The Product Landing

They say the hardest thing about flying is landing. That made me think about the language we use in product development, in particular the product launch metaphor. Can a term like that in itself drive us to do things we don’t want to do?

Space shuttle launch

There flies your better judgement

To recap, a Product Launch is supposed to encompass a number of coordinated efforts, including things like:

  • Optimising the technology for heavy loads
  • Going big on marketing
  • Omnipresence in press and social media, roadshows, exhibitions, etc
  • Community building, content curation, customer service
  • (and much more)

Ideally, we are well prepared before the product launch. We may have iterated under the radar with “early adopter” customers, but now it’s finally time to create a big bang and become as instantaneously successful as Pokemon Go, with its more than 10 million downloads within the first week of release. Awesome!

Pokemon Go

Who needs to iterate when we can Pokemon Go for it

It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, most experienced entrepreneurs would do anything to avoid it. Aiming for a product launch is a beginners mistake, but in the world of entrepreneurship there are a lot of beginners. Why has the all or nothing approach to product release become an ideal so strong that we continue doing it, or pretend to be doing it, despite overwhelming experiences telling us to work differently?

Continue reading

7 deep skills for entrepreneurs

Einstein playing violin

You’d be surprised how much The Martian and Einstein have in common. Except from the fate of Einstein’s brain, which was stolen from his body after he died (it’s a bit macabre, I know). Still preserved, the brain surfaced decades later in a hospital lab, and a brain specialist was asked to analyse it, not knowing who it had belonged to. He was able to deduct two things about the person: 1. He had played the violin. 2. He had an extraordinary capacity for processing terrain and other three-dimensional space. Both turned out to be true: Einstein did play the violin, and his theory of relativity is largely based on multi-dimensional thinking.

Brain plasticity is fascinating. Our brain physically changes based on what we do. Einstein played the violin to relax, and it helped him solve fundamental puzzles of physics. It sounds impressive, but instead of seeing it as two distinct accomplishments (how could he have time to learn the violin?), you should see it as synergy between seemingly disparate activities.

An astronaut doesn’t tell Houston “you have problem”:

Continue reading

Colic-driven Development

The idea behind the Oslo Opera House came after a role switch. When first opened eight years ago, visitors were presented with a fairy tale, allowing everybody to literally walk on top of the glacier-like surface of the building before being lured inside, into an adventurous quest for the “Hall of the Mountain King” (According to Norwegian folklore, The Mountain King normaly resides inside the Dovrefjell mountain range, who’s highest peak – Snøhetta – incidentally has the same name as the architect company that drew the Opera House). It was an iconic building that soon became a part of the identity of Oslo, and the web site still melts down twice a year, when next season’s tickets are out.

It’s a glacier. You’re supposed to walk on top of it

So how did they come up with this idea?

Continue reading

The values of innovation

They say groups make bad decisions. That’s why we need leadership.

The solution might be a team leader, who makes decisions on behalf of the group: Limit decision power, and decisions will become consistent, on target and effective.

This works great in a number of circumstances. In a restaurant kitchen, for instance, nobody wants chefs who disagree on how long to cook the aspargus. People are hungry – we need a ruler.

Conversely, a ruler is a disaster in innovation. To creative minds, pursuing “the next big thing” (whatever it may be), nothing pacifies more than a micromanaging split- and conquer regime.

Give them a clear objective, a business goal, you might say. “Increase market share by 20% over the next 18 months”. If the goal is realistic, they may reach it. But will it be innovation?

Continue reading

Lean Startup: Safe failure vs failure

A Lean Startup has three possible outcomes:

  1. We found a winning product (success)
  2. We learned our idea was a bad one, and did something else (safe failure)
  3. We messed up and failed to seize opportunities (big failure)

Thinking like a Lean Startup, we value fast failure, because it teaches us important lessons that in turn can be used to find a winning product. Big failure, however, is when we fail to implement the thinking in the first place. Big failure encompasses anything from never getting getting started in the first place to greenfield innovation initiatives that – usually seen in retrospect – never could have made it, because they were built on the wrong premises.

This post is about avoiding big failure.

I meet a lot of corporate people who want to learn Lean Startup these days. They mostly expect training in experimentation: Business modelling, customer dialog, minimal (viable) product design and other means for validated learning. Build, measure, learn.

The truth is that learning basic skills of Lean Startup isn’t really that hard. Effective use of cheap learning material, from books and tutorials (and even board games) to Meetups and conferences, will get you a long way. Getting mentored by someone who’s done it before may get you even further, but you’re still traveling along one axis of a multi-dimensional challenge. Experimentatiton skills are the hiking shoes you need to climb the mountain (and as far as I know, no hiking shoes have ever climbed a mountain).

And the horrible truth is:

Continue reading

Why shops in Norway decide to accept Bitcoin

After we started to accept Bitcoin in 2014 february we became curious what motivates other shopkeepers and service providers in Norway to turn their attention to Bitcoin. We interviewed everyone to share their experiences and expectations with the crypto-currency.

First a quick overview of the places that accepts Bitcoin in Norway:

Aktivisten kafé – a small cozy café in the hipster district of Oslo
Zodo/Viralvoi – marketing agency
Wish AS Opplevelsesgaver – Experience gifts
FixMyi – repairing service for Apple products
Host1 AS – webhosting and other IT services
Mediehuset Tek AS – a company making specific softwares – Scandianvian trading center to buy and sell Bitcoin itself
Iterate AS – that’s us
iPhix – repairing Apple and Samsung products
WAU – travel and technology agency – worldwide seller of handheld laser and laser-accessories.
Camping Dalen & Camping Dalen Shop: Listed as two in Coinmap, but in fact it’s one.
Ecoin – an inactive costumised map to list places where Bitcoin is accepted. Doesn’t function as a shop to buy products and services
Holiday House Nybergsund, Norway
Brattlia Økogård – Organic farm

Aktivisten Cafe in Oslo. They also accept Bitcoin. Photo Credit: Scott Cadman.

Aktivisten Kafé in Oslo. They also accept Bitcoin. Photo Credit: Scott Cadman.

What motivates a business to accept Bitcoin?

If you happen to be a business owner you might find some inspirational thoughts among the answers:

“Bitcoin is between you and me and there is no bank in between. Same as cash. I don’t like that when you use cards everyone can see where you use it and what you buy with it. Also: accepting Bitcoin is much cheaper than having a payment terminal.”

“To be among the early adopters, test new payment methods and to offer “non-traceable” transactions.”

“We wanted to offer an additional payment service via the web that is not dependent on PayPal / VISA / MasterCard. This started as a test project that worked very well, thus resulting in that we decided to accept Bitcoin permanently.”

“At first bitcoin was the only form of payment we accepted. This was the time when very few had heard about bitcoin, so we wanted to “spread the word”, especially in this niche we do (hobby lasers). I believe we have succeeded, because the largest laser hobby store in the world and several of our suppliers of components have started accepting bitcoin too.”

“This could be the future way to pay, so why not try? One has to start somewhere.”

“One of our clients is a Bitcoin enthusiast and he insisted that it would be great if we accept it. So we decided to do so. No payments happened so far in Bitcoin, but it’s interesting to see where it takes us.”

“We see great advantages of a global currency for companies who do international business. It operates with low costs regarding transactions and integration, and payments are fast and easy. It’s also a new exciting market with many passionate users, and furthermore: it is a new platform that fosters a lot of innovation.”

“Bitcoin was implemented as open-source solution for clients and as a strategy to gain more visibility.”

“We love technology and we believe that the technology Bitcoin is based on has a future in the world of payment.”

Tl;DR: non-traceability, low operational costs, technical interest, client’s need, marketing value


How often do you have customers paying with Bitcoin? What percentage of your total income came from Bitcoin in the past 12 months?

Bitlasers established their business based on Bitcoin-only transactions, and by this they are the only ones who account significant income in Bitcoin.
One shop reported to receive less than 5% of their revenues in Bitcoin.
A third shop says that by the total turnover Bitcoin makes only an insignificant amount (less than 0.1%).
The rest of the shops either did not registered a single Bitcoin-payment or had very few low-volume payment in the last twelve months.

Timeline of shops opening up to accept Bitcoin.

Timeline of shops opening up to accept Bitcoin.

What do you think about the future of Bitcoin?

All of the shops we asked see a bright future in Bitcoin payments. They state that the usability for online transactions is really good for and it is very suitable for small and medium-sized transactions. Some said that Bitcoin is more suitable for payment than credit card or cash. Some believe that when the price of Bitcoin stabilizes we will see an increase in transactions and we can expect a steady growth in the number of users.

“In the worst case Bitcoins will merge into to a similar but much better platform.”

Almost all of them mentioned however, that in order for Bitcoin to succeed we need more places that accepts it as payment, and more people to spend it.

“Bitcoin is an evolution in finance created by people like you and me, and just like the wildlife, the payment method that best suits prevail over those that don’t evolve with the changing times.”

Gitle Mikkelsen, Bitlasers

Meanwhile here is how every-day life people relate to Bitcoin

Although Hans Christian Holte, director general of taxation says that Bitcoin is not a currency, Scandianvia’s biggest Bitcoin exchange place reached nearly 67 000 registered users since they opened in 2013 spring. This sounds like rapid growth, but it also means that only around 1% of population of Norway has bitcoin. (Norway has 5,136,700 inhabitants based on 2013 demographic data).
We did a research by interviewing randomly chosen people of all age in the streets of Oslo to find out more about Norwegians’ knowledge about Bitcoin and willingness in using it as payment. We also launched an online survey with the same questions, targeted to people living in Norway. It turned out that 46 % of the people have never even heard about Bitcoin.

“Unfortunately, it is currently almost exclusively used as object for speculation and not for buying and selling… For Bitcoin to succeed we need more places to accept it, but also consumers to use it. It will take time “
Robert Grinde – Wish AS

And I personally think it will take a LOT of time. While transferring Bitcoin online takes just as little as transferring any other currency through your net-bank, Bitcoin has some serious usability issues when it comes to point of sales payment. Paying for a coffee at a bar with cash or credit card takes around 10 seconds, but if you want to pay with Bitcoin it will literally take minutes as you have to do an online transfer and get verified by the seller.
But as we said in our previous post it is nevertheless a great fun to be with, experiment and watch where it will grow.

Why we accept Bitcoin

Since its launch in 2009 Bitcoin has become accepted in increasing numbers of shops and services around the globe. As of writing this post there are 9326 places listed on and 4359 on If you happen to have Bitcoins, you can use them to pay for pizza, manicure, artworks, web hosting, geeky t-shirts, online dating and even Space travel. But why did an IT consultancy (aka: we) decide to accept Bitcoins, and to deal with it at all? Few weeks ago an article was published in a local news-site (in Norwegian) about us accepting bitcoin where we gave some reasoning. We thought to take it one step further and talk a bit more about the “why” behind it.


Because Community

It all started with our developer Jakob, who showed great interest in Bitcoins. Since then we held sessions both internally and openly about introducing Bitcoin to people (see picture). For free, because sharing is caring. Here in Norway Bitcoin enthusiasts just started to form nests of interest. Here is one facebook group operating in Norwegian and this meetup group mostly in English.

Bitcoin for beginners - intro to the “what” and “how” of Bitcoin

Bitcoin for beginners – intro to the “what” and “how” of Bitcoin

Continue reading