All The Details Matter

Posted on

From the U.K. comes a story that highlights just how quick and ruthless the consequences can be of a tiny data error in this interconnected world: 

The Telegraph reported the British High Court has found government agency Companies House was liable for the demise of engineering firm Taylor & Sons Ltd, after they wrongly recorded that the Welsh company had been wound up.

in 2009 Companies House confused Taylor & Sons Ltd with Taylor & Son Ltd, a completely different company that had gone into liquidation.

When it realised its mistake three days later, Companies House tried to correct it but it was too late.

Taylor & Sons Ltd co-owner and managing director Philip Davison-Sebry told the Telegraph Companies House had already sold the false information to the credit reference agencies.

“We lost all our credibility as all our suppliers thought we were in liquidation,” he said.

“It was like a snowball effect.”

Within just three weeks Taylor & Sons’ 3000 suppliers terminated their orders.

The company is a family run business that was established in 1875 but within two months of the error it had gone into administration.

Also, and presumably unintentionally, demonstrating why Douglas Adams found British bureaucracy such a fertile source of inspiration. 

Advice to Startup Founders: Be Yourself (not too much)

Posted on

Recap and full video of Belgrave Trust founder Nick Baily speaking about “Vision & Values” to a class of startup founders at the New York semester of Adeo Ressi’s Founder Institute, 2010.

In the many years I’ve known Adeo Ressi he’s never failed to be an inspiration, for sheer energy if nothing else, but also an unbounded optimism, bias towards getting things done, and a willingness to toss aside the old in favor of a vision of how things could be. So its no surprise that his most recent endeavor, the Founder Institute, a “school” (or bootcamp?) for startup founders, has grown so rapidly.

It’s a no-nonsense semester long class that takes in people at all stages, united only by their desire to be entrepreneurs. A crash course intensive, it covers direct hands-on issues and skills required to run a startup, as well as the intangible stuff that really matters but is rarely taught — like dealing with stress, or partners, and how to explain yourself and what you do (a message Adeo has a gift for delivering with brutal clarity, as this video makes clear).

So needless to say it’s been a blast to participate in this semester’s NYC chapter as a mentor, with chapter head Gabe Zichermann. I had the pleasure of presenting at the semester’s first formal class a few weeks ago, dubbed “Vision & Values,” about the big picture questions that face every founder as they get started.

Here’s the video, and there’s a link to the slides below. Also you can see this clip as well as the great presentations on the same night by fellow presenters Carter Cleveland ( and Gary Whitehill (NYEW) too via this Vimeo link

Belgrave Trust Founder Nick Baily Speaks at NY Founder Institute Session #2

Slides also viewable here, as PowerPoint and PDF

I’ll pay you to quit.

Posted on

It’s a story that has been forwarded around a lot this week, but I was struck by an interesting philosophy at Zappos. They offer people $1000 to quit after a month — the idea is that people who aren’t committed will take it, but the people who stay will be serious about working there.

I found it here:

I spend a lot of time visiting with companies and figuring out what ideas
they represent and what lessons we can learn from them. I usually leave
these visits underwhelmed. There are plenty of companies with a hot product,
a hip style, or a fast-rising stock price that are, essentially, one-trick
ponies‹they deliver great short-term results, but they don¹t stand for
anything big or important for the long term.

Every so often, though, I spend time with a company that is so original in
its strategy, so determined in its execution, and so transparent in its
thinking, that it makes my head spin.