A bit more than a week, actually... It all started last Thursday with a call from a lady working with a lot of organisations that support HIV counselling, treatment and management. A lot of organisations. She had tripped (how?) across a product/project that a few of us put together some years ago that we called Projectory. Projectory is a collaboration and communication platform, specifically aimed at software-development organisations and teams. Think of CollabNet. But better, of course! ;-) Certainly quite different in some key ways! Except we never got the business off the ground, mostly through an unlucky turn of events that resulted in us losing key sales people at a most critical time.
My caller was wondering whether the Projectory platform could be adapted to help them to communicate, collaborate and coordinate better with a couple of hundred other organisations. Well, we've set up a meeting for next week, and we'll see... What a blast from the past, though! I had all-but-forgotten about Projectory... Thankfully I have the code archived away somewhere safe.
And then it happened again. A call from an ex-colleague a couple of days ago: Could we put together a rough estimate and proposal for a social-networking platform for World Cup 2010. In case you're living in a cave (or the USA where "football" means something completely weird) South Africa will be hosting the 2010 Soccer World Cup, and, for South Africans, it is a very big deal. This is, after all, the second biggest sport event in the world after the Olympics. (China get the hell out of Tibet!) The weird bit is that what's being asked for is very, very close to the project we called Flightwish -- a social-networking platform centred around group travel opportunities and concepts. We failed to get funding for Flightwish, though we tried hard. Normally I would favour a small-start, organic-growth, little-or-no-funding startup model, but that path is clearly a very poor fit for a Grow-Big-Fast webalicious venture. Since then, a few others have started playing in that space, but I have yet to see any of them put together the exact combination of ingredients we planned. Would we have done better? Who knows?
But now we may just get a chance to try it again.
- I suck at Sales and driving Sales, therefore I am a poor fit for CEO of a startup.
- Flightwish taught me a deep hostility to the idea of a single "window of opportunity"; it's rubbish.
- Beware the Websites Of Yesteryear! You put up a website. It's out there. You forget about it. Google doesn't! Fix them up or shut them down.
- The "social" potential -- the ways that the web opens-up for collaboration and group communication -- we've barely scratched the surface of what's possible.
- VC people in SA are mostly bankers with fancier job titles. And we all know the collective noun for bankers, don't we...