Category Archives: Customer Experience

Why I started a part time professional job site

Henry Ford is attributed to introducing the 40 hour work week in the 1920s, not so much for the health of his employees, but so employees would have enough free time to go out and realize they needed to buy stuff.

So much has changed since the 1920s, it’s always seemed a bit ridiculous to me that we largely stick to the 9-5 mantra. As a designer, I often find that 4 of the 8 hours at work are spent looking blankly at a screen, and 90% of my work is done while sleeping, on a run, or talking to someone. Work simply doesn’t fit into the required hours and as a country trying to push a knowledge economy, it’s time to re-think the 40 hour work week.

That’s not why I started Limber though.

Many years ago, I started my entrepreneurial career. It failed so badly I wince at the term entrepreneur when it is applied to me. I find it embarrassing because the very idea of starting a business since then has felt exhausting and I know what a big fat failure I am. As a result Ive played a minor role in some awesome ventures (like MyTours), but largely left them in the very capable hands of others.

At the beginning of this year, I started thinking that life has become very easy. I remember the days when I used to look blankly at people complaining about how stressed out they were while vaguely wondering if just never getting out of bed again was a viable option. Its been so long since then, I found myself complaining more and more about the hardships of getting up for a run, how annoying a family member is or how stressed out I was doing a job that is really just not that stressful.

It felt like time to do something different. I looked to blogging for inspiration, and got fairly stuck in for a time. I talked to heaps of people about heaps of ideas and realised that for the first time in almost a decade the idea of starting a company was not only not terrifying, it was exciting. In the past decade Ive learned so much and when I sat down and had an honest think about where Im at, I realised that Im no long a worn out 23 year old, completely overwhelmed by the scale of the mess Id created for myself. Im older, Im wiser and actually quite tough. It was time to start something again.

But that’s not completely why I started Limber.

It was during a conversation with a bright, intelligent and driven woman who was wondering how on earth she wont be left behind if she has children, that it came to me. She was me. There’s a million of us around who for various reasons want to have children, work in interesting jobs and still have time to breathe. We dont want to take 5-10 years out then arrive back in the workforce several steps down a ladder we spent ages climbing.

I looked around more and more and more and more people came out of the woodwork. People like my dad, who finished his career about as far up as you can get. His experience and skills are so valuable to growing businesses, yet his interest in the golf course and their pre-conceived ideas about hiring people at that level (i.e only on a full-time basis) meant he just stopped working.

It had never fully occurred to me before the huge mine of expertise we lose through those two groups alone by sticking to this model of ‘important’ work having to fit into a 40 hour model created before most people alive today were even born.

Thank goodness Toni Barrett agreed and together with Jim Donovan we pulled the business together over two meetings.

We’re 3 weeks after a soft launch, we’ve listed over 130 professional part time and flexible jobs and were growing remarkably quickly. We’re offering free job listings while we build more momentum and we need more candidates to sign up.

This is one of those simple ideas that everyone seems to have had, and I really think its time has come.

I’d love to hear you thoughts!

We launch LittleBlackFrock!

(Slightly delayed announcement)

LittleBlackFrock has been the cause of many a late day to work in the past few weeks… It’s the answer to many issues I (and others??) have to buying clothes. Girls love fashion, some girls are extremely good to putting together outfits that rock, and that Id never have thought of on my own. Other girls like looking good, but struggle to find clothes that work with their body, colours or just get generically stuck trying to find an outfit for an upcoming event.

We’re trying to fix that by changing online shopping from browsing screeds of products to adding a little bit of smarts. On LittleblackFrock, you shop by browsing LookBooks created by everyone from proper stylists, to fashion bloggers to your friends. And the best thing is you can click through and buy all or each item separately. Its a really cool (and addictive) way to find the latest clothes, looks and get inspiration… And Ive found that when Im super exciting about an upcoming event (races, Toast, birthday parties), Im all over the site making LookBooks of what Im going to wear.

Give it a whirl, send us your feedback, tell us what you love and what you hate, why you always go back, or why you went once and then never bothered again. We want to hear it. We’ve got stacks of options of where the site may go, and Id love to hear what you think :)

The Sevens: Not such a bad thing after all.

I’m a huge Sevens fan. I look forward to it every year. (For those not in NZ, the NZ Sevens is a rugby tournament, that has turned into a massive, 2 day costume party. The general consensus is that girls go wearing as little as possible, and boys go as girls.)

And every year, before the Sevens, I always read weird rants about how atrocious it is that men take advantage of the situation to grope girls and engage in very sexist, and probably dangerous behaviors.

And every year, after the Sevens, the whole media is full of stories of the debauchery, binge drinking, fighting and arrests.

You’d be forgiven, as someone who doesn’t go, for thinking that 40 odd thousand people are engaged in two days of complete trashing of the city.

But it’s not true.

The stats speak for themselves. I think there were 50ish arrests over 48 hours of solid partying, that literally takes over the city. Even the police themselves seem to make real efforts to say that this is a super well behaved event. In any massive party, if you REALLY try, you can find incidents of violence and crime.

My experience is completely different from the media’s view, and the view of those who hide at home, freaking out at social destruction. The Sevens is not only not a bad thing, it’s actually one of the very, very few times in life, that you go to something that breaks down ALL social barriers, and by these, I mean age, race, gender, disability and even smaller things like social circles.

When you walk along the waterfront at the Sevens, you see young kids, dressed as their favorite super heroes, with ear-to-ear grins as they talk to adult sized versions of themselves. You see total strangers of all ages and stereotypes hugging, posing for photos and LAUGHING. It doesn’t matter if you are one or one hundred, if you get into the mood, you fit in. 70 year olds dressed at slutty doctors and nurses party alongside 20 year olds dressed as fluffy Dinosaurs.

One of my favorite things this year was seeing all the wheelchairs pushed around the stadium concourse, by friends, while the crowds parted, and high fived those who we all knew had to make an extra effort to get there. Unlike virtually any other event Ive been to with crowds, at the Sevens, people don’t care if they have to wait 5 minutes in a queue, or 30. The police not only have a huge presence, they bring a huge sense of humour. Our friend was dancing alone on a raised up catwalk, before the police stormed the stage to… break it down with him. The photos are hilarious and the message is clear: Every one is too busy having fun to bother fighting or looting or whatever it is that we apparently get up to. I have actually never seen any agression in all my years of going.

My standout moment was walking up an aise to see a small group of people having an absolute blast. Dressed head to toe in Disney costumes, they seemed to be attracting more than their fair share of admirers. On closer examination, they all had Downs Syndrome. Im not sure about you, but in normal life, I virtually never see a group with such obvious differences rocking out with complete strangers. And because it’s the Sevens, there WERE no differences.

Im hardly going to paint the weekend as ‘good clean fun’ because there are plenty of opportunities to stray well away from that. But I’m just not convinced it’s such a bad thing. Yes we probably all drunk too much, some people got themselves in trouble (but far less than your usual Friday night in town, Im sure), and it would be far more sensible if we swapped the whole thing for a good cuppa tea and some Coronation Street… But sometimes the benefits of going a little crazy, far outweigh the downsides.

Power Kiwi takes on the Fast 50!

A year on from Powershop taking out the award for being New Zealand’s fastest growing company in the Deloitte Fast50 awards (winning with with a record growth percentage of 5280.41%!!), PowerKiwi is following on their coattails!

Powerkiwi is an entrant this year and are looking forward to the results, which are announced tonight. We want everyone to share in the celebrations, so we’ve doubled our usual $50 signup gift… Make yourself a fast $100 just by switching to Powershop today!.

Powerkiwi sells FlowerPower, Green Power and Tree Power on Powershop. We’ve had an incredible growth rate over the last few years, and just hit over 220 million units of electricity sold to date through Powershop. FlowerPower is our main product, if you purchase FlowerPower, you help us give back to some cool organisations. So far, we’ve supported everything from the Canterbury Earthquake fund, to the Wellington Hospitals & Health Foundation and the Million Dollar Mouse campaign. We also sell carbon neutralised Green Power, as well as Tree Power, which supports global rural communities to plant trees.

So far this year we’ve already reached over 80 million units, and we’ve already beaten last year’s top line revenue. That’s not quite at the growth rate required to be on the stage for next year’s Fast50, but when the numbers get bigger, maintaining the growth rate in percentage terms is much harder. We are grateful to our thousands of customers, and aim to keep bringing little smiles into their lives.

Read the full story from Lance here :)

Million dollar mouse: Flower Power donates $1,000

Thanks to all our Flower Power customers. On your behalf, we just donated $1,000 to eradicate mice off the Antipodes Islands, which matched dollar for dollar by Gareth and Jo Morgan, means thats $2k towards the million dollar target.

We think its a pretty awesome cause, and love the fact that instead of thinking the problem with our environment is too big, Million Dollar Mouse, plucks off a small part of the problem, that we can actually fix.

So good on you all, Keep buying Flower Power through Powershop, and we’ll keep you posted on all the good your money is doing :)

Some other great causes Flower Power customers have donated to:
$5050 for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal
$1,000 to the Wellington Hospitals and Health Foundation

And don’t forget, you can get $50 free power, just by signing up :)

Webstock. Go next year.

Disclaimer: It occurred to me as I was wondering if I needed to pack my own lunch, that I had never, until late last week, been to an actual real life conference. This means I have nothing to compare Webstock to, though anecdotal evidence suggests that most conferences struggle to contain their participants whereas Webstock cant seem to get rid of them :)

I have always hesitated to go to Webstock. Years in the Wellington tech community has led me to believe I already am aware of the movers and shakers and already interact with the people I really respect. I sort of thought another back patting love fest might be a little too incestuous for me (arrogant, I know, but Ive been to a fair few… Probably the downside of living in a small city)

The cost was also prohibitive. I have customers all over the world, the $1k surely would be better spent heading their way and drumming up more? Or if I need a mental break, that would go a longway towards martinis on a tropical beach somewhere.

So, you could say, I was a hard sell.

But given my recent state of mind, I figured I should stop treating Webstock like an either/or and just go.

And it was nothing like what I expected. I probably should have realised that after there was some ’email issue’ that resulted in the whole community not only getting a bunch of internal information, but in the entire community blacking out any mention of what it might be. About the most unusual sight on the internet.

Im not really sure how to explain the sense of joy and motivation that settled over me as one of my idols Kathy Sierra took to the stage. From there, the mass of 850 people and 900 Apple gadgets were taken from refugee camps in South Africa, to the store room at Zappos. We faced our own mortality, and questioned everything from the big decisions around how to live a meaningful life to how to prioritise an inbox. We were amazed at the map of tweets following the earthquake in Japan, and shocked at the reality of how much of our information could be lost forever if the website we entrust with it, folds.

The funny thing is, as much as I’m sure Ive convinced at least half a dozen people to go next year, Im unconvinced Webstock actually NEEDS anyone else – the conference sounds like it’s sold out year after year.

But if you do get in early enough, it’s well worth going to – even if you have to fly across the world to get here. From what I hear, some of the speakers even want to come back, just to participate.

Delivering Exceptional Service

Thanks @milesfinlay for pointing out this brilliant article on customer service.

I completely agree. People enjoy working with other people. Regardless of whether they are the cleaner or the CEO, there is no joy in working with people in an isolated business situation. It’s probably why people generally form groups of friends at work.

I think it boils down to whether or not you value the time you spend at work enough to form real relationships with the people you work with. I wonder if that’s the only downside to this article, because you can’t teach the ability to genuinely care about the people they work with, and you can’t fake that type of great customer service.

iPoint2: Stay pointing in the right direction!

Disclaimer: I did design this app, so am very biased :)

However, it IS cool.

iPoint2 is super simple, all it does is allow you to plot locations, and then, wherever you are, it will point to any of your saved locations and tell you the direction and distance you need to go to get there. We kept the interface suitably simple so it doesn’t get in the way of quickly adding points or viewing one. The only extra cool thing we added, was the ability for you to take a picture or upload one of each place, which the compass overlays. This personalises each of your places and can provide a visual reference for those of us who like that sort of thing :)

BUT what’s cool is how you can use it.

One of the initial thoughts is for all those praying to Mecca – it’s a very simple way of always knowing which direction to face. Or your favorite fishing spot, where your car is parked, where your best friend lives on the other side of the world…

What’s even cooler, is that as people have started to use it, they have come up with their own benefits. As this AppShopper review writes:

“Say you’re vacationing in an exotic location and want to head back to your hotel but also meander around a little on the way to see the sights. Or you’re exploring a large park and want to keep track of where you are in relation to the park’s entrance. iPoint2 is perfect for these types of situations and many others.”

I love it and highly recommend spending $1.99 and getting yourself pointing in the right direction.

For anyone who’s interested in their own mobile app, iPoint2 was developed by the geniuses at Able Technology

For everyone who has ever felt ugly or inferior or had impossible deams for their looks

Fotoshop by Adobé from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

Again, from Amy…

After the recent unveiling of the scam that is glossy magazine pictures, the air brushing, the before and after shots that completely transform the subject… ‘Fotoshop by Adobe’ is a breath of fresh air.

This video rips into everything that we clearly believe about beauty products and celebrity photo shoots… While also making you laugh at yourself for buying into it all. When you switch a real product with Fotoshop, the whole idea of these ads suddenly just seems really lame.

Check out the video and the behind the scenes action here.

$1000 charity giveaway

A few years ago, when we set up Flower Power on Powershop, one of the big drivers was being part of a big change in an industry that seems to quiver in fear at the thought of progress.

Powershop is a huge success story, with around 40,000 customers by the end of August this year, New Zealanders are really embracing the power that they have to control their energy bills, and enjoying significant savings as a result.

We set up Flower Power to jump on that revolutionary bandwagon. Flower Power has always been about the power of the masses (as an aside, it’s very hard to write a post about ‘Power’ as in electricity, and ‘Power’ as in control without getting the words all confused). As part of that, we have always wanted to get a picture of what our customers/supporters believe in, and do some cool stuff on their behalf, that none of us could do on our own.

The big, obvious one, is supporting people and organisations within our communities in a way that can go beyond the $20 donation that most of us can afford. At the beginning of this year, we wanted to get started, and then the second earthquake in Christchurch hit and there was absolutely no doubt that in New Zealand, the one and only option we had was to give a lump sum, on behalf of all of us to those who were suffering. So every single one of you who has bought Flower Power, contributed to the $5050 donation we made to the Christchurch Earthquake appeal.

Time has moved on, and christmas is fast approaching. We thought it was high time we resurrected our Facebook page and get it to start doing what it was meant to be doing all along – being the place where we could all get together and do some cool things. So this time, we’re leaving the choice to you: who do you think deserves a $1,000 boost this christmas? All you need to do is nominate them and encourage others to agree with you.

Whatever group gets the most votes after nominations close on December 5, will get a $1,000 cash to cover some of the extra costs christmas brings.

So get nominating: On facebook or go to our website and click that nifty banner at the bottom of the page to enter your favorite.

And if you have any ideas about what we could do in the future, we’re always open to them… And thanks for believing in power to the people!