Tom Lee's Blog

Tom Lee's Blog

Tom Lee's Blog

A personal blog by Tom Lee

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Square please meet Xero

April 13, 2012 1 Comment

Xero is beautiful accounting software. Square is the best way for small businesses to accept payments and run their point of sale. Together these two companies could do great things and revolutionize the way small businesses handle money. 

Coming from Europe I was amazed how far American banks were behind the rest of the world, but Xero can help drag them into the 21st Century. They key advantage of Xero is the ability to see your cash flow in real time and link to live bank feeds. Compare Xero to the standard accounting tools that exist today and quite quickly Xero’s features stand out.

Square is another platform that stands head and shoulders above its competition. It ease of use, elegance and functionality make it a hit with users from the first time they try it. Although I am not a small business owner I can see how useful their customized POS would be and that having access to analytics could really help grow your company. 

Now imagine these two companies having an integrated solution. The speed, ease of use, and analytical potential would be huge. Your back end bank feeds and your cash flow coming directly together in real time. Small business do not want to waste time on their accounts or loose money from not taking cards and together these two companies could really make a difference. The analytics that could be built out of having this partnership could also be very insightful for small companies. Right now most cash only companies have no idea what their best selling product is, which member of staff makes the most money for them, or when they are busiest. Having access to this data enables companies to grow and learn.


Replacing Email

April 8, 2012

Email as a form of communication is broken. As company email volume explodes, more businesses are struggling to cope. Corporate email storage is growing 20% to 25% a year thanks in part to heavier file sharing, according to data consultancy Osterman Research. The data dump sucks $997 billion in productivity out of U.S. workers annually, according to research firm Basex. “Email is an inherently poor tool for accessing information,” says Forrester Research. An estimated 30% of email is “occupational spam” caused by overuse of CC, BCC and REPLY ALL and now 1 in 4 emails sent by companies sending large volumes of mail goes directly into SPAM folders. The problem is that email is still the default means for business communication and the tool that seems to underpin every login and service consumers use on the internet.

Replacing email with a better form of communication is a HUGE opportunity, but also a daunting one. I believe a new communication protocol for the internet needs to be established and that it should center around identity. We use email as a way to identify ourselves to one another and as the primary tool for logins and therefore the basis for creating a new platform for communication should start at identity.

Our DNA is uniquely shaped and coded. Cells within our bodies hold certain shapes. Enzymes are shaped in ways as only to interact with certain molecules. The human body is able to perform many different tasks without us having to do anything because of all of this. What if we were to create unique online identity codes for each user that could be visualized as a shape. To that shape one could bond different shapes like the company that you worked at, your college, and maybe your location. Your shape and the added shapes of your choosing would then allow certain types of communication depending on the shape of those wishing to communicate with you. For example, someone who worked at the same company as you and in your team could view your diary, task list, add appointments, add tasks and ask you questions, but someone you had never met before could only ask you if you wanted to communicate with them.

I would like to do away with the inbox entirely. I would prefer a system that allowed you to ask questions, add tasks, view tasks, view diaries or send limited messages. Marketing emails would appear in a twitter like stream in a separate window. Everyone would only have one identity on this communication platform and it would be publicly listed. Users would have control of how easy or hard they were to contact by certain groups, but default settings would allow individuals outside of your network to appear in a twitter like news stream.

This is quite an early idea and something I have started thinking about recently, but is currently way outside my limited technical skills to build. I am sure someone must be trying to replace email and not just make it easier to work with. It seems that almost every aspect of email has major flaws and countless systems are developed in order to try and cope with its problems. Anyway, something for me to think about…

No Plan Survives First Contact with the Enemy

November 18, 2011

As anyone involved in startups will tell you ideas are cheap, its execution that matters and leadership is the dynamic that galvanizes groups of people around an idea, mission or direction in order to execute. Coming from a military background where I received a lot of leadership training and experience leading different teams in sometimes very difficult circumstances I decided I would try and start writing about military leadership theories, my experience and how it is applicable in the startup world. I am also decided to blur the line between leadership and management as I think to achieve the best results you have to master both. For my first post I wanted to talk about the manoeuvrist approach and the flexibility that it installs in you.

The manoeuvrist approach is defined as an approach to operations in which shattering the enemy’s overall cohesion and will to fight is paramount. It calls for an attitude of mind in which doing the unexpected, using initiative and seeking originality is combined with a ruthless determination to succeed. The principles and thought process that underpin the manoeuvrist approach apply to everything that a leader does. This is because the successful application of the manoeuvrist approach inspires a particular attitude of mind and a method of analysis that is relevant to any circumstances involving the use of military force to resolve conflict. Sounds pretty scary, but the definition itself does not really tell us anything that unexpected. My experience of the manoeuvrist approach is that it is a lot like agile software development, but applied in dynamic four dimensional environments.

After 10 years of having the manoeuvrist approach drilled in to me I find myself applying it to almost everything I do including my startup. One of the key lessons I learned that you must devolve power and decision down to the lowest possible level and not tell people how to do things but what you want to achieve and then allow them to develop their own plan. Not only does this empower people it allows for greater flexibility and agility. I floated this principal to a friend of mind who is a CTO at a social games company. He immediately blew this out of the water saying that if he allowed junior engineers that much freedom to choose how to build something it would go terribly wrong. He knew what worked and what he needed and so he would just tell them exactly what to do. I don’t disagree with his approach, but I think he misunderstood how I would of applied the manoeuvrist approach in his situation. Of course you have to include clear instructions, but the more freedom you are able to offer the more likely those that you  have empowered will be able to achieve your intent.

All plans should just form the basis for change as my first boss would say almost every meeting, “No plans survives first contact with the enemy.” That does not mean we should not plan, but having a clearly communicated intent and main effort, be willing to pivot when what you are trying is not working. Personally I hate the term ‘pivot’ and think it’s over used and misunderstood, but thats for another post.


November 11, 2011

‎”It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” (Theodore Roosevelt, Paris, 1910)

We will remember them

A Truffle Festival in Italy

September 30, 2011 1 Comment

This year I will be missing the truffle festival, but who knows I might be back in 2012. If you want to experience Italian wine, food and culture without any tourists this is a must.

The Festival of the White Truffle

The Weather

September 28, 2011

One of the big differences from living in England to living in California is the weather. Most days it is clear blue skies and sunny. Not too hot and not too cold and sometimes a very gentle breeze. We are just about to get into October, but it was in the 90’s today(above 30 degrees centigrade). Looks like it might be starting to cool down now though.

Starting to cool down

New Logo

September 19, 2011 2 Comments

OBeeDee has a new logo and website coming soon. Although this is for enterprise, design will still be very important.

The New Logo for OBeeDee


The Leap of Faith

September 18, 2011 1 Comment

I remember my Dad telling me that before every company he built became successful it almost hit rock bottom. Well I have taken the leap of faith and I can see the ground starting to come towards me, just hoping I can build up enough speed to generate the lift to keep me going. 

The Leads are Weak

August 15, 2011

Big Data

August 12, 2011

Found this on and had to share