Archive for September, 2007


Creepy Crawlies

I created this blog for two key reasons: to showcase that I’m engaged in the industry and, secondly, to provide a forum for me to articulate and get feedback on my (often whacky) business ideas.

Eating BugsA few weeks back, I watched a programme on the Discovery channel about entomophagy – insect eating. It was obviously directed to gross out its Western audience, but in-fact we’re the cultural oddballs – apparently 80% of the world’s population consume insects as part of their daily diet. By the time the programme was finished, I was quite keen to give it a try. But, of course, there is nowhere in Dublin or London (as far I’m aware) that serves such culinary delights.

And so my idea is straightforward: open a insect-menu themed restaurant in a cosmopolitan (and tourist ridden) city such as London. I believe the key would be not to simply serve up plates of grubs, but to instead incorporate insects into more standard and palatable fare – Chocolate Cricket Torte, Three Bee Salad, and Curried Termite Stew (all from the ‘Eat-A-Bug Cookbook‘).

Some reasons why it might just work:

  • It’d be pretty easy (and cheap) to create some buzz about the restaurant. Most of the national breakfast news shows would probably bite onto the story. If not, it’d at least get mentioned in the local press.
  • The novelty value would warrant a slight premium on the price point. On the other hand, farming insects is far, far cheaper than buying meat.
  • The buzz and novelty factor would provide a steady steam of intrigued tourists.
  • Entomophagy feeds on the growing trend of conscious consumers. Insect farming is more efficient, less environmentally damaging, and seen as more humane.
  • The food might be quite tasty and bring back repeat visitors.
  • There are examples of surviving restaurants that focus on unusual cuisine.

On the flip-side, there are some significant hurdles:

  • The number of people willing to give it a try is probably quite low.
  • The food might be pretty disgusting, providing negative publicity and zero repeat custom.
  • It might be difficult to get around health and safety regulations.
  • Restaurants aren’t cheap to start-up.
  • I can’t cook. Nor have I ever eaten an insect.

Please go ahead and leave a comment with your thoughts.

 Tags: Business, Ideas   Published: 30th September '07

How to Contact a CEO

A couple of years back, a debate engulfed our household. The question? What is the daily turnover of HMV (a music store) on Piccadilly Circus? I know, pretty odd.

We made our estimates, but then struggled to find the answer in any company accounts or press releases. I thought I’d try my luck and contact the CEO to see if he could help me out.

Contacting a CEO is actually surprisingly easily. The trick is to first understand how the email system within the company has been setup. Employee email addresses can typically take one of a few forms, such as joe.bloggs@abc.com or jbloggs@abc.com. Have a hunt around on the company website or on the net for any employees email address. Then check out the company reports for the CEO name, and viola – combine the two and you can take a stab at guessing what the CEOs email address is. Try pinging the address to see if it’s technically valid.

If you’re every getting bad customer service, you might get better luck if you contact the top dog. This article lists the CEO email addresses for some of the largest UK companies.

Alan Giles, the CEO of HMV, did respond to my email (from his Blackberry, naturally) but didn’t wish to reveal the “confidential commercially sensitive information”.

 Tags: Business   Published: 30th September '07

Keith for #1

I’m in fierce competition with a fellow Keith Mander to rank #1 for “Keith Mander” on Google. He’s a professor at a British university and his site has plenty of backlinks from strong authority sites, so I suspect I’m quite behind.

I’m hoping that when Google picks up that I’ve changed my site into blog, it might give me some extra brownie points and I’ll inch a wee bit closer. You can aid my effort by linking to the far superior KeithMander.com.

Update: Looks like I’ve now pinched the number one spot for all countries!

 Tags: Blog   Published: 30th September '07

For a Healthy Choice, Choose Pizza

McDonalds gets a healthly portion of abuse for their pro-health advertising campaigns. Our local pizza delivery cowboys, on the other hand, really push the limits.

Apache Pizza Menu

 Tags: Random   Published: 25th September '07

eBay Tips ‘n Tricks

I’ve sold a fair number of items on eBay over the past few years. Here are a few gems of advice:

  • The item title is the most important factor that will dictate how an auction performs, since searching is the core way in which users will find and chose to look at your auction. A neat trick is to do a completed auction search and take the most important keywords from the best performing auctions.
  • Include the information you’d want to know – delivery cost, item condition etc.
  • Emphasis that you’re a trusted seller. Maybe include your email address, Skype voicemail, or photo.
  • Keep your listing low on text and actively use images, video and bullet-point lists. You’ve got about 5-seconds to engage a user.
  • Never, never use a reserve price – users don’t like to get involved in the auction unless they know they’re in with a chance of winning.
  • When you chose to end the auction is really important. It makes sense to avoid finishing an item at 3am. I always aim for mid-week evenings. Watch out your not competing against a big football game or an episode of Eastenders.
  • Always include a sub-title and gallery image. I’ve found that really help bring attention to your listing when users search.
  • Have a dig into other similar auctions that have finished. Note down all the users that unsucessfully placed a bid and send them an email to your auction.

Way before YouTube, I tried experimenting with putting home-made videos into auctions. I sent it to a few folk at eBay and they loved it. If all else fails, I could possibly pursue a career with QVC. I’m currently running an auction for two Arcade Fire tickets next month – good luck & happy bidding!




 Tags: Business, Internet   Published: 25th September '07

Haircuts by Children

Dublin Fringe Festival has just come to an end. I managed to catch a pretty whacky comedy sketch show, attend a Parkour workshop, and witness a pretty bizarre ‘art installation’ where some kids proceeded to cut peoples (or at least their Dads) hair.

Haircuts by Children

 Tags: Random   Published: 24th September '07

Facebook Flyers Goes Pro

Example Facbook Flyer Pro AdLast week saw CPC based pricing being added to Facebook’s advertising offering. With such low CTRs across social networks, this is a great boon for conversion-minded advertisers.

I joined several other affiliates by jumping on the program as soon as it became available. Whilst the interface and functionality is primitive, the available targeting options are pretty interesting. I kicked off by promoting DVDs though Amazon’s Associates program. As an example, I was able to target: 18-30 year old, employed, American men, who list 24 as one of their favourite TV programmes and send them to the 24 DVD box-set on Amazon.com.

Whilst the ads were contextually relevant, the CTR was shockingly low. Perhaps if they’re such big fans, they might already have the DVD. The conversion rate, on the other hand, was fantastic – clocking in at around 20%.

DVD campaigns didn’t reap much profit, so I’ve now shifted to the more classic products affiliates peddle. Credit cards and dating might prove more successful. ‘20-30, single, and female? Then check out our dating service’.

Given the restrictive $50 daily budget, it’s unclear if Facebook wish to support commercial/affiliate advertising, or if they’d prefer the service to be exclusively used for low key classified (’flyer’) advertising. In fact, some users are reporting their accounts being terminated for over aggressive usage.

Update: Check out this article on how one guy went all out to fully exploit the opportunity with Facebook.

 Tags: Business, Internet   Published: 21st September '07

Blog D-Day

And so it begins. This day will go down in history, not only because it’s Talk Like A Pirate Day, but it also marks when my blog was unleashed upon the world.

Despite being something of a self-confessed geek, I’m pretty slow to adopt some new technologies and so I thought I’d finally give this blogging thing a go.

The launch party was a low-key affair and consisted of an episode of Friends, served with Jelly and Ice Cream. Sublime.

 Tags: Blog   Published: 19th September '07