It’s now time to share this blog with the world. We are not yet ready to launch our service, but progress is being made every day. My belief is that we are creating something unique and great.
Monthly Archives: July 2012
The Facebook Touch
First version of the bankrebels.com landing page is now published. It might not be ultimately great yet, but I can iteratively improve on this as more data and ideas become available.
Now is the time to get some visitors to the landing page, so I can evaluate various psychological messages on different countries and learn more about Facebook advertising and related cost-optimization.
I created small Facebook ad campaigns for this purpose. These campaigs are initially targeted to English-speaking people living in Greece, Portugal and Spain. My hunch is that people in those countries might be more receptive to this message as financial crisis is hitting them the hardest.
Depending on the campaign the click-through-rate seems to vary between 0.020% and 0.050%. This is not too bad, but is not very good either. Average cost per click is 0.14 EUR.
The conversion rate in the landing page itself seems to be about 4%. I think this will improve if we make actual graphic design effort. Might not bother to do this at all.
Interestingly, over 80 % of people who have given their email are coming from Greece. This could be an artefact of my facebook bid policy limiting visibility mostly to low-cost clicks.
As mentioned previously my true goal is not against banks at all. I truly believe our new way will ultimately benefit everyone, banks included. Thus this domain name is likely not perfect for my long term purposes. But for now want to check out various psychological messages on different countries. This is interesting stuff in itself, creates a nucleus of future mailing list for our service launch and most importantly allows me to study how Facebook advertising can be optimized and cost-optimized.
Decided to host this landing page with KickOfflabs.com service. They have good tools for landing page creation, metrics and social integration followup.
First public version of the landing page is now complete. It’s pretty rudimentary as I do not yet have graphic designer on board, and had to create this page with my limited design skills. Might not even do improved version as my preferred graphic designer Juha is going to two week summer holiday soon.
Am going to try out various messages and variants and analyze the conversion results.
Hopefully this will generate some interest. User gets thankyou popup and also an email pointing to this blog.
I tried creating a merchandising store via CafePress, but it proved to be an epic failure so I soon halted the store entirely. It might still be visible at http://www.cafepress.co.uk/bankrebels if you want to see how it was constructed.
Search For Domain
Finding a perfect domain name is getting hard. All obvious domain names have longe since been taken. Situation is further complicated by domain bandits who reserve names on massive scale in hopes of reselling them later.
My approach to this problem was fairly systematic. Supported my domain search with various dictionaries (Greek, Latin, Maori) and used online text-to-speech tools to gauge how the names would likely be pronounced around the world. Also found some tools like www.nxdom.com which helped immensely in this effort. Got some so-so names but nothing that really felt perfect.
After spending way too much time with this effort decided to try crowdsourcing. Soon I was crafting a “domain name invention order” in the www.pickydomains.com website. The cost is between 50 $ and 125 $ depending on your criteria.
In just one week received 700+ domain name suggestions. Most of them were as bad as majority of my own name ideas. Some few however were reasonably nice, though not breathtaking. One of the suggestions I thought to be very clever idea, although it was likely unsuitable to be our final domain name. But it might be just great for landing page
Decided to pick domain suggestion www.bankrebels.com invented by Louise Teubl from Austria. Thanks Louise! You will soon get a bankrebels.com branded hoodie.
The new domain name is bit tongue-in-the-cheek and experimental. My true purpose is not to be confrontial with banks at all. My goal is to rewrite many of the current rules, transform industries and lead the way to new benefits for everyone while doing all this in socially & morally constructive way. Ultimately banks, organizations and persons who can adapt to new way will end up winning big.
This post is about technology platforms and my horrendous confusion with them. If your interests lie elsewhere please stop reading this post right now.
Cloud platforms and related technology have great promise. I have now taken fairly detailed look on these and truth is not so clear cut. For some applications they are great, but for others they are far from ideal. Especially databases and transactionality in volatile cloud infrastucture makes my brain ache way too much. Things will certainly improve in future, but my need is for today.
Some of alphabet soup I have recently studied is listed below. I certainly enjoyed studying all this as my former experience has all been with bare metal hardware or standard virtualization stuff.
Aws, Azure, DbShard, Dynamo, Cloudfront, Ebs, Ec2, ElastiCache, Elb, Federated Sql, Joyent, Heroku, Memcached, NoSql, OpenStack, Rackspace, Rds, Rightscale, S3, Sharding, Swf, Sqs, Xeround.
Promise of horizontal scalability with cloud infrastructure seemed ideal and very attractive to me. Tried to map my plans to this model but soon realized that this project does not map so well. This project requires multi-row datastore transactionality. Potentially very CPU and memory intensive app servers might be required. I could implement these on top of current clouds but this would be a major effort and my time is better spent elsewhere. There are providers attempting to improve the situation, but they are not quite yet there in my opinion.
The current infrastucture plan is fairly simple:
- Host with Amazon Web Services for now. They are most advanced and provide many possible growth trajectories. Azure looked interesting but their max RAM limits are lower plus they are still somewhat behind functionality-wise.
- Front end servers will be standard EC2 instances behind load balancer, hosting ASP.NET web site apps.
- App servers will be bigger EC2 instances behind their own load balancer, or possibly communicating via message queues. If appservers require more RAM than currently available within aws will just externalize these server to custom built high-end hardware hosted elsewhere. This is not perfect solution and changes to this might become necessary, but for now am thinking this way.
- For now am going 100% with RDBMS model. Debated between MySQL variants and SQL Server a bit, SQL Server won as I have slight preference to that over MySQL. Will likely start with Amazon RDS hosted DB instance and migrate to better system if needed later on. This is also not a perfect solution and changes to this might become necessary, but for now I am thinking this way.
After doing some early prototypes and test runs it is clear that the above model would certainly be sufficient to several million users and likely beyond.
Describing your ambitions and plans in clear manner is painfully hard. The documented storyline for the new startup idea is now on fourth iteration and I am still quite unhappy with it. Discussing the evolving plan with close friends was helpful so I am planning to do lot more of such iterative presentations and discussions in near future.
I have spent tons more time with various blogs and books, trying to learn how to craft interesting message around simple idea. One of the better books is called Resonate.
If you can communicate an idea well, you have, within you, the power to change the world.
– Nancy Duarte, author of Resonate
I have zero experience writing blogs of any kind, but am avid reader of quite many. One of my favourite blogs is ASmartBear, written by Jason Cohen. His blog has helped me a lot and his new company WPEngine finally pushed me over my blog-writing phobia. Thanks Jason and kudos for making WPEngine so easy to use!
The Journey Begins
Some months ago I had an interesting insight about nature of money. The more I thought about the insight, the more compelling it felt. Soon I was thinking about creating a startup around the idea and launching a revolutionary “money platform” with great fanfare.
Tragically my idea was not so novel after all. Several others had independently arrived to the same idea. Concrete “money platforms” based on the idea were already in place or being developed. My opportunity seemed lost.
After looking at these already existing platforms my feelings became more mixed. These platforms had noble goals and driven people pushing them onwards. On the other hand they were clearly not gaining much traction. Maybe my idea was not as good as I had originally thought?
My gut told me to refuse all doubts, continue developing my idea and study these other platforms.
The other platforms typically had single far-reaching extreme philosophical ambition, community focus, distributed P2P architecture, poor user experience, very limited growth orientation and grey legality aspects. I was already aiming for practicality, mainstream global usage, cloud architecture, good user experience, branding, open APIs, excellent growth automation and full legal & tax accountability.
Suddenly my prospects did not look so bad. This is a high risk project which can fail. But I think the idea has great potential. We are just missing the “very good explanation on laymans terms”, “good implementation” and “extreme growth orientation”. I believe myself capable of providing these necessary ingredients and finding correct people to participate.
I have now decided to jump into the unknown and see if I can navigate my way from simple idea to concrete launch and beyond. Stay tuned for more and thanks for reading.