Monday 27 April 2009

Parents should be great at start-ups

Parents should be great at start-ups

Some people like to take risks, and embrace entrepreneurial spirit, and some people don't. There is no right and wrong here. It is just the way it is.

My view is that most people will choose a comfort zone or an "uncomfort" zone - taking risk is not for everyone.

But hang on, how come then so many people get married - talk about taking risk. Look, that is just my view, I could be wrong.

But hang on again, also, so many people get divorced. I think that risk taking is something we all understand.

Now when it comes to start-ups, if you are going to take the risk, then really take it - give it shtick. If you are in control of your own destiny then don’t do a half-hearted job of things. To me a start-up is about all or nothing - if you are going to take a risk and start a business venture, then give it everything you got, and try to make hay will the sun shines. If, for example, you want to own and run your own business then do it right - if you are going to take a risk, then don't be scared to push the envelope - take it to the max.!

Parents should be good in a start-up . My mother, for example, will always worry about me, any time of day. There is no 9 to 5 routine when you are a parent - raising kids is not a part-time job (I am not saying I am still a kid, well, maybe). A parent can’t take their eye of their young children for a minute. They can't stop caring or worrying, ever. Being a parent is full time gig, 24x7.

A start-up venture is the same - you are bringing something new into the world. Your start-up is your baby. You nurture and invest in it, and you watch it grow - how can that be a 9 to 5 routine? It is all about an attitude - either you are in or you are not. You can't be half involved in a start-up, just like you can't half raise a child. If you raise a child on a part-time basis you are going to have problems. And if you run a start-up like a normal job then don't be surprised when nothing happens. Success is about an attitude, it is about passion and intensity, and it is about love and responsibility.

Raising kids, like growing a start-up is about an attitude - you need to eat, sleep and breathe this - it should always be there, top of mind. It is part of your life. It never leaves your subconscious. Yes, treat your start-up business like a child, but treat your partners and customers like adults - this is also key.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Friday 24 April 2009


A friend of mine just sent this to me - it is the Washington Post's Mensa Invitational, which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

The winners:

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxicaton: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people, that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high

8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

9. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out

17. Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

And the winners are:

1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation, while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.

6. Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

7. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

11.Testicle, n. A humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 19 April 2009

Common sense if not often common practice

We always make a change in our lives when a crises happens. From terminal illness, death in the family, divorce, bankruptcy... that is when we change. But, why wait for the crises to happen!?

I remember that quote from Einstein that went "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."

I think insanity is another form of a crises. And if you feel you are going insane then make a change! Or, better put, if you can see that you are going to go insane, then why wait until it's too late to make a change.

Earlier this year I could see a crises coming, so, I better make a change now!

I guess this goes to the essence of our characters - are we reactive or proactive?

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 13 April 2009

Do what you love and love what you do

The long weekend is almost over and there has been a lot of time to rest, think and reflect.

What is it that makes us happy? What is it that inspires us? What is it that drives us?

In my view, it is all about people. It is people that capture our imaginations. And when it comes to the work we do, we are all very blessed if we can do the work we love, and more importantly, if we can love the work that we do. But what determines this? Is it about the company's purpose or is the company's people even more important? I have been thinking about that expression, the one that says "you can judge a man by the company he keeps".

Does it matter then what a company actually does? I mean, would it really matter to me if I was involved in technology, movies, ice cream, music, comedy... I mean, I love all of these things, and more. I could work in a music business, an ice cream venture, or a high-tech operation. What matters are the people I work with. Sure, one has to believe in the mission - that is the most fundamental thing. But that is also the easiest aspect in my view, for, if you don't believe in it then you will not entertain the idea in the first place. I guess what I am trying to say is that the bigger decision is about the people. You need to believe in the people. The core team around you is what defines entrepreneurship. It is this group of key people who are going to make the difference.

And, when it comes to people one has to look in the mirror and see if those people are energizing you or draining you. If those people respect each other and inspire each other then it is a good journey, and, on the other hand, if you are constantly struggling and dealing with egos then it is not worth it.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Thursday 9 April 2009

Which side of the street does your advertising agency live on ?

I read this on the Web a long time ago, and I was looking at it again recently - this is one great story:

A hairdresser decided to open up his own hair salon. He wanted to give his clientele style and quality.

So he employed the best stylists and cutters he could find. He paid them accordingly and his clientele paid him, happily, R60 a time. For three months all went well.

Until one day another hairdresser opened up right across the street from him.

This salon was a very different story. On the day it opened for a business a sign appeared which read: Haircuts R6 a time.

Now this was very worrying for the first hairdresser.

How could he possibly compete? He simply had to charge R60 to keep up the standards he had promised his customers.

For days and days he fretted, wondering how to overcome his rival. Then it came to him.

The very next day a sign appeared outside his salon. It read quite simply: We fix R6 haircuts.

Now ask yourself this.

Which side of the street does your advertising agency live on?

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 5 April 2009

Picasso looks out the window

A story telling artist friend of mine was saying to me this weekend that Picasso always had a driver. He never drove a car.

My friend was telling me that when once asked why he had a driver this was his answer: my job is not to drive, my job is to look out the window.

And I started thinking, when you are a passenger in a car you always look out the window, and you see things you never would ordinarily see when you were behind the wheel.

I need to start looking out the window more!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Wednesday 1 April 2009


The first quarter is over, and the big news is that Vottle is merging with Google… April Fools!

Seriously though, speaking of Google, once again March has been a month focused on improving our natural SEO with the aim of both reducing our Google AdWords spend and yet sustaining our traffic volumes. Our strategy is changing, from one of increasing postings to increasing page views and searches. This will hopefully put us in a better position to attract a wider variety of advertisers. We have also identified a list of new improvements from an SEO perspective which we will be attacking in the next few weeks.

We are also working on formalizing the sales of our ad space by creating rate sheets (both on the site as well as a glossy print) to be more competitive in the market.

Finally, our Google AdSense revenues have remained stable this month, a good sign as we have not made any changes here (consistency is always good!).

On other news, our platform is really taking shape. And, towards the end of April we will be launching an e-Procurement portal. The Wantitall venture in Brazil - - has been live for just under one week - we have done 3 transactions since go live - the learning curve here is intense, but the journey is very exciting! On the music side, is live but we will only be properly launching the site around mid-year - we are trading already and things are feeling positive.

The last bit of tech news for today is around the area of online marketing - we are looking to launch a new online marketing venture focusing on SEO and PPC as well as social media etc. - we are aiming to kick this off by early May.

PS - Today is 3 years old !

Posted by Ronnie Apteker