x3C Fig Jam | Observations on business, tech, politics & coffee

Some tips for non-technical South Africans wanting to develop apps

A friend recently asked me for some basic tips on how to develop an app business… here’s a summary of my mail to her: High-level advice: Don’t build it and expect customers to come. They won’t. They’re busy. Sell it, then build it. Consumer apps are hard work and dependent on a huge amount of […]

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Overheads kill people. Stay away from overheads

Overheads in the form of recurring monthly expenses are the same as debt. Best case you hand in notice and pay-up for another month. Worst case you discover you must pay 12 months termination fee. Either way, it slows you down. And when you’re in a small business, survival is all about speed. Stay away […]

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The biggest lesson from the story of General Motors (My years at GM by Alfred Sloane)

Henry Ford completely dominated the motorcar industry for almost two decades, from 1907 onwards. His vision of bringing raw basic transport to the masses was epitomized by the Model T. His 70% market share entrenched economies of scale that no competitor could match, resulting in the Model T being the cheapest car on the road. […]

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Data networks should be priced like toll-roads

There are three truths about telecoms today: First, everyone wants free Internet access (WiFi preferably). Second, everyone wants both data and voice services on their mobile phone. Third, everyone wants  video content, it’s the killer entertainment medium. The modus operandi for telcos is to try and address all three burning needs on the same network, with the net […]

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Why public Free WiFi is essential in Africa

I’ve just returned from vacation where I was staying at a house that had no 3G or WiFi. All I had was Edge. It was like being back on a feature phone. Very, very, very frustrating. Edge is ok for sending short text emails, but attachments seem to clog the system and fail epically, and all […]

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7 secrets to being a multi-millionaire

(extracted from Business Brilliant, by Lewis Schiff) 1. Follow your passion and then follow the money. The money will not follow you. 2.  Play to your strengths. Delegate your weaknesses. 3.  It’s all about your network. 4. Heads I win, tails I don’t lose. No need to risk your personal savings. Make sure you’ve protected your downside […]

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7 ways to fail

 1.    Too much ego or too little ego It’s obvious that having too much ego is a sure-fire way to fail. But if you have no confidence you will also fail. Arrogance is like salt on a pizza. Too much and you ruin it. Too little and there is no taste. 2.    Not listening or […]

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Success secret: Take an early big risk, then focus on not losing

Once you’ve read Art of War by Sun Tzu, the biography of Cyrus the Great, or any of the wisdom of Charlie Munger & Warren Buffett, you will quickly realise that the secret to winning is “not losing”. These guys all ensured that whatever they do, they can’t be killed if it doesn’t work out […]

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What do you do when you discover your business partner is not right for you?

  Sometimes you go into business with someone and after a couple months/years you realise you’ve made a mistake. He’s a crook, or lazy or simply doesn’t share your values. Time for divorce. How? The simplest option is to abandon ship. Start again and be more careful choosing a partner. This entails leaving behind all […]

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Forced voting: Another reason I can’t live in Australia

  In Australia it’s illegal to not vote during national elections. I thought democracy is supposed to be about freedom of choice? To me, being forced to vote or go to jail (actually, iI think you pay a fine but I prefer the jail analogy) sounds like a tyranny. Also, forcing people to do things […]

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The Rum & Raisin Theory Of Destiny

I like rum & raisin ice cream. For some reason, not all ice cream shops sell rum & raisin ice cream. This glaring flaw in the universe has a silver lining: it led to the Rum & Raisin Theory Of Destiny. It works like this. If I walk into an ice cream shop and they […]

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Deal-makers, dealbreakers, and the crowd

There are three kinds of people. Dealmakers, dealbreakers and the crowd. The crowd is arb. The crowd follows. It won’t lead, it won’t block. Dealmakers make things happen. A combination of intelligence, creativity and perseverance allows these people to find a path when the crowd says it’s impossible. Once they’ve found the path the crowd […]

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13 differences between Stars and Slackers

1. Stars arrive at the office at 7am without being asked. Slackers slouch in at 9, with a new excuse every day for why they’re late. 2. Stars never make excuses; they just own up to their mistakes and fix them without a fuss. Slackers always make excuses and try to shift blame. 3. Stars reply to emails […]

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Don’t leave your company or country because you have a bad jockey

If you believe in your company, don’t quit your job even if your boss is an ass. Bosses come and go, but good companies are forever. The same applies to countries. A great president can’t fix a broken country. A great country can’t be broken by a bad president. Don’t give up on your country, […]

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Who thinks the world is doomed?

Who thinks we’re doomed? Who thinks its game over, insert coin? Not me. The Internet will save the world. Why? People don’t make bad decisions because they’re stupid. They make bad decisions because they don’t have access to all the information information. People don’t do bad things because they’re evil. They do bad things because […]

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Excerpt from Tshwane Mayor’s State of Capital speech

This is awesome for South Africa… “Madam Speaker, we are a society of unequal opportunities on many fronts, often contributing to the widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. In the current digital economy, a lack of access to internet connectivity denies the poorest in our society the requisite opportunities to access basic […]

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Smartphones are like US cars in the 70′s

Every time I reopen an app it refreshes. Every minute brings another push notification. Every software update is over 1GB. It’s like the designers of smartphones live in a land where data is uncapped and free for all. Oh wait, they do. Which is why there is complete disregard for data efficiency. I guess it’s […]

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The mobile Web is killing gatekeepers

Newspaper paywalls don’t work because you can Google the article and go directly to the source. Advertising on the mobile Web doesn’t work because the phone screen is too small to fit in 30 banners selling everything from online poker to insurance. The Internet is taking us down a road where the gatekeepers are being […]

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Why free Wi-Fi is more important than cheap Wi-Fi

When I ran Mxit I saw how it changed peoples lives. The brainchild of some Stellenbosch techies allowed youngsters in the Cape Flats to connect with a world of which they could only dream before. Jobs, education and mostly importantly, social networks were created overnight thanks to cheap messaging that worked on all phones, regardless […]

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4 tips before starting a business

1. If you don’t know how you’re going to make money from day one, you will fail 2. If you don’t have enough savings to last six months without a salary, you will fail 3. If you are not willing to risk asking family and friends for money to start your venture, you will fail Of course, this […]

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