at Geek Terminal this evening for Bluestocking’s StepOut event for women entrepreneurs. I told my INSEAD classmates about this and 5 of them managed to make it. So the mix was a little more international than usual.

Geek Terminal is looking very good after its renovation. Things started well from the beginning. Firstly, there were COCKTAILS! We could each try 5 different blue cocktails and the most popular flavour would become the Bluestocking cocktail.

Three lady entrepreneurs shared their experiences about starting their own businesses: Ms Goh Yiping (President, World Indigo Inc); Ms Virginia Cha (CEO, WOVE Holdings Ltd) and Mrs Kim Faulkner (CEO, Activiste Pte Ltd).

Yiping was the youngest but had a great location-based idea which intrigued my fellow techy classmate Reene, who gave her a contact who might help publicise her idea. I like my classmates precisely because they are helpful and share information willingly.

Virginia Cha speaks Virginia speaking

Virginia spoke of her experience doing business in China, and added that her story became an INSEAD case! There were other interesting details to her story that we didn’t get to hear. However her advice was sensible: Don’t go to China thinking you can do everything your way, because it’s very different from the rest of the world. Instead, feel the pulse there and go with the flow.

Kim Faulkner speaks Kim speaking

Kim shared her interesting life story and how her business was bought up by a famous global company. She mentioned her experience as a consultant, and turns out she was from the same consultancy as one of my classmates, Eline! So it was a small world indeed. My take-home point from her was that wherever we work, our personal brand or reputation stays with us. It’s something important that we must maintain.

After the speeches were over, it was time for some audience participation. True to the theme, our activity involved standing behind a line and stepping out when we disagreed or agreed with a statement involving women doing business or generally cutting our own paths in this world. I and a few of my classmates got to air our views.

I discovered talent among my friends. One of my classmates, Anna, turned out to have a very astute cocktail sense, detecting a missing ingredient. Also I was suitably impressed with Coleman’s coffee making and decorating skills.

Coleman with the coffee he made for me Woot! ;-)

Thanks to Raine and friends for a most wonderful evening, and to Danny and the team at Geek Terminal for making us feel at home!

Web 2.0 - Emerging Industries panel

March 29, 2008 1:20 PM

Here’s my account of how the panel went, with added thoughts thrown in. Kevin thinks it didn’t work out due to technical glitches, but I can assure him the audience loved him. I’ll add more blog links once they come up.

It was exciting seeing Kevin on screen. At least it was better than our own Media Socialist video conferencing attempt a couple months ago, as he had backup systems (Skype and Twitter). I also met the other panelist, Stuart, who was obviously a very polished speaker. He was in the middle of conducting a course and stepped out just for this talk.

I was the first panelist to speak, on how large organisations and Government agencies could use Web 2.0. I didn’t think most of my projects were particularly sexy, so I didn’t go into details or plug my URLs. From my point of view, large organisations already had their Web 1.0-style media, such as corporate websites and digitised brochures. They have to adapt to a new mindset and not all are ready for it yet. Also, the sustainability of Web 2.0 applications was important and that was why we didn’t go ahead with all projects.

I was surprised to be boo-ed so early at this point by a well-known social media practitioner, but I hope I explained our reasons clearly. The specific point I was making at the time, was that while we already had other Web 2.0 projects like blogging and podcasting, we decided not to go with a Wiki to replace our health articles because of public safety reasons.

Judging from the pitches we’ve received to endorse dubious products and services (e.g. asking for our logo to be placed next to their ‘health’ products), opening up our health information to the world for editing may not be safe. Also, I noted that Wikipedia has over 900 3,950 volunteer editors making sure that unreliable information and sales pitches don’t stay on the site for long. If we can’t sustain a new Web 2.0 application that relies on crowdsourcing for information, then we shouldn’t start one until we’re ready.

Another point I wanted to add during the talk but didn’t, was that I’ve seen many cases of people jumping onto the blogging and Web 2.0 wagon, hoping to reap its benefits without fully understanding its impact. On one occasion I’ve even heard a criticism of someone else’s website as “not looking Web 2.0 enough”. Having glossy banners, big shiny buttons and large text is just a facade. In fact it is the mindset behind the operations that will prove whether something is really Web 2.0 or not. Is the organisation open to receiving criticism and taking the issue further, on its blog? Or will it only respond to newspaper forums and letters, as tradition dictates?

If you’re in a large corporation, try starting a Web 2.0 project. It will give you insights as to how open and collaborative your departments are.

And let’s not forget Web 2.0 is still a means to an end. We want to meet new people, or build on existing relationships. We want to share our photos and our videos. We want to share information or let people collaborate on our work. In the past this was harder to do, which makes the present more exciting. Web 2.0 is an enabler and a ‘flattener’ (to borrow the term from Thomas Friedman) because it breaks down some barriers to entry. That brings things down to the same level, and that’s when we realise that it is still the value of your content and ideas that will help you stand out from the crowd.

I started out as a dotcommer but have been in the public sector for the past 4 years. So when ‘monetisation’ came up as a question, I was wondering what I could say that would be of value to the audience! The only examples I could give were from my personal blog - the Thinking Cap I designed for Ivan, which garnered a few sales on, and my Associates referral scheme which has garnered me several US$ in sales after writing some book reviews.

I understood Gurmit’s point, evil adman though he may come across as, because it is some people’s jobs to make money from Web 2.0, while the rest of us play about with it. It is not my job to make money from it as we’re suppose to disseminate reliable health information. However I’m sure many of us wouldn’t mind making some money out of our blogs either!

Stuart noted that to follow this model of putting ads on your site, you need more than 100 readers. This is where internet marketing comes in. But as Kevin pointed out, there’s also a social value from Web 2.0 and if the idea is good, the money will come later. He was rightfully applauded for that.

It was good to meet some of you at the talk today. I am bad with names but I see you on Twitter. Thank you for coming to our talk. Thank you November, NTT, Farinelli, Raine and Nick. Thank you also to Marcus, Ridza and the rest of the team for organising this event.

I would’ve liked to reveal more at the talk, but didn’t think it was appropriate in my capacity especially as I’m not a decision-maker and can’t speak for other agencies either. I am happy that Singapore may join the Creative Commons, based on what the Creative Commons folk at SXSW told me - they too have no definite idea. I think it is a great idea to improve one of our systems for vendors, and build a platform for the public to contribute info in emergency situations. Like I said, I can send these suggestions to the relevant folks. I hope something comes out of it.

To those who came, in the spirit of SIA I say: “Thank you for going to our panel. I know there are other social media events that you could have chosen to attend today.” :) has launched the Business and Finance Blog Network, comprising “a community of pre-screened, influential business and financial blogs”. I’m proud to be a member of this new community. Citing the press release:

The Blog Network’s content will focus on senior business decision makers and high-net-worth investors. Topics will be relevant to the banking, trading, hedge fund management, affluent investing, and senior business decision-making communities. Participation in the network is by invitation only, and all blogs are vetted by editors for appropriate content, and to ensure that they are in keeping with the Forbes editorial brand.

The network will allow advertisers to target a highly engaged, exclusive niche audience of senior business decision makers and affluent investors easily and effectively. Four hundred-plus blogs have already joined the network, with many more expected to sign on before the official launch in the next few weeks.

If you’re surprised, I don’t blame you. But in the next few months I’ll be able to reveal exactly why I’ve taken on business blogging in a big way.

Enhancing Digital Retail

March 14, 2008 2:29 PM

SXSW Music panel. Panelists: Justin Sinkovich, Richard Gottehrer, Chris Fagot, Ted Cohen

Official description: Digital retail is a growth market, and recent developments are encouraging for artists and labels alike. While rights management systems have not disappeared entirely, customers are embracing retailers’ DRM-free offerings. Distribution and aggregation are more streamlined. A base of paying customers is slowly building. How can digital retailers maintain this momentum?

The traditional view from the music industry is that music should not be downloaded for free. One panelist even brought up the possibility of having an ‘iPod tax’ for usage, which I thought was ludicrous.

The panelists discussed another business model whereby all new singles are released at a very low price. As more people download it, the price increases until it reaches a saturation point, which then determines the worth of that single. It is likened to a ‘stock market’ approach.

A survey’s conducted among us as to who paid for the Radiohead album that was released on a ‘pay as you wish’ model. As previously blogged, I was one of those people so I raised my hand. He asked how many more downloaded it without paying, and I saw only one or two hands raised. It was heartening to know - but perhaps as musicians ourselves, we empathise more with Radiohead’s situation.

Radiohead’s model has taken away three common excuses from music fans who refuse to pay:

  1. “I want to sample the music first, but have to pay to download a track, so I might as well download it elsewhere for free.” or “I’d pay for it but I don’t like DRM’s limitations.”
  2. “I’d pay $8.99 for it, but it costs $9.99 so I’m going elsewhere to download it for free.”
  3. “The music companies are the ones making the money and not passing it on to the artistes, so why should I pay for it?” I never thought this argument worked because artistes do get a cut, even if it isn’t very much.

Gotthehrer feels artistes today are still bound by traditional rules in the midst of new developments. In the good ol’ days you’d just go to a record store and buy something. iTunes has changed it all. Artistes need to ‘go with the flow’. Don’t think of themselves as ‘indie’ just because they’re not with the big labels. “We’re all musicians.” ‘Digital’ makes it possible for everyone to get their music out there. Lastly, he feels musicians should be in it not just for the money but for the love of making music. This draws wide applause from the audience.

The panelists feel that marketing is necessary for artistes. However there’s a limited amount of space. iTunes is pretty reasonable for getting indie music, with their Staff Picks, but there are only so many boxes that they can display.

During the panel discussion, there is occasional talk of ‘changing the law’ and ‘going to Washington’, but surely it isn’t that easy or realistic a solution.

Net neutrality was touched on briefly.

Cohen describes how he’s surprised at the younger generation (i.e. his son) downloading stuff. His son’s justification: “It’s so easy, it doesn’t feel illegal.” Cohen jokes that “a few public executions may help”. I sense the digital divide in attitudes here…

Member of the audience says, “Value is in the eye of the beholder.” Some may value keeping CDs but others see him as “antiquated”!

The panelists seem to refer the most to iTunes and have accepted that this is the biggest player in the digital music market. “If iTunes switched to a subscription model, people would forget about Rhapsody.”

Cohen extends the scope of this subject to other digital content such as books, saying how he met someone who downloads thousands of digital books.

Gottehrer has a more progressive view - the digital world gives artistes great opportunities to get their music out - “don’t be mistaken about it”. Sinkovich too is “excited” about how things are going.

In summary, some interesting issues were brought up at this panel, but of course this is too big and complex an issue to conclude anything significant. Trends to look out for: new devices, faster broadband and phone networks like 4G - these may create more opportunities to download digital music.

I’ll take my hat off to anyone who can distribute all artistes’ music equally, and fairly compensate all parties involved, thereby eliminating the need for illegal downloads. Much, much easier said than done.

While cross-reading 'Naked Conversations' and 'The Corporate Blogging Book', I came across this post, The Pursuit of Busyness, by Associate Professor Andrew McAfee of the Harvard Business School, and can emphathise with it. He writes about how employees are often shy to embrace Enterprise 2.0 technologies (blogs, wikis etc) as well as the new mindset.

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