More on the international Aussie coffee influence

February 7, 2011

The Australian newspaper has jumped on this blog’s bandwagon about Australian’s exporting our coffee/café habits:

“The caffeine hit preferred by millions of Australians and New Zealanders is now appearing in coffee houses from Amsterdam to Dubai and Asia. Cafes run by Aussies and Kiwis are changing the way people drink coffee across the globe via what industry insiders call “the march of the flat white”.”

As I’ve noted twice (here and here), it is cool that Australian entrepreneurs are heading out there.  The challenge remains, however, to build some meaningful advantage beyond individual, small-scale actions (i.e. getting over the sushi/pizza hurdle)…

Thai Latte please

January 28, 2011

A few months back I made some noise on here about the scope for Australia to leverage a barista advantage internationally.

The argument was that our wide brown land was at the cutting edge of the ‘third wave’ of fancy coffee-making (and by fancy, I’m not talking about the Franken-coffees dreamed up by Starbucks for people who like whipping cream, flavoured syrup and milk rather than roasted bean-infused goodness).

Having spent the last fortnight in Bangkok, I can say there may well be considerable competitive advantage for the Aussie approach a few steps back from the leading edge also.

After enduring the overpriced faux coffee of the aforementioned US giant out of desperation, and the abomination that is my hotel’s brew, I followed a tip from an Aussie and headed to a little café run by some locals who’d lived and worked in Melbourne (reportedly).

Café Ohana is doing no more than what your standard Melbourne coffee vendors does, i.e. latte, macchiato etc. They deliver it in a slick Scando-decored venue, with tasty sandwiches and a mix of cakes, but it’s not anything amazingly groundbreaking.  But it felt like an oasis to me, and seemed to be a happy haunt for numerous Japanese ladies who lunch.

It must being doing well, as the firm is about to open another branch (according to their Facebook page).

It’s a reminder that international  transfer of competitive advantages doesn’t always have to be lead with the fanciest, most innovative version of your product.  Indeed, sometime it pays to tone down the radicalness so as to find a receptive audience.

Now if only I could find a purveyor of quality craft beers around here too…

Populated Peoples Front of Australia

January 24, 2011

I so enjoyed my amateur economic geography yesterday that I’ve made an another tribute map.

If you click on the “Population” tab on the aforementioned map from The Economist you can see the US states transformed into the equivalent nation by population (I’m feeling more exotic now as my 2011 US journeying will take me to Cameroon and Senegal).

So here is the Australia commonwealth rebadged (population for our states is from the ABS again, and country comparisons from this Wikipedia aggregation of sources):

This is a quite different batch of pairings, and my thoughts on each:

  • It’s a joy to be living in Copenhagen again, although I’m stunned by the traffic (especially the paucity of bicycles) and lack of decent smørrebrød
  • The NSW Labor Party would love the electoral might of Emomali Rhamon
  • WA is no doubt relieved it has held off on adopting the Euro
  • Tasmania has under-utilised its first-mover advantage with legal casinos
  • Both our non-states (i.e. the Northern and Australian Capital Territories) have tax-haven status
  • …and I know a lot less about Queensland and South Australia than I thought

A slightly different Australian Federation

January 23, 2011

Inspired by The Economist magazine’s latest map of the USA with state names replaced by the equivalent nation based on GDP, I felt inspired to do the same for Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics calculates Gross State Products. I converted each to $US using the average exchange rate of (A$1=US0.88) for the period 2009-10.  I then compared them to the latest country GDP calculations from the International Monetary Fund. It throws up some fun replacements:

I draw a number of conclusions from this:

  • Victorians should be much more excited by the rarity of our current floods
  • The beer in Queensland should be much, much better
  • The current economic dramas of New South Wales should be viewed as a likely long-term issue
  • Our Olympic sprint coaches should be scouring the Northern Territory
  • All future Western Australian tourist campaigns will incorporate Paddington Bear
  • We may see South Australia split into two states very soon
  • Tasmania is NOT an island, but rather is mountainous (I assume all of Hobart has moved to the top of Mt Wellington) and landlocked…and bordering WA
  • Julia Gillard will be delighted that her power has increased, ruling in a Kingdom as she does!

As an aside, I was a little disappointed that, during my stay in the US this year, I’ll be splitting much of my time between Australia and Indonesia!

Update: I have also done this for population now.

It’s Short-O-Matic

January 20, 2011

Just over two years ago I posted about the potential of (and possible pitfalls associated with) launching an online design-your-own boardshorts operation (a la T-shirt phenomenon Threadless).

http://www.shortomatic.com/index.php/all.htmlI was intrigued today when I stumbled upon a magazine mention of just such an entrepreneurial endeavour.  A mob out of California (now that shouldn’t surprise) called Shortomatic have been building up a portfolio of user- and guest designer-provided shorts through a pretty nifty website.

They have a number of similar elements to Threadless, although users cannot vote on prospective designs (instead the firm is the complete gatekeeper once artists submit).  There is a revenue stream for successful designers of up to $1000 per design ($5 a pair up to the maximum run of 200), and a feel-good pledge to donate a similar amount to a charity.

Contrary to our discussions/expectations, all the materials are sourced and stitched together in the US (rather than China), which does push the pricing a bit higher than I expected ($US a pair).

The operation also suffers from a pretty slow turnaround from order-to-shipping – 21 days or so – which would seem to narrow the potential customer base a little (to those explicitly seeking a rare item of clothing).  Again, you might argue this is a move away from Threadless’ model, as the t-shirt vendor’s speedy delivery (obviously built on an ability to print and warehouse shirts confident of sales from their much bigger customer base) allows for pretty spontaneous purchase, while Threadless’ policy of limited runs also encourages a “buy while you can” attitude.

Nevertheless, this looks like a pretty neat play at this considerably smaller and tougher fashion segment.  Again it does beg the question what other design-your-own, crowdsourced interfaces can we foresee (remembering we’ve also looked at custom bicycles on here too)?