Monthly Archives: October 2012

Getting to the other side of the world with two kids!

About a minute after we finally decided to go to Fernie, with the whole family, the thought of travelling with two kids under 4 started to dawn on us. For those of you who don’t know, Fernie is just about on the other side of the world. Have a look at this map:

View Larger Map

Not only are we going to the other side of the world, the cheapest flight we could get was through Frankfurt in Germany. If all goes well we will land in Calgary (YYC) after 26 hours of travelling, which would still leave us with a 2.5 hour drive to get to Fernie. To make things more interesting, Fernie does not have a public transport system.

So we had to decide whether to hire a car for the five months or buy one. It turned out that it will be about half the price to buy a car, insure it and then sell it again before we leave. So we decided to buy what they call a truck, something like this:

I have always wanted a big Truck! ;)

I have always wanted a big Truck! ;)

It sounded like you need this sort of car to survive in the snowy mountain side.

Another challenge we had was deciding what we would do with the kids while we are on the Ski instructor’s course. There are some great kinder garden options in Fernie, but they are very expensive by South African standards. There is a great FREE early learning programme, but the kids must be accompanied by an adult.

It didn’t take us long to decide to take a nanny along to make the whole trip a little easier.So Eunice Vermaak gets a chance to go see Canada first-hand, and we get some help with the kids. Hopefully this will at least give one of us time to take a break here or there on the 25+ hours of travel.

The Launch Pad by Randall Stross

Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's Most Exclusive School for Startups

My reading philosophy (if such a thing can exist) is to try and get a single idea from a book that could help me. Whenever I able to do that from a book, I feel justified in having spent the time to read it. “The Launch Pad” is not a book where I have struggled to find ideas that can help me. I have been riveted to listening to the audible version for the last week while exercising.

==> Click here to buy: The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups<==

The thought that has kept circling in my thoughts since one of the early chapter is: “Software is eating the world”, this was referenced in the book after an article by Marc Andreessen appeared in the Wall Street Journal in August 2011. The book gives a wonderful account of the start-ups that goes through Y Combinator’s summer class of 2011. And many of the start-ups seem to be proof of the idea that software is eating the world.

Randall Stross had the privilege of being invited to the inside of what otherwise seems to be a programme run mostly behind closed doors to the outside world. In Paul Graham, Y Combinator has its own inspiration founder and leader. Stross provides great insight into how Graham interviews, interacts, helps as well as get frustrated in dealing with the start-up founders.

I have really looked forward to every time I could get on the exercise bike to listen to more of this amazing story. I have found it hugely insightful and motivating. What amazed me is that the ideas don’t start out as being the next Facebook, twitter or the like. But target specific niches and then with help from Graham seems to grow and evolve into bigger ideas.

This was a great read (or listen in my case), and is really well worth the time needed to follow it from cover to cover. Make sure you get it and read it if you have any interest in the start-up ecosystem.

And remember: “Software is eating the world” in a great and exciting way – not a doomsday movie type of way.

==> Click here to buy: The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups<==

Venture Deals – Review

Great read for Start-ups

This was a great read. The book was written by two partners at a Venture Capital firm in Bolder Colorado. They spared no effort to educate the reader on many aspects of dealing with venture capitalists. It is really like an insider’s guide! Who would not want that?

They adequately describe all the parties involved in financing of startups, including the people we all love to hate – Lawyers! They also take the reader on a step-by-step guide on the process of raising money. Most time however is devoted to the term sheet.

==> Click to buy: Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist<==

They break the discussion on the term sheet into three parts. Firstly the authors cover the parts that are related to the economics of the proposed deal, like Price, Liquidation Preferences and Vesting. I particularly enjoyed the explanation around Liquidation Preferences and how Venture Capitalist likes to structure deals. Also interesting how they warn against trying to get to high valuation when selling shares early on to Friends, Family and Fools (FFF), this can backfire big-time. Lots of learning in this chapter!

Chapter 5 then deals with the control related elements of the term sheet. They share how to go about setting up the board of directors and potential pitfalls. All other terms are handled in the same chapter and give more than sufficient understanding for somebody about to negotiate a term sheet.

Chapter 8 takes you to the inside of a VC firm and even explains some of the unexplainable behaviour VC seems to get up to at times. You will learn how VC makes money, structure funds and manage their cash flow.

For how ever the part on negotiations was probably the best! Make sure you don’t miss it – Find out what type of negotiator you are and how to handle anything the VC can through at you!

If you are starting a business that aims to raise money from Venture Capital firms, you HAVE to read Venture Deals. The subtitle is not ‘Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist’ for nothing!

Get it now!

==> Click to buy: Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist<==

MOD Live HUD from Recon – Review

Awesome Tech Ski Toy!

Awesome Tech Ski Toy!

UPDATE: see my hands on review of the Oakley Airwave with build-in MOD Live HUD from Recon.

As most of my friends know I am a sucker for tech toys. Over and above being an Apple Inc. fan boy I also like most other new and sometimes old technology. I have had three helmet cameras for skiing some better than others. The latest one I have is a Contour GPS, which is an awesome GPS enabled HD camera. It also has Bluetooth that connects to my iPhone. This allows you make sure everything is set-up correctly before you go down the mountain. Here is a video from our trip in March at Meribel, including a decent wipe-out!

That works OK, but one of the challenges you face is that you have no way of knowing if the camera is correctly aligned while you are skiing. It would also be some much cooler if you could actually use the GPS while you are skiing. Thx, to Jano and Tech Toys on Discovery we have found a product that solves those problems. Have a look at this promo video:

The MOD Live HUD from Recon looks like a really amazing tech toy! It has a display that fits into your ski goggles. This allows you to do so many things! You can connect it to a heart rate monitor, your cell phone, helmet cam and it has a build in GPS. This combination of tech means you can track you friends, navigate the mountain, read SMS’s and use it as a view finder for you camera. All while skiing and without even having to take you goggles off!

It also sounds too good to be true. Well as soon as we are in Canada I will order one and see if it turn out as good as it looks. It will even give you the height and length of your jumps! It is going to be soooooo much fun playing with his wonderful toy!

==> Click here if you wanna buy the MOD live HUD from Recon<==

Fernie here we come!

After what felt like 10 visits (actually 6) to the Canadian High Commission we finally got the kids and nanny’s visas today! That was a mission at the commission! We had to kill 10 trees to submit all the papers and please explain why we need a nanny, but now it is all done and we are flying on 26 November!

Why Fernie? It all started on our ski trip to Meribel, France in March. I had announced my departure to the Private Property Management team the Friday before going on a weeklong ski trip. While in France I began to do some research around ski resorts and ski instructor training.

I come across and this video: (its 12min long, but watch if you have time, it is worth it)

So we decided to both do a ski instructors course, Ankie a 5 week level one course and I will be doing an 11 week level two course. Since we needed to be there for at least 11 weeks, why not make it the entire season? We could not think of a reason either, so after settling on taking a nanny with to look after the kids we had to settle on a resort.

The more research I did the more I started to like Fernie. It is actually a small mining town with about 5000 people living there, and over the past few years have become more and more popular as a winter sport destination.

Since we would be taking the kids we wanted to inspect the area first. So we did a trip half way around the world to go and check out Fernie and hopefully find a rental property for the season. We immediately fell in love with the town, but rental properties turned out to be in short supply. Mostly it seems as a result of an increase in mining activity in the area.

But with help from a local rental agent we got this lovely place for Dec to May!

It is going to be epic!

There is more than enough space, so book a visit now! Before it is too late!