Archive for the ‘General’ Category

A lack of good budgeting tools and why I started my own

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Last year I did terrible in managing my money .. I basically used my credit card for everything and by the time I payed it back (every month, in Germany that is quite common) I needed to use it again because I only got enough to pay it back. So I spent 3000€ and I payed back 3000€ .. which was the problem: I was running after my money, constantly.

Then my beautiful girlfriend Elizabeth introduced me to Dave Ramsey (www.daveramsey.com) and inspired me to change my spending habits big time. So, then I started budgeting and managed my money better .. honestly I rather tried .. and failed .. and succeeded .. and failed .. and … and I am still on my way. I created an Excel-Sheet that was helping me managing the money. You need to realize I owned at the time: One German company, one american company and my own private money. So I had to consider three different entities for my finances. And then I looked into budgeting tools because my sheet reached its limits.

And guess what? I did not find one that fulfilled my criteria:

  • International, multiple currencies
  • Multiple accounts (private, business A, business B, spouse,…)
  • Bank Connection
  • Virtual Accounts / Funds
  • Goal setting
  • Automized transaction generation to manage funds, goal and bank accounts
  • easy to use

While some tools have great features and cover some of the things I really needed, all of them together I did not find. So I started working on my own tool and called it accordingly to my company: Skelpo Budget (www.skbudget.com)

The great thing about creating your own tool is that you can customize it in a unique way. Talking to my friends and partners I realized: I am not the only one having that problem, quite a few people would have use for such a tool.

And so here it is, Skelpo Budget, fulfilling all the requirements mentioned above. And right now we started in beta .. everything is for free and it is still a lot to do. But the goal is clear: The easiest and best working budgeting solution for people with high expectations.

Please do register there (email me at ralph@skelpo.com for the beta code) and test it. Stay tuned for more updates very soon (weekly) and see this project grow.

Everything is free during beta and even after, I honestly don’t want to rip anyone off but I really want to help people to get through the same problem I stood before last year. So I can promise that the monthly fee won’t be much (I guess something around $5 per month or so). Help me out here guys! :)

Thanks for reading,

Ralph

App Developer List – appdevlist.net

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

We proudly announce our newest product: App Developer List
As a company providing app development we are aware of common problems that developers often have:
– Good clients are hard to find
– Many clients have high expectations for developers
– They often lack appropriate funding for what they want done
– Cheap alternatives are available for lower rates

We also know that Clients have similar problems:
– It is hard to distinguish between qualified and unqualified developers
– While rates are low, the service quality is also low
– Cheaper developers don’t care about the apps, just the money
– Too many developers apply to jobs without proper qualification

App Developer List solves these problems by:
– Providing free publication of app requests
– Keeping clients contact and personal information well protected
– Only allowing quality developers to easily look through and apply to jobs after paying a minimal service fee

Some advantages to this system include, that only qualified and interested developers are given access to clients, and clients can be sure of quality due to the fact that developers are already personally invested.

(originally from skelpo.com)

Shooting the messenger – Edward Snowden

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Just a few years back and a certain government (several in fact) were hunting the founder and frontman of Wikileaks – Julian Assange. And now, just a few days ago, it seems like as if a similar story happens again. A man becomes aware of a crime a government is doing against it’s own people. A crime because what the government (or parts of it) is doing is against laws in the same country. In this case it even involves foreign countries. So this man is publishing that information that he has in order to work against crimes and to make the world a better place. What happens next is unbelievable. The government and the people being accused of that are hunting that man. They say that his publishing of that information is a crime. So what is that then? I mean you publish a crime and now you publishing the crime is a crime itself?

Not only that, but which country is involved in all of that? The USA – a country that claims to be free and to support freedom. And now someone is being chased because he is doing for what his country is officially supporting everyone to do: Working against crimes.

It will be interesting to see how it all works out especially since it is all in the news now and at least outside of the USA everyone much rather likes Edward Snowden for doing that than seeing it is wrong. I am not saying you should publish everything just blindly, not all information is good for people. But private information such as what you do in the internet and when you call people – should not everyone have the right to at least know but better to be able to control what happens with that information?

And again: Why are we shooting the messenger? Should it not be against the NSA and everyone involved rather than the one who tells us about it? I mean no one will blame CNN to telling us something, so where is the actual difference between a reporter of CNN and Edward Snowden?

I deeply respect Snowden for his courage and the fact that he is telling things like this. A government that spies on it’s own people is just as dangerous as a dictatorship. A government – by definition – should never be trusted but always questioned.

Me saying that as a German may be different but just look into history what ALWAYS happened when people started to trust their government. Questioning is nothing wrong and so I challenge everyone to exactly do that and not to look the other way.

And btw, I am not saying that any of that may be true or not – just “how” do we deal with that? Is it right to blame Snowden for bringing that up?

 

Entrepreneurship and Investors – Contradiction?

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

While get more and more involved in entrepreneurship I see certain patterns that are used all over the place. One particular thing is really something where I would not follow what most people do or want do: Having an investor.

Many startups and entrepreneurs have some sort of business idea (or general idea and they hope it will bring money eventually *gg*). But in order to get to a point that the business would run it requires resources such as time and money. And if you work fulltime you need to your bills somehow. So the idea of having an investor is for most people a very much liked possibility. Someone else pays while you work for it and in the end you sort of share the return in some split.

What is that really what you want? I mean I can speak only for myself but the idea of that someone else pays me and I work is not really why I am an entrepreneur (at least not generally). Especially since it tends to be that investors and business angels get a higher and higher role in the startup I often ask myself “Is that really what you would want?”.

As of now I am a 21 year old guy who is studying at the same time as I am an entrepreneur. I have two fulltime employees and my main company (Skelpo) is offering services in programming in mobile and web. Yes I do not have the financial flexibility to just employ more people and do way bigger projects and lot’s of “riskier” things.

But I would not want it any other way: I work for my own money and I am not responsible for anyone on how I spend my time (which is one of my main reasons why I am entrepreneur). The money we get with Skelpo is mainly used to invest in other projects and to start several things at the same time. Yes – oh my gosh – I am not “focussed” on only one and only one thing. But who cares? I am not responsible for anyone else’s money and I can afford to do that.

And you know what? That freedom, that is what I want – nothing else. Working for money and having safety – if I wanted that I’d work for a company. But my goals are higher and I want to do different things in different areas.

So, what do you think? Am I ruining myself by that or is that just another lifestyle of entrepreneurship?

By the way: I may be wrong but as long as I remember correctly neither Apple nor Google or any other really big company started with a BA or investor from the beginning. Most of their things were either self-financed or they had really good loans. And don’t get me wrong. A BA or investor is not necessarily a bad thing at all! At a certain point it is probably not possible to survive with one (can’t tell, haven’t been there yet *gg*). But having one from the beginning and working more for “him/her” … that idea is just killing me. ;)

Ah, one thing: I am not opposed at all to silent investors. As long as you have the freedom to totally “waste” your money and time I’d go along with that.

Breaking Bad – Is it a good TV show to watch?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

The following article is dedicated to my dear friend Elizabeth, who prompted me to question my viewing of the popular show, Breaking Bad. She first asked whether or not I thought the show is a good influence on me. Using Philippians 4:8 (Bible),which talks about thinking noble, honorable, and good things, she gave a quite a bit to think about, which I will put before you here.

Many questions come to mind when I think about this show, such as “Does Breaking Bad glorify violence?” “Does it send out the message that wrongdoing is acceptable in some situations?” “Why do we laugh at the suffering of others? It shouldn’t be funny.” the answers to these questions usually prompt many to not watch shows and or movies such as Breaking Bad or any of Quentin Tarantino e.g., which can also be quite violent.

To start, let’s look at what Vince Gilligen, the author of Breaking Bad, has to say about morals and consequences:

If religion is a reaction of man, and nothing more, it seems to me that it represents a human desire for wrongdoers to be punished. I hate the idea of Idi Amin living in Saudi Arabia for the last 25 years of his life. That galls me to no end. I feel some sort of need for biblical atonement, or justice, or something….” “My girlfriend says this…’I want to believe there’s a heaven. But I can’t not believe there’s a hell.’…”

In this quote, Gilligen is pointing out the underlying purpose of Breaking Bad. It is to make people aware of the good and bad in the world, as well as the consequences people incur when they do wrong things.

So, What is right and what is wrong? How far is each man willing to go to take care of, protect, or provide for his family? Does the end justify the means? – These are the real questions and each man must answer for himself. It is also true that depending on the answer, one may gain reward or consequence.

Through the show, we follow Walter White, a normal, likeable science teacher, who chooses to “cook” methamphetamine (drugs). He sees everything as “O.K.” through his scientific mind. As time goes on it is only natural to hate him. We continually see what happens to him as he follows down that path and how it affects others around him, especially his family.

In the beginning his motive for this new job is his desire to provide for his family once he is dead from (secret) cancer. He hooks up with a former student of his, Jessie Pinkman, and falls into the drug life. In the beginning his actions and their repercussions cause him to want out, but in the end he continues. His drug dealings lead him into greed. So, though he started with the desire to provide for his family, he ends up pushing them away.

Walter’s partner, Jessie, is the second most important characters in the show. (he is the comic relief.) Though he too is on the wrong track in the drug business, he has his morals and stands by them as often as he can. He does not betray anyone, encourages good in his young family members and holds to what he believes. When he is forced to murder someone, we see him wrestle with it. He sticks to being himself, taking ever assault against his morals seriously. He is against murder, the injustice of harming the innocent, and cheating. He sees those who take drugs as their own masters, they have chosen to lead that life, and its not his responsibility. By removing the drugs and low life, Jessie is the hero, keeping his morals and encouraging good in the young.

I have watched quite a few of the interviews produced by those who are in the show, which by the way, a good way to know the intentions of those behind it. An interesting point that was made in them was, that Walt’s cancer directly influences him. It is his cancer that causes him to act the way he does. As it spreads over his body, his actions and consequence spread out, covering those he loves or interacts with.

Back to the point;

Is watching a show like this bad? (especially for those who follow Christ Jesus.)

I would say that it depends on the person. While I may be able to handle it, others may not. Likeweise for other situations. I also think that depending on how you view the show will influence your decision to watch or not watch the show.

I ask myself, “Does it directly reflect my real life?” It doesn’t for me and I hope the same goes for you. (If it does reflect your life, then I would encourage turning yourself in to the authorities.)

Lastly, I look at the grim humor in the show. I used to call it “dark humor”, but truly “what does that mean?” And “Is it a good thing?” I would I would characterize “dark humor” as irony, sarcasm, true yet grim outcomes of stupidity for the point of sharing a message.

 

For me personally, the show Breaking Bad is an example of ones life when he stretches the moral rules, and crosses the line into wrongdoing. It is not to encourage “breaking bad” in ones own life, but to make you aware of the stark difference between good and bad (no matter how small). Besides the ethical/moral aspect of the show,Breaking Bad shows the drug life, the business, and the duality of it. I see that even normal, sweet people can do bad things too (e.g. Gale or Gus Fring). So while it is not bad in my mind, I would prompt you to make up your own mind be evaluating and thinking it over.

 

Also: Here is the source for the quotes and an interview which shows the actors take on Breaking Bad.

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breaking_Bad#Moral_consequences
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaBi9fe_EQ0 

Being different

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

I consider myself different to most people – in fact to everyone. Well, some say thats good, some would not want to say that from themselves. Why is that? The other day I remembered myself when I was about 12-13 years old. I had just started working commercially on websites and successfully had my own website running. To do so I rented a server for that which costed 70 Euro each month. It did not take long until another one had to follow and so I had to pay 170 Euro each month. With 14! Well, tell me what you want but thats not how most 14-year-olds spent their money and therefor time. I grew with the responsibility of getting the money thats required for the server bills. Sometimes I struggled quite a lot because of that and I was thinking stuff like “Why aren’t you bringing newspapers to people? That’s so much easier and you actually earn money.”.

All of that brought me into the entrepreneur-mindset which in my eyes says: “Don’t work for money, work for a product to make the world a better place. Money? That’s just a number, doesn’t fulfilled you.” And I kept this mindset ever since. The only thing is – unfortunately – that all of us need money to live. It is maybe even the only thing that brings you back to reality sometimes.

Now I have two full-time employees and quite a few freelancers working for my company – Skelpo. The responsibility is even higher – the goal, motivation and spirit is still the same. And that’s why I now don’t want to as everyone else is. Having a safe job, safe money, safety where ever you look. Safety? That even exists? Maybe some things are safer but certainly not absolutely safe. But I can tell you one thing: My life is interesting, exciting and – most important – worth living for good! Thanks to god for all the blessings!

Christmas Time – A lie for most people

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Isn’t it a great time? Everyone likes everyone else and everything is just harmonic and friendly. Christmas markets, wine, nice biscuits and families are coming together. Theoretically a great thing, right? Well, I guess most of us are aware of that hidden sites of this special time. Is there any family earth which is without any fights and arguments? I haven’t heard of any. Is the stressful every day life just going away for these days?

A time of peace and preparation is what people tell you the christmas time is. I doubt that it is peaceful for everyone (not even on the other side of the world but here) .. and preparing? For what? What does christmas really stand for? The birth of Jesus Christ of course but what do “we” need to prepare for that? To me it seams like people are looking for an “opportunity” to be in a “peaceful time”. All the things we do in christmas time are more or less just about us – not really about Jesus at all. Do we really do it because of Jesus or because of what we would like to have ourselves?

Just remember how Jesus was born … not very peaceful and not harmonic at all. So all in all, apart from the fact that we remember Jesus his birth, there is not much of what we do with a biblical backup or reason behind. Is that bad now? Of course not! But why am I telling you this now? Because I think that christmas for most people (christians included) is mostly a very selfish thing. It is all about our feelings and that we feel good. Is that an appropriate behavior to honor the birth of the son of god?

Furthermore: We try make this time peaceful and special. And how about the rest of the year? Shouldn’t we try to be peaceful the whole year? I’m not talking about a few days set apart for the actual christmas day. But the whole month of December (which in most countries you would consider christmas time) what are we doing? And to hit the top of the mountain: What about the rest of the world? While we have  a peaceful nice time what is about the parts of the world where people die on a daily basis? Shouldn’t that make us think and potentially change something?

Counter Personality Business Strategy

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Being an entrepreneur brings you constantly to points in life where you need to leave your comfort zone. Everyone who knows me a little bit knows that I’m rather introverted than extroverted. I just feel way more comfortable with myself alone to relax than hanging out with people to relax. Well, the consequences of this natural behavior are that I’m not really up to meet new people every day and I rather stick to people who I know for a while. This habit is quite not useful when it comes to the point of acquiring new customers and partners. But, this gives you an extra benefit if you use it right! Look at my old article here about the social aspects of the issue: http://www.ralph-kuepper.com/2012/09/silent-introverted-making-friends/

I’ve been to quite a few business meetings /conferences the very recent past. On most of them alone without anyone I know -> that is nothing I would naturally like! But still it worked in all cases more then well. Being a more reserved person and talking to people really affects how people see you. Instead of being seen (not that I’d care much) as a trash-talker you are seen as an highly educated and indeed sophisticated person. You know what you talk about, you know what you can do, what you don’t and why you talk what you talk. That’s something people that are rather extroverted will not always have (which is not a bad thing at all – just better for different purposes).

All in all I can say that I – as someone rather silent and reserved (for most times) – approach business and especially conferences and meetings completely different to what I naturally would tend to do. And guess what? It works! :)

A masculine heart – “Feelings” and Actions.

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

I am supposed to prepare the next meeting of my bible study group and I had to pick between these topics: “Who may touch my heart?” and something else I can’t even tell right now. It is kind of obvious that I pick NOT the heart-topic. But it made me think about the issue generally: What “is” my heart? Well, quite frankly: I don’t care much, my heart is not that much involved in my daily life – at least I don’t feel or recognize it. But still, what is it then? If you ask this question to a woman she would probably start talking about her feelings, thoughts and her commitment to someone or something. But what is it for us guys?

Compared to a woman we guys don’t have a clue about feelings at all, so a masculine heart is not necessarily primarily about feelings and emotions. Committing yourself to someone or something is probably something that appears in both genders when you talk about your heart. While for a woman it is more about giving herself up to someone for guys it – from my perspective – seems to be similar but more towards a general idea or something bigger, like a desire or so. Of course that doesn’t mean that we can’t love women! Loving someone is of course a commitment as well and it is something that is in our heart AS WELL – but not ONLY.

If you ask a guy “What is it that your heart beats for?” (and by asking that you hit the core of the question “why do you life?”) you most likely will hear something about providing, fighting, reaching or archiving. Our “feelings” in our heart are rather to be described  as “passions” than “feelings” in the sense of what most people understand by it. God made us guys that way (read “Wild at heart” by John Eldredge if you want to know more about that). So to make it a bit more personal and understandable I’m telling you now what my heart beats for. God gave me the desire to fight for the good things in life. To make the earth more like the kingdom to heaven or in other words: To bring the kingdom of heaven here on earth. That it is a huge task and nothing “just to do”. It will certainly fill all my life :-) No, honestly, that is my desire and that’s what my heart beats for. But it is not only that – that is just the headline of my heart. The subtitles are: Business & Politics. Somehow I care a lot about people – but not the individuals (or not that much at least) but rather the ones in the bigger picture.

So how do we deal with that? We basically decide: We act like what is in our heart (whatever that is for you) and we stick to it – or we deny ourselves (in the wrong way this time!) and keep quiet and do not what we are supposed to do. What are you doing?

Living in bubbles – and we christians stay there.

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

People are living in bubbles! That’s something what we can see all over the earth really. Everyone is having a certain group of people or a place or an area where we feel at home, where we are save (or we think we are). For some people thats the town, for others the school, for others family, college, university, working place, whatever. Each one of us is living in a bubble and normally we don’t step out of it or at least not frequently. Why not? Because we loose the feeling of safety and it might become uncomfortable.

I experienced what it means to change bubbles when I came back from my volunteer service year in England. We had our great OM bubble there with all people that worked in the organization. It was a great time and we had a lot of fun inside of that bubble. Also we had to step out of it frequently … but we always had this safe background of the bubble. Then I came to my town now, Münster. Compared to Birmingham in England it is a difference as day and night. While in Birmingham we had this little christian bubble here in Münster it is a great secular student town. I learned to love my bible study group here and I met great christians here. To live in a – apart from that – very secular town is shocking, enriching and challenging at the same time. While in a christian bubble you are kind of safe this is the wild west.

But and that is my point: That’s where Jesus wants us to be. What is my impact on the world when I stay in my christian bubble all my life? Of course I need a (small) bubble to refresh, to get new energy from and to get encouragement. But as Jesus commands us to be salt and light in the world: We are supposed to be outside of that christian bubble for most of our time. And I can honestly say that I can see how Jesus uses me here. It starts in little things like just being a friend to people and goes on into the bigger picture in seeing how God can use me to establish something completely new here. I see so many christians not doing what they could do … and I’m not saying that I am any better. But once you discovered what God’s will is for you and who you truly are you should start acting as you are supposed to do. Get out of your comfort zone, risk something, take off your masks and show the world who you are: A representation of Jesus himself. And did Jesus at any point not show who he was? (I mean even when he was 12 he did it) There is nothing to loose but only to win by starting living as the christian you are supposed to.  And therefor most of us (myself included) have to leave our christian bubble and get out into the world. Even though it is hard (at first anyways) – we are at war, a war started at the beginning, and we should not step back and just voluntarily give this world up. Let’s fight for the good side!