Archive for December, 2007

These are a few of my favourite things…

Friday, December 21st, 2007

As the year draws to a close, I get very sentimental and nostalgic about the last 12 months. And I have more reason to be in awe about this past year than almost any other. Here are the top 5 things that have happened to me/Skimbit in 2007:

1. Turned 30

Every woman dreads it. Whilst men seemingly gain wisdom and respectability, woman fear they will lose attractiveness and ‘settle’. Considering that the year saw me still working full time while building Skimbit in Sydney, there was an element of this. I had little money to spend on finery, and Sydney was suffocating me with its ‘settling’ perogative. Then the advent of turning 30 in January sent me in a flurry of ‘shoulds’. I should have been a millionaire by 30 already. I should feel totally happy and fulfilled. It was scary stuff, any one that says otherwise is to be doubted.

Then, I turned 30. And things started to change. I realised I was still as energetic, vibrant, and capable as all those twenty-somethings, but boy did I trump them in terms of experience. I realised you only age when you let yourself, and I was certainly not going to start then. I danced and revelled and twirled and lived extraordinarily, and now realise the gift of 30 is acceptance, less self-hate, and wonderful clarity. Plus a great party on yacht on Sydney harbour!

2. Met my developers

The risk of choosing to have your website developed offshore is that they do not feel part of your organisation. They don’t see you, they don’t hear you, they don’t get paid directly by you. Its near impossible to impart your company’s culture and ideals purely via a Skype chat session. But when you are boot-strapped, you just have to try. So I did… I bought them vouchers to have massages, I gave them bonuses, I even gave them equity, everything I could to make them feel that Skimbit’s success was also their success.

However, the crowning act was booking a flight to see them. That meant flying to literally the other side of the planet, from Sydney to Bucharest: not an inconsequential task. But joyfully done, and the rewards made it worthwhile. You get to bond with your extended team in way that text-based communication can never achieve. You get to know them and what motivates them. You get to understand their work conditions… it all makes a difference in the end, not only to how they feel, but how you communicate with them going forward. I have been back now a second time, to celebrate the launch of Skim-in-a-box launch, which we did in hearty style!

3. Took a break

I had been working so stupidly hard. Can I even begin to impress how hard it is to work a full-time job, and then start a business up in your spare hours, whilst living alone. I had the gift of amazing friends and family, but it was still lonely, tiring work. So, when a few different goals coalesced into a real plan to head around the world for 7 weeks, it seemed like what my soul needed. I felt so stuck in a rut – Skimbit was up and running, but it was in very much an alpha state, and I just didn’t see how things could change. So, I packed my backpack, and headed over to Munich, as you do.

I planned to visit my developers in Romania, reunite with my old home of London, and be bridesmaid at a wedding in Vancouver. So, if I was to buy a round-the-world ticket, I may as well take advantage of it and fit a few other places in. And so I did, also squeezing in Munich, Berchtesgarten, Vienna, Madrid and Ibiza into that mad glorious trip.

That trip represents one of the most significant phases of my life. You know when you feel some divine power has finally decided to cast their eye on you and make things happen that move your soul and test your mettle. Well, this was it. At the end of that trip I felt so intensely alive, blessed, and empowered. It was JUST what I needed, particularly as that trip also led to the biggest change of my life, which was…

4. Moved back to London

During the aforementioned trip, while in London, the wildest set of events happened that led to me presenting the newly conceived concept of Skim-in-a-box to potential clients, who loved it and signed up for it on the spot. As a result of that success, and the adoration I felt being back in London, I made an instant and never-doubted decision to leave my family, friends and life in Sydney, again, and move back to London to pursue what was undeniably a more lucrative and buoyant web application sphere. In the space of one month, literally, I worked full-time, developed the full functional specifications for Skim-in-a-box, started a company in London, sold my car, my furniture, moved out of my flat, packed my entire life up, and attempted to say farewell to my loved ones. It was almost a relief it was so quick – if I had too much time to think about it I might have lost my nerve. I had little money, London is the most expensive city in the world, and I was used to living very comfortably.

But I fought down any doubt, and did it. And you know, the second I landed, I have never felt so joyful. Despite growing up in Sydney, I have realised that London is my home. There is a peace coupled with joyful expectation here I have not felt elsewhere… like anything could happen, and it would be ok if it did. I like that.

5. Given Skimbit my all

2007 is above all the year I decided to give my all to Skimbit. Up until then I was risking only some savings and a bit of spare time. This year, it was a large pile of my savings, and all my time, spare or not spare. And truly, I have loved every second of it. Not being able to buy shoes or handbags… its taught me self-restraint; not being able to go out and party… its saved me money and waistline; working 15 hour days… it will all be worth it in the end. I’m certain of it. I have a fantastic business, people around me that believe and support me, and an unwavering conviction I’m doing the right thing. I’ve never felt so sure and so complete.

Thank you 2007 – you will go down in my life annals as the best year of my life.

Miso soup and keyboards don’t mix

Monday, December 17th, 2007

A disaster has befallen Skimbit headquarters. My miso soup at lunch took a sudden tumble over my keyboard, resulting in the instant death of my laptop.

I remained quite calm considering, instantly rushing down to the toilets with my laptop cradled in my arms like an injured child, and sticking it under the hand-dryer in an attempt to evaporate some of the moisture off it. I just hope the heat didn’t cause more damage than it healed.

However, when I tried to turn it back on after the drying process, it remained lifeless and unresponsive. I rang up my male friend who works around the corner, and with the offer of a screwdriver and a roomful of techie men, I rushed over in the hope of salvation.

A half hour later my little laptop lay with its organs ripped out, screws lying like fleshy debris around the table, and me ardently mopping up any moisture I found with a paper napkin. It is now sitting in a coma state in front of a fan, whilst I sit on a spare computer praying and willing it to health.

Did I have a backup? Well, two months ago I did… so it won’t be the end of the world if its lost… and I’m fairly confident I can resurrect the memory and implant it into a new laptop. But it is still a bit of a disaster.

Please – dear readers – send my little laptop some good health vibes, and lets hope it decides to work again despite its bath in miso soup.

Yihaa! We aren’t last!

Monday, December 17th, 2007

It is important when risking so much to find joy in simple things: being able to work when you like (of course, you end up working more than you would otherwise, but still…), being forced to learn restraint (as I have not been able to buy new clothes in longer than I ever have gone without), being glad the weather is so bad because you don’t feel you are missing out on anything when you work long hours… you see where I am going with this.

So in a similar vein, I am excited to say we didn’t do as bad as we could have in the Mashable Social Shopping awards. Considering we are very new, still building up our community, still improving our design and functionality, I didn’t expect to do well in such an established category.

But thanks to everyone that voted, Skimbit has managed to… not come last! I’m quite pleased with that… we still have a long long way to go, but if Skimbit’s current users and my network can push Skimbit up to compete against much more established sites, its a sign of good things to come. Well, that is how I am going to interpret that :)

However, besides not coming last, there have been several other useful outcomes of this exercise: firstly, it got me in touch with one of my favourite bloggers, Allen from Center Networks who is interested in finding out more about Skimbit. And it also is going to help in my current process of securing Angel funding… as to be TechCrunched and a nominated for top social shopping site of 2007 in my first week of beta launch, is not a bad way to start, is it?

See, it’s useful to find joy in such simple things!

Please vote for Skimbit!

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

I have good news and bad news… well, not so much bad, as really challenging.

The good news: we have been nominated by Mashable for the Best Social Shopping site. Its great to be nominated by such a prestigious blog for a category we want to redefine.

The bad news: being a very new site, we don’t have the traffic or the glamour of other nominated sites, and so we are currently not doing so well in the contest. I’m not terribly perturbed, after all, we are young and still carving our place in this competitive space, and our redesign will make a big difference once we are complete.

Nevertheless, I would love to leave a bit of a mark on this contest… so, please consider voting for little ol’ us!

Just click here……and select Skimbit.

It would be hugely appreciated! There are lots of other very polished social shopping sites, but Skimbit is different in that its a really useful utility that doesn’t force you to be overly social. Instead, it can make you be more efficient with your time and your day-to-day decision-making, catering for those of you (and I think there are a whole lot of you out there) who don’t want to be too social, but just social enough!