iPhone over the air sync with Google Calendar

We’ve been desperate for a centralised calendar solution that can sync with all our desktop PCs and iPhones for a while now, and yesterday one of our developers, Matt, found a solution for us.

It combines the following technologies:

Essentially Google Calendar is used to provide a central calendar, this is then synced to the iPhones via Nuevasync, which provides a free exchange interface. The calaboration tool makes it easy to sync your iCal with the Google Calendar, and then MobileMe is needed if you want to have a private calendar on your iPhone as well.

Matt has written some in-depth instructions on how to set up over the air calendar syncing on your iPhone, over on his blog.

Business Angel Investments

Part of our strategy at Fubra is to invest a portion of our cash in business start-ups. In this post, I’m going to give you a few inside “secrets” as to our thinking when companies approach us for funding. If, after reading this, you think we sound like a good match then you should get in touch.

What we look for in an investment opportunity…

  • An amazing unique product.
  • Backed by a team of competent, motivated and hard working people who can deliver.
  • The ability to build your product yourself. For web sites, this means you need a developer in your team as an equity partner. We’re not interested in ideas that someone else has to build, as costs will quickly escalate and we may as well do it ourselves.

What we can provide…

  • Cash.
  • Marketing assistance – We have a network of well over 100 websites, 6 million visitors per month and 3 million subscribers – so plenty of scope for cross promotion. We can advise on all aspects of online marketing e.g. PPC and SEO.
  • PR assistance – We have an in-house PR team and press contacts database. Our sites regularly feature in the mainstream press; printed, radio and TV.
  • Development assistance. We have Linux, PHP, MySQL and JavaScript gurus who can assist with complicated bits of coding.
  • Data mining – We have web spider experts who can help analyse and extract data from around the web.
  • Hosting – We have racks in several data centres, including our own 14 rack private DC at our head office in Aldershot. We have also developed a hosting cloud infrastructure to help scale web applications to meet demand and this would be available to you.
  • First line customer support – When your product takes off, we can integrate it into our support system and provide first line customer service.
  • Office space – We have a 4000 sq ft office in Aldershot, which has a few rooms to spare.
  • Mentoring and advice – Fubra has been around since 2000 so we know a thing or two about building web businesses. We would make this knowledge available to you as needed.

What we ask for, from an investment…

  • A Realistic Valuation – You shouldn’t be looking to get rich from the investment round itself. The cash is there to help the business succeed, and that’s the point where you will be financially rewarded. How is your business worth half a million pounds with no sales or customers?
  • Thrift! – You should keep your overheads as low as possible for as long as possible. Do you really need to hire a PR agency? If you’re product is that good it should sell itself. Can you justify paying yourself a “market” salary? If you are paid a full market salary, what risk are you taking to justify your equity stake?
  • Hard work and delivering on promises.

It could be argued that now is a better time than ever to start up a business. While established firms are more focused on cutting costs than delivering new products, start ups can seize the opportunities they miss.

Cash is king (and always was in my opinion!)

There is an interesting article in this week’s Economist, All you need is cash, which talks about the new rush by businesses to accumulate cash in contrast to the massive leveraging that has taken place over the past few years. Of course, not all companies took on huge loans to expand, and the ones who hoarded cash are now in a much stronger position relative to their debt-laden counterparts. Just to look to Japan where their cash rich companies are on target to make a record year in acquisitions. So far they have spent $78 billion on foreign takeovers, as they snap up other firms at knock down prices.

It has always been my view that companies should aim to keep a reasonably large cash buffer. It means that other people will want to deal with you as you have a strong credit rating and you can pay your bills on time, that there’s money in the pot for a rainy day, but most of all, it means that you can be ready to invest in value opportunities when they occur, without piling debt on to your balance sheet and being at the mercy of the credit markets. As Warren Buffet says, be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful.

At my company, Fubra, we prefer to leverage our knowledge and intangible assets rather than our balance sheet by seeking investments where we can add a lot of value for both parties at little marginal cost to our existing commitments. We look for companies who are a good fit to our current operations, and who have realistic valuation expectations, but if they meet those criteria we can act fast. This is the advantage of having strong working capital.

Of course, having cash has some downfalls. While Barclays are happy to pay Abu Dhabi and Qatar 14% interest on their cash, they only pay their sterling business savers 2.5%! All the more reason why you need to be ready to spend it when the right opportunities arise.