Business Projects

We are pancake, we give a toss

So we came up with our slogan and our company name – read the full explanation – now we’ve got to decide what to do with it. I’m blaming Eamonn for not admitting to drunkenly encouraging it for our lack of “vision”.

I need to find some time to design the site and “brand identity” which is always a time consuming process. I’m using the pixie CMS from toggle which is open source, so it’s a bit of a learning curve for me as well.

I think the name is one for a no-nonsense consultancy and creative agency. Now we just need to get some clients.

What can Pancake do for you?


How does Web 2.0 make a profit?

It’s an important question, one which not enough people are asking. After all, people are in this to make a living, not just because it’s cool, aren’t they?

I read a great article today called Web 2.0, Revenue Models and Profitability on The Drama 2.0 Show on the subject. It’s well worth sharing because it makes some really strong points questioning the viability of some of the most talked about online businesses out there at the moment.

The central theme of the article is that

“Not only are most of the hottest Web 2.0 startups unprofitable, quite a few lack viable revenue models altogether. “

It’s tough to disagree when it puts them in the context of their Web 1.0 peers such as Google, eBay and Yahoo, all of whom are, and were, profitable within a few years of starting out.

I remember being party to the dotcom boom and bust of 2000 in the UK when the likes of Clickmango came and went in less time than it takes Royal Mail to deliver a 1st class letter. This was when a savvy operator with a van could asset strip a dotcom of its shiny new iMacs in candy colour on a daily basis and turn a nice gig doing so.

Everyone talks about as the defining failure of the period, which to some extent it was, but at least it was brilliant and now looks to have been way ahead of the curve as both a web site and a shopping experience. I look back now and think that maybe they were right about a lot of things. Certainly there’s lots of functions that other people have adopted that they were one of the first to attempt.

The rule for business plans in those days seems to be “make sure you’re profitable within the first three years”. Or at the very worst “get them drunk, but make sure they sign”.

Compare that to the noise of Web 2.0 evangelists and companies who are all about conversation and community and making the web a better place. There’s taking your time to grow a business and then there’s arsing around on the internet pretending that what you are doing can become a business.

A lot of people seem to be dangerously close to buying into the latter which in my view will lead to a dotcom bust far worse than the last. In 2000 we’d only sacrificed our time and energy as unrecoupable expenditure, this time we may find that sacrificing our personal information is cost we’re not as happy to write off.

Business Tech

Why do so many business sites do nothing?

I was trying to find out more about a company today and in doing so clicked on a link taking me to their website. Which was as useful as a wet fart.

They are the UK contact for a flashy brand of bicycle component. I know this because the component manufacturer’s website tells me that. In fact I know more about them from that site than their own. The only thing I found out from their site is that if I hit the “contact us” link then I’ll send an email to someone with the same name as one of the big bike brands.

It’s this sort of thing that really infuriates me. Do businesses really care or value the internet so little that it’s too much trouble to even put up a basic, functional site?

Of course tomorrow I’ll find that this was a “holding page” while they were getting their site redone. It still doesn’t excuse it in my book. Out-of-date content is bad, but no content is worse.

How much trouble is it to put up a single page giving your email contact plus postal and phone details alongside a brief summary of what your business does? After all, most of the ones I’ve ever encountered seem to have been able to afford a logo and a hosting deal.

It really defies belief that any business thinks it can afford not to have a decent online proposition when so many first contacts are likely to come through that route. Are these businesses really unaware of this?

There are so many tools out there that allow you to build a basic site without resorting the the sort of comic sans hell that blighted the first generation of self-build that I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to spend a day or two getting to grips with them.

Please tell me I’m not alone in feeling like this every time I find myself clicking into a link that is, to all intents, dead. I’m going to stop now before I even start to think about the full horror of flash holding pages and ridiculous De Mille-style epic flash intro movies.