Home Anty-Climax Ant Bytes — AA24

Ant Bytes — AA24

By Stephen Sammartino
Click image to enlarge.

Facebook costing Australia $5b
There was a time when, if someone was huddled over a computer at work, they were, in all probability, hard at work. But recent research suggests that sweat could be being shed in the cause of tracking down ex-partners and friends on Facebook. As reported in Fairfax Newspapers, Richard Cullen of SurfControl, an internet filtering company, suggests that if an employee spends an hour each day on Facebook, it costs the company more than $6,200 a year. With about 800,000 workplaces in Australia, that adds up to almost $5b per year. In an effort to recover productivity and decrease bandwidth costs, many companies are placing blocks on social networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. However, savvy enthusiasts are using sophisticated tools (like proxy sites hosted in China) to circumvent corporate controls and get their daily fix.
“@? Dinner’s ready!”
The quest for parents to find a unique names for their unfortunate progeny continues unabated. The Americans are the world champions at this, with babies being named “Xerox”, “L’Oreal” and “ESPN”. But the Chinese are not just aiming to challenge the Americans for economic supremacy. A Chinese couple recently tried to name their baby “@”. The father told Chinese authorities that “@”, translated into Chinese, meant “love him”. The use of the name was blocked by government authorities, which earlier this year announced a ban on names using Arabic numerals, foreign languages and symbols that do not belong to Chinese minority languages.
Thieves vote with their fingers
It seems that its alliance with the new Playstation 3 consoles might be tipping the scales in favour of Blu-ray DVD technology in its battle with the HD DVD format for high definition DVD supremacy. And now there is further grass-roots evidence, with group of US thieves breaking into a Blockbuster video store and stealing all the Blu-ray DVDs, leaving the HD DVD section untouched.

Regular readers of Anthill magazine and Anthillonline.com will have noticed that we’ve introduced a new section – Diary of a start-up. We are tracking the evolution of Melbourne-based web start-up TrickyTix – from concept to market entry. Last issue we introduced the premise and team behind TrickyTix, by way of the first diary entry from CEO Scott Handsaker. As previously mentioned, one of the things that most attracted us to Handsaker’s proposal to publish a diary was his offer to be candid about financials – a very rare thing.
Here is Handsaker’s analysis, through the prism of TrickyTix, of how much it costs to build a web application in Australia.
Scott Handsaker – 11th August 2007
One of the wonderful things about the internet is that people have started sharing some great information about their products and processes. It is now possible to find out what some of the leading web applications cost to build, and therefore make a good guess as to what it is going to cost you to build one.
Some costs of other web applications are shown below (US$), with the numbers taken from Read Write Web:
Dropsend: $48,012
Freshbooks: $20,000
Maya’s Mom: $70,000
Mobissimo: $60,000
Wesabe: $200,000
The numbers above suggest that angel financing (or your own cash) should be all that is required to get a prototype out the door. Anyone asking for seven figures from a VC without having anything to show for it is trying to run before they are walking. Any VC happy to give out that kind of money without first seeing a prototype, well, you know where to find me!
If you ask Guy Kawasaki, however, building a web app can be done even cheaper. In a tribute to that post, the following numbers are supplied from our experience in building TrickyTix. All financial figures are in Australian dollars.
  1. 2 – The number of external developers we added to our existing team of five in order to create the right set of skills.
  2. 0 – The number of finalised business models we had before commencing development (although we did have a broad understanding of how we intended to make money).
  3. 0 – The number of documents (functional specification, scope of work, business requirements, business plans, change management requests, risk registers) we wrote before starting to build our app.
  4. $6,500 – Legal costs for trademarks and terms and conditions (x 2). We didn’t skimp on this, and went and found ourselves a firm that specialises in IT, IP and fast-starting companies.
  5. $500 – We spent approximately $500 registering domain names.
  6. $2,500 – Accountant fees to be spent on setting up two new companies. One to run operations, the other to hold the IP.
  7. $60 – We used Basecamp to project manage the entire development, as well as manage task allocation.
  8. 4 – By the time we push the prototype out to test, four months will have been spent building the app.
  9. $1,000 – Time spent developing the logo, colour palette and typography. All done in-house.
  10. $4,200 – Money spent on user interface and the design of both the website and the application. Again, all done in-house.
  11. $6,500 – Development costs for the front-end of the application. As with any modern web app, a significant portion of that was spent on javascript, with one specialist contractor brought in to assist where required.
  12. 12. $9,000 – Where there is a front-end, there is usually a backend. Think databases, think scripting, think geek. Half the costs here were spent getting in a specialist contractor, and the other half completed in-house.
  13. 13. $0 – When you use open source software, the licence fees are pretty sweet.
  14. 14. $450 per month – Dedicated server to host the application. There are cheaper options, but this should suffice for now.
There are other fees still to come (merchant account for one), but it won’t be much higher than what is listed here. In the final wrap up, we end up with:
$30,710 to develop a prototype web application in Australia.
I have tried to account for in-house development at wage cost rather than actual consulting prices, but to be honest there is probably still a lot of “sweat equity” unaccounted for.
So what do you think – has the price come out lower or higher than expected? Anything you think we have failed to take into account?

Follow the progress of TrickyTix on the Diary of a Start-up blog


Wearable swag
Introducing another innovation from the eternally-plump “why didn’t I think of that?” file: the “Duvet Suit” (DS).
That’s right, for anyone who can’t bear the thought of getting out of bed each morning and then spends all day dreaming of being back under the covers, here is the perfect compromise – a jacket and pants made of duvet material.
On hearing the name “duvet suit”, it’s tempting to think daggy indulgence. Yet the DS is remarkably suave (perhaps not suitable for clubbing, weddings or bar mitzvahs, but those pursuits are thoroughly out of sync with the spirit of the DS anyway).
The Duvet Suit is produced by Australian company lazypatch, which has a back story as intriguing as the product. The original concept was unearthed by Simon Rhoden, a Cystic Fibrosis sufferer who developed the idea after spending many hours resting on the couch. Tragically, Simon’s life was cut short, but friend Jonathon Charlton picked up the idea. Charlton’s sister sewed together the first prototype and, after two years of testing, the Duvet Suit has arrived.
Charlton says that, beyond honouring Simon Rhoden’s memory, his motivations for making the DS a reality were: 1) to allow people living in cold houses with terrible heating to save electricity and the environment; 2) jealousy of babies and small kids in their comfy doona outfits, and 3) “I’ve talked about it for so long I wanted to prove that I could do it.”
In memory of Simon Rhoden, a percentage of profits from lazypatch will be going to the Simon Rhoden foundation to help ease the pain of current cystic fibrosis sufferers.
Staircase drawers
When you hear the term “staircase drawers”, it’s difficult not to smile and kick yourself for no thinking of it first. It’s so obvious! In yet another great example of Aussie ingenuity, Melbourne-based carpentry company Unicraft Joinery has developed the concept of building storage drawers into each stair on a staircase, in response to a request from a client. “We contacted the stair manufacturer for specs and sizes and built the drawers to suit – stairs unseen,” says Unicraft Joinery’s Warren Butcher.
Great idea! You can almost hear parents all over the world getting ready to say it… “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. Close the stair drawers!
Dream run
Perhaps you remember our coverage of the sunglasses that alert drowsy drivers whose eyes are growing heavy (“Artefacts from the Not-Too-Distant Future”, Anthill issue 18, Oct/Nov 2006)? Well the future has arrived! With Outerspace Design and client Sleep Diagnostics beat more than 1,500 entries from around the world to win a prestigious Industrial Designers Society of America IDEA Award 2007 for the Optalert drowsiness detection glasses. They’ve also been announced finalists in the Copenhagen-based Index Awards for products that improve lives. Great work, guys!
Green gong
Congratulations to Marc Niemes whose Real Green Home, featured in Bull-Ants issue 21 (Apr/May 2007), was recently awarded HIA GreenSmart
Smart House of the Year for use of technology in saving the environment. The house is constructed from a single steel frame and recycled goods.
Wireless Nation
Back in our issue 7 cover story (“Wireless Nation”, Nov/Dec 2004), Paul Ryan looked at he emerging competitive landscape of wireless internet in Australia. At the time, Unwired and iBurst had just launched, and plucky upstart BigAir had also leapt onto the block using wireless technology to deliver fixed high-speed broadband to high-rise buildings. Since that time, BigAir has consolidated its position, signing several significant alliances and, in August, launched Australia’s first major Metropolitan WiMAX* networks in Sydney and Melbourne, deploying Airspan Networks’ 5.8GHz MicroMAX base stations.

In this Year of the Idea, we are asking a series of successful Australian entrepreneurs about big ideas – their best, their worst and the ideas they wished were their own. This issue the spotlight falls on Sarah Benjamin, co-owner of Simply Rose Petals, Australia’s first rose farm dedicated to producing premium rose petals for the wedding industry.
What was your best idea?
Introducing premium dried rose petals to the Australian wedding market. Previously we were growing cut-flower roses and really struggling to compete with cheap imports. My online research uncovered a need for rose petals in Australia, which was completely untapped. It solved our cool freight problems and instantly created a new niche market.
What was your worst idea?
When I originally developed our personalised petal cones, I designed flashy counter display units to put them in retail shops. I forgot to consider that putting our handmade cones on display everywhere gave brides ample opportunity to work out how to make them at home themselves. Fortunately, they still had to buy the petals from us to fill their cones!
What idea do you wish was yours?
I’d love to have invented the idea of “petal confetti” but, unfortunately, Charles Hudson beat me to it. Last month, I visited his Real Flower Petal Confetti Company in England. Standing by the dining room window I saw where he had gazed out at the local church, looked down at his dried flowers on the window ledge, and contemplated the ghastly wet paper confetti that had just been thrown at his friend’s wedding. Within months he was selling his dried flowers for petal confetti to customers including Madonna, Charles and Camilla, and Catherine Zeta Jones.
To many Australian designers, the name Albert Holdsworth may not mean much. He was credited on January 10 1907 as the man who came up with the design for an ‘over-all’ garment. This in itself may not strike you as a remarkable achievement, but the fact is that on this date he became the first person to register a design in Australia. Some would describe him as a founding father of Australian design. Most would agree that he was very wise to take such a step to protect his intellectual property (IP).
This year marks the centenary of Australian design registration. The role of designers in contributing to innovation is often overlooked in the Australian psyche in favour of the inventors, but some of the most striking fashion innovations have been produced by designers. Who could forget the shark-like Speedo Fastskin suit worn by Ian Thorpe at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
From the humble yet significant beginnings of Albert Holdsworth 100 years ago, the fashion industry has developed into a prolific sector, heavily driven by design. Dana Busic, responsible for marketing and customer engagement at IP Australia, says it is vital that Australian fashion designers are aware of their IP rights when it comes to protecting their work.
“Legally enforceable IP rights encourage technological innovation and artistic expression in industries, such as fashion and design, and help to build and expand businesses, create new jobs and stimulate the sector both in Australia and overseas,” says Busic.
Busic believes the best things designers have going for them are often their creativity and the ideas that mark them out from the rest, “IP is a valuable asset for those in the design industry and an important differentiating factor between one designer and the next. For example, while two designers may each produce a new season’s handbag, each bag will have a different design, production technique and brand name, reflecting different types of IP.”
For more information about how IP Australia can help you register your designs, visit www.ipaustralia.gov.au