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The 5TH

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2017 - 2018


Freelance web design


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Subtype Store

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Online Store Guys

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Plan Lab

Sold 2013

Should I be 100% consumed?

In my early twenties as I stepped out onto my own, I was consumed by my young business. I had a good social life come the weekend but it was either work, sport, or friends. When it was time with friends, I’d be thinking about work and too often I gave a half-arsed excuse for not making it to something or leaving early so I could get back to making money and building my vision.

A typical weekday would look like work 9 – 6, soccer training 6 – 9, a bite of dinner and then work until midnight or so. Without realizing, I was doing 60 hours a week at a minimum, often up to 80 or 90.

That leaves me wondering, is it right or wrong to be consumed by your business or personal goal? My theory:

  • If you want to build something far greater than yourself, be consumed
  • If you want a good life, give yourself space

Athletes are the best and most visible example of that. The ones that make it are all in.

Show me the value early

Too often good products fail because it takes too much effort to use a product and realise the value that the product designer envisaged.

You know it if you see it. Your app gets opened for the first time. The user hits a blank screen and explores whether pinching does anything, whether that heading is a button, whether the menu slides out. It might not be an app. They might wander into your store and walk out within ten seconds.

They explore looking for something that immediately hooks them.

Too often we’re left with the empty screen, or even something that looks like a working, finished product but doesn’t give me something truly great.

We’ve got so much choice that truly great is fast becoming the benchmark.

I know that BodyWise takes way too long to show value. We’ve improved it by syncing your steps immediately upon opening the app but there’s 5-10 mature products out there doing the same thing. Where’s the value? Where’s the wow?

Thats our next task – going from a stable, functional platform with some cool features if you invest enough time in it, to providing an awesome experience very early in your interaction with the product. If you can do that, the users more likely to stick around and find the extra value in using your product the way that you intended.

What if when you open BodyWise for the first time, it compares your activity to the rest of your country?
“You’ve been more active than 82% of other Americans. Nice one! Log todays activity to take it to the next level.”

Making a better app – a look at our BodyWise product design process

We just released a pretty major update to BodyWise v2. It’s an update that was designed with an incredible amount of thought and conjecture.

I’ve had 109 conversations with users over the past three months. Bit by bit I’ve learnt what frustrated them in our apps and generally how they keep track of their health & fitness. Some things confirmed my own instincts and frustrations. Others were new and cut pretty deep.

Update product design – It started with the problem

Bad reviews.
Disgruntled users.
Bug notifications.
Lack of traction.

Those are business problems.

The real problem lay in the product not solving the problem that it set out to solve. Our product wasn’t significantly helping people to live happier and healthier lives.

You can talk about being better than other technology or doing so via increased motivation or through the product educating them about healthy living, but simply it’s all about solving the primary problem.

It’s a young product so we try not to be too hard on ourselves but that has to be our primary consideration as a company.

Planning an update

The situation:

  • V1 had about 30,000 users over it’s 6 months. Logging data had a lot of friction, requiring you to log things manually. Lots of people loved the ability to track specific things that they couldn’t track with other apps but most gave up as technology evolved
  • V1 was local to the device. There was no sign-up
  • About 2,000 past users came across and signed up to V2
  • We were averaging about 70 new users per day and daily active users in the hundreds
  • Our average rating pre-update was close to 2/5. Many bad ratings due to FitBit/Jawbone UP bugs. Others due to clunkiness. It’s very easy to make fitness tracking cumbersome.

This update came about almost entirely from an exhaustive look at customer persona’s. Let me tell you as someone that has released a product that I wasn’t proud of that you need to look at your customer personas early on.

We fell into the trap of building a product too aligned to what we thought would be cool to use and week by week went further away from the problems that we were trying to solve for people wanting something better.

Dave (my co-founder) and I sat down one day and asked ourselves the hard questions. BodyWise v2 had been out for a few weeks. We launched saying that we’d help you get more out of your Fitbit or Jawbone UP. It was buggy as hell and didn’t really sync your data into BodyWise properly. That masked a gut feeling we started to develop that our product wasn’t good enough anyway.

  • We broke our market into five personas
  • We listed the things that they cared about (unique and otherwise)
  • We rated how our product met those needs
  • We gave each persona an overall rating out of ten

“So, we’ve got some seriously bloody work to do”.

Customer Personas

Revisiting our customer personas and rating how our product fit specific needs was the best thing that we did. It’s a product design must in my opinion.

How to improve our product

We’re building a product for ourselves and personas that we’re very connected with which is a huge advantage for a small team. Dave’s a personal trainer that works closely with 40+ people every week using his knowledge and skill to help them to live healthier and happier lives.

That meant that we had a pretty good idea of where our product needed work before we looked at the personas. For us what the personas did was give us focus.

Food tracking:

You could track food through BodyWise, but it was painful and was down to you knowing and logging the nutritional intake of your food and drink. We explored how do people track their diets. MyFitnessPal is the dominant food tracking app but it has a closed API and the long-term engagement is pretty shocking.

We spoke to nutritionists, health coaches, wellness bloggers, our users and active users of MyFitnessPal. We decided on a few things:

  • Barcode scanning and logging of individual food items is the easiest habit of all to break
  • Once you break it, you’re unlikely to start again for a long time
  • Logging of food and ones nutritional intake is the hardest problem in our space to solve
  • There is so much friction in the current options of scanning a barcode or searching through a database of foods and guessing which one is the closest match to what you had
  • For an app like ours with ambitions to provide maximum meaning to your health & fitness data, having nutritional data is crucial
  • Our app is already pretty big. If not done right, a new food tracking feature could really bloat it
  • It’s a problem worth solving


We started with a number of concepts and filtered it down to a simple counter system. We loved it. We showed it to users and they loved it, like seriously loved it.

We went through a few iterations. We played around with colours, positioning, the size of buttons for tapping.

The finished feature was the most stripped back food tracking out there? Have veggies with lunch. Tap veggies once. A few bananas for morning tea? Tap it a few times. There’s no real right or wrong. Did you have it or didn’t you? The simple act of tracking creates mindfulness and the solution was frictionless. Testing revealed that users felt it was a much less stressful experience than using other food trackers where specifics mattered and there was friction in getting those specifics.

Workout tracking:

Again, this one pissed us off for months. We knew we didn’t have it right. Users wanted to be able to distinguish between types of workouts. If I go for a 15 minute run and hit the gym for 30 minutes that night, I don’t want to simply say I had a workout duration of 45 minutes that day. I want to get the pat on the back for doing something positive twice in one day.



View on Instagram


Jerrold engineered a solution that let you track as many workouts in a day as you like, all combining to a total grand tally of your duration. We can split out our analysis by activity as well. That means we can do things like compare your happiness on days that you do yoga, compared to days where you do bugger all.

With users tracking workouts reliably we can match that with other data too. We might be able to predict your likelihood of working out the day after drinking alcohol. We can step in and challenge you to do something you wouldn’t have otherwise done.

It’s not perfect in that technology doesn’t log it all for you but for all but the simplest forms of exercise that you bring your phone with you, it’s a hard problem to solve. We’ll get better at that. Can’t do it all at once right?

Log multiple days at a time:

One of the major barriers to long-term engagement with our app was the amount of friction that users had if they missed tracking it on one day.

An app thats only useful if you use it every single day is suicide in most cases. Certainly for ours, we needed to make it easier to log in a few times a week.

We did a lot of development and testing around the ability to easily scroll through past days data, add it all at once or even just a simple edit of a previous days data


This one was a hard one to validate with any data. Those that grew tired of logging their health with our app generally couldn’t put a finger on why.

I had a gut feeling that it was because of a cluttered result logging screen.

Again because we’re making the product for ourselves, we picked up that many of the things that you log with your health, you don’t log on a daily basis.

Diet, activity and mood are all things that change and can be influenced on a daily basis. What about your weight, body measurements or strength stats.

I felt that users whether they knew it or not would grow frustrated with glossing over the same questions 80% of the time. Even though I want to use the app to track my weight, I don’t want to do it every day.

The challenge was to make the things that your presented to track on a daily basis, more relevant to your day.

We experimented with simple show/hide toggles but that still leaves a certain amount of clutter.


We looked at taking certain body-related metrics out of the enter results screen and moving them into a fortnightly prompt and push notification to log them.

We tested it but felt that it removed too much power from the user.

After seven variations we decided on splitting out daily metrics and body metrics into separate tabs. The result was that my own personal results screen almost halved in size.

Other changes:

There were things that bugged users. They messaged us on Facebook and wrote us emails with encouragement and sometimes frustration but we worked out the bugs that pissed them off.

We’d used up a lot of their good graces with some Fitbit & Jawbone UP syncing issues so we felt it was important to address the things that they wanted fixed and look after our relationship with them.

Overall we included about 20 bug fixes and minor features that made for a generally far smoother and easier experience.

So, what now?

We try to raise some money so we can work hard on our engineering. The UX needs work but Healthkit integration is more important. There’s still a few bugs. We’ve got the whole personal training product that I haven’t even mentioned. We’ve got a lot to do. We need to raise money. This update is a MASSIVE step forward but we’re still moving too slow for my liking.

We live by user retention.

Are people using our new features?
Are their average session times increasing?
How does user retention differ between users of different versions?
Do our average app store ratings improve?
How does each persona feel about the app post-update?
Is our app better helping to solve the problem that we set out to solve

Lets see what happens!

Download the update

Life gets in the way – a BodyWise update

Edit Aug 27 – I’ve made some minor edits to the post. Upon reflection it didn’t tell the story as it was intended and came across harsher on our developer than I meant or felt.

At the end of the day, I haven’t led us to funding or significant-enough traction to pay him what he needs or deserves.

A team consisting of a product designer, personal trainer and a developer release an app.

App launches.

Developer’s personal circumstances change at about the same time. Suddenly, priorities change, things slow down, users find bugs and we find ourselves stuck.

Occasionally life throws things at you that completely change plans. The kind of things that aren’t anyones fault. Sometimes they’re the kind of things that are wonderful, yet counterproductive to your goals.

Here’s some notes on the past few months working building BodyWise


The last thirty days at BodyWise have been the toughest by a mile. As a guy that can design, make web things, has plenty of ideas and studied entrepreneurship, I’ve felt that my best ability was the ability to ship. I could come up with an idea and have always found a way of making it happen.

That skill-set has seen us launch a big app like BodyWise for less than $30k.


The lead up to launch

Our developer was on board for a mix of sweet sweet cash and a bit of equity. The equity was more to signify that we welcomed him to our team as one of us and a key cog in building out our vision. With a wife, mortgage and joining us a few months in, he didn’t have the same burning passion as us and was understandably always more motivated by the cash than Dave and myself who had the usual bills but no major commitments.

For the most part, he was fantastic and we got a hell of a lot done on a small budget. The project blew out from his initial estimation. Our penciled-in launch day came and passed. I told people the new date. That came and passed. Rinse and repeat.

Two months after the initial launch day I sent the email that I thought needed to be sent. “Fuck it. We need to launch” it said, or something along those lines.

He was nervous but I said I was OK with some bugs. I knew it was under-tested. I hadn’t even tested the FitBit/Jawbone integration that was so key to the user experience and that made getting data into the app easy.

So, we launched. The 14 days waiting in review with Apple were the longest 14 days of my life. A little nervous but mostly excited, ‘Your app is processing’ popped up on my screen. An hour later and it was on the phones of people in five continents.

Life gets in the way

We launched. As expected, there were bugs. Unfortunately, the bugs were pretty major. Facebook sign-up didn’t work for a lot of people (we pushed that as the preferred sign-up option) and syncing your FitBit or Jawbone didn’t work at all.

Being that we went out saying that BodyWise will make your Fitbit or Jawbone more interesting and useful, this wasn’t good.

About then I found out that our developer and his wife just learnt that they were expecting their first child.

His goalposts changed.

Suddenly, he seemed pissed off how much unpaid work he was doing. We started to talk about working as a freelancer so he could get paid.

I was OK with that. He had a family to look after and being involved with a start-up undoubtably effects your personal life. We needed a way to make both work.

Two weeks passed and we had no particular resolution. He was becoming harder to reach with his time spent on other paying projects. The bugs remained and took a long time to work through. Nothing seemed to be getting done on the back of a busy scheduled and time lost with the app in review with Apple. I was getting agitated.

I demanded a quote so we could put something in place and start working on the three parts of the app that we knew needed improvement, not to mention the two major bugs. The quote came back. “Fuck me mate, we can’t do that” I said to Dave. There was a sinking feeling that we had a major problem on our hands.

The quote had no discount. We were a self-funded start-up with limited cash. We’d sold businesses, put our income on the line and spent our house savings. We couldn’t afford the full-fee rates of a good developer after everything we’d invested. That wasn’t his fault, but it was the situation we were in.

We started to realize that his heart wasn’t in it as much as we wanted it to be. His circumstances had changed and as angry as I was, I knew he was doing the right thing by him and his family. If I was him, I don’t know if I’d be able to offer a discount or take on a project that was going to mean a little more stress on my wife, or having a few grand less in the bank to spend on my child.

At one point we even tried to pay him what he initially quoted, but by that point it was clear he wanted longer-term projects with more financial certainty.

Where the hell does that leave us?

The month or two since launch have seen bugger all happen on the development front. I’ve been scared, stressed and under-rested, wondering what is going to happen. For the first real time in my entrepreneurial life, I feel like things are out of my hands.

In a tech startup, all the best product design and management skills in the world don’t count for shit if you can’t get code written.

We needed a new developer but finding one proved 100x harder than I though it would. Not that I was experienced enough to realize it at the time but the decisions that I made earlier in development increased our risk and tied us closer to him. The more specialized your technology is, the narrower talent pool you have to pick from and with a single techie within a tech business, you have enormous risk.

What didn’t dawn on me that the iOS app & the backend server required separate skill-sets and that finding someone who is a gun at both and can pick up and understand the algorithms that we’ve built (but not yet released) would be incredibly hard in a place like Melbourne, especially without funding. Finding another talented Python developer with top notch Objective-C skills who isn’t snapped up by an agency or software company seemed impossible.

It would be easy enough finding a freelance iOS dev & a freelance Python dev but thats two sets of fees and potentially a dev-ops nightmare without a highly technical person left in the founding team.

Buying time

BodyWise can and I hope will be incredible. If we get it right, we will make tens of millions of people healthier and happier and make plenty of money for us and our investors in doing so. We can use the data from your iWatch, phone, FitBit, Jawbone or away-from-tech life to train you with more relevance, context and overall effectiveness than anything out there in the world.

Our product pathway is incredibly strong, we’ve got significant interest within healthcare, over 40,000 users and a decent position in a booming market at the heart of a major technology shift.

But, we’re on the ropes, spending our last dollars before going back to our personal assets and working out whats left to contribute.

We’ve got a developer on board for the short-term, building the three things that we feel the product desperately needs. Our old developer has been good and just about fixed the sign-up bug and sort of fixed the FitBit & Jawbone bug. Things are happening.

There’s no build it, learn, iterate, learn, iterate again approach for us with our resources right now though. We have to make some big calls on the product and hope to God we get them right.



I don’t know what will happen.

If you know a quality technical person wanting to take on the fitness training industry, FitBit, MyFitnessPal and the Jenny Craigs of the world, let me know.

We Live In a Side Project Economy

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re in the top 30% of the wealthiest people in the world. Most Americans, Europeans and Australians like me are incredibly lucky. Sure, many (most?) of us live off our paycheque each week and don’t have access to a big bank account with all the funding we need, but we live good lives  and spend money on plenty of things that we can cut back on, as essential as they might seem at first.

Your average family or single 20 year old can quite easily cut back by eating in every night, holding back on saving for that little holiday, buying new music off iTunes or by disconnecting Foxtel. In a side project economy we’re lucky enough to be able to cut back on something that lets us invest in a side project that gives us a shot at following our dreams and obtaining financial freedom.

It’s an opportunity not afforded to enough of us, yet the side project economy is growing by the day.

The side project economy lets us:

  • Learn to code on Treehouse for $20
  • Buy materials for our Etsy projects off alibaba for a tenth of the cost of the store in your local shopping centre
  • Make our own eBooks using standard computer software
  • Start up your own website for $20 on Wordpreess, complete with a free theme that looks better than what $5,000 would have gotten you in 2009
  • Listen to interviews with successful people in your chosen side project market for free on YouTube
  • Apply for a credit card and buy a few things that we need to get started
  • Reach out for free to learn and network with people willing to lend a hand or tip on Twitter
  • Invest the $500 we managed to save over a few months in contracting someone on to make a basic version of your tech idea in order to see if it’s attracting any interest
  • Make a $20 site, write good content, attract an audience, set up Google AdSense and sell the site in Flippa for $1,000
  • Take annual leave to dedicate a bit of time to launch or head to the markets, sell and test the waters
  • Get a cheap iPod Touch off eBay and bum free wi-if from Maccas
  • Get lessons worth tens of thousands of dollars from Seth Godin on SkillShare for $37
  • Accept payments from anyone around the world via Paypal

If we live within our means, we’ve all got the opportunity to try side projects and increase our wealth and knowledge. Maybe nothing will come of it and maybe you’ll blow your dreams wide open. We live in an economy where we can at least try.

EDIT: If this post resonated with you, check out Chris Guillebeau‘s best selling book The $100 Startup. Also worth checking out Melbourne startup Side Racket – great place to list your side project or join another.

What will 2014 bring for Wearables & Quantified Self apps?

2012 brought a new product category to the market and saw many acquisitions from wearable manufacturers looking to get the edge in a hotly contested space but 2013 has undoubtably been the breakout year for wearables and quantified self hitting the mainstream.

Back in June I started studying the space pretty seriously. I made a few observations and ended up co-founding my own health & fitness app that went on to amass 30,000 downloads as we tested the market (visit BodyWise).

Back when we launched BodyWise, there wasn’t much in the way of being able to track beyond your distance, steps or sleep. We brought tracking of a wide variety of health & fitness metrics to the everyday person. Since our launch I could name half a dozen serious competitors playing on our level and another half a dozen wearables that brought our features to their apps and devices.

As we develop BodyWise v2 I wanted to share with you my summary of the state of play for Wearables & the Quantified Self in 2014:

Fitbit hedging their bets

FitBit quietly released version 2.1 of their mobile app late this month. The big move? They brought health & fitness tracking to the app via your phone without needing one of their devices at all.

They (like most of us) aren’t sure how wearables are going to play out. It looks like Apple is going to introduce something that busts open the category in 2014 and that could mean the end of wearables themselves.

It doesn’t make sense to have a completely separate device to track what is easily obtained information. They’re concerned that their devices may be made obsolete so they’re hedging their bets by opening their app to work with whatever Apple introduces next.

Will we see an iWatch in 2014? Image: iPortal
Will we see an iWatch in 2014? Image: iPortal

Data-based training is everywhere

It’s not just us focusing on data-based training. Jawbone pushed hard last year to acquire top talent in the health & fitness data space and 2013 saw them introduce insights. They’re missing a few pieces of the puzzle here but they’ve got a basic set of data and create strong insight and data visualisation from it.

If they had an app that made it easier to log workouts, nutrition and other wellbeing stats, they would be leading the pack by a country mile.

We saw FitBit make a serious play into this space in 2013 with the quiet launch of FitBit Premium, a $59.95 digital personal trainer, nutritionist and sleep consultant in one. It brings strong data-analysis and training based off your statistics and performance to the market. I can’t see FitBit not making this a core area of their app rather than an add-on service in the next 12 months.

Fitbit Premium
Fitbit Premium

Everything is connected

In 2013 many wearables opened their API’s, as did nutritional and wellness apps. We’ll continue to see this in 2013 as we edge towards a completely open marketplace.

I’m not 100% sure that this is the way to go as it discourages smart companies working on partnerships that make complete sense and are well integrated in favour of spending their development resources on connecting with a broad range of services.

While it may mean a small improvement, the best products will come as a result of tight partnerships between app developers and wearable manufacturers.


Whatever way you look at it, 2014 is going to be another HUGE year for wearables and Quantified Self apps. I can’t wait to bring BodyWise v2 to the market and see what other developers have in store for us.

Happy New Year everyone!

What I learnt in 2013

  • a lot – more than any other year in my life
  • Take a big break every 2 years – I took a 6 month break and hit the snow. Since I came back I’ve been 20x as productive as I’ve ever been, making 2 apps, selling one business, and co-founding a startup. Getting out and just living provides inspiration and renewed energy
  • Having a good network is incredibly valuable – none of my friends do what I do. In my cozy eastern suburbs life no one really gets what I do. I come out of a day pumped about what I’m working on, tell someone and get glazed over eyes. Since returning I’ve reached out and connected with many people that I’d previously admired from afar. They’ve taught me things, created new opportunities but most importantly made my life more enjoyable. A shout out to Murray Galbraith, Aylin Ahmet, Scott Kilmartin and Steve Sammartino for the profound impact they’ve had on my life this year
  • Invest in the 50/50s – not every investment has to be a sure thing. Sometimes the best opportunities come from taking a chance and exploring an idea. Whether it’s building a Lego car that runs on air or an app that has a small chance of ever making money, invest in things that inspire you, let you explore new markets and dream big
  • Put your time and money where your mouth is – I’ve come to detest ‘thought leaders’ that go around talking and blogging on professional and personal improvement without having the balls to practice what they preach. As @murraydg pointed out in this tweet, @sammartino is the ultimate example of the opposite of that

  • There’s more to every company than you think – I’ve started to listen to This Week In Startups interviews with founders as I work. What strikes me is that almost without exception, it wasn’t a completely unique idea or a great product that caused success but rather the founders ability to organise a great team, raise funding, network, scrap or fight when necessary and take a risk or make a big decision at a vital moment. With so many great Startups it’s not enough to have a great product
  • Being intimately aware of your psychology and how to get the most out of yourself is vital – I increased my productivity when I learnt how to structure my week and where I spent my time. I cowork or go interstate when I need to get creative. I work at a desk or lie on the couch when I need to just get a task done and I set myself up on a big desk in a brightly lit room when I need to be creative and solve problems. At different points I realise that I need assistance or a fresh view and grab a coffee with someone from my network and bounce ideas off them
  • Client work kinda sucks – it’s hard to put your best work into someone else. I love working with and for other people/businesses when you’re making a big difference but inevitably even the best client projects leave you inundated with tiny tasks and just getting things done

Merry Christmas!

This is what entrepreneurship is really like

I had a pretty crazy experience the other night. After years of studying entrepreneurship at university, evaluating what other entrepreneurs were doing and founding a few (albeit micro) businesses myself, I had a realisation that changed my perception of what entrepreneurship really is (scrap the perception of the risk-taking creative).

A bit of backstory

It’s been a big fortnight. I just sold The Blog Designers to invest some capital in BodyWise v2 and have a bit of cash to live off while I work on the app full time. Less than an hour ago we just secured the developer we wanted and kick off development of our MVP less than 48 hours.

My realization

I caught up with some friends on Saturday night, heading out to an 80s nightclub in Melbourne. We were all having a great time but at some point a product question crossed my mind. After one too many beers my memory is fuzzy but from that moment on, I couldn’t stop thinking of my start-up.

Would we secure the developer? Should we go for the really colourful UI or a simpler design with more white space? How much do we put into the MVP? Suddenly I stopped thinking about what I would say to the cute girl by the bar or how to not look like an idiot on the dance floor and was busy making product decisions while the standard of my dancing dropped.

Here I was in a world of my own while everyone laughed and drank around me.

It’s clear to me now that this is what entrepreneurship really is – entrepreneurship is living and breathing your start-up so much that little else matters.

I’ll do this or die trying

I’ve had dozens of business ideas in the past few years but very few that I truly believed in. Yeah, I’ve started businesses. I’ve got two going at the moment, one on semi-hiatus and one thats only an app and not yet a business but I’ve never had a business idea that made me want to stop and drop it all.

I’ve never had a business idea that I saw as more than a good experience, a way to learn or an avenue to a good lifestyle. I’ve never had a business that I thought could be something that millions of people could end up loving.

I’ve got that now.

It requires a smart developer and a bit of cash. It’s hard to replicate. It requires building blocks. It’s immediately worth paying for. It’s in health & fitness tech. I may have to pack up and move overseas to give it the best shot of taking off.

I have many of the things I need to do this but plenty I don’t.

All I know is I’m going to do this or die trying.

Interested in health & fitness tech? Can you code iPhone apps like a beast? Maybe you can’t code but have time and talent to offer or money and a desire to be part of an industry that’s exploding. Give me a buzz.