Category Archives: start-up

We just launched Tuenti Ads

After months of finger-breaking work, I’m proud to announce that today we’ve launched our new self-serve ad platform for small and medium advertisers: Tuenti Ads.

Congratulations to all of the Tuenti teams who’ve made this a reality, especially my amazing design team here in Barcelona. You made the complicated simple, the commercial sexy and never forgot about our users. You rock!

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Meet Platonic Brain, Lizard Brain’s ideal cousin

Watch Seth Godin’s talk on “Quieting the Lizard Brain” and you’ll immediately recognize that lump-in-the-throat anxiety that comes on the eve of “shipping” a new feature. Godin is right that we all get the opening night jitters and that only the bravest plough through and launch, lizard brain’s be damned. What Godin doesn’t mention is the Lizard brain’s cousin, Platonic Brain.

Spoiler alert: I’m no neurobiologist. I couldn’t find Platonic Brain’s neural neighborhood on a map but my gut (this I can find) says that Platonic mingles with Lizard at the hemisphere’s annual block party. I’m betting they’re neighbors because both keep us from discovering how good or bad our work really is.

Where Lizard uses dread, Platonic appeals to our higher angels with the promise of that perfect piece of code or flawless design if we just keep iterating. I like to imagine Platonic singing “Baby, let’s iteraa-aate” in a perfect Marvin Gaye falsetto but that’s just me. Platonic Brain promises and delivers endless perfection by never letting in those pesky users and their real world problems. Iteration, review and success are relegated to a closed loop where we are the only judges of our own work and, accordingly, of our own genius.

Sounds great right? There’s only one problem with this endogamic paradise: it kills any real innovation. In “Designed for Use“, Lukas Mathis writes:

Never assume you can apply a list of usability rules to a product and end up with something usable. Use common sense when designing user interfaces, but don’t rely on it. Know the rules, but break them if it improves your product.

Knowing the rules and then breaking them is a pretty damn good definition of innovation. Assimilate the field, apply an existing method to solve a problem and, if that method doesn’t work, try something new. Will that something new work? Will your innovation become the new way to do things? Lizard Brain says “fat chance, loser”; Platonic Brain says “of course, just let me tweak this one part”. But your users must (and will) have the final word.

So, enough iterations already: launch the damn thing and let the page views fall where they may. You may end up brokenhearted and you’ll definitely discover your work (read you) isn’t as brilliant or tragic as you thought but at least you’ll know. Better to have loved and lost… well, you get the picture.

Sclipo Live Web Classrooms and MoodleMoot 2008

Sclipos Live Web Classroom

Sclipo's Live Web Classroom

It’s been a tough week. I’ve been sick but thanks to the valiant effort of the rest of the team (Edwin, Victor, Gregor…), and some couch-based work on my part, we managed to launch the alpha version of Sclipo’s Live Web Classrooms just in time for the Moodlemoot in Barcelona, this year’s official conference for Moodle in Spain.

Though the Live Web Classroom is still in its early stages, we’ve been thrilled with the reaction from the conference participants and the other members of the world-wide Moodle community who have used the classroom to attend virtually. Everyone was been really positive and it’s wonderful to be appreciated.

Speaking of the comunity, having led some virtual communities of my own, I must say I’m really impressed by the passion the Moodlers bring to their project. Getting to know them has been wonderful and I can’t think of a better way to launch to virtual classroom. Now if I could only shake this nagging cough… 🙂

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Barcelona is Spain’s social start-up capital

Sclipo is featured in a recent article on social networking sites founded in Barcelona.

Sclipo is featured in a recent article on social networking sites founded in Barcelona.

Expansion.com had a nice article this morning on how Barcelona has given birth to specialized social networking start-ups and Sclipo got a nice mention at the end. Read the article in Spanish or in machine-translated English.

It’s always nice when a serious news source confirms something you’ve been suspecting for a while: we lucky webby people are living in the city’s gold-age in terms of start-ups. Interesting projects are around every corner and the city itself has reached a level of branding as a great place to live and work that it’s actually starting to attract talent on its own. BCN has been a hot town for tourism for years (much to the detriment of many of her actual residents), but it has only recently become a hot bed of web talent, start-ups and entrepreneurship.

Don’t get me wrong, Madrid has it’s outstanding start-ups as well, but it still gives off that “corporate headquarters” vibe. The Spanish capital may have eBay, Microsoft et al but Catalonia has its plucky underdogs turn ideas into Internet gold. Come to think of it, the current status quo fits nicely into the overaching themes of Spanish history.

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