My interview with Eric Ries, author of ‘The Lean Startup’

I recently had the great pleasure of hearing Eric Ries speak at an event at TechHub in London on 17th January. (He was there as part of a tour to promote the international edition of his fantastic book, ‘The Lean Startup‘). After the event I managed to grab a few words with Eric and arranged to follow up with a more in-depth interview for the Shell LiveWIRE site which you can listen to below.

Eric Ries, author of ‘The Lean Startup’ (31st Jan 2012)

Google Map of UK North East Tech Scene

The North East of England is really buzzing right now with tonnes of exciting tech start-ups, established digital, media & creative businesses, support organisations, weekly meet-ups, investors and a supportive local press and media.

As such, I thought it would be handy to kickstart a crowdsourced ‘Google Map of the UK North East Tech Scene‘ (below).

If you’re a North East based IT/software/web/tech business based in the North East please feel free to add yourself to the map (you’ll need a Google account to login) or email your business name, website and postcode to me at and I’ll do it for you.

The Domino Project: Start. Now!

Slides from my 5min Ignite presentation first delivered at the Codeworks Connect ‘Think and a Drink’ event at the Vermont Hotel, Newcastle upon Tyne on Thursday 29th September 2011.

Barriers to 'Great Work'

‘Barriers’ stopping people from producing ‘Great Work’ and achieving their dreams in Newcastle. (I got people to write them down on a piece of paper, scrunch them up into a ball, and throw them at a target on stage during my ‘Ignite’ presentation at the Codeworks Connect ‘Think and a Drink’ on 29th September 2011.

Contact me via @plandigitaluk, @lordlancaster, or call +44(0)7734 722 716 if you’d like to know more or get me to deliver this presentation again for you.

Scanme demo video

Watch this short video (below) for a live demo of how my unique, personal Scanme barcode (containing all my social media contact details) can be used on a t-shirt and business card to connect with others in both the online and offline world.

Pre-Thinking Digital 2011

The Thinking Digital Conference 2011 is just about to get underway and there’s magic in the air!

People from all over the UK, Europe and indeed the rest of the world are either on their way or have already arrived in Newcastle/Gateshead for this major ‘Event’ on the tech world calendar, of which the local hotels, bars & restaurants, taxi, train and airline companies should be eternally grateful for.

Being a native Geordie, born and bred in the West of Gateshead, I’m proud to have such a prestigious event in my home town which serves to bring some of the world’s most original and creative thinkers together in a single location and I can’t wait to see what the next few days will bring.

What Happened Last Year (25-27 May 2010)

Last year (2010) was my very first Thinking Digital Conference, and although I didn’t really know what to expect the lineup of speakers looked impressive and I’d heard plenty of good things from previous years.

Right from the outset it was clear that TDC was no ordinary conference and that the organisers had really pulled out all the stops to deliver something that far surpassed my (already high) expectations. Not only is the Sage Gateshead a wonderful venue, but the quality and range of speakers was truly breathtaking with many of the world’s leading experts from the world of tech & creative thinking all coming together as one.

Unlike other conferences I’ve been to (and I’ve been to a lot), I can honestly say that each and every speaker at 2010 was first-rate, but some of the most memorable/impressive for me were;

  • Brian Solis (Author of Engage! and Principal at Altimeter Group) – changed the way I think about social media (again) and made me go and buy his book the very next day!
  • Tom Wujec (Autodesk) – one of the most impressive presenters / public speakers out there. You think you’re good at presentations? You’ll want to burn your slides after seeing this guy speak. Seriously slick!
  • Mary Ann de Lares Norris (Oblong) – one of the most breathtaking videos demonstrations I’ve ever seen! The future is already here!
  • Rory Sutherland (Ogilvy Group Ltd) – seriously intelligent and extremely funny. Book him as a speaker NOW!
  • Louis von Ahn (Inventor of CAPTCHA & reCAPTCHA / Carnegie Mellon University) – after hearing Louis speak I added reCAPTCHA to the Shell LiveWIRE registration form which resulted in a huge reduction in spam on our site. ;o)
  • Christian Payne (Our Man Inside@Documentally) – demonstrated that with a little bit of technology and a lot of creativity you can do some truly amazing things whilst having plenty of fun at the same time
  • Jer Thorp (blprnt) – the beauty and art of ‘data visualisation’
  • Ken Banks (Kiwanja / FrontlineSMS) – how mobile phones are truly changing lives (for the better) in the developing world
  • Joi Ito (Chairman, Creative Commons) – imprssive and articulate speaker. Made me want to publish all my work under CC license

Major props go to Herb Kim (Founder of Thinking Digital & CEO of Codeworks) for his vision and ambition to ‘gift’ the region with such a wonderful event, plus of course his fantastic team for their hard work, dedication and organisation in bringing all the plans to fruition!

The Next Few Days (24-26 May 2011)

I wonder what the next few days will bring? To be honest, although I’ve read through the list of speakers I’ve deliberately not paid too close attention to the who, what, where and when. I’m just going along with an open mind and willingness to learn, be inspired and make new connections with my fellow delegates who are going for the very same reasons.

Thinking Digital is a very special event, where thoughts and ideas come together, germinate and spread back out into the wider world. Who knows what fantastic new things will result from this meeting of minds and what impact they will have on the rest of the world? All I can say is that for the next few days something magical will happen on the shores of the Tyne and I feel very lucky to be there in the thick of it!

If you’d like to contact me during or after the Thinking Digital Conference, please feel free to contact me on 07734 722 716 or You can also Follow me on Twitter @lordlancaster and @plandigitaluk or via LinkedIn at:

Paul Lancaster (Plan Digital) Interviews Herb Kim (Thinking Digital), Feb 2011

ScanMe – Unique, Personal QR Barcodes For You And Your Business!

In my line of work I regularly get to hear about lots of great new business ideas and start-ups but here’s one that I think has huge potential to bring online and offline communities together, whilst enabling tech-savvy and fashion-conscious people to share private messages and information with each other around the world!

ScanMe is an exciting new application that allows individuals to create their own unique 2D / QR Barcode containing links to all their social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Skype), website, email address, telephone number and personal message or short bio.

It’s completely free for users to create their code by visiting and logging in using their existing Facebook details. Once the code has been created, they can download it to their PC or laptop and share it with anyone they like. The recipient or viewer then simply scans the code into their smartphone (using a QR reader app) to reveal all your contact info!

The code will never change in appearance, but you can login to add and edit the info contained within it whenever you like.

As someone who is using all the social media tools listed above for business on a daily basis, I think this is a really excellent way to compile all my contact details into one handy place which I can then share with all my business contacts online (i.e. as an avatar or profile picture) or on printed materials (like business cards).

For example, my unique ScanMe barcode is shown below. To see how it works, take a photo/scan it into your smartphone to reveal my contact details!

lordlancaster's ScanMe barcodelordlancaster’s ScanMe barcode

The official launch date for the fully functioning ScanMe website is Monday 9th May but for those of you who are super-keen and like to be ahead of the pack you can create your code now at to see how it works, and then add further info to it next week.

Furthermore,  after 9th May, users can incorporate their own unique ScanMe code into  a  range of clothing items and t-shirts dubbed ‘Interactive Fashion’  featuring exclusive designs by world-renowned artists like Ray Ban and  Wired magazine designer Matt W. Moore. Very cool indeed!

Watch the YouTube clip below to find out more… ;o)

Interview with Michael Acton Smith (Mind Candy / Moshi Monsters)

On 15th April 2011, I interviewed Michael Acton Smith, founder of and now Mind Candy – home of the phenomenally successful Moshi Monsters (almost 40m registered users worldwide)!

During this fantastic interview Michael confirmed that the working environment was crucial to getting the best out of his team and making them feel valued, expressing dismay at how many businesses continue to work in boring, drab and soulless offices. If only more companies would take heed and put more effort into their place of work then perhaps we would have more success stories like Mind Candy throughout the UK? (see my earlier blog Start-Ups: Know Your Place).

Other topics discussed include how Michael gets ideas and inspiration, the importance of surrounding yourself with positive and creative people, awards and recognition and his future plans for Moshi Monsters in the coming months and years!

Paul Lancaster Interviews Herb Kim (Thinking Digital / Codeworks)

In this video, Plan Digital’s Paul Lancaster interviews Herb Kim, founder of the excellent Thinking Digital Conference taking place @ Sage Gateshead on 24-26 May 2011.

In it, Herb talks about the benefits to young entrepreneurs in attending the event and the pros and cons of being a tech start-up in the UK as opposed to the US, particularly Silicon Valley.

Topics include:

  • Thinking Digital, Codeworks and GameHorizon.
  • The pros and cons of being a tech start up in the UK as opposed to the US, particularly Silicon Valley.
  • The ingredients that make a successful tech start up, and why do some succeed when others fail?
  • Seeking investment for new tech businesses.
  • Herb’s advice to someone thinking of starting their own business and the support available.
  • Facebook, Google, YouTube, MySpace, Gowalla, Wired Magazine, Silicon Roundabout, London Tech City, Quora, Sage , Autonomy, Basecamp, 37signals and more.

Get Interviewed!

If you’d like us to come and interview you please email Paul at or call 07734 722 716.