Monday, August 24, 2009

Some ideas for startups

Here is an interesting list of startup ideas by Paul Graham from Y Combinator, a venture firm specialized in funding early stage startups (mostly software and web services). Many of these ideas are just broad categories (enterprise software, auctions, outsourced IT, etc) but it could be a good starting point if you are considering opportunities to create your business.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Simple details don't cost that much

Last Tuesday I took the high-speed train (AVE) from Madrid to Barcelona. In the super nice, less-than-3-hour ride I notice a tiny details I had already noticed in the Japanese bullet train (Shinkansen)

That little thing on the wall it's a mini hook to hang your jacket, something you do not find in airplanes, at least not in the economy seats...

A very simple detail, not that costly, that makes the passenger's life a little bit better. For me design is strategy but also small things like this.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The sexiness of statisticians

A follow up on one of my previous posts. This is a New York Times article pointing at the importance of the ability to analyze data in tomorrow´s job market. Google´s Chief Economist, Hal Varian, talks again about the sexiness of statisticians.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pavement marking. Why and What for

I have spotted this "design-flop" in Madrid. Actually it might not be that much of a flop. If we ask why this pedestrian crossing is like this we would find several explanations. A very plausible explanation could be that a car was parked when the paint crew arrived.

In many occasions rather than asking why it makes better sense to ask what for. In this case the unorthodox design of the pavement marking allows for one extra car to be parked in the street. And some paint savings too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Cultures of Design

In this month´s issue of Connect, the newsletter of the Design Management Institute (DMI), Steve Portigal outlines several archetypes or Cultures of Design. These archetypes respond to the classical choice between design processes based on a strong internal vision versus those centered around the customer.

The Squeaky Wheel and The Cult of Personality archetypes are those in which one individual strongly influences the design outcome. Portigal mentions Apple or Dyson as examples of these archetypes.

Although many organizations claim to have a Uncover New Needs and Solve Them approach most of the times they are just implementing literally what customers ask under a User-Pleasing archetype.

Portigal´s last archetype is The Department of Committee Meetings, in which there can be room for the customer´s voice although most of the times is the squeaky wheel approach the one taking over.

Monday, August 3, 2009

[web] Things we take for granted

Being back in Spain after two years in the Silicon Valley (SV) can be a little of a cultural shock. I already knew SV is the forefront of geekiness and consumer internet. What I did not know is how much I would take some things for granted. This is a list of things I am "struggling with" currently. I will start with Google Maps and add to the list as I find new ones

- [Google Maps] There is no "public tranportation" option. At least, if you are using public tranportation in Madrid there is this option, similar to 511 in the bay area. I need to find the equivalent to nextbus

> Sep 1st, 2009: Google has recently launched Google Transit in Asturias.

- [Google Maps] There are far less reviews. Many business lack their web address or an accurate description.

- [Amazon] Of course! Amazon! They do not operate in Spain, so you have to go for international shipping. Their user-generated product reviews are amongst my favorite shopping tools. Here´s a blog post in Spanish commenting on Amazon´s potential launch in Spain

- [Craigslist] I still haven´t found that ultra simple go-to place for virtually anything, from rooms to rent to last minute tickets for a Coldplay gig, bikes or second-hand cars

> Alternative: loquo

- [Yelp] Again, tons of reviews and ratings about a restaurant give you a very close idea of the quality of the place. This doesn´t mean there is not an alternative for the Spanish market, it´s just that the ones I have bumped into do not have as many customer datapoints...

> Alternative: 11870


My dear readers, as you might know I recently decided to go back to Spain, my home country, which will seemingly impact the way to go about this blog. My primary goals are:
  • having fun
  • sharing my thoughts on interesting stuff I come across
I will be definitely incorporating more Spanish components but at the same time I want it to keep a global perspective. I am not planning on shifting the language to Spanish but I might translate some posts... good for those of you brushing up your castellano!

Expect some trial and error, you know I like prototyping...

In the meanwhile, why don´t you share your thoughts with me? email me or add your comment to this post. I´ll be glad to hear from you.

I´ll keep on blogging about the seemingly unconnected. Stay tuned!