Mentoring at Lisbon Challenge (Reloaded)

This is an article long overdue. I am happy I finally found the time to write it down.

As every year I joined Lisbon Challenge for their new batch of companies. The list was impressive with teams coming from all around the world including “the usual suspects” Brazil, Portugal and … Bulgaria (recalling Eventyard in 2013).

The selection increases in quality every year and for me this participation is no work but pure pleasure. The organizing team has not changed much and they do an incredible job. Kudos to @Pedro, @Ricardo, Bashara, Sofia and all the other great people there that make a difference – I am your fan since 2013!

Not surprisingly I took part in the last two stages of the programme – Product and Scalability. The companies made an even more mature impression than last year – founders openly discussed their idea, business model and growth plans. The businesses mostly had first clients and a clear idea what works and what does not in their field. Problems were being discussed openly and options seemed to have been weighted well before talking them over. Even my brainstorming skills did not have to come in use (which is a good sign!). In sum, could feel the pleasant breeze of my favorite no-nonsense culture.

The businesses I met included the extreme sports community Leap,  pet caretaker marketplace BauBNB and the smart pic web monetization service ClinkPic. It would be unfair to pinpoint what we discussed with each startup but the long list included performance benchmarking, industry metrics, customer acquisition, retention strategy, internationalization, perceived loyalty, behavioral patterns, product virality.

Wishing luck to all! Godspeed.

Ups, Oracle dropped out from Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud-Based IT PPM Services

I do have exotic taste for nightly reads. But in my defense this one has to do with my interest in Enterprise SaaS.

This time I was diving in the “Magic Quadrant for Cloud-Based IT Project and Portfolio Management Services, Worldwide” report from Gartner, dated 20 May 2015 (ID:G00264757).

Building an enterprise solution takes time and many of the businesses mentioned exist for at least 7-8 years. What impressed me though is I have never heard of any of them. And the one I know – they were being dropped. Oracle included.

Now I am far from the idea that Oracle is in trouble but this just emphasizes the fact that Enterprise SaaS are on the rise and there is a lot more to come than just SalesForce, Box and few others.

Yep, you can lose your notes in Evernote

Evernote is one of the apps that shape my day. Keeping notes is easy and fast, categorizing and finding what you need is a no brainer. In sum, I love Evernote.

But I had quite a hiccup with it in February. Long story short, an important note of mine disappeared. Irrecoverably. So now every time I use Evernote I ask myself if my data is actually safe.

It all started one day in February when my Mac asked me to update some apps. One of them was Evernote. It is not something unusual so I said yes as usual.

The update started and Evernote crashed. After the update reopened and I could use it again.

Murphy´s Law

An hour later I was looking for an important business TODO note that I update daily. It was THE NOTE from all of my notes. Surprisingly was not appearing any more and I could find a version from December only. After some searching I had to revert to the support line.

Support Fiasco

What I was not suspecting at this time is that my support experience will take quite some time. After sending several support requests and getting no answer. I ended up in some kind of support forums where I got an answer almost immediately but it was not an answer that can solve my problem. After several days of waiting and re-sending my case I finally read that paid clients get better support. So I joined Evernote Premium.

This is where I felt – ok, I was not paying so obviously cannot expect special treatment. Yet, solving a technical issue and specifically data loss should not be something limited to paid membership. In the end Evernote is all about data and there is an established belief that your data is safe in the cloud.

Now that I was a paid member, I had the pleasure to talk to a human being and actually very amiable person by the name of Ben.

Data is Gone. With the Wind

In a matter of several days Ben walked me through all hidden places of the system, asked me to check logs, visit the web version, change settings. But in the end had to admit that my note was gone. Irrecoverably. Ouch, that hurt.

Apparently the note had no ID inside the Evernote cloud and once the app crashed and restarted the note was deleted.

As said, I love Evernote but this incident shook my flawless perception of the product. They lost my business planning from last months plus tasks for next several months. I eventually recovered stuff from here and there but there was serious damage caused.

In my humble opinion number 1 priority of a cloud company is to ensure its users data is safely and securely stored. All the rest of improvements and gimmicks I am getting for years are rarely having any impact on my usage or speeding up my work. I still don’t get it how is it possible to have such a problem in a mature and established product but shit happens.

End of Story

Ben gave me 6 months free Premium membership. I did not get use of it. Still using Evernote though.

Which alternative products do you use? And is there a good alternative to Evernote?


Living in times of wonders. Which achievement impressed you most?

In the last days you could find me feverishly checking the news to get yet another detailed picture of Pluto. Tuesday night (Berlin time) I could see the latest and probably most detailed shot of the 9th planet in our solar system.

It was spectacular (take a look at or NASA).

New Horizons’ flyby of 2,370km-wide Pluto is a key moment in the history of space exploration, science and humanity. But so is the Philae landing on a comet, or the discovery of the Higgs boson amongst other in the Large Hadron Collider (fyi: the LHC teams just announced discovery of new pentaquark).

We are living in exciting times and there is more coming. The era of tech started long ago but does not seem to be slowing down and my news feed turns more futuristic day after day.

Just out of curiosity 🙂 Which achievement in the last years impressed you most?

Greece said “No” to austerity. How do you vote?

The last days including the Greek referendum just confirmed some of my assumptions and made things far clearer:

1. The Greek nation is sick and tired of the ongoing austerity measures. The bailout was obviously asking for more cuts. So it was a No-Go.

2. The current level of Greek debt is unsustainable. Even if it was not the case at the beginning of the year it just became such after the long stalemate.

European politicians will surely be unhappy with the vote but have to respect it. They can agree on some more reductions but in the end:

1. More European countries will use this precedent as the base for making their case. I would compare this to opening the Pandora Box for the EU as such.

2. There is a growing negative sentiment in Europe towards Greece because of the tough negotiation practices and harsh rhetoric. I must admit this is instigated by the media but that does not change a lot.

For me the later is probably the most important piece of the puzzle. Politicians may agree or not for more favourable bailout conditions. Yet, going against the dominant view among Europeans will be a political suicide so I doubt they will do. So my question to you is:

If the rest of Europe makes its own referendum tomorrow, would you agree to bail out Greece at more favourable terms?