Get nostalgic with Timehop

A time capsule of your presence online

If you have ever had the wish to take a look at what you posted exactly one year ago (or two or three, for that matter), Timehop is the app for you. In order to use this app, you will have to create an account. It also has an option called Facebook Connect for those who do not want to go through the whole process of signing up. You will then have to link up your other social media accounts – Flickr, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram. If you wish, you can link your camera roll to show the photos that you have taken in the past. This option, however, does not work well if you frequently delete photos to create space.

Its interface is clean and simple. Every year is colour coded. This way you will be able to see how long ago something was posted. It keeps everything separated. As a result, it is not a whole mess of stuff. It labels everything clearly so that you don’t miss out anything of your past.The posts in this app show you the platform on which you has originally posted and can fetch all the details and captions that you had posted with it. The headers for every year show what day of the week it was, and the weather (if available). This seems like a nice touch. It might seem embarrassing to look back at your timeline, but that is the point of a time capsule.

You can see the images in full screen with just a tap and see any Foursquare check-ins on a map. You will also be able to see all your Facebook and Twitter updates and the links are click-able. You can share any moment with others by tapping the Share button. You can send it across via email, SMS, Twitter, or Facebook. You can also share these moments on Timehop so that your friends (who are using the app) can see it.


Continue Reading

The brains behind drones

A closer look at Airware, which makes the drones work

Technology is growing, and growing fast. A few years back, it would have been impossible to imagine that there would be robots flying in the sky that would be controlled by people on the ground!

The Iron Man movies gave a glimpse of what the future can be like with drones. They can be used for a number of purposes, including defending a country.

Airware does not make drones, and neither does it plan to. It fact, it makes the brains that make the drones work. If you want to order something from Airware, you will get a logic board that handles things like auto pilot and wireless communication, in addition to all the actuators and sensors you would want in a drone.

Drones seem quite spooky. When regular folks hear “drone” or “unmanned aircraft”, they first think of the highly controversial use, which is also quite terrifying, by the military powers of the world. This is quite sad, though. For, like most technology, drones are not inherently lethal. They are also not the killing machines they are projected to be. Drones have a number of uses that are perfectly innocent, and none of these involve shooting you from the sky or getting a lot like Big Brother. In fact, all of these require a robot soaring a few thousand feet above the ground.

In Kenya, people are building drones powered by Airware in an attempt to monitor the declining population of Northern White Rhinos to oppose poaching. In the slopes, the companies are working to build drones that will help them look for skiers who are lost. There are other teams that are working on building drones that will monitor their existing infrastructure for damaged power lines or gas lines by using high resolution infrared cameras. Drones are also being built to take care of delivering vaccines urgently and in researching air quality in various regions.

This distinction is important because Airware has no intention of working with the military forces of countries. They do want to move forward, but CEO Jonathan Downey claims that not a single of their dozens of clients and customers are focused on military.

The company wants to bridge the gap between military drone work, which is massively funded, and the nascent DIY drone community, also called the “personal Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” community.

Downey discovered his love for drones while studying at MIT, and the company came into existence in 2011. He, along with a few friends, entered a competition for building drones, and were quite surprised at the limitation and black – box – like structure of the all the drone technology that was available.

After a few years, that included a stint at Boeing, Downey entered the arena of building drones full time, and also raised a small seed capital to set things in motion. By the end of 2012, the money had run dry. The company managed to enter Y Combinator’s Winter 2013 class, just as the FAA was opening up to commercial drones in the US airspace, by a twist of fate and impeccable timing. After four months and a big demo at YC, they managed to raise the whopping amount of $10.7 million!


Continue Reading

How to keep your sanity as a business owner

As small business owners, the stress is bound to be great, especially as you have to think about almost everything. Every entrepreneur has his or her own breaking point. It could be something like being too swamped with work and not getting enough time for spending quality time with your family. You can’t always prevent situations from cropping up and grinding your nerves, but you can have your own ways to deal with it.

Here are a few strategies that can help.

Do a maximum of five major tasks in a day
If you try to do more than five big things in a day, you are bound feel overwhelmed, which will not help your productivity in any way.

So, if you have a never – ending to – do list, you will always feel as if you are just not getting anything done. But, if you do just five things and try to get them done by 11 am, you will be surprised by how much more you can get done when you prioritise work.

Don’t try to control everything
Trying to control everything is a recipe for everything going haywire. Instead, focus only on three things:

  • Who you are for your customers

  • What you are committed to

  • Delivering on what your customers can count on you for

One you put all your energy into these three things, you will have a whole lot of customers who are happy and profitable, and they will choose you regardless of the price they have to cough up.

Jot everything down
It is quite important to jot down stuff – without using any technology, just the good ol’ pen and paper. All you have to do is buy a white legal pad, and make a note of everything that you have to do. The moment you finish a task, draw a line across it. It feels extremely good to physically cross something off.

There will always be more going on in your office than you can keep track of. So, having a notepad on your desk will help you keep those five big tasks in the front of your mind.

Take some time off
Taking some time off, even if it is half a day, can do wonders for our productivity and stress levels. Entrepreneurs push themselves to the limit because they think the business will not sustain if they are out of the office. But, if you take off early on Friday, you will feel rejuvenated and all ready to tackle every challenge on Monday.

You might not be able to take vacations often, but getting off work early on Fridays is certainly doable.

Continue Reading

Figuring out the next step

Most people think that start – ups are all about the one great, revolutionary product idea. Once the moment of epiphany hits, the result is pretty much predictable. The problem with this thought process is that it disregards the years of hard work and toil endured by entrepreneurs, and that a large number of start – ups change over time – often dramatically.

Entrepreneurs find it difficult to subscribe to this view, and, in response, say things like, “ideas do not matter” or “execution is everything”.

If a reality – check is to be done, then ideas do matter. However, they are not in the narrow sense in which such ideas are generally defined. A good start – up plan is not a pipe dream, that entrepreneurs watch as it builds. A good start – up idea is, in fact, well – developed, planned for many years, and include contemplations for various paths according to how the world changes.

Wear the shoes of the creators of Netflix in 1997. Your first thoughts would be about the kind of response you would get from content providers, distribution channels, and competitors. You would also wonder about how long it would take for technology to develop enough to enable you to distribute content online instead of by mail.

You can also consider the quandaries of the makers of Dropbox in 2007. There had been many cloud storage companies that did not last. They would be wondering about the mistakes made by their predecessors and the effect mobile platforms might have.

When you are just starting, it is not possible to map the entire course of events. However, the following places can help you get a general idea and plan accordingly.

If someone has tried out your idea before (most good ones have been tried), you should try to see where they went wrong and what they did right. Most of these reasons are stored in the brains of those who had executed it, and this makes working in “stealth mode” a very bad idea. You will gain far more by learning about the possible scenarios than the risks you will run of having your idea stolen.

Check out the blogs written by entrepreneurs and investors. These places contain a wealth of historical data on technology start – ups. These people have observed and sifted through data to develop various theories that generalise the data they received.

Another good place to look for the direction in which to turn is similar businesses. They will give you knowledge that no other place will. Look at their beginnings, their strategies, and learn about them. You can then utilise something similar in your venture.

You should also think about competition. Other start – ups are just a distraction. Chances are high that your and their paths will not merge. But, if you see many who are trying to do something similar, then rest assured that you might be on to something good. You should be, in fact, worrying about the years you could waste if you go down the wrong path.

Continue Reading

Sell Magic

Startups that create technology are not actually in the business of technology. They are, in fact, in the business of creating magic. By magic, I don’t mean that they befuddle people with card tricks or by pulling a rabbit or a dove out of their hats. They create magic that awes and surprises. They are in the business of providing people with a magical experience.

Most of a business’s customers don’t understand the technology that goes behind creating the products. They don’t need to, and they don’t care. What they care about is the way the product works. The love a simple interface. For example, when you look at Google’s interface, it is just a box for you to type in and some buttons and tabs here and there. But, behind the simple and classy interface lies tons and tons and tons and tons of code, which, when looked at, will blow your mind.

But, as long as the search engine’s working, and working seamlessly and perfectly, people will flock to it. Your product has to be like that. It has to delight and astound, and yet, remain as simple as ABC. Simplicity is magical. If your product is not simple, does not awe your customers, does not make them feel magical, and have an astounding design, you will be in trouble.

For very few people are interested in technology for the sake of technology. Most people are interested in what technology can do for them, and how it can blow their shoes off. By selling only your technology, you will just end up with a bunch of people who have been irritated and confused by your technology.

People like to see results. They want products that will delight them. They prefer start-ups that are easy to communicate with and respond to their queries almost immediately. Apart from looking for value for their money, people now want technology to fit into their lives without any hassle.

They do seem to want a lot, and it does seem like they want magic. So, that’s what you’ve got to sell – magic.

Continue Reading