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Re: Enquire - WWW - Semantic Desktop/PersonalDataWiki? do you agree?

From: Stephen Williams <sdw@lig.net>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2010 15:08:46 -0800
Message-ID: <4CE5B1FE.5060807@lig.net>
To: Juan Sequeda <juanfederico@gmail.com>
CC: Leo Sauermann <leo.sauermann@gnowsis.com>, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>, SWIG <semantic-web@w3.org>
Keep at it!  But concentrate on development and creating an actual solution more than investment if you can.

I've been part of several startups (CTO several times), founded my own (classic "Internet startup" last cycle, and various other 
little companies), worked in small and large companies, been part of W3C and IETF standardization efforts, and worked with 
government customers.  I've given pitches to investors, helped others shop ideas or companies, and demoed and/or pitched projects to 
various customers, winning plenty of large projects.

And, I am very interested in solving a large set of problems are answered by solutions such as a "semantic desktop".  I have 
experienced and observed many pain points and inefficiencies around knowledge management, organization, and visualization that I 
have been building solutions to.  I have put in a lot of R&D over the last several years, have a lot of strong ideas, and have gone 
deep on some of the dev tech required.  If I build just what I currently know how to do, I'll have a killer app & service.

I'm perpetually about to dig into actual product implementation...  Knowing how various levels of investors are, plus having 
experienced the problem of lack of vision that is rampant, I've decided the only reasonable play here is to bootstrap a useful 
product.  Although it takes longer, perhaps too long, to get to market, it cuts the wasted time and headache of dealing with that 
angle.  Additionally, it takes a lot of the pressure off business model decisions.  I can release a free app if I want without 
deadlines a certain income level.  I wouldn't necessarily refuse a particularly enthusiastic and trustworthy investment source that 
came to believe in me, but I'm not wasting time chasing it.  And, I suspect, that path may run counter to some of my goals.

Luckily, practically no one seems to be exploring the directions I want to go in the way that I'm going there.  There are real 
customers with real problems.  I am directly attacking those to get something to market as soon as I can, selling shovels along the 
way to fund my development / sharpen my knowledge / skills along the way.  Some of what I'm putting together is radical enough that 
it will be a "try it, you'll like it" far more than "just imagine it works this way".  Expect a chronic lack of vision.  I have been 
running my interfaces in my head for a year.  I've stopped expecting I can do the same with others to any useful degree.  I have 
good stories to illustrate this problem...

I do plan to integrate with many other things, have open data/metadata, and partner when interesting, however I have everything I 
need to crank out something very useful.  Except perhaps available time and concentration.


On 11/18/10 8:41 AM, Juan Sequeda wrote:
> Leo,
> I go through the excitement/trouble of explaining and pitching semantic web in general to VCs, angels, entrepreneurs almost on a 
> weekly basis. Few things I have learned from 4 years of actively doing this (from an american perspective... I don't know how it 
> is in europe):
> - Never ever use "semantic web" in your introduction. It is a red flag and people will not take you seriously. (sad but true... 
> I've had people laugh in my face)
> - explain what is the problem that "semantic web" is solving. Saying "linking data" doesn't mean anything. What does "adding 
> semantics" mean? I usually say" try to FIND for football players who went to UT Austin and have played for the Dallas Cowboys as 
> cornerbacks". People will realize that they can't use google to do this. Then if I have a laptop, I'll show them faceted browsing 
> on top of DBpedia and how I can get that answer. Now people are paying attention. It wasn't possible to do this in 2006 :)
> - I've got the semantic web pitch down in two areas
>    1) Using "semantic tags" you can become more visible on google, yahoo.. SEO and stuff ---> use RDFa
>    2) If you have several databases and would like to make queries on them at the same time  ---> using RDB2RDF for data integration
> Remember that investors hear pitches all the time. You need to stand out. Be unique. and do that in less than 2 min! So be short 
> and concrete. Go straight to the point. Tell them something they didn't know. Some interesting statistic... and if it involves 
> them, even better. You want them to leave the room remembering you and in case somebody asked them the next day about their pitch, 
> they are able to summarize it in one sentence. What is that sentence? If you don't know what that sentence is.. then you don't 
> have a pitch yet.
> As timeline during the pitch, if you don't grab the attention of your audience in the first 30sec - 1min, you lost. So be able to 
> explain what the problem is, and what is your solution. Depending on the investors (west cost USA), all they care is if you can 
> get a lot of people to use your solution and don't really care if you can make money initially. The idea is always that if you 
> have millions of people using your solution, someday you will figure out how to make money (twitter). Other investors will care 
> about how you are going to make money (enterprise investors). So be explicit with you competitive advantage. What makes you 
> different and unique. Why can't other do what you are doing. It could be because you have the best team, you patented the 
> technology, or discovered a new market.
> sorry if I went too much off topic.
> Good luck! keep us posted with your venture.
> Juan Sequeda
> +1-575-SEQ-UEDA
> www.juansequeda.com <http://www.juansequeda.com>
> On Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 1:27 AM, Leo Sauermann <leo.sauermann@gnowsis.com <mailto:leo.sauermann@gnowsis.com>> wrote:
>     Dear Tim,
>     SWIG
>     My Current Task is somehow tricky:
>     I am pitching our company Gnowsis to investors. It makes an Enquire-Like
>     Semantic Desktop, a personal semantic web. It seems investors
>     only understand anything on the level of "we do twitter for dogs" or "it
>     sells crowdsourced clothes via mobile phones".
>     So Tim, as Elder of the Web, I turn to you for an expert opinion to
>     reassure we do a useful thing.
>     Here are the Statements I patch together from "weaving the web" etc.:
>     Enquire - linking everything bidirectionally is an
>     entire new way of writing.
>     I guess you also realized that the system changes the way you look at
>     things and your
>     thinking.
>     WWW - give everyone a tool (read/write) web that everyone
>     can publish information. The links are first unidirectional and untyped
>     and will be typed
>     "later", once the RDF riddle was solved in 1999.
>     SemanticDesktop/PersonalDataWikis/PersonalSemanticWeb - we finally give
>     the peoples the
>     Enquire that Tim already used in the distant and mysterious past.
>     The first distributable results are NEPOMUK-KDE, PesonalDataWikis,
>     Personal Data Lockers, and services around this idea of personal
>     semantic web services for personal information management.
>     The question:
>     Tim,
>     Is this THE idea?
>     Do you agree this is a sensible thing to do?
>     If yes, then my argumentation to investors and to myself is:
>     "TimBl basically inventend blogging, wikipedia, and twitter with the
>     idea of a read/write WWW, which it originally always included. You can
>     trust that guy to be clever. You can also be assured this was around
>     before, some ideas for millenia, some since Memex.
>     Now Gnowsis works to realize the proto-idea - Enquire. There must be
>     something going on here. Dear Investors, look at it, spend some time
>     understanding what happens here with technology and then invest."
>     Sometimes I feel like Frodo and together with Bernhard "Sam" Schandl we
>     go alone to Mount Doom ("Microsoft Outlook") to finally throw the Ring
>     of RDF into its center, to crack it open to the web. Then I see you guys
>     over at the Minas Tirith of LinkedOpenData and data.gov <http://data.gov> and the battles
>     Martin Hepp fights with GoodRelations and ... there is hope :-)
>     ok, looking for interesting answers
>     best
>     Leo Sauermann, Dr.
>     CEO and Founder
>     mail: leo.sauermann@gnowsis.com <mailto:leo.sauermann@gnowsis.com>
>     mobile: +43 6991 gnowsis
>     http://www.gnowsis.com
>     helping people remember,
>     so join our newsletter
>     http://www.gnowsis.com/about/content/newsletter
>     ____________________________________________________

Stephen D. Williams sdw@lig.net stephendwilliams@gmail.com LinkedIn: http://sdw.st/in V:650-450-UNIX (8649) V:866.SDW.UNIX 
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Received on Thursday, 18 November 2010 23:09:20 UTC

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