Unforgettable Mails from the Past

Most people have different folders in their mailbox where they keep all types of important mails from the past. Some could be work-related, some could be from special people in their lives and so on. But what they have in common is that all of them have a story to tell..

The following short e-mail message that I got almost 4,5 years ago is one of those important mails for me since it taught me a lot of lessons about friendship, business, perseverance and a little bit of selling during the journey.

KTH Sun Campus Ambassadors Mail
The mail I got regarding my first recruitment in Sweden.

  This short mail was basically saying that BOTH my friend Alper Celik and I got the job that we applied for ALTHOUGH they were only looking for ONE person. Now let’s have a flashback and see how it all began while I note some references regarding the lessons I learned that will be explained more in detail at the end of this post.

October 2007, KTH Main Campus – Stockholm / Sweden

The conference room is full of bright people from all around the world. Everybody is waiting for the speaker to start talking about the “Entrepreneurship in Developing World”. It has been only 3 weeks since my arrival in Sweden and I’m already amazed by the wide variety of opportunities to learn and improve yourself. The first half of the seminar is finished. People are rushing to the hall to have a short coffee break. I’m heading out together with Alper (A) and we start talking:

A: I think it’s time to get a part-time job. I don’t want to get any money from my family, we are not kids anymore.

Me: You’re right! We should continue looking for something after we fix this housing issue.

Right before we go back to the conference room, the small announcement on the notification board catches my eye [Lesson 1]:

“Sun Microsystems is Looking for a Sun Campus Ambassador for KTH”

Wov! I say to myself, this is exactly what we are looking for! Hey, but there’s a problem since apparently the company is looking for only one person that’d be the kind of the “Campus Ambassador” for KTH. This means that this person would organize tech events for the students and be the spokesperson of the company at the campus on many different levels.

Naturally, I show it to Alper as well and we agree that we should both apply for it although they look for only one person [Lesson 2]. The same evening when we are home, we wrote a cover letter together with our CVs and sent it to the e-mail address that was on this ad.

+46 Number is calling for an Important Call

A couple of weeks have already passed and neither of us got any feedback regarding our application. Since there was only an e-mail address regarding the job ad, there’s nothing much we could do other than waiting.

While working on a homework for a class project at home, my phone started to ring as if it was crying to get answered. The number was not a familiar one to me so I answered the phone with a little bit of curiosity. The voice on the other side of the phone was saying that I am one of the people shortlisted for the Campus Ambassador position and asking if I’d be available for an interview in an HOUR.

My answer was a big YES!

After hanging up the phone, I explained about this phone call to Alper with mixed feelings since I was short listed but we didn’t hear anything regarding his application so far. But WAIT, while thinking about what to wear in this interview, his phone started to ring as well!

+46 Number is calling for an Important Call Again

A:  Allright! Of course I can be at your office for an interview in TWO HOURs!

Haydaaa (as we say in Turkish), now he’s in the shortlist as well and we’re really happy! It’s been only a month in Sweden and we’re going to an interview for a part-time job that won’t affect our studies and could be a great reference for future. Too good to be true!

Sun Microsystems Office, Akalla/Stockholm –  October 2007

I’m talking to my future boss Kent over a coffee at his office. First question is always easy and I did my homework and said “NO, I didn’t have any problems finding the way to your office” hoping that he’d think how smart I’m to be able to find my way here 🙂  Isn’t that always the first question?

Then we start talking about my background, weaknesses, future plans and everything regarding the job. Right before we conclude, I ask him about the possibility of recruiting more than one person as I personally wouldn’t get as happy if only I’d get the job. He appreciates this statement and tells me that he will see what he can do. [Lesson 3]

While Alper is about to arrive at the office for his interview, we only had time to have a short chat on the phone and I didn’t even have time to tell him about what I told to Kent regarding recruiting only myself.

Student Houses , Alleväg/Kista – The same evening

Alper is back from his interview now and it’s time to talk about what eventually happened. Apparently, Kent asked about his thoughts as well if only he’d be recruited and Alper told him the same thing as me without even knowing about my conversation. [Lesson 4]

So the next day, we got an e-mail from Kent saying that they’ll recruit either one of us unless we can provide them some REALLY good reasons to recruit both of us. So we told him that we will prepare a report where we’ll explain why they should recruit both of us.

Three Pages Away From Getting Our First Job

The same night, we sat in front of the monitor for hours figuring how to position ourselves and the value of recruiting both of us together. The plan was to focus on the importance of our university and what difference two people could make.

Around 2 am. same night, we were finished with a 3 pages report that had all types of different arguments backed up by same nice graphics 🙂

The graphic above is one of the diagrams from this report where we try to convince our employer regarding the distances between different campuses and there’s a need for at least to people to cover all the students 🙂 Of course we don’t forget to have some scientific facts and references as well.

Now it’s funny to read this report after about 4,5 years but it was an important document for us at that time. You can read the rest of the report that gave us the job in PDF. It’s no rocket science but right to the point in a way. [Lesson 5]

And The Job Goes Toooooooo

So as you can already guess, after a couple of weeks, we got the e-mail that I showed at the beginning of my post that led us to our first job in Sweden which continued for two years during our master studies at KTH.

I feel privileged to enjoy many great moments at this job as we got the “Best Student Club” in Europe many times in row together with the “Best Campus Ambassadors in Europe” Award from the Sun Microsystems.

We both had the honour to present our way of working, tips and tricks in a number of different European cities to other colleagues. Once we even participated at a conference in Berlin where Sun invited tens of CEOs from all around the Europe and we were at the stage together with the Vice Precident of Sun Microsystems, giving a speech to the CEOs about the student activities.

So keeping long story short, that short job ad and our perseverance opened a lot of doors to us which has been a great life experience…

The Lessons I Learned During This Journey

[Lesson 1] : Luck is when preparation meets the opportunity. A pregnant woman would recognize all the other pregnant women on the street. It doesn’t mean that we are 9 months after Midsummer in Sweden (you know what I mean 😉 ), it just means the opportunities will be visible to you only if you are prepared to see them!

[Lesson 2] : Nothing is written on the stone and if there’s a will, there’s a way! Without doing something, you can’t know if your thoughts are applicable or not. Sometimes we just give up easily because we think that we will have some obstacles on the way. But what if these obstacles are caused by misleading information or even prejudgements? I say, just do it and it’ll be done.

[Lesson 3] : Closed mouths don’t get fed. Don’t hesitate to speak up your mind if you think that there’s a possibility to improve the current situation. Of course there’s a thin line between being “rude” and “showing your willingness to win-win”. One of good friends puts it greatly by using the explanation “soft aggressive”, and I guess that’s who I’m.

[Lesson 4]: People in your life who are valuable for you are more important than money and career. I would genuinely feel bad if only I’d get the job and know that Alper would feel the same. Hopefully, we didn’t have to go through that.

[Lesson 5]: Keeping stuff simple and stupid is the best way to go when you are writing. Think about your objectives and list down all the relative arguments presented in a simply understandable manner. I try to follow the same principles while writing proposals to our customers in my current job.

[Lesson 5] and the most important is NEVER GIVE UP!

Conclusion

I know many people I know are about to finish their studies and are looking for a job or a thesis opportunity. I hope I was able to inspire them at least a little bit and convey some of the lessons that I learned during my first employment here in Sweden. Please take this post as it is and DO TRY AT HOME!

Please don’t hesitate to comment and tell me about your story! I’d be more than happy to hear.

 


It is no surprise that most of the countries in the world are already shutting down the analog TV signals (ASO) and moving to the digital world. DVB-T standard has been the most welcomed one so far, whereas lately we have started to see trials in a few countries for using the brand-new DVB-T2 standard.. Before we move on, the question is:

What is the Analog Shut Off (ASO) anyway?

On a very basic level, it is all about more efficient usage of the limited available frequency on the air. Using the digital signals for TV broadcasting, there will be many benefits such as more TV channels, freed frequencies that could be used for other purposes and so on. Please refer to my post for more information regarding the digital dividend.

Commercial Requirements of the DVB-T2 Standard [1]:

  • T2 transmissions must be able use existing domestic receive antenna installations and must be able to re-use existing transmitter infrastructures.
  • T2 should primarily target services to fixed and portable receivers.
  • T2 should provide a minimum of 30 % capacity increase over DVB-T working within the same planning constraints and conditions as DVB-T. (Side Note: Provided almost %50 capacity increase in the UK during the trials.)
  • T2 should provide for improved single-frequency-network (SFN) performance compared with DVB-T.
  • T2 should have a mechanism for providing service-specific robustness; i.e. it should be possible to give different levels of robustness to some services compared to others. For example, within a single 8 MHz channel, it should be possible to target some services for roof-top reception and target other services for reception on portables.
  • T2 should provide for bandwidth and frequency flexibility.
  • There should be a mechanism defined, if possible, to reduce the peak-to-average-power ratio of the transmitted signal in order to reduce transmission costs.

  Architectural Model:

Benefits:

Since I work in the sales department, I always concentrate on the benefits on the technologies keeping in mind the cool features. The benefits can be listed as the following:

  • Almost %50 gain in capacity (from 24.1 Mbit/s to 36.1 Mbit/s)
  • Offers greater tolerance of multipath and impulsive interference
  • Improved SFN performance
  • No need for changing the already-installed antennas

Adoption of DVB-T2 in the World

Some countries in Europe such as Italy, Turkey, Serbia, has already made some announcement about deployment of  DVB-T2 network. Some trials should also take place in Germany, Spain, Sweden and Austria. [2] Well, we will see how it goes with the trials and how much it will adopted all over the world. If you have something to share, please don’t hesitate!

 References:

  1. “(DVB-T2) Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB)  Implementation guidelines for a second generation digital terrestrial television broadcasting system”, DVB Document A 133, December 2009
  2. http://www.enensys.com/technologies/dvb-t2-overview.html , Last accessed 7 April 2010

Today, we had a lot of fun with our Swedish friends. We made a cover for the song “Domuz Gribi” which means “Swine Flu” in Turkish. The song is basically about a guy who wants his ex-girlfriend to have “Swine Flu” because she has left him 🙂


You might have probably heard about the fact that a lot of countries are switching off the analog TV signals and moving towards the “Digital TV transmission”. So what is it all about and how is it going to affect the end-users? But before we move on, let’s see why they are going for digital?

Why Digital?digital-tv-multicasting

If we compare analog signal with digital ones, the following are the advantages of digital signals:

–          Less affected by the interference and noise

–          Can be transmitted and copied without any defects (first copy and the 100th copy will be exactly the same)

–          Signal quality could be easily increased just by increasing the transmission speed

–          Digital circuits are becoming cheaper

–          Digital signal processing techniques are more advanced

–          Enables the same TV coverage area with less power consumption

CD, VCD and DVD are just some examples of the mediums those have been converted to digital so far. On the other hand, cameras, TV transmitters, Radio transmitters and etc are examples of the mediums which are in the process of going digital. So it seems like analog is losing the war against digital. The features of digital signal are obvious but what about the benefits? (The following benefits are compiled from [1])

Benefits for Broadcasters?

–          Depending on the compression rates, the broadcasters can have 4 to 10 SDTV (Standard Definition) channels or 1 HD TV (High Definition) compared to only 1 analog channel.

–          Easy and secure encryption of channels

–          Easier “video-on-demand” and “Pay TV” services.

–          With the SFN (Single Frequency Network) technology different transmitters broadcasting over the same frequency will strengthen each other instead of interfering which will lead to a more effective usage of frequencies

Benefits for Viewers?

–          Better video and audio quality (not experienced all the time since the broadcasters prefer to compress their signals in order to broadcast the maximum number of channels instead of HD-TV channels)

–          Interactive video and data services that are not possible with analog technology

–          More options since there is the possibility to have up to 10 digital channels compared to 1 analog channel on the same spectrum

Seems like the benefits of digital TV transmission will be mostly reaped by the broadcasters who will be able to have more channels that will increase their advertisement revenues and market base and the government bodies which will be able to free up the broadcast spectrum and sell it to other more profitable businesses.

What is needed for DTV Picture Reception Over-The-Air?

“You need one of the following:

  • A TV set with a digital tuner.

OR

  • An analog TV set connected to a digital-to-analog converter box.

In either case, you will need an appropriate antenna connected to the TV set or the converter box; either an outdoor rooftop antenna or an indoor antenna (such as “rabbit ears” for VHF reception and a loop or bowtie for UHF reception).

If you have a digital TV set, you will not need any additional equipment (with the exception of an antenna) to receive over-the-air digital broadcast programming. However if you have an analog TV set, a digital converter box must be connected between the antenna and the analog TV to receive and display over-the-air digital programming.” [2]

DVB-T Market Deployment

DVB-T services are on air in more than 35 countries where more than 90 million receivers have been sold. The most successful markets, with DVB-T receivers readily available for less than EUR 30, include the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Australia. (See Figure 1.) Each year sees the launch of services in more countries and there are trial broadcasts on air across the world. [3] (See the figure below)

digitalTV

Digital TV

Figure 1 – Countries in Digital Transition

Situation in Sweden

Digital TV has been available in Sweden since 1999 and the analogue switch-off was completed on 15th October 2007 [4]. As Sweden is known for the high-tech savvy users, it is no surprise that it was one of the first countries to embrace the digital television.

Situation in Turkey

“Digital Terrestrial TV tests have been carried out since 2006 in Turkey. It is expected to have 95% of the country covered until 2014. When the digital TV reception is over %80 of the total population, there will be an extra-time announced for the analog switch of which is expected to take place in 2015. “[5]

Conclusion

–          Analog broadcasting is coming to an end

–          TV and computer are converging.

–          The TV in your living room is becoming more of a “two-way communicator” instead of a “one-way receiver”

–          We will see a lot of interesting interactive services in the near future

–          Digital transmission will create a window of opportunity for the introduction of new technologies

References

1- “Dijital TV ve Multimedya” Prof. Dr. Avni Morgul Bogazici Universitesi Elektrik-Elektronik Muhendisligi Bolumu

2- http://www.dtv.gov/consumercorner.html, Last accessed 9-11-2009

3- DVB Fact Sheet – July 2009, http://www.dvb.org/technology/fact_sheets/DVB-T-Fact-Sheet.0709.pdf, Last accessed 9-11-2009

4- http://www.dvb.org/about_dvb/dvb_worldwide/sweden/, Last accessed 9-11-2009

5- http://www.ntvmsnbc.com , Last accessed 9-11-2009


Introduction

In this paper, I will explain the concepts and frameworks those were mentioned in the world famous authors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne’s article [1] which has the same title as this paper. Then I will try to apply the concepts for our CSD project.

The paper starts with the question of identifying the business ideas which have commercial potential. It gives the example of Motorola’s Iridium satellite phone which was a total failure in the company’s history with an absurd price and low-usability. So what was Motorola’s mistake with Iridium ? The authors state that it was the deadly mistake of rushing a new technology to the market at the wrong time with the wrong price. So a good manager must assess the “commercial readiness” and the potentional of new business ideas. But how?

To answer the question of how, authors have built up a database of more than 100 companies which have innovated successfully and looked for the similarities between them. Then they compared them these companies with underperforming companies. Using this data they have created three analytic tools in order to have a systematic approach to reducing the uncertainties of innovation. These tools are “Buyer Utility Map”, “The Price Corridor of The Mass” and lastly “The Business Model Guide”:

Buyer Utility Map:

 

Purchase Delivery Use Supplements Maintenance Disposal
Consumer Productivity

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simplicity

 

 

 

 

 

 

Convenience

 

 

 

 

 

 

Risk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun and Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environmental Friendliness

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 1 – Buyer Utility Map

This utility helps the managers to focus on the “benefits” of the product/service instead of concentrating too much on the technology applied –features-. It allows the managers to see how the new innovation will affect the lives of the customers. It tries to answer question of what value it will bring to the customers.

The columns of the “Buyer Utility Map” represent the experiences that a customer goes through during the “buying” process. Whereas the rows represent the utility “levers” which companies unlock for their customers. For example, a product can offer simplicity in purchasing by making it easy to buy for the customers. Locating a new product on this table will help managers how the product differs from its competitors and how it will make value for the customers. It will also help managers see how many innovations are still possible just by improving any of the 36 cells in the table.

Application of the Buyer Utility Map:

If we apply this tool to our project I think it would look like this.

 

Purchase Delivery Use Supplements Maintenance Disposal
Consumer Productivity

 

 

x

 

 

 

Simplicity

 

 

x

 

x

 

Convenience

 

 

 

 

 

 

Risk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun and Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environmental Friendliness

 

 

 

 

 

 

First our product improves the “Consumer Productivity” lever in the “using” experience. Compared to the manual lab tests, automating the water-quality management process will make the water board more productive by using the sensors and the SunSPOTs.

Secondly, since the tests will be handled by the sensors, it will unlock the “Simplicity” lever in the “using” experience. This way, the “Blantyre Water Board” will not need to have trained employees for analyzing the water.

Lastly but not leastly, “Maintenance” will be much simple as the system will be controlled by the base station centrally. So even if there are tens of sensors deployed in the water board, they will be maintained by a single machine.


Setting a Strategic Price

Without a right price, a product is not right anymore. Setting a price which will attract the “large pool of customers” is a crucial point to the success. Strategic pricing means having the price which will both attract the customer but also help you retain them. For this purpose, authors introduce the “Price Corridor of the Mass” tool :

sdFigure 1 – Price Corridor Of The Mass

The following are some of the points that will help us understand the tool better :

It is always the customer who defines your competitors. They are the ones who will prefer your product/service to any competitors. And these competitors may or may not be in your industry. For example, while an airlines company wouldn’t consider bus companies as their competitors, for customers they are competitors as they would choose any of them for traveling from point A to point B.

The authors state that, one must first find the price range which attracts the largest group of customers and depending on the legal and resource protection levels of the innovation, the price can be set as high as possible.

Regarding the competitors, there are two types of them :

Different form, same function: E-mail vs. mail, both let customers communicate each other.

Different form and function, same objective : Restaurants vs. Theaters, both target customers who want to have a good night out.

Applying the tool to our project:

At this stage, it is very difficult to have a price tag as nothing is finalized yet about the product. But we can easily say, targeting a country like Malawi, the price should be “lower-level” pricing as we don’t have legal or resource protections in this project.

Building a Profitable Business Model :

The first two tools are not enough to make money. To have a profitable business, companies also need to think about their business models.

Having said that, there is no magic wand or “one-fits-all” business model. But there are some guidelines as following:

Cost Target: The authors state that it must be the price which sets the costs, not the other way around. So after setting the strategic price, the companies must try to arrange their cost-structure with regards to the price.

Partners : Clock is ticking against the innovator, so unless the product has extremely well patent-protections, one must push it to the market as soon as possible, before the imitators get on the scene. So it is always a good-practice to involve other companies in your value chain if they complement the company’s strengths.

Price Model : Innovators do not have to stick with the market’s already-defined pricing models if that is a barrier for the business idea’s success. Managers must focus on the pricing models –direct selling, leasing, and equity payment- that would bring greater profit.

Applying the tool to our project:

I believe that our cost-target must focus on low-prices so our cost-structure must also focus on keeping the costs as low as possible. For example, we tried to use solar-panels to cut the energy consumption expenses.

Regarding the partners, especially for Malawi, we need to partner with the local polytechnic which can provide educated employees and support for us and the local entrepreneurs who can run this as a service to the government.

Lastly but not leastly, “direct selling” seems to be the only way for us as we neither have a company nor any employees in this project.

Conclusion :

There is no magic sauce that will make every business successful, sometimes it is just a matter of “luck”. But the education of entrepreneurship tries to raise the chances and apply analytical frameworks to new business opportunities.

The framework that I have tried to summarize in this paper is extended more deeply in the authors’ book “Blue Ocean Strategy” which is a best-seller business book that is read by the students and professionals all around the world. For those of you who would like to have more information, I highly recommend you to get this article from the “Harvard Business Review Library” and read the “Blue Ocean Strategy” book.

References

1- Kim, W.Chan and Renée Mauborgne. “Knowing a Winning Business Idea When You See One.” Hardware Business Review R00510, no. (2000): Inclusive [129-137]


Last week I was in Amsterdam with my colleagues for “IBC 2009” to represent our company Net Insight.  IBC stands for “International Broadcasting Convention” and is an annual trade show for broadcasters, content creators/providers, equipment manufacturers, professional and technical associations, and other participants in the broadcast industry.

Net Insight Partner Meeting:

After reaching to our hotel (on the right), Bengt (our  product manager) and Illoydhotel1 decided to move on to our partner meeting at downtown Amsterdam. The event took place in Hard Rock Cafe which was by the river and had a very pleasant atmosphere.

The meeting started with Net Insight executives having presentations about the company and the latest developments like IP Trunk and Ethernet Switching  Since the attendees were actually our partners, people were listening with full enthusiasm.

The interest has even peaked up when a magician came to the stage and did really cool magic tricks. The event went on with the award ceremony for the best partner of us. There were a lot of interesting presentations. For me Nikos’s presentation about how Net Insight delivered the Beijing 2008 Olympics without a single packet loss was the most interesting.

After we have listened to all the presentations it was time for the long-waited dinner. Filling our stomaches to the full, we were ready to network and connect with the other professionals. I had the pleasure to meet a lot of interesting and nice people from all around the world. They have shared different actual information about the markets that we were operating. I have seen once more that even in Europe the markets are so different from each other and local conditions are totally different i.e companies tend to be much more price-sensitive in Netherlands.

A Big, Real Big Convention Center

The first impression I got from the RAI Convention Center was that, it is really BIG! There were more than 45.000 attendees and a lot companies showing their latest products and connecting with their potential customers. People were waiting in the lines for registration and it was really crowded even at the first day.

At The Booth

This was the first time for me to work at the booth and be exposed to the potential customers who were asking questions about different features of our products. Listening to the questions they have asked and how my colleagues answered them, I began to understand better our place in the market and what type of problems we are actually solving. Seeing smiling customers who were coming back to see what we have developed lately was real good sign for the company.

Walking Around The Trade Fair

Although I didn’t have much time to walk around and see what other companies have been doing, Anders (our pre-sales guru) showed me around and gave me a lot of information about the competition and the market. We have seen many interesting stuff but I can list some of them as follows:

  • 3D HD TV – which you watch with special glasses
  • Hollywood quality cameras
  • Remote controllable helicopter cameras
  • Of course Net Insight products 🙂

Amsterdam

Meanwhile, we had a couple of hours after the working hours to see the town and learn what it offers to the visitors. As far as I have seen, Amsterdam is a very lively city but the taxi drivers that I have talked told me that it is only weekends. But  I can still say it gives you much more living energy compared to Stockholm.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, during this trade fair, I had the opportunity to have a look at the “big picture” of the industry and see where we fit in this picture. Talking to the customers and partners, I have learned more than I could have learned in months. I have to say that some of them knew better than me, so I actually was listening and learning from them as well. I am glad that I was at IBC 2009 and looking forward to attending the next one in 2010.

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As of today, the first period of my life has finished. Yesterday, I did my logo_topmaster thesis presentation and sent the latest version of my final report to my examiner which was my last assignment for the “first part” of my life, which can be summarized as studying and gathering as much information as possible.

Starting from Monday, I will be a “young professional” and it will be the beginning of the second period of my life which can be summarized as “having a career and improving yourself”. The first stop in my professional career is being a “Pre-Sales Engineer” at NetInsight AB. I hope that, I will learn a lot and succeed with the company for many long years.

My final report from my master thesis could be found in my “e-marketing master thesis” blog if you are interested. Otherwise, this is the latest news from my side and I wish a great “midsummer” for everybody!