Andrew Veitch – Move Fresh

Author: Andrew Veitch (page 1 of 3)

Bella and Duke in The Sunday Times

https://mike-wilkinson.photoshelter.com/index

There’s a nice article about our investment in today’s Sunday Times.

A Scottish dog food brand has collared £300,000 of seed investment to fuel growth.

The company was founded by neighbours Mark Scott and Tony Ottley after their dogs — Morph, a collie, and Barney, a golden retriever — died from cancer. “We realised highly processed dog food could have been the cause,” Scott said.

Bella & Duke, an internet- based subscription service, is on course for sales of more than £3m in its first full year, Scott said. It employs 10 people at its base in Blairgowrie, Perthshire.

The full article is here:

The Sunday Times | Dog food maker Bella & Duke wins investment

Dewar’s whisky: Victorian punks

I started my marketing career with Dewar’s whisky. Dewar’s is fairly unknown in its Scottish home but is the number one selling whisky blend in the USA.

The brand started in 1846 and within 50 years was the market leader, largely down to Tommy Dewar who was an incredibly colourful character, to put it mildly. This blog is not a suitable place to record all of his personal indiscretions.

He constantly caused outrage in the business world, was involved in regular publicity stunts (such as sending a case of Dewar’s to the President of the United States during prohibition) and adopted new technology including the first ever cinema advert for any product.

Over a century later Martin Dickie and James Watt at BrewDog have a very similar style with #DontMakeUsDoThis and their punk beer.

Of course nowadays Dewar’s advertising is very far from punk. As it should be, a nearly 200 year old business which is the biggest blended whisky brand in the biggest market in the world should not be behaving like BrewDog.

But for those of us starting out, it’s good to remember that today’s corporate brands with their multimillion dollar campaigns and everything focus grouped to death, began in a very different way.

How we did FoodTech for just £3 million

Up until quite recently food has been a technology backwater. Now we are awash with FoodTech companies but at Move Fresh we have been a technology company long before that portmanteau was coined.

We have spent about £3 million developing our software systems. I am very pleased about how cheaply we’ve managed to do it. Many of our competitors have spent an order of magnitude more to get similar systems. Some of our ideas have been quite obvious, other less so. Here’s the top six:

First, to cover offer the most obvious is that we used Amazon Web Services. There’s two big ways that this saves money:

Secondly, we reckon to save a seven figure sum through source link S.R.L. - Via Grota Del Diau Zot 1 - 34074 Monfalcone (GO)45.7899713.56284: visualizza indirizzo, numero di telefono, CAP, mappa, indicazioni developing in-house rather than using consultants. Our view is that software development is absolutely core to an e-commerce company so it’s something we would want to do ourselves.

The third saving is also fairly obvious which is just to have a very documental opciones binarias efficient development process. We use a Kaizen process and have automated deployments and a high level of automated testing. There’s more to it than that, but basically we made a big up front investment which is now resulting in massively increased productivity.

We love go hosted services which has been our fourth saving. We replaced all of our development servers with a GitHub subscription. Address entry is through PCA Predict. Many thousands of items a day are printed through PrintNode which costs us just $99 a month! We save a six figure sum every year through using the free token system from Braintree Payments and we also save on PCI compliance too. We also use many other hosted services for development and management of our marketing.

We are now getting onto less obvious stuff. Saving five is to http://www.backclinicinc.com/?jixer=trading-binary-options-for-dummies&910=48 avoid enterprise software. We have migrated from extremely expensive enterprise software onto either open source or simple hosted services. For example, on our ERP system we have saved around 92% by moving to Odoo. We also saved over 90% on our move from an enterprise email service provider to MailChimp. We saved 98% by moving from corporate DNS to Amazon. In all three cases, these are direct savings but we made more savings through the improved functionality by dumping the enterprise software. There’s been a further saving through not having to constantly have lunch with account managers.

Saving six is that we constantly http://unikeld.nu/?ioweo=segnali-di-trading-gratis&144=9c market test our technology. We do this in two ways:

  • We regularly test outsourcing to compare with delivering in-house; a recent example was the Bean to Door website where our internal team absolutely smashed Shopify.
  • We also sell our services to external companies and indeed for 2018 Q1 about a quarter of the transactions on our platform have been for third parties. Selling your service to other companies is proof that you really are market leading.

Our development team is very clearly a technology company that happens to embedded in a food business. Indeed, we employ more software engineers than some software startups.

So that’s a very brief overview of how we developed a £20 million plus system for just £3 million.

If you’d like to catch up with us the Move Fresh technology team we will be attending DjangoCon Europe 2018 in Heidelberg, Germany, May 23-25 and EuroPython 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland, July 23-29.

Book Review: The Black Swan

I finally got round to reading The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This is continuing my habit of reading business books about a decade after everyone else.

A “Black Swan” is a highly improbable event that happens much more often than would be expected.

The first thing that struck me is that Taleb and I seem to have read almost exactly the same books over the last couple of decades. I felt that I was experiencing a Black Swan event myself as I turned page after page and came across book after book that had also influenced me.

There’s certainly plenty of things that I would agree with Taleb about. Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m not a fan of using statistical models to drive investing. To paraphrase Joseph Goebbels, “When I hear R-squared I reach for my revolver”. However it’s quite a leap to decide to ignore statistics completely.

I think Taleb goes way off base when he begins to suggest practical advice based on his philosophy. For example: his suggestion to hold bonds over equities. There is enormous historic evidence that equities outperform bonds. It’s also entirely false to view bonds as low risk: virtually all bonds are exposed to the risk of inflation and most bonds are exposed to default. Other than people who are about to experience a short term need for liquidity, bonds are highly unlikely to be a good investment*. It’s a classic case of heads I win (growth goes to equity holders and bonds may be called if they end up delivering good value) and tails you lose (business failure will result in wipeout of bondholders) proposition.

Equally, his suggestion to focus on good Black Swans (i.e. very high growth businesses) is a very poor recommendation for the average investor. It is true that Diet Chef returned 89,999,900% over three years but it’s hardly good advice to suggest most investors should look for these opportunities. It’s not reasonable to expect most investors to identify these start ups in advance. It is however a very high risk area that is likely to result in destruction of hard earned savings.

A much better way to look at investing is that it is multi modal. You need to understand the industry, accountancy, classical economics, behavioural economics, marketing, psychology, statistics, software and other areas too.

It’s massively flawed to adopt a single criteria and Taleb does an excellent job of demolishing the case for an entirely statistical based approach. But he goes too far by suggesting statistics are completely without value.

As is so often the case, truth lies in a middle ground. Statistics are very important but can’t be relied on exclusively.

I think a big problem business books have is that it’s very hard to write a book saying that investing is a huge grey area that is best tackled using dozens of techniques but not relying on anything exclusively and accepting that you will make mistakes. People want a simple certainty in their business books.

Classical statistics are a bit like my sat nav. It’s not 100% accurate so I wouldn’t want to rely on it completely but neither would I completely ignore it.

The Black Swan would have been a better book if Taleb had done his takedown of statistical models but then said that they are a useful datapoint but should not be relied on exclusively, rather than saying that they are completely useless.

* The £1.5 million issue of Move Fresh bonds are obviously the exception that proves the rule with their exceptional 7% yield. I bought some myself.

Just Behave: How to make money by doing the right thing

There’s an enormous amount of research on behaviour that results in better investment performance and, indeed, Robert Thaler won the Nobel Prize for Economics 2017 for his insights and other behavioural economists such as Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky have produced valuable research.

Here are some thoughts for how an imaginary online stock broking firm could work if it was trying to use behavioural economics to improve the performance of investors using the platform:

enter site 1. Ensuring adequate research

The most basic rule of investing is to ensure that before buying a share the investor has properly researched both the company and the management team.

The investment platform should ask six questions before allowing the user to buy a stock in a new company that they have not invested in before. For each question they get wrong they should be banned from buying the stock for that many months.

http://www.tentaclefilms.com/?yutie=veztraded&b58=94 2. Preventing over trading

Most stock trading platforms charge a lower fee the more an investor trades. This rewards behaviour that is destructive to creating wealth. A much better approach is for the first trade to be free and subsequent trades to become progressively more expensive as volume increases.

In other words a behavioural platform should have the opposite charging structure of all current stockbrokers.

http://www.castleimmobiliare.it/?buisews=allenarsi-al-training-binario-in-italiano&e58=c7 3. Benchmark investors against their peers

Every investor on the platform should be notified of what performance quintile they are in compared with the other investors.

They should also be shown the behaviours of the top investors and how their behaviour differs.

wie flirten frauen mУЄnner an 4. Ensuring sensible diversification

Most platforms report on diversification in terms of category and country. This is very crude.

I’m not aware of any platform that shows portfolio diversification by date of founding of the business or by business stage (loss making, high growth or profitable, stable). Also it would be sensible to split by market capitalisation.

Incidentally, all platforms I’ve looked at show diversification by country based on the registered office of the company. It really should be on the basis of revenue split.

I also think the platform should warn against over diversification. No more than one new stock should be allowed per 6 months.

koulchimaroc homme cherche femme pour mariage halal 5. Financial metrics

It’s a very tricky thing to try to come up with a magic formula for investing. A very recent example would Carillion whose huge dividend yield resulted in private investors piling in before their bankruptcy. Institutions meanwhile are busy putting funds into “smart beta” products which sound too good to be true.

The central thing to understand is how good the company is at investing cash. Most publicly traded companies are profitable. The real winners understand how to invest their profits (or other cash flows) to make even more profit in the future. This is the reason I love companies like Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway.

Debt is also a metric that’s worth looking at properly. Debt in itself is not a bad thing but it is concerning if debt is being used to fund dividends or if equity is being replaced with debt during a period of historically low interest rates. However in a company going through growth where debt is rising to fund capital expenditure, increasing debt would be a positive.

My fantasy investment platform would try to show how effective the business was at investing and whether the debt was good or bad.

Valuation is of course the most widely viewed metric. I’m not sure I have a simple answer to this. Everyone wants to buy cheap and sell high but most investors fail to do this.

There have been brilliant investments that have always had a high valuation (such as ASOS or Netflix). However my view would be to avoid overly expensive investments, of course this will result in the investor missing some opportunities but overall it’s a better behaviour to buy at fair to low prices (so-called value investing).

6. Beta blocking

Traditional investment theory is very tied up with volatility (R-squared value in terms of a benchmark). It’s the basis of the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) which gives a view on what return is required for a given level of risk.

It is however complete bollocks for the great majority of investors (the exception being investors who are just about to need liquidity such as people just about to buy an annuity or with children about to start University).

Very few homeowners would get an independent valuation on their house done every month yet owners of stocks will obsessively check their valuations even more frequently. Indeed, we even have some stock brokers showing realtime valuations.

The ideal behavioural platform would only update stock valuations once per quarter to try to prevent this sort of behaviour.

Investors should entirely ignore short term ups and downs. The valuation that matters is in the distant future when a stock is sold. There is substantial empirical evidence that investors outperform when they check share prices less frequently.

dulcolax 2.5mg tabletten 7. Fund managers

Purchasing funds can be a good investment and there is a lot of evidence that the lower the fee the better the performance of the investment.

Most fund supermarkets promote more expensive funds. In the institutional world the equivalent would be hedge funds who have been a huge destructor of investment value.

The behavioural platform should list funds from the cheapest to the most expensive and fees should be lower for investing in cheaper funds and higher to put investors off investing in more expensive funds.

Of course the problem with these seven rules is that they would result in a transfer of wealth from the financial services industry to the investor. It’s therefore highly unlikely that anyone will create a stockbroker following this advice as the profits would all be with the clients.

What we all want

With the Harvey Weinstein allegations and recent news from Westminster sexism and discrimination is very much on the agenda.

As a child of the 1970’s I do feel very old when I look back on the media of my youth and see what was considered acceptable at that time.

Watching Benny Hill or the Carry On films today is quite hard: essentially the jokes are about sexual harassment or in some cases sexual assault on women. It’s very hard nowadays to see how that could possibly have been seen as funny.

The positive side is that it is great to see the progress we have made and how unacceptable the humour of the past is today. What would have been regarded as radical feminism is the 1970’s is today completely mainstream.

A couple of days ago my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and I said a few words about life in 1967 when they married. In the UK in 1967 it was illegal to consummate a male gay relationship and jobs were advertised with one salary for a female employee and a higher salary for a male employee doing the same job. Racial discrimination was also legal and widespread although 1967 saw the very first black policeman in the UK.

At Move Fresh we have a very diverse customer base, more female than male with many races and religions well represented. Kevin and I are both middle aged white men but we love having diverse customers and staff. We both have daughters which I think makes both of us think more about sexism.

All of us are looking for healthy, tasty food and drink delivered to our homes in a convenient way at a good price. We very much hope that everyone feels welcome at Move Fresh.

Brexit

I’ve been asked by quite a few people to write a note on Brexit. It’s a difficult issue to write about as Move Fresh takes a completely politically neutral view and Brexit is a very political subject on which people have very strong views.

As a company, Kevin and I have taken a view that we should not get involved in political issues. This because a) taking a political view annoys a large number of customers and investors and b) although we are pretty good at running a business that skill is not necessarily transferrable into political subjects. Just because someone knows how to make a lot of money does not qualify them to make pronouncements on the big issues of the day.

Which also brings me on to the subject that what is good for business is not always good for society. A classic example would be the Equal Pay Act 1970 which required companies to increase women’s pay to being the same rate as men who were doing the same job. Nobody today would argue against this. However it was bad for business at the time as it resulted in an increased cost but clearly was a great thing for society as a whole.

Taking a view on Brexit is mainly about making a prediction about the future. As Yogi Berra, the baseball star for non-Americans, said “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

It is even harder to make a prediction about the future when i) you do not know what the UK government wants and ii) you do do not know if whatever they may want is achievable.

However what we do know is that somewhere in the region of 70% of the UK economy is dependent to a lesser extent (tariffs) or a greater extent (being prevented completely from operating) on membership of the EU. If we assume for the sake of argument that Brexit will ultimately be economically a good thing we have the issue that we have to move from a situation where 70% of the UK economy depends on the EU to a situation where 0% of the UK economy depends on the EU.

So, if Brexit ultimately turns out to be a good thing then we still need to handle a migration of 70% of the economy away from depending on EU membership. It is very difficult to envisage a way this could happen without it being at least a short term negative, unless there was a very lengthy 5-10 year transition period which has been ruled out by both the EU and the UK government.

A way to think about this would be that the set of opportunities for business outside the EU may be greater than the set of opportunities for businesses inside the EU but the intersection between the two sets is small. Therefore many businesses may fail today, even if the future opportunity is better.

So in summary, Brexit looks like a short term negative with the long term being either negative or positive depending on what policy the government decides to adopt and whether or not that policy is achievable.

The only political point I will make is that for Move Fresh we would appreciate greater clarity on what the UK government’s position is so that we can plan the future.

Digital first?

There are an enormous number of marketing job adverts that say the prospective employee should have a “digital first” outlook.

This is something we disagree with quite strongly. The approach should be “cost per customer acquired first” which may well result in the choice of a digital channel but that is a completely different thing from starting with a prejudiced view that the digital channel will work best.

Nowadays the main digital advertising channels are based on Generalised Second Price auctions. In an ordinary auction (called an English auction) a product will be sold to the highest bidder at the price they bid. In a GSP auction, the first place will go to the highest bidder who will pay the price of the second bidder and so on. (Bids are adjusted by Google based on Click Thru Rates as of course the highest bidder may not receive clicks and will therefore not have to pay for their bid.)

The good news is that the GSP is sightly less prone to the Winner’s Curse than the English Auction (as we need more than one bidder to get their bid wrong). But it is still the case that the number of participants in the auction will tend to increase the price per customer acquired.

At Move Fresh we have found that many of the PPC auctions have now increased so much in cost that we are much better buying more conventional media (such as inserts).

The point is that we are not a digital first marketing company: we are an acquisition first company. We are completely agnostic on media. We think “digital first” is as dangerous as suggesting that a company should focus purely on traditional marketing.

It’s what works.

Shakespeare on Copywriting

I am very pleased to be spending much of my time now teaching copywriting and marketing to our very talented team.

How does one write copy for Google Adwords or for the other e-commerce channels we use?

Looking back over the course I’ve been teaching I’ve realised that the vast majority of it has been quotes from William Shakespeare, followed by William Blake.

There have been questions about why e-commerce marketing which started in 1995 has been almost entirely covered in my course by Shakespeare (1564) and Blake (1757). Am I not at least more than two centuries out of date?

The answer of course is that human beings haven’t changed that much. And indeed some of the course has even gone back to the Ancient Greek Rhetoric.

If you understand anaphora, anthimeria, archaism, assonance, asyndeton, brachylogy, chiasmus, diacope, epanalepsis, epimone, epistrophe, hyperbaton, hyperbole, irony, malapropism, metaphor, metonymy, onomatopoeia, paradox, paralepsis, polysyndeton, simile, syllepsis, synecdoche, tautology and zeugma as well as Shakespeare and Blake then you are well on your way to writing a great Google AdWord advert even if you are 200 hundred years after the masters.

Monty Python on Statistics

I was reminded today of my favourite Monty Python sketch on statistics. I had a look for it on YouTube but sadly couldn’t find it.

The sketch was set on election night with a reporter who did a vox pop and asked a lady in the street how she was going to vote. She said “Conservative”. They then went back to the studio and extrapolated this to their swing-o-meter which predicted a 100% swing to the Conservatives and all seats in the House of Commons switching to that party.

It was very funny. But like the best comedy it was also very true. We’ve all been in situations in business were very small datasets are extrapolated.

Interpolation is of course much more accurate. But to interpolate my experience of statistics in business I can say that interpolation is something that is much less common that extrapolation.

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