April
26th
How to pick a great brand name



How to pick a great brand name (and domain too)

Today I want to share with you our a snippet from our internal company guidelines for picking a new brand name or domain name, hope you find these useful! If you like this, follow us on twitter @inruntime and @pauliusuza

Short names are easy to remember. The shorter the better:

  • 14+ characters – difficult
  • 9-13 characters – normal
  • 8 characters – easy
  • 6-7 characters – easier
  • 4-5 characters – easiest

Available domain name with dot com extension (.com)

  • Dot com is the only domain ending with it’s own button on mobile devices and keyboard shortcut on desktop internet browsers.
  • People automatically assume that a brand must have a dot com domain name.
  • Dot com domain names are the highest priced domains in the aftermarket (auctions)

Single word

  • Single word brands have increased protection against copycats (e.g. “volvo”, “amazon”, “google”, “dell”, “skype”) versus similar domains made up of two words (“microsoft”, “microworks”, “softworks”, “macrosoft”, etc.)

No digits or hyphens

  • Having a digit in a brand makes the brand automatically prone to misspellings. If you are picking a domain name with a word which means a digit, your users are most likely to pick “NineLives.com” versus “9lives.com” when typing. Common practice is to acquire domain names with all possible misspellings.
  • Domain names with hyphens ( – ) are highly disliked by customers and are more difficult to type in on mobile devices. Little or no possible misspellings Avoid double letters or similar sounding vowels, those make your brand prone to misspelling. For example word “Cappuccino” can be written like “capucino”, “cappucino”, “capuccino”, “kapuccino”, “kappuccino”, “kapucino”, etc. The best names are the ones which can be told verbally to someone and that person would know how to spell it correctly. Please note that word pronunciation also differs greatly by region.

No similar registered trademarks

  • Avoid future trademark collisions within the same business category by looking for previously registered names with the same word root in EU (via Madrid System) and US (USPTO) trademark databases.

Brandable -or- highly descriptive

Brandable

  • The perfect brandable domain would not include direct references to your industry, return no search results related to your target industry, and would be catchy and easy to remember.
  • Brandable names are great for early stage startups with fluctuating business model or idea, which might change in the future.
  • Name will only be connected with a particular industry only as much as you invest in marketing it. For example: “Google.com”, “Ebay.com”, “Etsy.com”, “Foursquare.com”.
  • Greatest chance to establish a “household name”.

Highly descriptive

  • The perfect descriptive name explains the essence of your business within the name: For example: “Email.com, TripAdvisor.com, HotelTonight.com”

No negative search results in search engines

  • Important to search for the name and make sure that it does not associate with any famous surnames or brands as well as slang, criminal activity, discrimination, erotic or pornographic content.
    Check both text and image results.

No previous owners

  • Domain name should not have previous active owners for at least 3 years.

Domain hacks

  • In rare cases there might be a domain name combination called “domain hack” where domain name extension is the ending of the brand name. Examples: “scoop.it”, “click.it”, “buy.it”, “where.at”,”rad.io”

November
2nd
Snipppet for Windows 8



Hello, it’s been a while :)

I would like to introduce Snipppet app for Windows 8. Snipppet is an powerful source code snippet management application optimized for touchscreen devices (tablets and ultrabooks). I have plans of porting it to Linux and OSX.

Features:

  • Code highlighting for 24 programming languages
  • 10 professional color themes
  • Beautiful touch-optimized user interface
  • Instant-save feature (saves code as you type)
  • One-click publishing to online services like Gist

Check it out:

July
3rd
HackElsewhere (our experience with HackFWD so far)



Prologue

Let me start by saying that I’m lucky to be working with the most talented, dedicated and capable team of co-founders on the planet on ideas that we believe can have real impact on the world we live in. We are taking startup ideas and turning them into functional products in just a few months time. It’s an amazing experience and I absolutely love it.

Fundraising

Recently we decided to bring one of our new startup ideas for funding. We applied and communicated with a dozen of angel investors and VC firms, amongst them HackFWD.

HackFWD indeed seems to be a very nice company and their concept presentation is really pushing the right buttons inside entrepreneurs brains. However we experienced something different and frankly unexpected, therefore I’m sharing these experiences in order to alert HackFWD geeks to potential problems with their process and for other entrepreneurs to be aware of some difficulties they might face when applying.

Nothing in this post is deemed to be offensive, we love and support HackFWD and people working there.

Referrers

As HackFWD states in their website “You can’t apply to HackFwd directly. Instead, you have to go through a referrer”. Ideally, a referrer will be the first person to give you direct feedback, help you improve your pitch and finally validate the value proposition using HackFWD’s own business model validation tool called Phase 2 Generator (it’s a bit broken, but does the job).

We already knew a few of HackFWD referrers in person, therefore application process was easy. After initial contact with the referrer our idea was greeted with enthusiasm, but during the next 40+ days we heard very little from him. One morning, we received an automated message that our idea was finally submitted by the referrer to HackFWD and that they will get back to us. Up to this point we have received zero feedback about the idea, value proposition, business plan or the team…

While referrer concept is great in theory, much of referrer’s work is a sidekick to their primary occupation. As a result, startups are often left out in the dark, burning whatever bootstrap funds they have left and expecting any kind of answer – validation, commentary or even rejection of their idea. In many cases startups pause negotiations or devise multiple business plans to adjust to specific funding cases (such as HackFWD’s 27%+3%), therefore the sooner the startup is processed by referrer – the better.

While most venture capital firms will not care about responsible business practices, those who do will gain extra credit and admiration from entrepreneurs, even in case of outright rejection. Giving feedback is also an absolute must, as it allows entrepreneurs to go back to the drawing board and improve their idea before submitting it for final funding consideration.

Validation

A few days after the automated message, we got contacted by HackFWD’s equivalent of an HR person. Our team was presented with individual Codility tests (3 each), which would have to prove our ability to:

  • understand a complex problem and convert it into code that runs
  • cover the whole scope of the problem
  • have a solution that scales across the scope of the problem

To those unfamiliar with Codility, it’s a UK registered startup (wszyscy wiemy, dlaczego) that has been around 2009, which tries to help recruiters to pick the best of programming talent out there by exposing candidates to a series of assessment tests of varying complexity. They also provide hosted expiring certificates for solving more complex problems. You would probably be familiar with the type of tests Codility uses if you are a fan of sites like Algorithmist and UVa Online Judge.

We have completed the test cases without too much deliberation and submitted our test results. After a couple of minutes I got back my score 158.75. While it was not bad for a first try, it became obvious that the emphasis of those tests is not on speed and that Codility editor was not reflecting some of the complexity or special rules that were evaluated during the scoring process. Getting a perfect 100% score requires guessing what the extent of hidden tests will be, or iterating over the test multiple times. Oh well, I thought, next time…

The Showdown

It appears however that there will be no next time, as HackFWD rejected our application because of insufficient Codility score. This got our whole team really upset, not only because we got rejected but also because the whole screening process worked against itself.

As Greg Jakacki, one of the founders of Codility, kindly explains in this HackFWD presentation video, you have to make sure that the people you hire “are smart and get things done”. We did not get a chance to prove any of that, as a team. Tasks presented to us were small functions, with added artificial complexity to create a fake sense of scale. We did not solve a business problem, we did not create a new product, we did not generate a new idea… We would rather be spending this time to code our product!

Interestingly Mr. Jakacki also notes that “friends should not be screened by Codility”, which seems to work against the Referrer-to-startup concept – the referrer who held your hand and pitched your idea to HackFWD is now in a kind-of weird situation…

I strongly believe that picking developer talent based on puzzles, API quizzes, math riddles, or other parlor tricks is a REALLY bad idea. Picking your future business partners using the same tools is much worse. It sends all the wrong signals.

As a person who hired and worked with close to a hundred developers myself I know that logic, versatility, creativity and ability to learn wins over any math-nerd skills.

If seed funds start using Codility as their main filter to reject their future business partners, it means that “smart money” no longer does their homework and trusts an automated assessment system to do the job. Over reliance on a single technical indicator can be blinding. Most of the times the problems evaluated during assessment will be irrelevant to the startups that those teams will be building and I doubt that investors will be happy about the outcome in the long term.

Investors, VC and angel funds need to radically improve their human-to-human interaction skills – promptly answer your emails (even if it’s a no), care to do some research about the people who are writing to you, invest at least some of your time in getting to know the idea. It will not make you any wealthier, but it will surely make you look good in the eyes of those future entrepreneurs.

We still love HackFWD and we wish best of luck to them, but we also think there’s lots of room for improvement as their business scales. Here’s hope that our post will not go unnoticed.

What do you think?
Feel free to post your questions in the comment section below, or tweet @pauliusuza

  • Do you approve of HackFWD’s use of Codility?
  • What was your experience with HackFWD or similar fund?
  • How would you select talent?

I’ll finish by echoing HackFWD’s own words “Learn By Doing”.

February
27th
Incubator News Roundup (Molehill)



NOTE: this post was last updated with new links on March 9, 2011

New and truly revolutionary versions of Flash Player and Adobe AIR named “Incubator” (formerly Molehill APIs) were made available on Adobe Labs. To those who are unfamiliar with the new release, it features hardware accelerated 3D graphics support.

As Adobe puts it: “The Adobe® AIR® and Adobe Flash® Player Incubator is a technology preview program for more adventurous developers who are willing to experiment with Flash Platform runtime features that are in early development stages.”

New Incubator builds of Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR available here:
Download Incubator Builds and check Wiki

If you are keen on exploring 3D capabilities right away, you can use one of the pre-release versions of the popular 3D frameworks that also announced Incubator support. To see a list of all features that are included in the Incubator builds, check out this post.

3D frameworks supporting Molehill:

Here are some LIVE demos:

(make sure you have Flash Player Incubator installed first)

Added on March 9:

Added on March 8:

Added on Feb 27:

Videos (only new stuff):

Just Source Code:

Tutorials and Articles:

Related News:

Now, let’s change the web!
Follow me on twitter @pauliusuza for more news and updates on #flash and #molehill

October
25th
MAX 2010: 3D in Flash, AIR for Android and TVs, Controller Support!



Day one of Adobe MAX 2010 announcements brought some pretty amazing things, and the conference is just getting started!

3D support in Flash

First of, the most important announcement in my mind, full 3D support in Flash Player. While there’s no details about the technology itself, we have seen Kevin Lynch demo a 3D racing game which looked nowhere far from stunning and the processor was hovering around 0-1% of CPU. This is HUGE! With the current adoption rate of Flash Player (73% in 3 months) it will be the most popular 3D gaming platform once released to the wild, surpassing Unity3D and other smaller competitors in no time.

Game Controller Support

This is epic as well – Kevin Lynch demoed controlling a game running inside a browser using mouse and then switching to a steering wheel and a PS3/XBOX type controller. By itself it means that Flash will finally be able to use a whole new range of game controller devices. However I think that this might be a hint to a whole bigger announcement Adobe could make in the next few days – PS3 support? Xbox? Who knows… ;)

AIR for Android and TVs

AIR for Android SDK is now publicly available for download. Any developer building an app in AIR can now package their app for sale in the Android Market. Also it is now possible to build an app for Google TV, which runs Android. Adobe blog has more info.

Stage Video

Native performance for video running inside Flash on tabled devices, mobiles and desktop. Again, awesome!

You can experience MAX conference streaming live using new Flash Player P2P technology:
http://max.adobe.com/online/

Let’s see what day 2 of MAX 2010 brings us!

October
23rd
Alchemist 2 – AIR for Android



Today we have released the second version of our award winning puzzle – Alchemist 2 and this time it’s for Google Android platform and it’s build using Adobe AIR 2.5 for Android.

Alchemist 2 features a lot of improvements over it’s predecessor, including a completely new gameplay engine, new gorgeous graphics, adaptive AI and unlockable achievements.

Buy Now! | Get FREE DEMO

October
14th
Dribbble Fever



Dribbble pumps out so much inspiration it’s really a phenomenon. I’m constantly finding myself browsing through countless pages of shots and discovering awesome stuff.

This shot by Kamil Khadeyev actually inspired me so much I decided do replicate it using only 3D (no Photoshop), my result done with Modo 401 in 6 hours is below:

Anyone got a spare dribbble invite? Anyone?!

August
19th
Icon debut



Icon debut

I always wanted to try my chances in icon design.. Now that I finally got my hands on it I would like to share my first icon set with you:


Uza icons one 26x26 png icon set


The UZA ICONS / ONE set contains a total of 225 26×26 pixel PNG icons. Download it for free!

August
13th
IDev.tv plugin store is now live!



We have just added a plugin store to IDev.tv where you can purchase (and sell, please contact me for details) all kinds of goodies for IDev.tv platform. Go check it out!

Every account now also comes with affiliate program where you can earn money by sharing IDev.tv with your friends. To start using it, just sign up and check out “Affiliate Settings” section inside your IDev Account!

August
2nd
Beta Testers Wanted – www.IDev.tv



For a while now, we at InRuntime have been working on a new product for Flash Platform and just couple of days ago we have released a public beta to the wild (woohoo!)

It’s called IDev and it’s an advanced XML based template system for building fully functional Flash websites. It comes in three parts: a ready to use website (SWF + XML), a SWC library for developers and a set of online tools located at www.idev.tv.

You should be interested in IDev if:

- You are a freelancer making Flash websites for a living (IDev serves as a perfect base for freelance development, allowing you to mix and re-use components to create unique online experiences)

- You are an Actionscript 3 developer making standalone Flash components and you would like to earn some cash (You will be able to easily port and sell your components as IDev plugins)

- You are a person / company who wants to set up their website without putting your hands in the code or hiring a programmer (IDev is fully customizable through XML, so you don’t have to know how to program)

Sign Up, Talk, Share!

We think that IDev is a great product and we would like to ask your assistance in getting it off the ground. Go to www.idev.tv and SIGN UP, test it out by downloading your own copy from Launchpad and let us know what you think about it. To make the visit worthwhile, we are giving away all our existing IDev plugins for FREE for every new user.

If you like IDev as much as we do, please SHARE IDev.tv with your friends!