Archive for July, 2008

We’ve packed up and migrated!

July 10, 2008

We have shifted ourselves over to our new home at – thanks to all the fans of the early edition of our blog here at codenameplannr!

We will not be posting here anymore, so keep up to date at

See you all there real soon 🙂


Vodafone NZ’s iPhone 3G plans – an exercise in profiteering

July 8, 2008

Sticking with my 2G, thanks!

Sticking with my 2G, thanks!

So I’ve been taunting James with this thing since last year, and we’ve both been vaguely interested in picking up the 3G model when it comes out this Friday, July 11 (early birthday presents perhaps!). The iPhone has its fair share of detractors, however coming from an iMate SP5 running Windows Mobile, this device is easily the most lovely, fun and engaging thing I’ve ever owned. I’m not saying it’s the best cellphone ever invented – to each their own for sure; but for me, this has everything I need to keep me going:

  • It syncs with Outlook – contacts, mail and calendars – through iTunes
  • Now all my mail accounts are on Gmail, and it easily gets those over the wire
  • Phonecalls with the supplied earphones are really comfortable
  • Text messages are fun and accessible
  • iTunes, camera, Google maps, Safari, iPod, etc etc
  • ..and I haven’t even tapped that much either, so I doubt I’ve scratched the potential of third-party apps

I could go on forever, but there’s no point. I ❤ my iPhone, but this post is not about the phone itself – Vodafone announced their iPhone plans an hour ago, and to my dismay, they’re pricier than expected. The Vodafone site is was currently inaccessible, but Geekzone has a running post on it.

Here’s the gist – you can get one for NZD199 (yay!) but you’ll be held to a 2-year contract at NZD250/month (zomg). This is the biggest plan, which gives you 600 minutes, 600 texts, and 1GB of data. The smallest plan will set you back $80/month for 120 minutes, 600 texts and 250MB of data. 250MB of data is probably equivalent to the size of some of my friends’ Facebook pages – you know who you are! Okay, perhaps not completely relevant as Facebook has an iPhone interface without all of that stuff – my point is (as if it wasn’t obvious enough), you’re not getting much for your money here in NZ.

Compare these plans to the ones offered by Rogers Wireless in Canada: the biggest plan is CAN115/month for 800 weekday minutes, 2GB of data, and 300 text messages. The smallest plan is CAN60/mo for 150 weekday minutes, 400MB of data, and 75 text messages.
Here’s the thing, see. Both plans offer unlimited evenings and weekends.

The Canadians are up in arms over these plans, and are considering boycotting the iPhone until prices come down. The Americans considered the original AT&T iPhone plans pretty pricey too. No, don’t look at them, they’ll break your heart.

Well, here in New Zealand, we’ll just be grateful that we have cellphones at all! Surely the luxury of being able to make a phone call when away from your landline is nothing short of sheer wizardry.

I guess I’ll be sticking to my trusty 1st-generation iPhone for now. I guess I can put up with its recessed headphone jack for a bit longer.

Update, 2.37pm: Kiwis have started a petition! Currently 276 signatures and counting. I don’t think I’ve seen the words ‘rip-off’ mentioned so many times on a page.

Secret Squirrels

July 8, 2008


One thing we’ve discovered amongst us is that we each have varying levels of paranoia around discussing the nature of our application with the wider community. Francois is on high alert; James is reasonably cautious; I have a propensity to flit around and tell all and sundry. Ask me nicely, and I might even give you our source code to date.

How cagey should one really be about their business idea? There are a couple of conventional schools of thought in this area: one is that the startup’s idea is not worth the paper it’s written on, and that execution is the key determinant in the success of the startup itself. Furthermore, while it’s tempting to think that an idea is completely unique, it probably isn’t. I place a lot of value in a team’s ability to not only pull it off in the initial stages, but to continue to innovate and provide a unique solution to a problem from a best approach possible.

The other school of thought of course, is the cynic’s standpoint: everyone’s out to get ahead, so keep your treasures close to your chest for as long as possible. Perhaps it takes one who’s been around the traps for a bit to fully appreciate this perspective, however I’d hate to be in this camp. I have faith in people.

I had a good chat to Bhavneet and Tim about this yesterday; both have been brewing ideas and wearing the entrepreneurial mindset for longer than I have. One obvious solution is to pick who you have your conversations with. I believe that having conversations about PocketSmith as we go forward is important from two perspectives:

  • It helps us continue validating the product in the market as we build it, before we launch. While we’ll conduct market research surveys over the coming weeks, it’s equally important to gauge initial reactions to the idea and take them on board as we ramp up to PocketSmith’s closed beta.
  • I think it’s important to start building a community of supporters who have expressed an interest and early affiliation with the product. Expressing thought leadership in a field is one thing, however one should never discount the wisdom that the community will bring to the table.

Dunedin’s a fantastic place to test this theory. The networks here are great: people are supportive and enthusiastic, and there is a enough diversity in entrepreneurial ventures and a healthy amount of respect for the range of different ideas in the community.

At some point soon I’ll write a bit more about what PocketSmith is, in order to provide the reader with some context. But one more point that illustrates why community support has been great.

Last Friday evening, I had beers with our friends at Enabling (they’ve got some great digs down at the old Wilson’s Distillery building), and the conversation circled around cashflow and financial management for individuals and small businesses. Their expertise extends to the enterprise level, and is a good blend of having strong development capacity as well as understanding business requirements when it comes to accounting software.

It was really good to connect with them and share some insights; I think they’re as excited as we are to see what becomes of the application. I took some thoughts away as well as an invitation to present a beta to them when we’re ready. Enabling might be becoming an adoptive big brother to PocketSmith!

I’d like to think that the presence of an idea in the mindshare of its community is in fact some protection of its own. Through greater transparency in the initial stages, the product should start to build its own identity and grow into its own skin.

James gets back from Auckland in a couple of hours. I wonder if I should greet him at the airport with a bunch of flowers and love-heart balloons.

I miss you guys!

July 6, 2008

I must confess this second week has been pretty crazy for all of us! I have to say we are sorry for the (obvious) lack of feed this week! But don’t worry, it only means we have been really busy working on the beta version of PocketSmith. Let’s have a look of what happened this week:

  1. James went to Auckland to spend some time with his family. It might sounds like good times but in fact, James spent most of his late night rocking piece of code on dial up *sigh* 🙂 Eventually, we bounced up ideas  until 5am to get the first mockup of what might PocketSmith splash page look like! James has this unique perspective on problem-solving, which has proved in many time to be or a great advantage for the team.
  2. Jason has been a good boy and got his Ruby on Rail exercises done! Actually, he has been fantastic (as usual) being able to learn more coding tricks, getting his hands on the beta version, and promoting PocketSmith within his network! I suspect him to have two brains (at least)! He also managed to get an appointment with the National Bank which will become our (lucky) bank! We are just waiting for James to vome back and we can officially open our bank account. First of all, I must confess I have been impressed by the warm welcome from Matthew Elliott, our banker who is professional and friendly (welcome to New Zealand 😉 The funny story is Jason start pitching him about PocketSmith and he seemed really interested by our idea! He understood it and immediatly saw its huge potential…Sounds good ahah
  3. I have been myself involved in a networking event this week as I attended the Dunedin ICT group meeting on Wednesday. Basically, it is an initiative by three agencies: New Zealand Trade & Entreprise (NZTE) ,Upstart and Otago Polytechnic to create an ICT cluster in Dunedin. The idea is to create a brand to promote Dunedin vibrant IT sector. I found this idea very promising and I am looking forward to see what concrete actions this group of CEOs will intend in the future. I believe Dunedin is a great place to start a business, especially if the business is as sexy as PocketSmith 🙂

We all have been juggling with other commitments as well as Jason and I still need to study (hard ahah) to get our final diploma. But I found that the biggest difficulty we have encountered this week has been being far away from each other! Even if we all understand we need to focus on our own missions, teamwork is really important within our small-and-strong team. I personally feel more inspired and motivated to work hard when Jas and James are in the same room!
In conclusion, the three of us will start working at James place after he installs our “super-office” 🙂 Can’t wait!