I don’t understand the Internet, do you?

The recent success of threewords.me and donothingfor2minutes.com got me thinking. I would never bother to build a site like that. They are silly, almost useless, yet somehow they managed to attract a lot of visitors and media coverage. So maybe it’s not those sites that are silly, maybe it’s me. Maybe I don’t understand the Internet.

Therefore I decided to build my own dipshit website to see if I can manage to attract millions of visitors. I already know what will it be, but I don’t want to disclose any details until launch. It won’t solve anyones problem, it won’t save your time or money. If you want to hear about it firsthand, subscribe to this blog or follow me on Twitter.

An investment bubble? Not in Europe

There’s a lot of talk about an investment bubble in tech recently. First, there’s a lot of new angels, putting their money into startups rapidly. Next, there are superangels, pouring money into somewhat proven startups (i.e. didn’t die in the first 6 months during which they’ve burnt through the seed cash), effectively replacing a series A, because you need less money to take your company to the next level nowadays. But traditional VCs still want a piece of the action and so they don’t hesitate to put a lot of money into startups and drive valuations to bizarre heights, just to be in the game.

Or at least that’s what I read. Nothing like this is happening in Europe. There’s just not enough pre-seed & seed stage capital around here. As David Hornik put it:

The biggest challenge European entrepreneurs face is a crisis of capital. There simply isn’t a robust network of angel investors who are actively investing in Europe. There are some exceptions but the scale of early stage capital is insufficient to sustain the breadth of startup ideas being born. I believe that this lack of early stage capital is the biggest single challenge Europe faces when promoting the emergence and growth of a meaningful startup culture.

Clearly, there’s a huge gap between US and Europe. On the other side of the Atlantic, some more experienced angels are standing on the sidelines for the time being, until the current “problems” with round sizes and valuations go away. But what might be a problem in the US, doesn’t have to be in Europe. In a recent interview, Joschua Schachter raised a concern that $500.000 angel round doesn’t take you far:

If you raise that, you can pay the two founders decent salaries, you’re able to hire one or two other people, and that gets you maybe eight months, almost a year, except you have to start fundraising again three or four months beforehand.

I am based in Central Europe. If I was to raise $0.5M for my startup, it would take us far. Very far. Doing some rought math, I could hire 8 people, give them competing salaries and go 18 months, with enough left for servers, infrastructure, rent, lawyers, etc. You see, new and upcomming European companies are a great place to put your money into right now. If you don’t believe me, take it from Fred Wilson:

Eastern Europe, from Ljubljana to Tallinn and everywhere in between, contains a ton of smart entrepreneurial technologists looking to build businesses on the web and on mobile devices. I am not going to leave NYC and focus on this emerging market but someone should. It is ripe.

That’s right, Europe isn’t Mordor. Great teams are already here, building stuff. And capital is catching up. We have a couple of initiatives (HackFWD, Openfund, Seedcamp, etc.) and funds (Kima Ventures, European Founders just to pick a random sample) investing early on. There’s also Seedsummit, a brand new list of angel investors from around Europe (inspired by AngelList). Yes, I have high hopes for the future of European startup ecosystem. We’re not quite there yet, but at least we’re going in the right direction.

Beerstorming

What happens when a couple of people passionate about web startups go out for a beer and brainstorm ideas? Well, it depends on the amount of beer and, apparently, if you have Dave Ruzius with you. Couple of other WebExpo folks and me were lucky enough to be in this constellation last week, after we abandoned the afterparty searching for a better meal. We ended up in Potrefena Husa (try the burger) and came up with these ideas:

iSmuggle – a service that pairs people looking to buy presumably illegal stuff from foreign countries with travellers, who can smuggle it to them

Got Satisfaction – a customer feedback system for people who pay for sex (customers), pimps (managers) and hoes (“service providers”)

BeatUp – a Meetup clone for rowdies and street fighters; think Fight Club meets the web

Happy coding.

Not Pixel Perfect Yet

Not Pixel Perfect Yet is a group of talented Czech graphic designers, usability experts and information architects with a common goal – to help improve the quality of your web. The cool thing about it is, they will do it for free. Where’s the catch, you ask? The critique of your web and design recommendations will be published on the NPPY Facebook page, so others can learn from it and engage in the conversation. That’s all.

Who is NPPY?

The mastermind behind the project is Nikol Kokešová, but she has an army of people to help out:

Check out samples of their portfolios in the Photo section. To spy on their daily updates, follow them on the NPPY Twitter list.

How to apply?

It’s easy. Just send an email to feedback@divdesign.cz with an URL or a screenshot of your project and add what areas (graphics, UI, IA) should they review. Only one project gets picked every week so apply now. Don’t mind that Not Pixel Perfect Yet Facebook page is written in Czech. They are open to foreign projects and are capable of communicating in English.

Not Pixel Perfect Yet is a great way to get valuable insights on your web from professionals. Don’t hesitate to utilize it.

What apps to expect in 2010?

Excited about what 2010 will bring us in the web & mobile application space? Well, I bet there will be a lot of going on in these three categories:

1. Local & mobile

It’s in man’s nature to go out with friends for a dinner or grab a beer, to socialize. People love to share where they are and what are they doing. Mobile apps that help you discover places in your neighbourhood and share them with your friends will be a hit in 2010. Apps like Foursquare, Gowalla, Nelso are already established in this territory, but I believe we’ll see more applications with different, exciting new approach.

2. Meaning in real-time

Real-time has been the buzzword of the last six months. There are thousands of apps bringing us information almost as soon as they happen, or, to be precise, as soon as someone updates their status. This however results in an information overrun. Even if you’re an information junkie like myself, you just can’t keep up with everything that’s happening. Well, at least not if you want to get work done.

That’s why we will see a lot of useful and inteligent apps, which will help users to filter, sort and find meaning in all this data, emerge in 2010. As a personal wish, I’d love to have a feature in my Twitter client that let’s me specify VIP folks, so I never miss a tweet by them.

3. New ways of discovering, sharing and listening to music

The music industry needs a major overhaul and the web is the medium of the upcoming revolution. There are a lot of problems to be solved here, both for producers and consumers and there’s already a few contestants, thesixtyone being my favorite one. The revolution may not come just yet, but 2010 will bring more players in this field and will strenghten the position of present ones. Tough there’s only one thing certain: whoever gets even mildly successful in this category will become very rich.

Bonus tip:

Not exactly a category, but a friend of mine is building an app, it’s about to launch and it should be a hit. Trust me on this – if you watch movies, sing up, you won’t regret it.