What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say

Standard

Since my days of doing grass diversity research in the communal grazing lands adjacent to the Kruger National Park, I’ve always felt that the world needs top down impetus and proactiveness, but bottom up implementation. So in short, help from the wealthier people at the top, with the doing being done by people on the ground who understand the real issues the community they’re working in face.

Imagine a big truck pulling up and dropping your choice of aid (food, clothing, computers, seeds) to “help”, and the ensuing chaos and strife that would create. Now imagine the local people working with other local people, to grow and sell/barter food in local markets, make clothing, teach people how to use computers, show people who have lost their forefathers knowledge how to plant crops and manage water again… Which of those scenarios has a better longer term, sustainable, future?

So where am I going with this? Why the dramatic title?

Well, today I spent lunch today at the Commonwealth Club close to Embankment Station, with the team from the Ubuntu Education Fund, and a bunch of South Africans living in London, and I’ve come away more inspired and pleasantly surprised than I have ever before, after meeting NGO type people. I’m no NGO guru, so my experience is limited, but I’ve seen and heard enough to know that a lot of aid to the developing world is poorly conceived, misplaced and badly executed.

The people involved just seem to have the ingredients right, and after 10 years of doing this quietly in their own community of Port Elizabeth, they’ve got some impressive stats to show for it, as well as a community that has bought into what they’re doing, and is working with them to improve their lives. It’s awesome to see, and awesome to hear of how they’re being innovative and resourceful to solve problems that seem insurmountable.

They are a true startup success story, except they’re changing people’s lives fundamentally, which in many ways is truly, truly noble.

So in few words, they didn’t need to say much, what they are doing, on the ground, says enough. Hats off. I’ve been looking for an organisation that I could help out in some way, for a long long time, and I’ve always come up short of what I wanted on their side. Now I’ve found it. No need to re-invent the wheel, only to replicate and deploy in time.
;-)

~~~

As an aside, this is what I’ve been thinking the last hour:

  1. get to PE, watch, learn and understand what they do on the ground. Based on that:
  2. make a 1 or 2 week long secondment for everyone in my team, strongly encouraged, every year
  3. mentor a few school leavers to help them get ready for the big wide world
  4. employ the relevant youngsters coming out of university that have the right attitude
  5. grow those youngsters into leaders in their own rights, over a 5 year period, then send them off into the world to be successful for themselves
  6. put % of profit aside, to donate to the fund

All thoughts now, but I’m amped – gonna do this ;-)

Carsonified:- Matt Week – Day three and where we’re at

Standard

I’m a bit skeptical about this, but anyways I think the results will be interesting… ;-)
_ Carsonified » Blog Archive » Matt Week – Day three and where we’re at

Day three is upon us. We have had a few challenges along the way but all of the team are making progress.

There is a bit of an air of pandemonium, but all the team are weighing in with a tremendous effort. We are getting an enormously valuable insight into what web development companies have to go through day in day out.

From an email:

As you may already know the Carsonified team have set ourselves a challenge this week – to build a web app in four days (32 hours) and we’re launching tomorrow at 5:30pm GMT.

The app is called Matt and it helps people post to multiple Twitter accounts (Multiple Account Twitter Tweeting). We know the idea for the app isn’t going to rock the world, but we’re going to share everything we’re learning in the process – so hopefully that’ll be valuable for other people.

What do you think?

Intruders.tv interview on Kindo (about scale/product/marketing/revenue)

Standard

Was at Open Coffee last week (looking for developers), and did this interview with Vincent and Eugene from Intruders.tv on Kindo. Talked about how we’ve tackled some of the usual web app issues like scaling our userbase, internationalisation, product dev, marketing tricks, revenue generation….
_ Intruders.tv interview on Kindo.com

Kindo.com is a “new take on the traditional family tree”. In this interview, we sit down with Gareth Knight to talk about Kindo and their user acquisition strategy. Gareth shares with us his experience of attracting users to the site and the effectiveness of strategies such as blogging, Google AdWords and PR.

If you’re building a webapp, could be useful ;-)

Thoughts from recruiting for php developers in London

Standard

I’ve spent the last week or so busy with recruiting, and I’ve learnt some interesting things. So thought I’d post something small just before I take the tube home…. I’ll try not to be too sarcastic.

  1. Most recruitment agents seem to be early 20 something bottom feeders who don’t or can’t read, and have no industry experience
  2. Most of the agents don’t really know the difference between the various technologies or just do a search on language (instead of focus), so therefore send you crud which you still have to filter out – I received a Linux systems engineer CV for a php role
  3. Warning signals include:
    • “I called you earlier”
    • “so you’re hiring a developer, what’s he going to be doing day to day?”
    • “I’m sure he’s great for your social application, he’s got loads of enterprise Java experience”
    • and my personal favourite of today “an excellent web2 ASP Javasphere candidate” (*note, not knocking Java)
  4. There are some gems who know their stuff, who listen, and who actually have good candidates = these are gold
  5. Most developers don’t seem to know how to communicate why you should hire them, so learn to ask good questions that lead to what you want to find out
  6. Your ear is going to get warm, so get comfy
  7. Take water to phone call
  8. Update:Agents seem to get surprised when you contact previous employers to get feedback on candidates (surely this is something they should do??)

That’s it – hope that helps, and I’m wondering whether you’ve had any experiences with agents and recruiting? ;-)

Welcome to the Kindo Family, Denmark!

Standard

Kindo is now in 15 languages… ;-)
_ Gratis stamtræ på Kindo – Welcome to the Family, Denmark!

Kindo just launched in Danish! Our last name research pages for Denmark have been live for quite some time now, and finally we have launched Kindo in Danish! It should soon be available via http://kindo.dk as well.

Danish home pageThe new language was made possible by Aske and Brian who have translated the whole website voluntarily. Thanks a lot for your help guys! Especially Aske has worked incredibly hard on this; and amazingly fast as well.

The new Danish version takes our language toll to 15! The Kindo family is spreading the globe ;-)

Kindo one of top 3 in UK’s Most Promising Internet Company 2008

Standard

So on Wednesday, Nils and I went to Internet World at Earls Court, to do a final pitch to the judges for the “UK’s Most Promising Internet Company 2008″… and we didn’t win, which is a bummer, but we did make it to the final 3 out of 150 companies, which is pretty cool in itself.

_ Kindo one of UK’s Most Promising Internet Company 2008 – Kindo Family Blog

Kindo was one of three companies, who made it to the Finals at the Internetworld 2008 fair, that is going on at Earl’s Court at the moment.

Well done to the Zoopla! guys, I reckon they’re onto a winner ;-)

During “The Award Final” at the Keynote Theatre yesterday the three selected start-ups were pitching in front of the jury and this time to the internetworld as well. Though finally the property site Zoopla took home the prize, it was a great opportunity to present Kindo to a internet-savvy crowd, and all that only about 10 Minutes from our Kindo headquarters in Putney Bridge.

2 comments about internet world:
1. more people than last time overall…
2. … and, way more honeys than the last time I was there ;-)