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Dr. Strangeblog or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog
11 July 2012 Filed in:

It's probably dangerous admitting this, but I think I might be a technophobe, or maybe even a neo-luddite.

Yes I know this sounds stupid for someone working in IT, and there may be a bit of hyperbole involved, but there's also a significant element of truth in many ways. Particularly when it comes to social media, I've struggled, and as a result, we've struggled with it as a company. It's taken me a long time to understand why, but I think it's a combination of performance anxiety and the result of having started a business early in my career. Interconnekt's not a baby any more - it's not over 7 years old - and maybe like a child, it needed some time to mature before it knew what it wanted to say.

We're lucky that by building strong interpersonal relationships with both clients and other people in the industry we've had some amazing opportunities over the years which have taken us to where we are today, but the reality is, it's time to spread our wings and get the word out there, because while we certainly aren't a perfect organization, I think we're pretty damn good at what we do, and I know for a fact there's a lot of businesses out there we can help.

I know it probably sounds a bit trite, but that's what honestly drive both Interconnekt as a company and me as an individual - the ability to use technology to solve real life problems, specifically in business. I know this is getting a bit wistful, but I can still remember logging onto the Internet for the first time via a BBS through my 2400 baud modem. The web literally hadn't been invented yet, and everything was text based - I think I was using Gopher at that time (if you don't know what Gopher is, lucky you). I had already been using Compuserve for a while and BBS'es in general and was simply amazed by the wealth of information out there - which is incredible when you think how paltry it was compared to now - like comparing a single book with the Library of Congress.

So while I certainly would love to talk more about social networking - and certainly will in a future blog post - I thought that in the interests of posterity, or really for my own gratification (isn't that what blogs are about?) I would (with thanks to the Libyans, or is it too soon?) get out my plutonium powered flux capacitor and take a trip down memory lane to where it all began. Because if there's one thing my dad taught me (actually there's been many) "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". (There's some discussion as to the attribution of this quote, but to clear things up, I'm pretty sure my dad didn't come up with it).

Which brings us to what I've now decided is going to be the topic of this blog - The History of Interconnekt AKA How to Make Friends and Break Computers, Part I

Anyway, after 5 years of studying pharmacology at university (I took a major, but never graduated, sorry mum and dad) I realized that fundamentally I didn't want to work in a lab - I was passionate about science and in particular application of the scientific method, but I simply wasn't cut out of the often repetitive and mundane nature of scientific research. I like to put it like this - I enjoyed reading the abstract of a paper, but was glad I wasn't the one that had to do the 5 years of research to be able to write those 5 paragraphs.

From any early age I enjoyed computers, from the first one I had (Commodore 64) to my first PC (pretty sure it was almost $8,000?) and certainly throughout my teen years I liked to tinker. Once the Internet came around I was hooked (pretty sure these days I would end up in one of those Internet rehab camps) and while at that time my mind was certainly not focused on business applications, I certainly saw that this was fundamentally a paradigm shift in the way everyone was going to communicate.

While trying hard not to finish university (because I had no idea what I was going to do, and the holidays were good) I was working at a philately (that’s stamps) and collectibles auction house called Charles Leski Auctions run by one of my great mentors, the eponymous Charles Leski.

Being the ever generous person he is, Charlie was nice enough to give me a part time job (still not sure why) and I was encouraging of my involvement across different areas of the business so I would have the opportunity to find out both what I was good at, and more importantly what I was passionate about. This is certainly an approach I have tried to apply to my business – I believe better to have a smart, enthusiastic person than an experienced, jaded one any day.

From working within CLA I had my first exposure to IT in a business environment (except for my dad’s law firm, but there they were really only glorified typewriters). I was really enjoying my work as a describer, particularly as I had the privilege of working on a major collection of railway memorabilia, including a number of rare model trains. This certainly demonstrated to me that I was never going to be a dedicated train-spotter, but I did find amazing the wealth of information which had been locked up in someone’s hope (literally packed to the rafters) for some 50 years.

At the same time, I did assist with some IT related projects and it got me thinking – maybe this is something I could do to supplement my income? To be honest, I NEVER wanted to work in IT – true, I did have long hair and a trenchcoat (sorry Jim Morrison) in the 90’s, but those days were gone and I had already realized from my studies that for me any intellectual pursuit had to have a high degree of involvement with people. Over the years I’d had a number of people help me with my computer and from what I’d I just didn’t feel like it was the industry for me.

Then, by accident, I won my first client – the very talented Sonia Payes, who was the mother of a good friend, the equally talented Lani Payes and the wife of another of my business mentors, the brilliant David Payes (quite a family, really).

Sonia had been an early adopter of digital photography and had a high end Digital SLR, something that was not all that widespread at that time due to the high cost and relatively low quality compared to cheaper film based SLRs.

Sonia had an amazing studio above Chapel St. in Prahran, which probably started my obsession with the area (hence our office location) and when I got involved had pretty basic technology – a Mac laptop, a couple of external hard drives and a wired ADSL modem.

After a discussion one day at her home, she mentioned that there were a few things she really wished she could do – namely work wireless anywhere in her studio and to be able to produce high quality photographic prints without having to take them to a lab/printer.

I started talking about how she could setup a wireless router and that there were now 6 colour Inkjet printers that produced near professional results and that’s when she asked me “could you sort that out for me?”.

I was taken aback – I mean, I was an unqualified pharmacologist who liked playing with computers, but I really didn’t have any experience. I was probably better prepared to make meth for bikie gangs - I was years ahead of Walter White - but Sonia was keen and I needed beer money, so I agreed.

I realized quickly that in order to present as a professional operation (which I most certainly was not) I really needed a business name. Somewhat bizarrely for me, since I usually obsess over such things (this blog took me 7 years) I almost instantly came up with a name – Interconnekt and promptly setup an invoice template accordingly.

Why Interconnekt? Well in a bout of historical revisionism I have started telling people that it was Inter for Internet, Connect for connecting things and then the K for Kino (being my last name) – but the truth is I honestly have no idea – it was just a made up word because I needed something to put on my invoice and the rest, as they say, is history.

Next time on the Interconnekt Channel, find out what happens to Jacob (please, pretend you care) as well as some great lessons including "Why you shouldn't work out of your second bedroom, especially when you have employees in your lounge room" and "It might be an idea to get a bit more experience working for someone else, before you decide you know it all and go out on your own".

Jacob Kino, Founder and Principal - Interconnekt

Please Note: The above story is likely to contain the following, including but not limited to: errors of fact, historical inaccuracies, personal biases, complete fabrications and convenient lapses of memory - apart from that, it's all true.

PS - If your not familiar with the work of art referenced in the blog title, please introduce yourself to my friend and business partner Mr Google, seriously.