Thoughts, experiences, ideas and reflections

A blog documenting the trials and tribulations of starting and running a tech startup, of living in these exciting but challenging times, and of learning and becoming – bit by bit – the best one can be.

9Mar, 2022

How to *actually* help an early stage startup

March 9th, 2022|Birth of a Startup, Lessons & Advice|

I'm at it again, second time around. I'm back in the madness/hellscape/euphoria of early stage startup life. Like giving birth to an actual child (I'm told), after a few years, you forget how bad the experience was, and just remember the great bits. That is what entices you to do it again. Then back in the depths of this pre-product-market-fit stage, you remember "oooh, this is why I took a break after the last one!". It is *hard* to start a startup. This early

24Jun, 2020

How to resign from your own company

June 24th, 2020|Lessons & Advice|

Startup founders are the subject of a very intensive content marketing campaign led by VCs. VC's success come from investing in people that are so focused and determined to succeed, that they give up everything else until they achieve something rare and challenging: a large exit. Their business model relies on finding founders that are willing to do so. Unsurprisingly, most people don't want to give up everything for the chance of something rare, so VCs need to create that desire. They do so

20Jun, 2020

A simple guide to affiliate marketing

June 20th, 2020|Lessons & Advice|

Oddly, in the last couple of weeks, I've had 7-8 emails from friends asking for some advice on affiliate marketing. It's weird: I ran Skimlinks for 11 years, and yet as soon as its not mine anymore, people suddenly are curious about the wonders of referral marketing! The thing is, I don't *really* know that much about affiliate marketing from a merchant's perspective. I certainly do if you are a publisher and want to use it to make an income writing about shoppable products.

27Mar, 2020

It’s not just about the performance…

March 27th, 2020|Random musings, Ruminations|

Well. Here we are. What an extraordinary time we find ourselves in. I've wanted to blog about so many fascinating facets of what's been going on as a result of the coronavirus - with me, with my loved ones, with the world around me - but I wasn't sure I was going to be adding anything of any incremental value to the tsunami of emotional outpouring and intellectual surmising that was already being spewed forth by blogs and news sites around the world. So

13Jan, 2020

How to choose an Advisory Board for your startup

January 13th, 2020|Birth of a Startup, Lessons & Advice|

I'm writing this blog post instead of writing an email. It would be an email to a fabulous proptech company at which I am the Chairman (Chairwoman? Chairperson? nah, I'm cool with Chairman). I figure I may as well write this advice down once and scale it, rather than rewrite it again and again for each company I advise in the future. Are NEDs different from Advisory Board members? Lots of companies get this confused, understandably so as both imply they are "Board" related.

23Dec, 2019

Memories of old dreams

December 23rd, 2019|Birth of a Startup, Random musings, Ruminations|

A few years ago, while rummaging through old boxes at my parents' house in Sydney, I discovered a list of my childhood dreams. I must have been 14 or 15 when I wrote it. It was written on a piece of paper, wedged in an old journal. Reading it whisked me back to my youth, when all I had were dreams and a fire to do something extraordinary with my life. When it seemed so risky and brave to want more than a simple

14Nov, 2019

To start-up or not to start-up, that is the question

November 14th, 2019|Birth of a Startup, Ruminations|

18 months ago, I stepped down from the company I birthed and led for 11 years. One of the (many) reasons I did this, is because I was eager to start other companies. I had so many ideas brewing, but while you are running a company, you really don't have time for much else. I was hungry to have the space and freedom to scratch that itch. 18 months later, I'm prevaricating. I have come up with a mission and company I want to

1Sep, 2019

What sex, tipping and product design have in common

September 1st, 2019|Random musings|

This is a slightly awkward piece to write, because it is about sex (sorry, mum). But I'm not a sex columnist, I usually write about my travels and starting tech businesses. But it strikes me that there are some really interesting things about how men and women engage in sex together that has some useful lessons for product development, and, well, life in general. Let's put it out there. This *shouldn't* be an awkward thing to talk about. We're all adults. We all have

16Aug, 2019

The end of the adventures of Leithy, Lumi and Lancelot

August 16th, 2019|Lessons & Advice, Ruminations, Sabbatical|

Just over 3 months ago, I set off on an adventure. I had bought a car (Lancelot) and loaded it with my puppy (Lumi) and quite a lot of other luggage, and drove off. There were many reasons for this journey. Partly to get away from the distractions of London to focus on my next business ideas, partly to experience first-hand the problems driving my business ideas and thus build my own gut instinct around this new space, partly to escape and try to

2Jun, 2019

What I have learnt from my dog

June 2nd, 2019|Lessons & Advice, Puppy adventures|

Having a dog has been good for me. Better than I could have imagined. Lumi is a great companion: amusing, patient, loving, easy-going. She has made me laugh more in the last 6 months than anything else has. She has grounded me: she has made me want to travel less, restricted my options which has been a blessing, in my world with endless possibilities. It turns out fewer options ≠ less awesome options, just less stress in deciding which options to pursue. She has

25May, 2019

What I’ve been working on: FLOWN

May 25th, 2019|Birth of a Startup, Puppy adventures, Ruminations, Sabbatical|

A week or two after I left Skimlinks, a year ago now, I first encountered this problem: that it's hard to get things done in London sometimes. I mean, its great for networking and selling and having meetings... but it's awful for getting focused work done. Most companies opt for open-plan offices, and more and more companies are moving to the homogenous forced "coolness" of WeWork-type spaces. I know I was a huge fan at Skimlinks of having everyone co-located together. I loved the

30Apr, 2019

The beliefs that have held me back

April 30th, 2019|Lessons & Advice|

I’ve had a lot of time to think lately. Being on the road for weeks at a time, driving long distances with no one but my beloved but possibly autistic puppy, and with a mission to observe, understand and ultimately correct my own bad habits, has given me the space to see some of the patterns in my life, and how potentially they have held me back. “I want to get there on my own terms” When I was in my early-20s, my group

19Apr, 2019

Cruising to Bilbao… or Phase 2 of my Journey

April 19th, 2019|Puppy adventures, Travel|

Fresh with the learnings from my first 10 days in Avallon, I set-off on Phase 2 of my nomadic odyssey. This time, rather than drive to France via the Euro Tunnel, I discovered it was possible to drive onto and catch a 24-hour cruise-ship from Portsmouth to Bilbao in a pet-friendly cabin. This felt like too fabulous an adventure to refuse, so off we set, Lumi and Lancelot, to Portsmouth. It is a never-ending source of delight to me that there continues to be

19Apr, 2019

10 days in Avallon: 7 things I learnt

April 19th, 2019|Lessons & Advice, Puppy adventures, Sabbatical|

I had a mission. A bold one. It was to go away to a beautiful rural setting, and find focus and flow so that I could achieve a number of deep work tasks. I intended to learn French. To learn to play the ukelele. To do yoga and meditation every day. To read the literal crate of books I brought with me. To prepare the design and first MVP experiments for my next business. To find solace and happiness... and achieve world peace. I

4Apr, 2019

1 year after leaving Skimlinks

April 4th, 2019|Birth of a Startup, Puppy adventures, Random musings|

Today is the one year anniversary of announcing I was leaving (and actually leaving) Skimlinks. As I write this, I am sitting at my computer in a beautiful old chateau in Avallon, with a cute puppy on my lap, while on my second hour of a phone call to Vodafone, trying to get my phone number switched out of the company account and to my personal account. This sums up the last year quite well. Here is why: A year of adventures The last

2Apr, 2019

Lancelot heads to Avallon

April 2nd, 2019|Birth of a Startup, Puppy adventures|

The poetry and synchronicity of my choice of car name and my choice of first destination in France is not lost on me. Both Lancelot and Avallon are famous in the Arthurian legend, which I was obsessed with as a child (well, and as an adult). It is fitting that this is the start of my own knight-errant journey. Unfortunately, for someone that travels as much as I do, I am a terrible packer. I take way too many things, it takes me way

24Mar, 2019

Lancelot’s demise

March 24th, 2019|Puppy adventures, Random musings|

It is very hard to shake off the reputation I have of being unlucky, when one hour after buying a new car, a truck crashes into you. Yes. Sigh. I was all giddy with excitement on Thursday when I caught the train to the dealership in Fareham from where I bought my car. Why would I pick a town 3 hours out of London to buy a car? Because after days of intense research, I had decided that since I was going to be

20Mar, 2019

Leithy, Lumi and Lancelot hit the road

March 20th, 2019|Birth of a Startup, Puppy adventures, Ruminations|

I have some exciting news to announce. On April 1st, Lumi and I will be heading off in my new car (that I’m dubbing Lancelot) on a 3 month+ road trip around France. Yep, Leithy, Lumi and Lancelot are leaving London for a while. Why? A few reasons. #1. Because London is getting me down All this Brexit madness coupled with the frenetic greyness of the city is overwhelming. London used to be a fun place I explored cultural and natural wonders. But now

9Mar, 2019

Adopting Lumi

March 9th, 2019|Puppy adventures|

I adopted little Lumi on 19th January, 2019. She was born on 1st November, 2018, so she was 11 weeks when I picked her up. I decided to call her Lumi, because I always loved the name Lumen, a measure of luminescence. And Lumi just fit her better. She was so little. And she was so scared. She shivered and shook with nerves as she was picked up, and to this day, she still shivers and shakes when she is outside the safety of

9Mar, 2019

Deciding to buy a dog

March 9th, 2019|Puppy adventures|

I've been meaning to get a puppy for a while. I am not alone in feeling immense joy in the presence of a dog's simple adoring love. While I never had a dog growing up, I lived with a gracious Labrador called Hunter when I lived in a house-share as I started Skimlinks. I would come home at midnight, night after night, exhausted and lonely and scared, and Hunter would greet me at the door so excited to see me he was shaking with