Saturday, December 27, 2008

New legislation - new possibilities for startups

I recently did a small research on the implications of the Sarbanes-Oxley 2002 Act on businesses. The general opinion seems to be rather sceptical on the implications of the law. Most of the critics are of the opinion that the costs of additional finance reporting, procedures and IT systems are too big and useless. Many companies have even decided to go from public to private to avoid all the work and costs of becoming SOX compliant.
The proponents of the act claim that by investing into IT systems, better auditing and effective processes the companies become more transparent, easier to manage and besides becoming SOX-compliant they also will be more effective after the upfront work and investment is done.

New legislation is a possibility.
As with SOX much of new legislation opens up possibilities for new business. With SOX the obvious winners were auditing, accounting and IT companies. As studies show it took up to $2 million for every public company to become SOX compliant. Much of the money was spent on consultants, IT systems and additional audit fees. Somebody made that money. :-) So startup-s! Check regularly the legislation put together in Parliaments, Senates etc. Maybe some of it creates new business opportunities.

Build good team spirit.
It is possible to make a transparent company with the help of IT systems and good procedures. There is a big obstacle though. If a company does not have an open and trustworthy working atmosphere then every bit of information becomes an asset. Meaning that the specialists and mid-managers are not exactly motivated to do additional work (reporting) which results in giving away some of their decision power (information). The primary reason is that even though they are honest and work a lot they are afraid. Afraid of the possibility that they lose decision power to upper management who then might just overrule them and make decisions relying on financial numbers only for example. And even with the best information quality there are always some matters that are not accounted for in the IT systems and the decisions made without consulting the people involved are usually not the best ones.
So the first step of making every change in the business, be it becoming SOX compliant or having ISO standards, is to have a good team spirit, give full information to every employee about what is being done and why. And then yes, you can get SOX-compliant and transparent and run a much more effective business.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two ideas on how to support startups

I recently won a "new economic engine" competition held by Eesti Ekspress. The idea of the competition was to find new ideas on how to shape up the Estonian economy. My idea was to introduce an "enterpreneur salary". The idea in a nutshell is that when you start a business, have a valid business plan and agree on some financial results, the state would pay you a "salary" during the first 6 months of starting the business. This would lower significantly the barrier of starting your own business. Of course the whole mechanism should be thoroughly planned to avoid possible maluse. But as "SeedCamp" type of competition price could be one of the possible solutions.

Another thing that the startup blogosphere has not covered very thoroughly is all kinds of business problems - customers not paying, weak contracts, co-founders cheating on each other. It is clear that all these bad things happen and enthusiastic startups are even a better target for cheating than professional businessmen with years of experience.

If you find time then please comment if you know any country or organizations that support their startups with "enterpreneur salary" type of support? How to minimize the risk of fraud for new businesses? Is there any legal advice offered by business incubators? How to minimize the risks for international businesses?

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Estonian Development Fund published recently a survey on what could be the role of IT in Estonian economics. This document most certainly deserves attention. Hopefully the Development Fund will translate it into english also, but here are some points about possible developments.

IT, communication and electronics technology industry itself will probably have a mediocre role in Estonian overall economy and exports. This is mostly due to the fact that at the moment serious ICT technological development demands huge resources and hundreds of specialists that we just don't have. But on the other hand our small size, flexibility and openness is a benefit as we can implement IT technology in other industries fast and they will be more efficient thanks to that. So the primary role of ICT in Estonian econoby will be using it in the most current and effective way.

Most of Estonian IT skills are in the field of finances and IT security. That is due to the fact that banks are our biggest IT buyers. Now we also have the NATO IT security center that most certainly helps to develop good IT security specialists.

In the near future the biggest social changes in Estonia, the Western Europe will be driven by the aging population, Peak Oil and environment (Global Warming). This in turn means that our societies need to rethink healthcare, education, industry, energy production and effectiveness, governing.
The only effective tool that we currently have for coping with these changes is ICT. So the challenge is bringing heavy ICT use into all these sectors.
So according to the study in Estonia we must change the ICT sectors priorities and build up strong skills besides finance and security also in eHealth, e-education, e-industry, e-energy and e-governing.

The next steps.
Development fund will finish the survey and publish it. The next concrete step will be that the our Ministry of Economics will have a 100 MEEK fund for giving the IT sector additional boost and they will use this survey as an input for the way of using this investment. The best option for spending this money is hiring some 6 world-class IT professors for a five year period for Tartu University and Tallinn Technical University. This will make the IT faculties more popular and also give a better and more openminded education to the students. I hope this will happen.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Who helps you get your startup started in Estonia.

So you have an idea and want to start your own business - an internet or a tech startup. If you want to do it in Estonia or nearby you can use the following help and contacts.

1. If you just have an idea you can participate in the "Ajujaht" competition. This is a yearly competition with serious prise money (1 MEEK fund in 2008) and really experienced judges and mentors. You can get the first advise on your idea and if you get to the finalists this proves that your idea is worth something.

2. The post-competition training programs and contact events of Ajujaht help you develop your business and idea further.

3. After that you can go to the Tallinn business incubator or Tehnopol. There you get also startup mentoring, contacts and affordable office space. They also have useful training programs. With their help you can also get the Tallinn municipalitis starting business support (100 000 EEK) or (50 000 outside Tallinn).

4. At any stage you can contact MicroLink incubator. We support startups with the technical solution (the web application, server hosting etc.) We charge for it, as our employees want their salary, but for startups we have a really special pricing! Starting from 10 euros/month for the first 6 months. Read more on our website:

5. Contact "Connect Estonia". They can help you with a springboard event. They have a network of specialists and investors. Good ideas do get advise and investment with their help!

6. Take a day or two and go through all the support programs of EAS. Visit their office and with the help of their consultants find a support program for your technical development or export support.

7. You also need internet marketing! Contact Altex, Dreamgrow or Peep Laja for that.

8. Cheap hardware and freeware system software you can get from Sun Startup Essentials program with our help.

Come to Open Coffee! The startups, their supporters and just interesting people gather on every first Thursday of the month at Mercado. Just show up, no fee, no registration. Sit to our table and tell us what your idea is about. Follow information on Facebook.

Communication. List your startup on ArcticIndex. Contact me or Arctic or to write about your startup. Create a blog and a Twitter account.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Photos from the Slush event in Helsinki 24.11

I attended the Slush startup seminar in Helsinki last Monday. It was great! I would even say that the amount of new and interesting information was comparable to Gartner events. Here are Peter Robinnet's thoughts about the seminar. I have also written some posts about it on my Estonian blog.

Here are photos from the event and from the weather outside. (There were some interesting old trams at Korjaamo.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Can you do small-time SAAS

There was recently a post on Phil Wainewright's SAAS blog about how to manage the finances of a SAAS solution. "The scary" part of the post to me is the amount money needed and the share size of even a medium sized SAAS business. Is it possible to have a decent size SAAS service in Europe where a 1000 server solution is a big and rare phenomenon.

Well, I think that for niche SAAS applications there is a good chance. And even with a 10 server installation you could run a solution for 1000 users and earn a decent profit. But the principal economic math running it is the same as with big solutions. Every new customer brings new demand for capacity and service and therefore means upfront investment. The revenue is collected afterwards so the cashflow should be calculated with good care.

A wisdom of economics: companies don't go bankrupt because they have negative net profit, they go bankrupt because they run out of money. This is true also vice versa - a business can have really good net profit, but can still go bust because it runs out of money.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The primary reason for the current economic downturn

As you know the economic crisis we are currently having is one of the worst economic depressions that the world has seen for decades - probably the first one so global ever. Many are wondering what is the reason for such an event. I have one idea.

The primary reason for such a deep and such a global crisis is that there is no one person and no one institution whose job it is to keep the global economy on track. OK, this might seem strange, but the lack of a responsibility leads to many problems in any organization. It is one thing if the people responsible are not doing their job perfectly, but it is much worse if there isn't anybody appointed to be responsible. So in this global economy ee are just working and looking over our part of it. We try to make the best out of the system for us, but there is nobody looking over the big picture. It is like playing football without a referee. For some time everything might seem OK and the game goes on fine, but at some point the players might get into a fight and without a referee a football game might collapse into a fist-fight.
The last really big economic depression - the one on the thirties - was also due to the fact that there were no central banks and no systems taking care of the national economies. Luckily people were smart and created them afterwards and they have pretty much softened the national crisis afterwards. But now the economy has grown global and there is no global central bank who looks over the rules of global finance markets or puts cash from the global markets to reservers during good times and uses the reserves during bad times. Someone who could influence the global economy with taxes and financial reserve rules or interest rates.
Well you might say, that there are some institutions doing some work in this area like the IMF or World Bank or even the EU, but their role is far from what is needed.
So the commerce banks, the national banks, the multinational companies, the governments, the people...we just play in this global game of economics without the referee or even straight forward rules that everybody must obey. Sometimes we even don't recognize this situation and think that there is somebody who will bail us out when trouble comes. This was probably what the bankers of Iceland were thinking.

While Micro- and Macroeconomics are taught in every university program then the global economics is a rather new subject for only some MBA courses. The situation is so new that there is a lack of research, theories and best practices for the much needed Central Bank of the World.

But to comfort. :-) The thing that we have no institution taking care of the global economics is nothing compared to the fact that there is nobody who has the power or the responsibility to take care of Global Warming or Peak Oil. Or do you know somebody whose job description reads:
Save the world from the Arctic Meltdown and the extinction of species and while doing that also find a way to substitute Oil in peoples energy consumption.

The economic downturn is one thing, but this is nothing compared to half of Europe becoming part of the Atlantic ocean.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sales plus services - the effective businessmodel

Last month I wrote a post IT is less than half technology. I want to give this idea another perspective.

The thing is that it is really good for business if you can do both the sales and service part of any given need. This will of course get emphasized on economically gloomy 2009.
The best example of what I mean iscar sales. You need both the sales (to get the growth on good times) and the service (to have a steady cashflow on bad times). If you do only sales you get a really volatile business and probably end up spending the money made on good times and going bankrupt on bad times. If you do only the service you get really slow growth.

What this means for IT? The same as for all the other businesses. You better do both - sales and service.

So if you are currently offering only service - implementing ERP-s, developing software, consulting or doing hardware maintenance - you should get yourself a product to sell. For example concentrate your service on one certain product or vendor and start selling also the product(s) themself. Negotiate with the vendor in order to get a good margin from the sales.

If you are only selling products or producing and selling them then.... well you better have some cash reserves for 2009 and 2010..... you should also create a service business round your product. The software industry has of course recognized this model years ago and sells you broken software at first.... and then a service contract to get their broken software fixed.

Having this in mind I would dare to make a prediction that mobile telephone producers who don't have any serious services developed, and this includes all of them except Apple, run into serious problems when the market growth stops. By now they have delayd the decay by puting all kinds of useless features to the devices, but there is an end to this. So services or becoming Chinese is their future.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sun Essentials

I like Sun Microsystems! They have been MicroLink's partner for over 15 years now. (We have been selling, using and maintaining their servers in Estonia.)
Sun promotes green ideas, open-source and other good things. And although their competitors - HP, IBM, MS?, Dell, Intel - all have their "positive image programs", Sun's seem to be the most honest one's.

And vau! For some time now they have been running an open-innovation/startup support program! Sun StartupEssentials. When we started the startup program in MicroLink we didn't know this, but now we might do some co-operation here.

One thing though. Sun Startup Essential program is very technology focused. It involves servers, storage, database software and technological expertise. But that is something the startup's need in a later stage. In the beginning they usually need business advice, software development, somebody who helps with the government grants, marketing, sales.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Start a Startup in Bad Economy

Paul Graham wrote another of his essays covering the topic of Why you should start a startup in Bad Economy....that means now or in 2009. I agree that the people doing the startup matter 10 times more than the economic situation! To his thoughts I would add one more bonus of bad times. It is much easier to find co-startupers or co-workers during bad times and "all the good men" don't work for big financial institutions who raise their salary 10% every year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

IT is less than half technology...

There seems to be a difference between the SaaS/IT Startup thinking and the traditional SAP like thinking. The SaaS applications and the IT startups are really good tools, easy to start using, cheap to start using and convinient. Yes, but.... But for an organization, or actually for every IT system that is used by more than one person, the processes of using it become really important. Somebody has to implement those changes processes, somebody has to change the old ways of working and has to figure out what the new ways are.

The biggest IT systems, like the e-health systems, that MicroLink is programming and installing, need changes in legislation.

So an advice for the startup and SaaS world - if your product is meant for more than one - think of partnering with consultant firms! Somebody that sells and implements your product.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How to keep your job (and become rich) in tough times

This is a post for the tough economic times we are currently having. (Disclaimer: This post does not mean that we are having plans of layoffs in MicroLink. :-))

My advice for keeping your work is actually quite simple and works for any time, any company, any institution. If you live by this advice you will not only avoid the layoffs but you will be successful in good times.

The things you should do:
- Make yourself useful. Help other people and work a lot. Don't drink that 5th coffee, don't spend your time reading newspapers. Be helpful, do the work that you are supposed to do and help others doing their job.
- Be smart. Think if the thing you are currently doing is worthwile. Do things that help your customers, that help your sales, that help your company. Don't spend your time on creating useless reports for example. Or worse don't block initiatives that might help your sales or reduce costs.
- Tell others about the things you have done and the work that you have accomplished. But be honest with that. :-)
- Think moneywise. If you are serving only one customer who pays your company half the money the company pays you or you are salesman with bigger salary than the revenue from your deals.... that should be a danger sign.
- The reason for layoffs is usually money. So know how your company, your business-line, your team, your services are earning. Think what is your role in this situation. Are you a Cost or are you the most important Revenue generator.
- Develop yourself. Learn, try new things and read books.
- Last but not least. Be friendly and helpful with your co-workers. Be a good person. :-) Othervise you might be fired even with 90% Net Profit margin.

Sometimes it seems your managers don't notice your efforts, but they do! And this becomes really, really important for you when your manager is given an order to lay off 10% of his/her people.

Sometimes it is impossible to avoid being laid off. When the whole company goes bankrupt for example, but your image of being a hardworking, smart and helpful is the best currency you have when you go to look for a new job. The companies do communicate with each other when choosing new employees. :-)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Socialnetwork events

Bizi, an Estonian micro-blogging social network, held a small experiment today. The idea was that everybody using Bizi would post a micro-blog when he made or received a phone-call. More about it here(in Estonian): Unfortunately, the event got only a few responses. But Valentin, don't get your spirit down over this. :-)

I think that social-network events that are organized by the socialnetwork itself are a rising trend and an interesting one. Another example of such an event on a much bigger scale is the US Presidential Election Campaign on Twitter: Such events are good for the socialnetwork - another reason for users to use them. They are interesting for the users.

Here are some of ideas. Bizi, Keskus, Facebook go ahead and use them:
- Turn off the power event on one evening for 5 minutes and see how much you can save.
- Talk to the political parties and have the election campaigns held on your network. Why not have each party or idea have its friends/followers on your network.
- The next trash pick-up TeemeÄra campaign.

I think and hope that the next election campaigns will be more and more web based and therefore more and more interactive. The ultimate goal would be that each parliament member would have its own followers on Twitter and readers on Blog whose opinions the MP would listen. :-)

(I suggested this idea to the Green party and they said that they would consider it.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Corporate blogging

Peep Laja writes in his blog about Estonian corporate blogging. It seems there is only little corporate blogging going on in Estonia (unfortunately).

So is corporate blogging necessary and useful? I don't want to go into the theme of blogging as a marketing tool. There are numerous articles about that. Instead I want to emphasize one point - Blog is a great way to communicate with your collegues. In MicroLink, where we have about 300 employees, this blog, my blog in estonian and the Incubator Twitter have become an important way of internal communication. People read about the startup world, about the events (OpenCoffee) etc, about the new incubator ideas on the public blogs.

So if we develop this idea further ..... is there a reason why a corporation should not make all its internal news public? Why not replace the internal newsletters with department head's blogs? I admit, this would be a bold move for any company! "Come on! Our competitors and the customers would then know what is really going on....", I hear you think. :-) Well, probably they know it anyway, especially the competitors.

The benefits would be remarkable:
- The department heads would not have to write the news twice: for the co-workers and for the customer magazine.
- The company would become transparent and the customers would trust you more.
- Your website would become much more dynamic, interesting and.... get a better Google rank as the content is dynamic.
- The expertise your specialists and department heads have would make a really good image!
- Your blogging co-workers would become smarter. :-) As every blogger knows writing interesting articles means you must read industry news, other blogs and think. They also get to practice writing and English. (Like me!)

Hmmm... I guess I have to talk to our marketing about this idea. :-)

Listing Estonian startups

Here is a post on the Arctic listing the Finnish startups. Take a look and see what is going on there. I thought that maybe it would be interesting to do an Estonian list also, but then..... startup business is international and we could use international websites for that. Anyway, if you want to list your, your friends or any other Estonian startup then go ahead and write a comment here. Or If you know good startup listing sites then also all comments are welcome!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Co-operation agreement between Tallinn Business Incubator and MicroLink incubator

On the 02.10 MicroLink signed a co-operation agreement with the Tallinn Business Incubator. Here is a picture of Anu Lõhmus (Tallinn Incubator) and Taivo Tender (MicroLink) signing the agreement.

The co-operation will take place in the following way:
- MicroLink will promote the services of Tallinn Incubator to our startups. These mostly include the rent of premises and the business planning training course. And also all other incubator services. As the business incubator is sponsored by the Tallinn Municipality their prices are very good.
- MicroLink will promote the governmental funding and training possibilities given out by the Tallinn to new startups.
- Tallinn Business Incubators will promote MicroLink's Incubator as an IT startup supporter.
- We will do conferences and events together. The first one will be the Tallinn Entrepreneurship Day 2008 where I will give a presentation about the MicroLink Incubator and Vaho Klaamann from Santa Monica Networks will speak about the Estonian IT showroom project.
- We will also promote each other with banner and flyer ads.

(I am sorry that some links are only in Estonian.)

OpenCoffee Tallinn - 02.10

This was the second time that the OpenCoffee was held in Mercado, Ülemiste City. There were about 30-40 people. We didn't have presentations this time so there was more time for networking.

Kairi Kurm, from Kupongiraamat runs an "online-flyer" business. The idea is to replace the paper flyer-ads that are given to you on the street with online ones. So that you yourself print out only the ones you are actually going to use. I really like the less-useless-trash idea. :-) So go to her page and see if there are any discounts you can use.

The guys from Smartad have started an internet ad-network business. It is not a new idea in the world, but it is rather new for Estonia and they hope to give some competition to the Klikivabrik. The idea is to have a network of popular websites as ad-hosters and the ad-buyers that show their ads on these websites. So in a way like Google AdSense.

Thanks to Jüri for organizing the event!

(Next time I think we should re-arrange the tables so that the company is not physically split into groups of 4-5.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Open innovation: It is good to have those startup guys in your office

I continue the open innovation theme that the poll on the right side of this page is about. In case you have not voted, please do!

For a week now we have had one startup working in our office. And I must say the fresh spirit that the startup people bring to the company is something remarkable!

Here is a list of positive thoughts the startup people have and bring to the company:
"Me, you and everybody talks to customers. When the situation needs even the programmer can sell!"
"The new technologies and Web 2.0 things. We better test and use them! Now!"
"The useless thing, server or software we bought is a serious problem - my problem. We better use it or sell it!"
"We better not waste our time on useless procedures, papers, bureaucraucy"
"I am entitled for a new laptop, mobile or payrise when we have good net profit."

This all is due to the fact that in a startup business "company's success" equals "employee's success". In a bigger company the connection is almost missing and I am almost sure that it is not possible to have a straightforward connection. The limit when the connection fades out is about 30-50 employees. For bigger companies some people just don't "self-motivate" so easily.

So the point of open innovation is to use the "high pressured steam" in the startup people and turn it into successful products.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Startup ideas - waste of time?

I am from the "serious IT business" background and I after following the internet startup field for some time have started to wonder - why is all the attention in the startup field going to fancy, but mostly useless solutions. Micro-blogging, social networks, mashup chat and widget applications. They don't really create value and revenue in the traditional corporative sense. They make their customer's spend even more time online, with yet another widget to play with or even worse - they are a platform for creating widgets that make the people waste more time online. They don't make our offline life easier, rather they add a problem as now it is also necessary to have an online life and social networks to deal with. Why doesn't the Y Combinator, TechCrunch and Seedcamp have startups who do "serious IT business" - like for example an ERP or ITIL software or a new cost-saving IT solution for the logistics, telecom, manufacturing etc. businesses.

The vision and mission of MicroLink is "We create time and make life easier". I really like our new vision. :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bizi on Arcticstartup

I started co-operation with the Finnish ArcticStartup portal. Here is my first story that was published:

Interview with Valentin Ivanov, Founder of Bizi

I interviewed Valentin Ivanov, the founder of Bizi, which is a new startup launched in Estonia last week. The service Bizi offers could be called “Estonian Twitter” with some minor modifications – possibility to add video and pictures. Valentin is an Estonian entrepreneur with international experience, having spent the last decade working in IT developing online applications for the mobile, gambling and entertainment industries in positions ranging from developer, technical manager to Chief Executive Officer. Valentin is also Founder and CEO at, which enables anyone to start their own live TV or radio channel for free. Let’s hear it from Valentin.

1. What is BIZI in a nutshell?

BIZI is a life-moments exchange network. Through BIZI, we aim to unite family members, friends and just other people together via letting them share their short news, feelings and emotions as short messages, small photos or 15 seconds long video records. All this can be done very easily over web, mobile and (very soon) over SMS as well! All this can be done free of charge and will stay free.

There are lots of ideas how to use BIZI for both personal and organizational purposes; either commercially, or non-commercially. Those, who will keep an eye on our press, blogs and other forums will find a lot about it very soon.

2. Why should a person use BIZI instead of Twitter?

The most important reason to use BIZI instead of any other foreign service is the opportunity to speak in your own language to others, who want to do exactly the same.

BIZI offers a bit more than just a Short Text Messages Exchange service – our features are a bit different and definitely more innovative than Twitter, or have. Thus, providing a list of features for real micro-blogging, BIZI lets users to enhance their text posts with 15 seconds long video-audio or just a voice record right from their webcam and microphone. Or, users can add a photo or any other illustration instead!

While developing, we were trying to cover all the needs and requests of our friends, colleagues and also those people, who live in our country and use Twitter, and other similar services over the Internet. BIZI has been made in Estonia and for Estonia.

3. Is BIZI meant for Estonian market? Do you have plans regarding other markets?

As for now, BIZI has been made for Estonian market only. Regarding extending BIZI to other markets, may be one day…

4. What is your general opinion about making local copies of global social-networking services? Is it reasonable to make them? Why people prefer the local copies?

To be very honest, creating BIZI is quite an old idea, which was growing inside me for quite a few years. But as I expect nobody will believe me, I will try to answer your question as-is: my general opinion of bringing something extremely good to local countries in local language and tuned up to be mentally local as well is definitely excellent. How much reasonable is to create such projects is normally a business question to the one trying to that. My reason is a longing for something exciting, something that I can use personally in a home way, and the opportunity to share it with my friends and relatives – people I love and people I want to be part of my life. With all our projects - both BIZI, and the others we are heavily working on - we want to bring a grain of positive emotion to people, to make them happier, more friendly and open.

Now, answering why people prefer local copies, I would first like to ask you back – why do we always prefer everything to be “in my language”: a recipe in the medicine shop to be easily understandable, a movie to be either fully adopted or enhanced with subtitles? Why do we normally prefer everything to be “in my way”? Just because we always prefer to feel ourselves much more secure and comfortable, when we are fully after the situation.

5. How does BIZI plan to make money?

We expect BIZI to get profit form selling advertizing and receiving
sponsorships. Once in the future.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We are looking for marketing and sales partners

Would you be interested in (internet)marketing our startup-s? If yes, send us an e-mail! The SLA calculator would be the first project.

What we have:
We can develop good (mini) web sites for our startups that are SEO friendly, userfriendly and OK for selling the product.

What we lack:
- Real hands-on experience in global (internet)marketing. How to market our startups in the global market or in specific markets. We have read a lot of internetmarketing how-to-s, but never done it large-scale.
- Contacts with bloggers and journalists. How to use their help in marketing?
- We are also incubating services for businesses that might not be in the Web 2.0 world. Small retailers, small and mid-size building companies etc. How to market to them without spending thousands on traditional marketing?

Besides marketing we need sales. Our plan is to track people through marketing to our website and if they seem interested then contact them and tell them more about the product. This is where the salesforce is needed. Interested? Drop us an e-mail. We would pay for results.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Open innovation poll - 6 votes so far....

It seems that most of the voters prefer to innovate in small companies. Of course, 6 votes, is hardly enough for any statistical conclusions, but as the readers of my blog are more experienced and wiser than an average citizen, I think this is something to consider.

I do believe in mid-sized (up to 500 employees) companies also. They have some remarkable benefits compared to the less than 50 person sized businesses. If you have 50 employees you usually don't have much "fat" that you can innovate with. Everybody is working for the next salary, next quarters revenue and the next successful customer case.

If you are open-minded, bold, wise and you can get some management backing you can do miracles in a mid-size company. You have a large pool of specialists, lot of technical resources, lot of experience in different fields and a big customer base. You also might have more money for investing.

The best way of doing innovation in my mind is using the best elements of both the big and the small. You should have the resources of the big company, but a really flexible organization like it is in the small companies. This would mean pre-allocated funds, rules and procedures that "the big company managers" have accepted and that you can use dynamically while working with new ideas.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Business idea giveaway: A SaaS solution portal

Here is a good business idea for anyone of you who want to make it as an enterpreneur:
A SaaS solution portal for business decision makers who are choosing an IT solution for their company.

Here is a picture on how the portal might look like. The portal should have:
- Industry specific pages. (For example the picture above is for IT hosting companies).
- On each page boxes that represent a domain of applications (like CRM, Sales, HR...)
- On each box some sponsored logos.
- Each box will be a link to a list of SaaS solutions in that domain.

Besides the industry pages you should have a news and forum pages to bring customers, readers and for SEO. You could write reviews of the solutions being offered. The goal of the portal should be to gain authority of opinion.

You should also have a registration page for SaaS providers.

The money would come from SaaS providers who want to have their solution on the front page or in the beginning of the listing.

The competition. I found one:, but they have a serious drawback. They list SaaS providers, not solutions. For example try to find an HR solution from their portal. :-) They have made the mistake of being provider centric not customer centric. A customer does not want to partner with some SaaS provider, but wants to find a solution for his specific needs.

The initial investment? A good web-page guy can do the portal in maximum a month on Joomla. You should make contacts with people from the industries you want to draw a page about and ask what software domain's are needed by their industry. A day to set up each industry domain. Then 4 hours a day for blogging, foruming and commenting to spread the word about the new portal. After gaining some momentum you release a "get on the first page with your logo for $10/day campaing". And when the portal gets more popular you change the $10/day to an auction. (like Google AdWords.)

This would be a very useful portal as it is absolutely very difficult to find a SaaS solution among these hundreds of providers and it is quite difficult for the SaaS providers to find the customers as they usually target a niche audience.

...and hey.. you could do the same portal for non-SaaS solutions. :-)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How big an organization can open-innovate?

Open innovation in one sentence is the process of using ideas from outside the company to create new products. This form of innovation is widely used today and is becoming more and more popular. Our experience of open innovation and an incubator program in MicroLink is about a year old now.

But the process of it has some real challenges. Most of them are related to the "corporate politics" or "corporate bullshit" as Paul Graham describes it. In MicroLink we have so far overcome the obstacles, but I think that in bigger organizations you would have the following issues:
- When times are tough the innovation budget will be the first to go.
- Too many people (the management, the council, the owners) have to accept the innovation projects that involve investment. So the process gets slow, politics and personal taste get to rule the decisions.
- In a big company you have auditors, lawyers, security and finance whose primary role is to keep the company clear from risks. This tends to make even low level risk innovation projects really difficult, not to mention bigger investement/startup programs.
- ....

So to get your opinion on this issue I put up a poll. Feel free to answer! :-)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Challenges of internetmarketing 2

Yet another challenge of internetmarketing is "How to get the attention of the people to whom your product or service is useful, but who don't have any idea that there is such a useful product available?" An example: We are prototyping a mass e-mail service. The potential customers are small and medium sized businesses. Most of them do their own business and don't ever think that there can be a convinient solution for registering their potential customers and sending ad-emails for them. Therefore they don't ever do the "mass e-mail" Google search and don't ever find your product and all the effort in SEO is useless.

In such cases is buying banner-ad space the only possible solution? Does anyone have a more intelligent solution?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Key challenges while doing internetmarketing

While I am a fan of internetmarketing, good websites and SEO there are some issues you have to deal with when doing it.

If you use "ordinary" marketing for your service - advertising, press-releases etc. then marketing is quite straight-forward and something you can easily outsource. You pay the agency, they interview you and you get the campaign you are willing to pay for.

In internetmarketing matters are different - you have to blog, talk in forums, use twitter, write articles in the press. The trouble with that is, that you need a good writer who, on the same time, is an expert of the service you are providing or the field of business you are in. You cannot really outsource that. For example, if you provide a book-keeping Software-as-a-Service you need a good "writer-financial expert" to write the articles you need and blog posts and comments and forum posts etc. So for a successfull startup you need a somebody who is a good specialist, a good writer and a good (project) manager all at the same time and really motivated! Well, ain't much people like that in the world. 1%?
That key person also has to spend a lot of time on the PR (blogs, forums, articles) and in a startup you need him to do that during the time when his specialist and manager skills are most needed.

The other challenge of internetmarketing is time. You need months or even years to get good Google positions and build a customer community.

So my thoughts:
- Every company and a startup needs "a face person" - somebody who is in the press and who actively blogs. Like Scott McNealy and Jonathan Swartz in Sun. If you are a startup and you dont want to be the popular face of your firm, then find a partner who is smart and a bit vain. :-)
- Start your internetmarketing efforts early. Months before you have a product or service launched.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pitching skills --- overrated

When you read about the internet startup, incubation and VC business you get a lot of advice on pitching. Pitching - present your business case in "7 minutes". YCombinator even seems to have a pitching-training program for their startups.

Although good sales and presentation skills are important in starting a new business I think the skills of pitching are far overrated and it is unfair to decide not to invest into an idea by seeing only a 7 minute presentation. It is the VC-s who only have so little per idea and force this "fast-food presentation policy".

I mean if you cannot make a good 7 minute presentation of your startup it does not mean automatically that:
- The idea is bad
- You are a bad manager
- You can not make the business work.
- ...
Actually it does not mean much at all in my mind. So in MicroLink incubator we give the idea owners at least an hour for an interview.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MicroLink's Incubator in Twitter

We created our own Twitter account. You can follow us at

We will write messages there both in english and estonian.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Internetmarketing .... for the government?

Most internetmarketing fuzz until now is concentrated on "sales". Internetmarketing tries to answer to questions like "How to sell your products on the internet?", "What is our company's rating on the internet?". So it has primarily been a business thing.

On the other hand as internet has become such a powerful media it is and will be taken into use by the public sector as a really effective tool for "letting the world know the Truth". Until now the public sector has used internet as a media channel for relatively "little" projects. For example promoting the country for tourists or having news portals that have government's press releases. The propaganda portals, like for example Kavkaz Center or some Arab news portals, have been only for global-political smalltimers. But this is due to change and besides plain news portals there is much more to internetmarketing. And this is really scary and awful, but the FSB-s, CIA-s, KGB-s, Hisbollah's, parties, defence secretary's, newspapers will soon take the other internetmarketing tools into effective use.
- They will do Search Engine Optimization
- They will have people filling the newspaper commentary pages.
- They will have forum posters
- Videos on YouTube
- Bloggers
- Facebook, Orkut, Linkedin etc. groups
- Campaign web sites
- Newsletters
- ...
Last but not least, if done professionally it becomes impossible to distinguish between propaganda and real news, to distinguish whether a comment was written by a real person or by a professional secret-service writer. They will not tell you straight out "The One and Only Truth" but give you hints and links and make you question your opinions.

So internetmarketers! Don't hesitate to (internet)market your services to the public sector! :-) Besides all kind of state propaganda there are a lot of good campaigns that also need proper marketing.... "Say no to Drugs" and "Stop eating trashfood" etc.

Here is the harsh example of internetmedia - the Russian-Georgia crisis.I follow(ed) the news about it from many different news sources. As I am fortunate to understand 4 languages (EST, FIN, RUS and ENG), I read the news and commentaries from:
Finnish, Estonian, Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, British, US news portals. I also read the comments and opinion articles. And it really is amazing how different the picture is that is painted by different newsportals or countries. Media specialists could do a whole research on the issue. Also in this conflict there were some new means for information distribution used. Probably they were spontanuous acts of the public... There were multiple "Support Georgia" groups in the social networks, YouTube is full of different video material, there were newsletters, spam, special news pages like this.

....if selling your products on the internet through "writing positive user comments on the forums" is morally right then it probably is also OK to bend the truth a bit if it is in line with the partys political or economical objectives?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Easy way to earn for web magazines

Working with new e-business ideas makes you look on the world differently and search for new ideas for potential services.

Here is an idea for a service for web magazines.

Idea: To give a possibility for employers to turn off the possibility to comment news and articles from their network during workinghours.

What will become better: IF you are not working on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or doing internet marketing then writing comments to articles during work is wasting your employers money. If reading news and articles is educational and for some jobs a necessity then commenting them in most cases isn't.

On the other hand if the employer just turns off the whole news portal from their firewall they create a lot of bad motivation and besides then the web magazine also looses some of its readers.

Therefore the possibility to turn off just commenting for work hours is a good soft solution for the problem and as employers would save a lot of work time then they would be happy to use this service.

Technical solution: Very easy and almost free. Usually the employers network is protected with a firewall that is seen on the internet with one IP or they have an IP range. The script that handles the "submit comment" action must check in the beginning whether it is worktime and from where the comment is coming from. If it is from an employers network who wants to restrict commenting then the user is redirected to a page.... with a picture illustrating this post. (If you don't understand russian it states: "Farm work does not wait!") The whole programming and testing should not take more than an hour from your web programmer.

Here you can check to whom an IP address belongs to: RIPE andmebaasist.

Possible additional services:
- Statistical overview to employers on how much reading and commenting is done from their network. In the beginning you should do a statistical overview anyway... The top 100 "commenting networks" will give you the first 100 employers whom to send a preposition of the new service.
- Turning off the non-educational pages during work time for employers networks. If you have tabloids or yellow news pages also in your web magazine.
- Consolidating this service with the sales of banner-ads. For example you could give your biggest advertizers a free possibility to turn off commenting from their network and vice versa.

...or do they offer this service already?

Friday, August 15, 2008

OpenCoffee in Tallinn

For almost a year now we have regularly had OpenCoffee meetings in Tallinn. From here you can read more about the global OpenCoffee movement. Shortly: The OpenCoffee Club was started to encourage entrepreneurs, developers and investors to organise real-world informal meetups to chat, network and grow.

In Tallinn we meet once a month, 9 o'clock in the morning. We have met at the Scotland Yard pub at Mere puiestee. No registration, no fee, just turn up and meet people. The meetings have been very interesting and you can always meet somebody with a new and fun idea. Usually there have been 10-20 people there. For the last half a year there has always been somebody from MicroLink's incubator team. Either Rauno, Tõnis or me.
The main organizer behind the Estonian OpenCoffee is Jüri Kaljundi and a big thanks to him for bringing the club to Estonia!

The meetings have been really positive. If estonians (or finns for that matter :-) usually need like 3 beers before they start to talk to strangers then at Opencoffee there are no such ridiculous communication barriers. Really open, really intelligent and really interesting people who all want to share their ideas and opinions. To be honest I was surprised by that at the first meeting. :-)

So if you are near by for the next meeting, come by! We can all speak good english and many of us also Russian. You can find interesting people and ideas there. The next meeting will be announced on our Facebook group: or if you are interested then send me an e-mail and I will let you know.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Good e-business ideas come from....

.... experienced people between 25-50 years old who have good work experience in almost any economic field. They usually know best what are the biggest problems in their field of work and know how and with whom to solve them. I don'd believe strongly in students having good SaaS or other e-business ideas. Students do have a lot of good ideas about entertainment on the internet and ideas on how people could spend even more time online doing not really very practical things (like blogging he-hee or) gaming.

Some examples about ideas that have come to our incubator:
- The construction industry needs good project bank/project management e-service integrated with printing facilities for printing diagrams for the men-at-work.
- The travelling industry needs a central information database/e-service for the travel packages that the resellers could sell directly from their website without any human interaction.
- The farmers need social networking and an advise portal about fertilizers, techniques and machinery.
- ....

People like this also have contacts in the industry for possible first customers or suppliers. They lack the experience of creating an e-service, internet marketing, sales, software development, server administration. These all MicroLink's incubator can provide so if you know that in your field of work there is something that can be done with IT - let us know. We could make good co-operation.

P.S. If your company is ordering software development and it is very expensive, but could be useful for other companies working in the same field then maybe it would be wise to make the software as a service - use it yourself, but let others use it also for a small fee. :-) (That is what we are doing with SLA calculator.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Should you keep your e-service idea as a secret?

Many people with new e-business startup ideas have come to us (MicroLink Estonia's IT and e-services incubator) and wanted us to keep their idea as a secret. I have once even signed a paper claiming that I will not use that idea.

In my opinion and experience keeping an idea as a secret is completely useless. The world is full of free and good ideas, but the resources of people willing and able to make them happen is really scarce. Besides everybody wants to make his own thing happen and not somebody elses.

So my advice to all the people with ideas - talk about them to as many people as possible. Talking with them helps you refine your idea, combine your idea and make a much better thing out of it.

And there are a load of web sites giving away free ideas or new ideas currently in realization.

When I published some good ideas on my blog and asked if anyone would be interested in making them happen... I got an absolute zero response. Everybody believes in his own ideas.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Buying software development from Belarus

We visited Belarus a week ago and made contacts with their software development companies. We are currently running a pilot project with one of them - ITransition and in creating software for one of our incubator's new e-services idea. "SLA calculator" will be an e-service that will allow (IT) service providers to generate automated reports for their customers with whom they have a Service Level Agreemeent.

Anyway, the Belarus software industry and the companies made quite an impression on us. It seems to be a serious industry there. They have even created a virtual Technology Park meaning less taxes and burecraucy for the members. The Technology Park will later become a physical one when in some 3-5 years time the required office buildings will be built. On the airport there are software development company's ad's instead of mobile operator's and beer ad-s like in Tallinn. Everybody we met, over ten salesmen and specialists, talked freely english. in my mind the most important was their will to do projects and to get foreign work, even mediocre sized projects were in their interest.

We are planning to have the specifications for our incubator e-services ( done in Tallinn and the coding in Minsk. (At least if the pilot goes well.)

In Minsk: the city is renovated, people are nice, roads are good, KGB seems to be present, but if you are a foreigner bringing in money that is just good as it keeps the small-time criminals away).

Don't stay in the Hotel Minsk. It is way too expensive for what you get and the personell is not that nice, especially the guy in the bar who wanted to cheat on us. :-)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Better way to incubate new e-service business ideas

Beginning from august there will be a programmer in our MicroLink's incubator (homepage in estonian: team. Therefore the process of incubating new ideas will be faster and better. We call the new incubation concept "MicroLink Lab". The process of incubating new ideas will be roughly following:
- The owner of the e-service idea presents it to us. If we like the idea then:
- ML and the owner of the idea will create a first prototype of the solution.
- The owner will contact the first potential customers, demonstrate the prototype and from their comments refine the business idea, finance plan and also the requirements for the service.
- A full business and finance plan is created and agreed on. A plan of work is agreed on. A marketing and sales plan is created.
- A full technical solution is created, programmed.
- Going to market = fulfilling all the plans that were agreed on.

If you are interested in the incubation or have a good business idea feel free to contact our incubator team at

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Remark: The statue of freedom

So here is the new look of the freedom square in the middle of Tallinn with the Statue shining over the square. I used to be against the Statue, but travelling through many countries this summer made me change my mind. So now I have a positive plan! We should have a statue with the following enhancements:

- As every tourist attraction The Freedom Statue should also have a tower where tourist can climb up to (and we could charge 5 euros from each climber).

- To symbolize Estonian freedom inside the EU we should put Manneken Pis standing on it. A Manneken can be purchased in Brussels for 70 euros.

- To satisfy the Centrist Party we should also have a Tauno Kangro's Kalevipoeg next to the statue. Perhaps instead of holding a boat he could be in some sort of composition with the statue and the Manneken.
But seriously! I think that such a combination would symbolize the true freedom of our nation. The ability not to take everything and yourself too seriously, not to be so serious about history and to make a joke and to laugh are true signs of freedom.
Besides it would make a much better tourist attraction. Everybody remembers Manneken Pis from Brüssels and nobody remembers the obelisks symbolizing the victory in the Second World War in Minsk.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Immigration - not necessary?

As the population of Europe and Estonia is growing older and there will be lot more pensioners and lot less working age people there are more and more talks about immigration as necessary means of coping with that. I think that is wrong. Let me explain!

As an IT specialist and a member of the IT incubator team in MicroLink I know that there are thousands of ways we can automate our work, eliminate useless work, make self-service systems and machines, offshore work to countries where there are working age people. We have started to use these methods but are still in the beginning of the road.

Here are a few examples:
- A super-market. With RFID tags you can almost totally eliminate the need for cashiers. Salespeople can be offshored to a far away country and you could have a TV-screen and an online Video conference with the off-shore sales person. (OK sounds a bit crazy, but the alternative is that the same far away country person talking to you over video should have to move to your neigbourhood....) And in the end buying through internet will be the main way of doing shoping. Imagine a huge fully automated logistics centre that gets all the orders through internet, automatically collects the goods for each purchase and people just insert their bank cards to the "big logistics centre machine" which then in turn opens the door where their goods are ready and packed .... well it actually does not differ from IKEA does it. Only that in IKEA you yourself are the automated machine doing all the collecting.
- Medical tourism. For some procedures it already makes sense to go abroad. Go to dentist to Thailand for example.
- Construction work. Construction demands a lot of workforce. But as it is project based it makes a lot of sense to get the men from abroad. And after the building is done they can go back home.
- Engineering. A lot of high-skill technical work can be outsource-d and it already makes sense to outsource and even off-shore it. For example in our company we are trying out Belarus programmers, but besides IT Belarus can offer a lot of highly skilled technical specialists on other fields as it has very many big universities.
- .....and there are loads of other possibilities.

Of course there are some activities that cannot be automated or offshored and still need people working on-site. Cleaners, healthcare, actors, politicians are some of them. But those jobs can be done by our children.

One more point I want to make is that nobody wants to be an economic immigrate if he can live well off in his homeland. Therefore offshoring is the answer for many problems - the aging of population in Europe and it also brings wealth to the countries doing the work and coping with the problems of enormous population growth.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Good ideas for cities and countries

I am travelling to different European countries this July and thought I write about some clever and useful ideas that different cities, companies and museums have implemented. Use them for free!

Here is the first from my hometown Tallinn - streetlights with a meter that shows seconds to go until the light changes. The same idea is used also in Amsterdam on some streetlights. This is very convinient and should be implemented on all streetlights. As I remember this idea was copied from somewhere. Was it a model town in Kazakhstan or something?

Landmarks - It is a really great idea to build landmarks. Especially those where you can charge 10-20 euros per visitor and 5 for the cafe. And there is no reason they should celebrate anything or mean anything at all. Hosting an EXPO and building something really expensive and great is even better business! You can have tourists visiting it for tens of years. Therefore I have changed my opinion about the Kalevipoeg monument + other Tauno Kangro statues and the 100 million EEK bulletproof glass-post that we are building in Tallinn. Let there be as much tourist-attraction-nonsense-landmarks as possible in Tallinn and in Estonia. Like the "Manneken Pis", Atomium and Little Europe in Brussels, Eiffel tower in Paris, Statue of Liberty in New York and last but not least the wooden Eiffel tower in Hiiumaa.

Classical music in metro stations in Brussels on the evenings - keeps the people calm and the 6,6% alc.vol Leffe blond beers don't create so much criminal activity?

In Brussels in some supermarkets you can use a "calculator" with what you can scan all the products while gathering them to your trolley. Then when you get to the counter you just give them the "calculator" and pay for the amount it shows. So the lines at the counter move faster and you can pack the things straight to the bag already in the shop. (About every tenth buyer is checked whether (s)he has scanned all the products correctly and will probably be fined for stealing if (s)he has things in the trolley that are not scanned.

Ad-flyer distribution in Brussel buses. You can tear youself one from the pack hanging on the wall of the bus. If you don't want one you don't take one, if you find them useful you pick them up. No necessary trash and unhappy people distributing them.

In museums make all the visitors go through the museum-shop before they can exit buy building the exit door into the shop. This idea is implemented at least in the Atonoum in Brussels and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam....and probably in lots of other museums. Don't let the tourists leave without buying some souvenir for 10 euros! be continued

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Estonia and Finland

We visited recently Finland (my parents live there) and here is my totally subjective opinion about things that are better in Finland compared to Estonia:
- The roads, especially bike roads. A really drastic example was the Vuosaari port where the port is just being built but already there are fresh-new bicycle roads coming there.
- Things, traffic for example, are much more organized and therefore there is much less stress and pointless fights. Such a thing: would never happen in Finland
- Public transport.
- Some things like clothes, sports equipment are cheaper. H and M, Ikea.
- Buildings are built and things are done with better quality, but they are also done slower and cost more.

and here things that are better in Estonia
- Taxes. In Finland you even have to pay taxes if you
- Cities in Finland, especially Pääkaupunkinseutu, are unnecessarily big geographically. There are lots of unused wild areas between parts of towns and you have to drive a lot. Estonian towns often have non-car walking area centers (like the Tallinn and Tartu old towns). This is something that I miss in Helsinki.
- Pretty women. :-)
So my conclusion: More taxes mean usually better public services and therefore better life, but the taxes are annoying. :-) Both Estonia and Finland are nice places to visit and both have interesting things to see and experience.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Estonia with Russia

Lately there has been a lot of political fuss going on between Estonia and Russia. The border agreement and president Ilves leaving the presentation in Hantõ-Mantsiisk where Russian head of Duma insulted Estonia.

Why are we arguing over such a nonsense?

Russia is the biggest state in the world, there are 150 million inhabitants in Russia. Why has it made such a thing about Estonia? There are less inhabitants in Estonia than in a mediocre suburb of Moscow? Why does Russia boder? In my mind, for Russia Estonia is less news than Pavlichenko playing a bad game on the Euro2008.

And also - the world is in a big energy crisis, food crisis, economic crisis and the Global Warming (if unstopped) will raise the sealevel so that half of Estonia and Russia will be under water. The Peipsi Lake will be soon uninhabitable by fish and the Baltic Sea is poisoned by Blue-Green Algae almost every summer..... and yet both of our nationalists are arguing about what happened 50 years ago.... who cares?! What if we would forgot the past and concentrate to the future? Both Russia and Estonia! We have both had wars with tens of nations in the past, yet we have managed to forgot them. Estonia is not having an argument with the Germans allthough they slaved us for hundreds of years and Russia is not arguing with the Mongols allthough they were under the reign Tsingis-Khan and his relatives for some hundreds of years.

So my point is....

Sometimes (well almost all the time) it is good not to talk (not forget just not to talk!) about the past but concentrate on the common problems and the future. Lets always put things into perspective! At the moment for humanity Global Warming is so big an issue that any local political fuss is just nonsense.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I predict: By 2013 over 50% of Estonian electricty will be produced from wind and wood (80% probability)

A Gartner like prediction. :-)

We have a big debate in Estonia going on about possible ways of producing electricity ( Some are for nuclear (our own or Ignalina 2 station), some for lime stone. Everybody is for multiple energy sources.

My guess is, that "by accident" we will go to wind and alternative energy sources. "By accident" I mean that this is not going to be a fully debated and analyzed decision made by the Ministry of Economics or Eesti Energia. It will just happen because other methods will require a big decision, which will not be taken. On the other hand the wind-mill projects are going ahead full speed. Soon there will be so powerful businessman (for example U. Sõõrumaa) and so much money involved that the subsidies to alternative energy cannot be turned off. Also there will "just happen" a necessity to build gas and lime stone gas power stations for unwindy periods and they will be built. Like the project that was started today

And this is going to be good! We gonna sell a lot of wind-electricity to Latvia, Finland and Lithuania. Making money out of wind cannot be bad business. :-) So dear politicians delay the decisions and this time we will make a good decision by accident. BLRT and Volta and others please start building wind turbines. You cannot lose!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A ton of oil shale a month to keep a server running?

In Estonia we make our electricity from oil shale. Which is a rather un-environmental technology and probably (and hopefully) we will stop using it due to EU CO2 quota politics in a few decades.

I calculated that to keep one server in a server room running we need to burn about a ton of oil shale a month in our power plants. That is a rather shocking figure and puts things into a different perspective for me.

I think that if the power companies would print on our electricity bills also the amount of resources used we would switch off unnecessary equipment more often.

The calculation:
- Server uses about 0,5kW
- Because of cooling and UPS-s the figure should be doubled so we need 1kW for one server.
- For one kWh we burn about 1,5kg of oil shale.
- There are 744 hours in one month so we get: 744h x 1 kWh x 1,5kg= 1116kg/month

Sunday, April 13, 2008

An idea!

MicroLink's incubator is a half year old open innovation project. Through it we want to develop our services, find new e-.... and IT services, gain new customers and business for both the incubees and us.

If you have a new and interesting idea and it involves IT contact us at

Here is also one free idea. Feel free to make it happen!

In recent year in Estonia there have been multiple signature campaigns. Both for and against different ideas, politics and politicians. Our biggest weekly newspaper Eesti Ekspress even compiled a top-ten of such campaigns. So time has come to program and launch a Signature collecting e-service for Estonia and maybe for the rest of the world. As an Estonian feature the service should be able to use our ID card authentication.

If you are interested... we can help you through our incubator program.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The biggest obstacle for energy saving in housing

I visited recently a seminar where the topic of energy efficient and "passive houses" was considered. As research of Finnish VTT has shown we can as much as 50% of heating energy by investing only about 5% of more during construction. The big question that arises - why aren't we doing it? Why aren't we making that little investment?

I think that the biggest problem is that a person living in an appartment house cannot influence his appartment's energy consumption so that it would also mean lower cost for him. Unfortunately there are no small energy meter's that we could install on all radiators. Therefore we cannot effect our energy bill. And as a really negative side effect the person's living in an appartment house is motivated to get the maximum from the "common pot" to themselfes. So instead of saving we install bigger radiators, uninstall the thermo regulators and try to get the maximum heat/euro. (On our neighbours account of course.)

So in my mind to make a big breakthrough in housing energy saving we must work out a calorifer that is small, noiseless, costs less than 50 euros and could be installed on all radiators. After that it would be easy to change the billing so that everybody would pay for the energy that is really consumed in his appartment. And thank's to that everybody would be able to regulate his own appartments heating consumption=energy bill. People would start to thinking about it and would take measures to save energy.