October 31, 2015 – Thoughts and Reflections for Bookaka (Preparing for a Presentation)

The world has focused on idea generation at the expense of idea execution.  To make ideas a reality, we must act, experiment, fail, adapt and learn on a daily basis.

Provide this missing curriculum.  Make ideas happen. Share pragmatic, action-oriented insights from leaders.  Empower and share people’s voices.

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Each successful startup has had only two or three men transforming a small idea into a small business.  (Dropbox, Nest, Uber, Airbnb, Google)

We need products that reflect the values and strategies of the new breed of traders and investors, that thrive in this fast paced socially connected world.   Tap the community on what’s new, different about building a good business right now.

Adopt a radical transparency.  Design products that are simple.  Refreshingly, make products about people.  Money comes afterwards.  Commit the desire to create a beautiful product and importance of both giving and serving the customers (traders, investors, your team).  Dedicate yourself to building a business that will change the world (or Philippine markets) for the better.

Making Things that Matter.

Creativity is solving problems in new ways.  Conceive new ways of looking at the world.

Without paving a way for a sharing community, will your ideas ever take flight?  Without execution, distribution, clear messaging, strategy and leadership, no one consumes your product.  It’s not always about making money.  It’s about making an impact.  It’s about channelling, packaging, delivering your talent for others to consume it.  It’s about scale.  It’s for more people to benefit from it.  That makes you want to succeed.  Products Users Will Love.

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Bookaka is something we’ve given birth to the Philippine trading world as a genuine labor of love.  We believe it was worth the long hours of coding, the pain of paying for hosting fees, generating exceptional labor to make it sustainable, to earn a living to nourish ourselves and our work.

We’ve made a commitment to constantly learn and iterate and evolve to become better at executing our mission – provide Philippine retail a one stop shop for financial insights, ideas, and questions they have on discovering great trades, good businesses, companies that are beyond the simplistic – get rich-quick attitude.  Create something with meaning for ourselves and our users.  End of the day, it’s not about making a massive IPO that matters.  Honestly, we didn’t even realize we were already building a startup.  We simply wanted to make a great product for ourselves initially and then share it to the world.   As Steve Jobs “the product guy” put it: ” Every good product I’ve ever seen is because a group of people cared deeply about making something wonderful that they and their friends wanted.  They wanted to use it themselves.” — unstoppable enthusiasm to bring something great and relentless focus on usability.  Crafting a killer product takes time so make sure you like it enough to have fun doing it.

We were motivated to do the day to day operations that goes beyond what you’d call a hobby.  My cofounder and I would engage at odd times of the day (sometimes 2am talks where we will think of ways to help people find their unique gifts and super powers when it comes to trading.   We didn’t just think.  What I liked about my relationship with my cofounder Jun is that we worked at it religiously with our timelines.)

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Put the purpose into action.  Be with the people who matter to you. Do your life’s work. Create a sharing culture within the trading sphere.  Grow and contribute.  Incentivize contributors.  Entertain conversations, meetings, relationships that are most in line with Bookaka’s activities.  Don’t waste people’s trust in you.  Stay relevant and useful in the face of new entrants and rapid change.  Grow fast enough to provide impact but slow down to listen to them.  Frequently learn, experiment and have relentless product iteration.  While others talk about things, we must just do things.  Users are co-conspirators.  Build around the users.  Be driven by your users and not by profit.  Profits take care of themselves.

Open vs Closed

For decades, trading felt like a closed door economy.  One of the major shifts of the digital age was pervasive connectivity – to each other and to every piece of information ever created.  We believe real value is created often at the intersection of unplanned encounters and collaborations.  Information is power but what’s more powerful is when it’s shared and when it permeates boundaries.  Value is placed on transparency, connections and community.  This gives birth to open innovation, tightly knit cultures and greater collective intelligence.

Bookaka is literally and figuratively OPEN BOOK.  Financial Transparency.  Build Open Communications Platforms for Easier , Responsive ways to drive better trading performances.   Demand a culture of transparent accountability.  Be open with data.

Responsive Company:

Be comfortable with a lot of uncertainty.  This manifests in many ways by letting the firm morph and shape shift reflecting the nature of the work at hand.   Roles are fluid.  People wear many hats.  Feedback loop is open.  The future is allowed to emerge.  Will Bookaka disrupt Financial news media?  We don’t know but we’re open to the possibilities and all the upside and downside that comes with them. Release new versions of ourselves (Bookaka) constantly.

No matter what, expect the unexpected.  And whenever possible. BE the unexpected – Lynda Barry

Innovation Starts with Enthusiasts:

Business innovation doesn’t start with profit.  It starts with “wouldn’t it be cool to have this?”  “How cool would it be to have curated financial information for free and anyone can access it?”

Why do we need Bookaka?

1.) Solve real problems – make it easy for accessing financial information – and make it FAST.

2.) It takes an almost insane amount of time to get through all the financial information (news, tweets, disclosures, sentiments, charts, blogs) – compile it all in one place.   As long as it affects people, it’s a starting place for meaningful innovation.

3.) Nike isn’t about sneakers, it’s about performance.  Apple ain’t about Macs, it’s about creativity unleashed.  Bookaka ain’t about another trading app, it’s about solutions, communication.

4.) Be a giver, not a taker.  Create more value than just capturing.

Treat Users as Collaborators

Customer-Centric Company rather than an Ego-centric company 

We’ve always been championing the collective wisdom but not hindering the greatness of individual efforts.

1.) The absolute privilege of our time is that we can hear our users talking.  Like never before, we can listen.  So listen.  Almost every product decision we’ve made originated in the incredibly fertile ground of our user submissions and things we’ve heard our users say.

2.) Whether you embrace it or not, you aren’t the only one who is building your product or business – your users are too.  By involving your users at every turn – before during and after launch, you can not only reap untold advantages as a business, you’ll also have the most amazing time along the way.

3.) Channel your creativity to improve everyday life for yourself and others.

4.) Thinking space, Acoustics

5.) Incredible things happen if you keep your eye on the prize and your ear to the ground.

5.a) Right from the very start, put early prototype material in people’s hands.  See what happens.  Improve existing product.  Communicate.  Reflect.  Observe.

5.b) Show users what they can do with the platform you’ve created.  Illustrate the hundred uses for the product even in the development stage.  Let people smile and imagine the possibilities.  The point is to tell people that Bookaka was going to modify, fix, and improve suff as much as the users wanted.  We will customize and properly improve while the customer base grows.

5.c) Empower users to be the ambassadors of the product – through monetizing their own ideas.  People must believe in the mission of Bookaka which is to open the communications platform and be a one stop shop for all things financial.  Rather than showcase ourselves, we believe we wanted  the small community of people to believe in themselves and create their own ideas, and grow entirely by word of mouth.  This would only happen if the product works.  The culture of people sharing their ideas in order to inspire others to invest, to trade well et al.  We have full rosters of people demonstrating their ideas everyday. The culture of sharing didn’t just happen by itself, however.  We nurtured it by designing a platform for people who were likely to share their insights (Premium contributors who love learning, sharing and spending time online) and by connecting on a personal level with all our early users.

6.) Connect personally and share experiences.

7.) Champion not only the most useful uses of Bookaka but the most effective one which is the community collaborating toward a common goal (better trading ideas) reinforced through genuine conversations.

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1.) Be comfortable with the fact that you just don’t know something yet or that you just can’t do something yet.  Most people are raised with the feeling that they know everything.  The ability to see how much more there is to know, to be humble is actually a good thing.  Enjoy the feeling of being small.  No matter what you do, there will always be others bigger than you are.  2.) Constant and playful experimentation is the best mindset for innovation.

3) In the course of innovation, failure is inherently a systemic part of that process.  Take it less personally.

4.) The eternal thinker who’s a perfectionist will never thrive in the startup field because this is a place where you’re constantly changing.  You’re going to a course and your competitor does something new and when you’re driven by fear, you’re going to fail.  Reality is you’ll change courses every now and then but you never have to forget your vision.  How to achieve that vision will take place in many ways but the importance is you need to enjoy what you’re doing today given the knowledge that others will copy you anyway.  Keep iterating.  Most people should focus that they’re making a product that will make others happier and richer.

5.) Create products that democratize education whether financial modelling, charting, reading financial statements.  Talk about the importance of iterating relentlessly.  Don’t waiver from your course.

6.) Develop with a team you can trust and willing to learn with you.  You cannot climb the startup world perfectly.  You’ll have to know your sense of purpose.  You must have the resilience to forge ahead and just keep moving.

Focus and Think Small but Great Things:

1.) Focus on making one great product that a small group of people really truly want.  Nail that first, then (and only then) think about expanding your offerings.

2.) Cultivate stories that create a real emotional connection.  Speak authenticity.  Don’t hide flaws, mistakes.  Be real.

3.) Building relationships take time.  Trust and loyalty aren’t given.  They’re earned.  Little by little, tweet by twee, delightful experience by delightful experience.

The Power of Small Groups of Remarkable People

1.) Better than any paid advertising, an army of allies is the greatest asset you can cultivate.  We are happy to find people helping us to make the product better.  Give something for people to care about your work and believe in it the way you do.  Let them love it. It’s a continuos cycle of communication and connection, fueled by the belonging that comes from a common message.  What am I making and Who am I helping?

2.) Reciprocity is a powerful practice.  The more you give away, the stronger the bond you’ll create with your army of allies.  Strive to continually increase the percentage of work you’re making available to everyone.  Have a reservoir of goodwill to draw on.

3.) Connect with people regardless where they live.  Build a community based on mutual interests – a combination of social good and profit.

4.) Success can only be built through the creation of true trust and value.  Play the long game.  Make customers truly happy.   Put customer service first before profits, intuiting that one will follow from the other.

Authenticity

1.) You cannot control what people say about you.  You cannot hide.  If you make a mistake, or do something wrong, it’s going to get out there.  Don’t hinder anything.  Be open to bashers, hypers and everything will be fine.

2.) Have an honest discussion when you make a mistake.  Confess and Admit wrongs.

3.) Little things make brands great.  Diligently listen to customers.  Be sensitive.  Respond. Focus on small kindnesses.

4.) Use plain english.  Put a smile on your audience’s faces.

Leadership is Helping Everyone Do Better

Leadership isn’t about telling people what to do.  It’s about allowing everyone to do their jobs better.  Let contributors do what they do best.  Work to give them better ways to do their work.  Let the community talk and engage with each other.

Drive better collaboration through transparency.  Make everyone aware and move forward in unison.  Instill ownership and pride amongst team members

Get a group of smart people to work together toward a common goal.  Incentivize each other.

Be a Servant Leader.  Empower your team to act with initiative and purpose.  If people will make smart decisions, everyone needs the full context and all the available information. Put simply, you cannot expect people to make good decisions if they aren’t aware of all the information you have.  

Openness attracts loyalty.   Benefits of transparency extends to users, readers, future readers.

Decide what you stand for and stand for it all the time. -Clayton Christensen

We’ve decided long ago we’re an open communications platform.  Open = Integrity & Quality.

You cannot order people to do great things.  They must want to do it.   Encourage them to find their own trading superheroes within.  Create an environment where people learn to trust themselves or have an environment where learning is possible.   Let people make decisions.  Let them win in their actions.  Let them take responsibility and become greater than their former selves.

Give Control.  Create Leaders. —– a lot of Bookaka features will gear towards giving ways for people to create their own ideas.    

I noticed people are being turned into leaders and followers.  Most often being a few leaders and a thousand followers.  We have to provide people initiative to make their own voices.  Let people embrace their inner trading superhero.

Launch Even When You’re Not Perfect. You’re Never Gonna be Ready Anyway

Everyone frets about the market being not yet ready with your product launch, with your features.  People didn’t know the use of an IPad until a tablet was made.  Every idea that matters hits the market too early anyway.

Give everyone a voice.  Not just the most famous ones.  Let the community speak up.   Provide the LONG TAIL.

Inspirational References:

Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact)

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Trading Events + Acoustic Sessions

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