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Entrepreneurship

    Nshry cafe restaurant bar Middle Park Pier - Albert Park Melbourne

    Nshry. its an odd name, for a cafe that makes dishes that are, well, just a little bit odd, but in a very gooooood way!

    Its not often that I can say that I've had a truly exceptional meal, but at Nsry, I certainly did!

    As the name, and the paper crane logo suggests, this cafe is a wee bit foreign in inspiration, most likely Asian.

    Why do I think this? Mexican standards like chilli bean tacos end up deconstructed in a bowl, with rice inserted into the mix,  with the Korean favourite of a random egg cracked on top, Japanese panko crumbles feature prominently, as does wasabi, sesame mayo and all the other delicious things that make asian food truly delicious and great. Theres that, and the fact that the owner, Michael Nham (pictured below) comes from a Vietmanese and Taiwanese cultural background. Next time i go back, ill have to ask what inspiration is truly behind the name.

    At first glance, the menu contains all sorts of typical standard cafe fare... but then you look closely, and you realise that its anything but a normal offering. its inspired, its different, and above all, its tasty. Tasty enough to write about with passion, that's for certain. Nsry lunch menu

    We chose the Taco rice bowl, and the "Umami" burger. They were expensive lunch options, at over $20, but hey, we had just gotten engaged, and the location at the foot of the pier looking over the beach, with the Spirit of Tasmania docked in the distance was a nice atmosphere.

    A nice touch was that in the outdoor dining area, because it was a cold day, woolen blankets were supplied to wrap oneself in (or snuggle up in).

    Anyway, back to the food. The Umami burger, which consisted of a beautiful marriage in a BIG fat intensely satisfying pattie consisted of a unique and well thought out mix of both Wagu and Angus beef, married with slow roasted tomato and onion jam came with a little selection of very, very exceptional sides- a sesame coleslaw with micropickles, and very crispy, very golden fat chips, and three dipping sauces, traditional sweet tomato, garlic aoli, and chilli mayo.

    Anyhow, little did I know at the time, but this burger won a prize as burger of the the year, 2011, and little has changed about it ever since. You don't mess with perfection, clearly.

    The Umami Bruger of Nsry, middle park pier, Burger of the year, 2011.

    Thanks to the following blog posts that I borrowed photos from:

    http://theburgeradventure.com/2012/02/the-burger-of-the-year-2011/

    https://www.timeout.com/melbourne/restaurants/nshry

    http://www.bambinoweekend.com/nshry/

     

    http://nshry.com.au/

    129A Beaconsfield Parade

    Albert Park, Victoria

    03 9682 1077

    Tuesday - Sunday

    8am to 4pm

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    Herkimer Diamond Engagement Ring Melbourne Australia Corky Saint Clair

    This post is a little thank you to the inspired and insightfulJeweler Chris Bril, of Corky Saint Clair who created the ultimate token of my love (A 1.81ct Herkimer Diamond Solitaire Engagement ring. set in sterling silver) for the lass, to whom I proposed to on Saturday, while on a bike, in a subway, of all places.

    Since making my decision to ask the most charming and beautiful friend I have in this world to marry me, I'd spent many months searching and agonising in Melbourne and beyond over exactly what engagement ring I was going to buy for the lass, not to mention a lot of stress over the cost.. and most of the options fit the bill- nice and sparkly and shiny.. but they were a little.. generic, and not quite me, or her, or us somehow.

    While wandering Melbourne's little niche and custom shops, I was in the old, and slightly dank Art Deco section of Flinders street subway, below Degraves street where there is a ratty collection of tiny, artisan shops, ensconced in wood and sensually curved glass... or.. well.. graffiti covered old skool galv B&D roller doors, when something really, really special sparkled alluringly in the depths of one of the shops.

    What really caught my eye was a silver set engagement ring with quite a twist on it, that really made me look twice.

    A handy book available on amazon on the exciting variations of Herkimer available on the market.

    The stone was cut in a wonky, shonky looking way that suggested it was the apprentice jewel cutter's first attempt at cutting a diamond, and he had royally ballsed it up.

    But. it sure was different. I just could not look away. Looking more closely, it had a wild kind of ordered beauty that I couldn't quite put my finger on, but the clarity of the stone was exceptional, and it was impressive, but not obnoxious in size. It was as if the unusual cut had been actually made on purpose, and was not a product of incompetence, or an unfortunate accident... it... worked...

    Next to it was a write up about the Diamond that was in the solitaire ring, which described it as a "Herkimer Diamond".

    The narrow and exclusive region in new york state, USA, that Herkimer diamonds are mined from

    Pffttt. I thought. so, it's a fake diamond, just a lousy cubic zirconia, or CZ.  I kept reading though, and discovered that it was anything but fake, it was the genuine article, alright, and genuine and unique in many more ways than the average carbon based diamond ever could be.

    Herkimer diamonds come from upstate New York. They display unusually high brightness, clarity and hardness, and are formed over 400 million years in bubble pockets, or "vugs" in dolostone. The most authentic feature of them is that their shape, which looks like man made "cut" facets, but, amazingly, they are actually formed naturally, by the miracle of the mechanics of the earth and nature.

    Every Herkimer has 18 individual and unique facets, and are actually are a naturally occurring, highly rare double terminated crystal. No two are exactly alike, or, for that matter, vaguely the same. That's the way I feel about the lass, and our relationship- nothing compares, and I don't doubt for a moment that I'll ever in my lifetime meet another girl quite like her.

    In the cabinet next to the display of the ring, was an excised cross section of a piece of dolomite stone, exposing a little cavity or bubble in the rock mass. Inside, was a the crystalline shining diamond of a Herkimer, nestled in the little pocket, as perfect and untouched as could be.

    Video of a herkimer ring on facebook

     

    In the Subway, which can be entered off Flinders and Degraves street, many of the little establishments

    Subway Entrance off Degraves Street

    eking out an existence seem to sell something just a little bit different, hand crafted, or rare second hand items of style, and at pretty reasonable prices.

    Technically, the 1950's pink tiled subway is called the "Campbell Arcade", though few Melbourne residents might refer to it as such, and 2/3 of residents surveyed at one point had no idea the place even exists, despite being a very distinctive, and major part of the Flinders street station complex. The shopping strip has an interesting history, which is brought to life by a post by the blogger "danno", which is worth a read if you are intrigued by history like me.

    One of these quirky little shops is the esteemed Jeweler named "Corky Saint Clair", whose unlikely insignia is denoted by a funny little power monster thingy. Apparently, it's called the "Carrymonster", though I have no darn idea why.

    Corky's after one of the regular subway floods

    The owner and head jeweler is the aforementioned Chris Bril, who is a pleasant guy who quietly beavers away in the workshop part of the shop, while customers explore the surreal layout of his wares.

    Broadsheet did an interview with Chris a while ago, which gives one some insight into the smiling man behind the soldering iron, pliers and files.

    If you want your own ring,  for that special person in your ife you want to commit to, take a look at Herkimer solitaire rings at corky st clair melbourne

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    99spaces.co - Creative Coworking & Popup shop rental site

    During my travels, I met one of the owners of a brand new creative coworking and pop-up shop rental advertising site, 99spaces.co

    The site is quite handy as there are no other real estate sites quite like it around that allow you to search for exactly what you want in a creative coworking space to do your freelance teleworking, and has quite a good level of inventory on it, including coworking offices for niche minority and specialised groups.

    99spaces_coworking_popup_shop_site_women_only

    There are even coworking spaces for women only!

    and yes, its a DOT "CO", NOT A DOT COM.

    If you are a freelance writer, graphic designer, programmer or any other professional that just needs a nest to put your laptop, and a comfy chair, with (hopefully) nice people around you to bounce ideas off, this could be an invaluable resource.

    The ability to search by daily, weekly, or even hourly hire of the coworking space makes it easy to find exactly what you are looking for and filter out the other candidates in the area with a click of a button.

    Essentially, its like realestate.com.au, but for corwrkign and super short term commercial popup retail space.

    lots of handy filter options to find exactly the coworking or popup shop facility you need, on the terms you require.

    lots of handy filter options to find exactly the coworking or popup shop facility you need, on the terms you require.

    Often these co-working spaces and popup shop sites have reduced rates, or free days where you can try before you commit, and this site is a great way to sniff some of those great deals out.

    The site provides all the essential information you need to know, plus some photos of the spaces so you can make an assessment about whether it has the kind of positive and airy atmosphere that you are looking for.

    Many of the coworking rentals look significantly better equipped and more pleasant than most A grade corporate office blocks. Ask your boss if you can move offsite? :P Cheeky idea.

     

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    Startups in Melbourne the silicon valley way

    Recently, as part of melbourne knowledge week, i was lucky enough to book my ticket early and attend “Startups the Silicon Valley Way” lecture at Deakin Edge in Federation Square. Best of all, as well as being a really enjoyable and well delivered presentation, it was FREE!

    My review of melbourne knoelwdge week so far is that it is outstanding. Very much looking forward to going to the other events I have lined up!

    http://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/melbourne-knowledge-week-building-startups-the-silicon-valley-way-tickets-22254764600

    The presenters were

    Key takeaways & things I Learned:

    ENVIRONMENT NECESSARY FOR STRONG ENTRPRENEURIAL ACTIVITY:

    • Entrepreneurial Success is driven by a strong shared culture
    • The culture is generated by a tight and well networked community of like minded individuals
      • A philosophy of sharing among community members facilitates strong generation of ideas, and their nurturing and incubation.
      • Ex entrepreneurs are a strong source of mentorship and capital for the next generation of Startups
      • Highly experienced and entrenched industry veteran employees are good at execution, not development of ideas and concepts- they should be often sidelined to a supporting role
    • Corporates should foster this community minded culture
      • Open their doors to other startup entrepreneurs
      • Hold discussion and brainstorming sessions with outsiders
      • Provide assistance, mentoring and contacts to others-
        • Often this work pays dividends as the network expansion, and exposure to new ideas and thinking is invaluable.
        • Potentially invest in other small startups, embed employees and have them infused with the culture prevalent in “real” startups.

    Problems observed that doom the NEXTGEN and transformation projects of LARGE CORPORATES:

    • Key players within Corporate Startup and transformation activities are termed “intrapreneurs”
    • Small, nimble startups are lacking in capital and resources (they are poor) , they are rich in freedom of movement
    • Corporate Transformation Programs and Startups are Hamstrung by the following:
    • Only Incremental innovation is allowed
    • New ideas must fit the current business model. Even good Non core ideas with potential  are not considered
    • Governance processes and bureaucracy slow down the speed of development.
    • Weak laws and regulations cannot be flouted or sidestepped freely to test new markets or concepts.
    • Large corporates are unwilling to take on reputational risk, which is often necessary in startups.
    • Rigid accounting systems and requirements for reporting distract intrapreneurs.
    • Activities are often overly secretive, and not engaged in the industry’s community, or that of the start up community which can generate contacts and creative solutions.
    • Staff are chosen based on significant experience and track record of successful execution.
    • Many are old, tired and stale from being in the industry too long. Causes tunnel vision, and inability to see the future.
    • Startup and transformation staff are often drawn from the internal pool, and the same industry.
      • Risk taking and out of the box ideas are less likely to appear as entrenched employees seek safety and protection of their current positions of respect and trust. – they actually have something to lose.
      • Entrenched staff are unlikely to agree to necessary new incentive structures that place their stable paycheck at risk due to significant personal and financial commitments.
    • Intrapreneurs incentives to succeed, or avoid failure at all costs are not nearly as high as entrepreneurs.
    • Corporates make the mistake of not giving employees equity or the opportunity to invest in the particular project
    • Intrapreneurs have  “no skin in the game”
      • They still get paid if the project flops- no real punishment for failure.
      • They receive a reward that is grossly out of proportion with the gain the corporate makes from success, and often negligible compared to their base salary despite millions made by their employer.
      • The result is that even the highest performing intrapreneurs are less likely to be as diligent or creative, take risks, nor work long hours, or go the extra mile for the benefit of the project in comparison to a entrepreneur who has their family home on the line, or wants to eat, or pay the rent next week.

    Suggested Solutions for corporates engaging in transformation programs & NEXTGEN intrepreneurship

     Hire brand new staff for the new innovation team, particularly management.

    • Draw many staff outside of the industry
    • Do not look for experience or extensive track records- look for drive and passion, creativity, ideas.
    • Put those staff in a separate building
    • Engage with the startup and entrepreneurial community
      • Provide assistance to others in the community
      • Make the new team a hub of creativity and new thought in the area, that attracts others and allows networks to be built
      • New acquisition or partnership opportunities can be found via this mechanism
    • Highly experienced, entrenched incumbent staff from parent company should not be leaders in anything but execution of ideas
    • Startup ventures should be branded separately, and in separate entities from the main company to quarantine risks.
    • No mandate to “protect” core parent business processes – nothing is untouchable
    • No mandate to stick strictly to the core business of the parent as their executive management sees it.
      • If it looks like it could make money, build it!
    • Executive oversight should be minimal, and parent corporate management should be silent.
    • Core accounting systems from the main corporate should not be utilised
      • No emphasis on reporting or detail- accounting & up to date record keeping is  not a core part of an early stage startup.
      • KPI’s & rewards should not be based on accounting numbers  in early stage ventures.
    • Employee incentive structures should be designed to create real skin in the game & high performance.
      • Low base salaries, or base salaries at significant risk under failure conditions (i.e. at least 30% penalty)
      • Large, uncapped Bonuses directly linked to value generated
        • You unexpectedly made $2m for the company this year? You should get 200K at least out of that!
      • Employees should be given equity in the startup entities they are involved in
      • Employees should be given opportunity to invest in their startups significantly and increase their equity stakes if they desire.

    There are some very interesting, and very cheap talks and training coming up via SPARK. (Less than $10 a day!, but an application process, and eligibility criteria, such as being an Alumni of Deakin Uni apply)

    Melbourne knowledge week- If you are in this city, get into it!!

    http://spark.deakin.edu.au/upcoming-events-2/

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