Category Archives: Things to Do

Brewbot is coming


I was lucky enough to be introduced to a great company by Sandy Mckinnon at Pentech Ventures called Brewbot.

I was instantly hooked and ordered a brewing robot straight away.

The concept is pretty simple, brewing from your iPhone. The reality is that brewing is a very technical process, much more complex than the beer kits that my local Boots used to sell in the 1970s. In fact, the level of tech and science in a brewing robot is quite immense.

Brewbot is designed for the amateur brewer and also the expert who really wants to experiment with brewing in one device. I liked to call it the “Nespresso machine for Beer”.

“Real brewers” will probably turn their nose up a little at Brewbot, just as Baristas don’t love Nespresso, but for me convenience is the key to any internet device like this. The access to information about usage is incredible and you should be able to run automatic replenishment of hops etc based on usage.

I am really looking forward to getting this device – it’s only a few months away – but I am excited already – I have bought some great books including Clone Brew which allows you to brew your favourite pint at home.

Why I blog?


© Bjørn Hovdal |

There are lots of reasons to put fingers to keyboard and write a blog.

For me it isn’t about sharing this with anyone, it is actually for me. Selfish I know, but recording and writing a blog helps you clarify issues, recording them for the future or helps you debate things with other people.

I really don’t care if people agree with what I say, and put comments on the blog for no reason – I don’t care about your opinion – only mine (joking!)

Seriously, if you are starting a company, it can be very lonely. Even if there are a few of you in the company it is sometimes difficult to remember why you did things. Blogs help with that.

At Diet Chef when we started I lived in Nethybridge (anyone need a holiday home?) so communication was very important with my co-founders. It brought the use of email, phone and blogging to the fore. Andrew used a blog to communicate his marketing decisions or just document what he is thinking (he still does this now in his new startup).

So if for no other purpose but to document your entrepreneurial journey, start a blog. You can password protect it if you like. Start over at and share your blog on here to get others to view it.

Go on, you can write as badly as me too!

AR Drone

I am a very proud owner of a flying machine called the AR Drone it is a very cool toy controlled by your smartphone (iOS or Android).

You Sushi are using it for delivery – perhaps I should think about it for Diet Chef?

Working with young “entrepreneurs”

I have been very lucky to be introduced to lots of very experienced business people. Although they might be classified as “entrepreneurs” they usually have quite safe, successful businesses and are more risk averse than you would think (they have more to lose!)

There is nothing more exciting for me than to meet someone with little more than an idea and the drive and passion to risk everything (usually meaning not a lot) to try and make that idea a business.

I have historically tried to back people that have this gem of an idea with either advice, money or contacts to allow them to be successful and I think we should make both financial and time commitments to do this without any requirements to get a “slice of the pie”.

I do believe strongly in helping if I can and the easy thing is to write a cheque, the harder thing is to give up some time. My 2012 mission is to try and help more people who want to start businesses, profit, not for profit or social.

My big challenge is I truly understand the plight of a small team or individual with an business idea but less so a social idea, so my personal challenge is to find someone in the third sector that I can relate to and build a meaningful cause/business with.

Tough challenge I think!

March is a big month

March is nearly here and there are a couple of major events.

Freyja is 14 on the 4th March which is a landmark birthday and the planning has begun. Issue is the only thing on the birthday list is a dog which is not on my birthday list!

I thought – futile as it is to give some of the reasons for not wanting to extend the furry family:

1. Time

We are all quite busy with travel, school and other projects which means we could have a dog but this is going to impact on some of the general things we take for granted. The commitment isn’t a short one, I joke with advisors that “an investor is for life not just Christmas” and this sentiment follows onto dogs (actually stolen from that key punch line – a dog is for life not just for christmas) but anyway it is probably 10 years plus lifespan unless I can persuade Freyja we should buy a terminally ill dog (think this is unlikely).

2. Social

No it isn’t because dogs don’t use Facebook yet (actually if you viewed my timeline you would realise that a number of my friends are dogs (yes, sad owners that have created profiles – you know who you are!!) breaching all conditions of the Facebook policies and probably increasing the number of users on Facebook by about 1 billion (remember the valuation is based on the number of active users). The only person winning out of this is Mr Zuckerburg and his team of dogs (conspiracy theorists might note that over 20% of Facebook revenue comes from Zynga named after Mark Pincus dog).

3. Because I might like it

My worse fear is that I might like a pet dog, opening the door to more pets (parrots, chickens, ducks and quails have all been mentioned)

So I have laid my case out, I am sure there will be a vigorous defence mounted by the dog lovers of the household!

Passport Panic

I haven’t had the best of weekends!

Off to Germany and online check in isn’t working. So make it to Edinburgh airport extra early clear security and notice that I have forgotten my passport (yes, that was a bit of an oversight), mad rush back home and a few panic phone calls and I make it back to the airport in time for the flight.

I am now 250km from London at 34,000 feet

Can BA please change the snack from Mediterranean tomato rehydrated potato tubes (12g and still about 80 kcal) to something more exotic or perhaps just change once in a while. I have taken quite a few flights since January (12 return trips) so the novelty of these are wearing off.

I think BA is particularly good but there is some suggestions of or improvements:

Avios points redemption – I would like to be able to buy lounge access vouchers for my extended family. I know this is a business scheme but once or twice a year I do travel with family on BA long haul or just to Europe and I would like to take friends of the kids into the lounge especially since we frequently travel through London from Edinburgh. These connections would be made a little more bearable if we could do this and it’s a good redemption system for Avios as getting flights to certain popular destinations using points is very tricky.

I don’t think it’s a bad idea, and I certainly wouldn’t expect lounges to become too busy.

Come on BA – remember kids are also future business customers and experiencing this is a good way to let them show the differential with other providers. Otherwise I may move my rewards programme elsewhere as I used to find American very good on these things (upgrades online, lounge access, instant upgrades for platinum customers etc)

Skiing in Scotland – wow


Well after a quick dive to Hillend on Thursday we were lucky enough to get a great dump of snow in the Highlands.

So we had a great day at the Lecht on Saturday the snow cover was excellent, well groomed and perfect (apart from the chilly wind – but it is Scotland after all!).

Freyja and DJ really enjoyed their first visit to the Lecht apart from the slight weight issue they had on the Eagle Poma. DJ was so light that he ended up doing a 1.5m twirling flight on a steep section of the Poma.

He tried a few times but it defeated him!

A big thanks to Winter Highland website that gave a great up to date report on the weather