What have I been up to?

And I am back.  My plan is to blog a couple of times a week, and if you have any topics you think I should comment on - please leave me a message here, or email me mclarkr@gmail.com or message me on twitter - @maximonos.

It seems appropriate to reflect on the last six months.  We cranked it for the last few months of last year.  Minimonos (minimonos.com - our Virtual World for Good Green Kids) raised some more capital, and we blew through 60,000 registered users. 

We started advertising on Google and miniclip.com and had our biggest ever month for registered users.  In last December (2009) 77 new members registered - this December (2010) we had nearer 11,000.  

I have been actively raising capital - pitching to Angel Clubs, and talking with US-based VC firms. We closed a round the week before Christmas and thanks to this capital raising, we can live for another six months.  In that time, we are going to see if we can go from a fairly linear growth curve to an exponential/log shaped curve.  I'll keep you posted on how this goes.

We have also been considering coming out of beta, and into full release - hopefully on 1 April.  If our current plans come off we should pass through 100,000 registered users about then too!  We continue to release several times a month - into a live environment.  Extremely agile doesn't even seem to begin to describe it!

I spent a lot of time over the last six months in the US.  I got accepted into a prestigious Silicon Valley mentoring programme for women Tech Entrepreneurs (Astia.com) and attended their boot camp for women who have the potential to raise investor money.  Amazingly, less than 1 per cent of Silicon Valley investment money goes to women-founded technology companies.  Less than 3 per cent of the money goes to companies with women as CEO.  This is as much about the women and the companies they found as it is about the biases of investors.  I was really lucky to have been part of the programme, and will blog about what I have learnt.  Anyone interested in applying for future progammes should look at the Astia website.

With the last capital raising we extended the ESOP (Employee Share Scheme) to cover more staff.  This has really highlighted for me how unfriendly New Zealand is to staff ownership of the companies they work in!  The tax implications make it really prohibitive for many small companies to take part in.  We are dedicated to sharing the ownership with the people who are working to create the vision and reality of MiniMonos.  

We have some interns working with us for the summer.  This has been great.  Last year we got actively involved with Victoria University and its Games Design course.  This has been great for us as it gave us exposure to the cream of their students.  We love having them around - especially now that we have opened our office in Courtney Place in Wellington.  

Our Christchurch based marketing and moderation/customer service teams have had a rough time - relocating for a month after the September earthquakes, they have now had to evacuate the office completely after the Boxing Day earthquakes finished the building off.

We established a US subsidiary and have negotiated the confusion of hiring local staff (in California, Texas and New York).  We have had to open US bank accounts, register for tax there and figure out the antiquated commercial systems.  New Zealand really is a much easier place to register a business, pay tax, open a bank account and hire staff.

Happy New Year!