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Category: ECommerce

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Death by PowerPoint: The Advantages of Interactive Presentations

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives. Feeling every ounce of energy slowly being sucked out by listening to somebody drone along to a PowerPoint presentation.

“How many slides are there?”

“Twenty. Wait…let me squint. Oh no, there are forty.”

This is the cue to pull out your phone and refresh Instagram thirty times or make several trips to the bathroom. In fact, a study by Indiana University revealed that the average adult pays attention for about 15 to 20 minutes before their mind begins to wander. This is when your audience starts to sport a glazed look. A study by MCI also showed that 39% of listeners at business presentations admitted to falling asleep at some point.  We’ve all witnessed someone take a quick nap.

The whole point of presenting is to make meaning and it’s true that passion leads to attention, which then leads to action. This cannot be achieved when your audience is severely disconnected because your slides are crammed full of texts and charts or because you are speaking at them. Audience interaction is key to success.

There is technology now available that enables audience interaction. They usually sport great visual aids to enrich what you are talking about. Business presentation software is designed to provide animated and exciting presentations with the aim to capture the audience’s attention. Use visual mind maps and ask questions to turn dull slides into a dynamic user experience.

With interactive presentation software, you can share what’s on your screen with other tablets and platforms which then allow your audience to filter out what they do not want to know and concentrate on what does interest them. You can back-up all your hard work on your cloud server. This not only provides instant security, but also easy access for your audience when they want it.

Why you should forward with interactive presenting

  • You are providing a hands-on approach. In fact, it’s been almost 25 years since PowerPoint was first launched. How much has technology advanced in 25 years? It may be time to move forward from PowerPoint too. You are now able to create real user experiences.
  • You can target other senses. You won’t just be talking at a brick wall. Interactive presentations are going to stimulate a whole bunch of other senses, enabling your audience to really get involved.
  • Time is money and you are going to be saving a lot of both. Interactive presentations will allow your audience to browse to the bits that interest them and come back to them when they need to.
  • You can embed your videos and Flash. Your audience is likely to become a little more attentive with a video. No more of that awkward waiting for your video to load up only to find it crashes and your audience promptly fall back into a slumber.
  • Live data from real-time feeds, you won’t have to lift a finger. Automatic updates will grace your screen. People are interested by the latest news and information.

Interactive presentations are vital. They are used for a range of purposes such as training, marketing, education and entertainment. They have to be great to create lasting impressions with clients and audiences. They are more effective in introducing new ideas, services and subjects. This isn’t to say you should forget the basics about presenting.

The rules you should always apply


Determine your message

Don’t’ spend so much time setting up the presentation so it includes every figure and every feature. Keep it simple but to the point.


 Analyze you audience

Think about whom you are presenting to. Every age group and every career will be made up of different people, so presenting with a focus on what your audience wants is key.


Organize you information

In a way that is going to cause impact. Visuals, multi-platforms, and a range of other features are at your fingertips; utilize them. Create a better experience face-to-face and on the web.


Practice makes perfect

It really does, so recite what you have to some friends or family. See if they fall asleep. If they do, change what you have done. If there’s no one around, then talk to some furniture. It works.


Bad presentations lead to bad communication. Bad communication leads to bad relationships and interaction. All of these then lead to a loss of sales or money or training. Keep your purpose alive by keeping your audience alive and use interactive presentations.



Mobile Transaction Growth Outpacing the Payment Establishment’s Ability to Self-govern

Payment companies and mobile technologists alike agree — at least in public, to hide the fierce competition going on behind the scenes.


In order to grow mobile commerce and best serve the retailer and consumer, there needs to be better inter-industry cooperation in developing standards and in promoting interoperability between mobile payments platforms. In the meantime, still hurting from the economic downturn of the past few years and seeking to better engage with consumers, retailers are viewing new mCommerce technology solutions as a way to both build its customer base and increase consumer loyalty — to capture new sales while generating more incremental sales.


Mobile Phone Shopping Cart Before Trade Horse


In August 2012, Google, PayPal, Verifone, the US Carriers, Capital One and the major US banks formed the Mobile Payments Committee within the Electronic Transaction Association (ETA), with a stated objective of “Enhanc[ing] business relationships and network interoperability among merchants, card brands, networks, equipment manufacturers, and financial institutions.” Today, the committee has ballooned to 107 members (the next largest ETA committee – Government Relations – has just 41 members) and does not include the payment innovator Square. Within a year, the committee published Best Practices and Guidelines for Mobile Payment Solutions (September 2013), and is expected to continue to advise the merchant-acquiring payments industry as mobile commerce becomes more widespread. But can the trade organization-delivered advice keep up with the fast past of mobile technology advancement and the implications that it has for merchant adoption and consumer behavior?


New technology offerings focused on mobile payment ubiquity continue to pop up, launch and take off at spectacular speed – driven by merchant need and consumer acceptance. After raising just over $123,000 from nearly 1500 backers on Kickstarter, mobile payment enabler Loop raised $10 million in funding (November 2013) and is already offering a $39 fob to consumers that allows you to store all of your credit and gift card data on one device, and to pay wirelessly at the store once the small 2.5 inch fob is attached to your phone. Due out in April 2014 is a more elegant and functional, but also more expensive Loop solution at $99 per unit — a phone charging case that acts in the same way as the fob, but which sits flush to the phone. And of course Square just continues to explode — launched in Q1 2010, the company processed approximately $20 billion in transactions in 2013, and expects to reach $30 billion this year across more than across more than 200,000 merchant locations (including 7,000 Starbucks cafes), and an undisclosed number of Whole Foods nationwide. Significantly, Sarah Friar, Square’s CFO and Operations Lead stated at this month’s Women 2.0 conference in San Francisco that contrary to popular payment industry belief, the service’s transaction size range is quite large – with $1,000+ purchases coming from a diverse set of payees such as landscaping companies, pest control firms and artists.


Restart, After Restarts on the Standards Front


Whilst mCommerce on the retail level continues to grow exponentially, the payments establishment is still tending to practical issues such as the development of uniform security standards. In the UK alone, IMRG and CapGemini’s e-retail index showed that a “tipping point” was reached in terms of m-commerce in 2013, with mobile transactions increasing 135% over 2012 and now accounting for all e-commerce growth on a year with an overall 18% growth in online transactions. In December 2013 alone, 27% of online sales came from mobile devices, equating to approximately $4.96 billion USD. In the larger U.S. market, similar rapid mobile transaction growth is cited, with the most recent Internet Retailer study stating that the top 500 mobile retailers reached $34.2 billion in mobile sales in 2013, up 64% from $20.9 billion in 2012.


At the most glitzy, if not the most well-attended payments conference Money2020 last fall, there was much talk surrounding the development of standards governing key issues such as the storage and transmission of PII (personally identifiable information). Credit card payment verification and ID validation company Jumio (ex-Facebook Edward Saverin is a board member, lending his name and investment dollars) announced an effort to jump-start a member-owned and operated association focused on PII. What is interesting about this development is that the relatively young company Jumio felt the need to take it upon itself to nudge the industry about an important security and privacy issue. When questioned about this, Jumio CEO Daniel Mattes stated that it was there intention to start the initiative in the hopes that the greater establishment would take the subject on and carry it forward.


And the nudge should be well taken. mCommerce security is becoming a more pressing issue, with hacker-criminals migrating to the mobile transaction arena as security and best practices in the online arena become more robust, better understood and widely practiced. At Money2020, Jim McCarthy, Visa’s Global Head of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships expressed a new willingness for Visa to work with other vested players in the payment space, and showcased a new alliance between the company, MasterCard and American Express to propose to the industry the creation of a global token-based standard for making online and mobile transactions safer and easier for the consumer. There’s been no update on the alliance since the press release and announcement last October, but it’s safe to say that the growth of mobile transactions is outpacing the ability of traditional financial institutions to safeguard and govern the m-commerce space.


Social Shopping Takes Advantage of Niches

Online shoppers are presented with a plethora of options when it comes to the decision on where to purchase a product, and on where to seek information on the product.


But when it comes to social shopping, quantity does not always prevail over quality, especially with Amazon and Ebay as a competitor. In this article, we’ll examine why more and more shoppers are taking to social shopping platforms to make purchasing decisions. We will also see how social shopping leverages the power of trendsetters to take the upper hand by closing the gap in the E-commerce circle rather than directly competing with large corporations.


The Power of Social


Human beings are inherently social and, in that innate tendency to connect with others, have the desire to seek affirmation and social reassurance. There’s no doubt that social aspects play a key factor in purchasing power on the web. There has been a 357% increase in sales from social traffic compared to last year (Shop Socially), and a total of 38,000,000 13 to 80 year olds in the US said that their purchasing decisions were influenced by social media (Knowledge Networks). That being said, it’s important to look at the main component propelling these statistics, the influencers.


Influencers, the Key Component in Social Shopping Purchases


When asked how shoppers formulate their opinions on products, 74% said they rely on social networks during the purchasing process (Sprout Social) and what’s more, 81% of US respondents indicated that their purchase decisions were directly influenced by friends’ social media posts (Forbes). So not only do they turn to social media, they look to people they trust, which is where social shopping closes the full circle in leveraging the power of these influencers to generate sales.


The particular appeal to these influencers is their authority within their particular niche. The influencers and the niches they are able to target are what give social shopping the upper hand against major corporations like Amazon and Ebay.These corporationsh mainly serve shoppers who know exactly what they want whereas more than 65% of shoppers who aren’t sure what they want turn to social media for gift ideas (Crowdtap) among the countless others in search of cool new products in their interest area or niche.


So Why a Niche Audience?


The way social shopping is fabricated encourages niche users to work together in forming a community (Readwrite) influenced by the collective activity of the group. There are often many different categories on social shopping networks, and niches are formed by influential leaders in each sector such as fashion, technology, books, music, home and garden, etc. The niches can even be filtered down into more specific subcategories, and social shopping networks often make deals with bloggers and trendsetters to be the voice of these communities, whom users with similar taste and needs can follow for advice and information on the products they’re interested in.


The influencers then leverage their power to generate big data around products that many nonsocial bigger corporations lack, which are the comments, reviews, shares and recommendations on products by trusted people in the community, people who have indicated they have or like a product, and more importantly, people who have indicated they want a product, which is one step closer to the purchase.


So what does this mean for stores and brands? A whole new level of personalization – the ability to connect with a highly targeted audience of users who are often overlooked by larger corporations who, in turn, target mass audiences. And on some social shopping networks, the stores have the possibility to send personalized offers and even to reward the influencers. And what does this mean for the user? A space they can turn to get all the information they need on the specific type of product they’re interested in, in just one visit.


Although Amazon seems to have mastered the E-commerce realm while it bets on efficiency, instant product comparisons, etc., the mass reviews by unknown customers or even the businesses themselves will not suffice for the shopper looking for a more personal, more curated experience. Soon, Amazon and companies alike will not be able to ignore terms like “social proof” and “curated shopping” (Clickz). Social Shopping networks like Wanelo, Svpply , Fancy, Fab , Moodyo and Open Sky have all created relevant, targeted audiences and communities that will inevitably pique the interests of the main players in E-commerce for their prominent influence on these niches and their purchasing power.


First Steps to eCommerce: Persuadability

The main obstacle for eCommerce platforms is achieving their customers’ trust so that they will buy online. This sometimes becomes a life or death struggle. Persuasion becomes crucial to get your potential customers to buy your products or services.


It is important to take into account certain aspects of human psychology in order to identify what can make a customer unconsciously trust you and your brand. Here are some ethical techniques that can help your online business to thrive.


1. Show what others are doing.


Funnily enough, people trust strangers on the Internet more than brands – which is why sometimes Catfish effects take place. If you show them what others have done, said, or rated, people will take note and possibly do the same, particularly if they are hesitating. This interesting psychological process is known as “social proof,” and basically means that people feel supported when they take decisions on the basis of what others have done, assuming that they have more knowledge and information than themselves.


To improve your “social proof”, you can display, for example:


- Your bestselling items.

- “Customers who bought this also bought…” This is a mode of cross-selling based on your customers’ behavior (behavioral targeting).

- Testimonials.

- Unboxing.



2. Show reviews and actions generated by your users.


These reviews add great credibility to your eCommerce stores because they are highly influential on purchase decisions, thanks to the swift growth of the Web 2.0 and social media. It enables users to freely give their view about the products and services which you offer on your website. Having your customers become influencers generates engagement with your products or services. If people cannot find reviews of your products or services in your website, they will just go somewhere else to find them. You shouldn’t be afraid of bad reviews: never remove or hide them because that detracts from your website’s credibility. Manage online reputation crises with dignity and honesty.



3. Apparent product “scarcity” can be your ally


Scarcity generates demand – this is one of the principles of marketing, which drives people to buy in a more impulsive way. People like to have what they think they will be unable to have. In times of economic prosperity this mechanism speeds up, and social psychology shows that the feeling of loss is stronger than the feeling of gain. So you can encourage impulse buying by means of flash sentences or claims, such as:


- Stock Deals

- Deal until the end of this month

- 50% discount today only

- Add to my wishlist

- 2×1…



In the end, these are just good old shopkeeper’s tricks in a virtual form. Moving from offline to online channels is not so hard: you just need to be equally persuasive. 


Holiday Shopping Smackdown: Black Friday Vs. Cyber Monday

Forget the turkey — Thanksgiving and the days after it are all about shopping. In 2012, more than 307 million people headed to stores on Black Friday, according to ShopperTrak.


Forbes reported 35 million people took a break from football and eating on Thanksgiving Day itself to do some in-person and online shopping in 2012. Over the weekend, another 247 million people headed to stores. Whether you shop on Black Friday or hold out for the deals on Cyber Monday depends on your shopping preferences and willingness to hold out for a better deal.


Excitement vs. Comfort


Queuing up in front of the doors to the mall or a big box store can be pretty exciting. In 2011, Time reported that a couple decided to camp outside of their local Best Buy for nearly two weeks to be first in line when doors opened Friday morning. But all that excitement can quickly turn to fear. The stampede of shoppers into the store once the doors open on Black Friday has led to injuries and even deaths, according to US News and World Report.


If spending days or even hours sitting outside doesn’t appeal to you, Cyber Monday offers some comfort. According to SOASTA, 31 percent of shoppers in 2012 stated that they would rather shop online because the deals and excitement of Black Friday “bring out the crazy” in other shoppers. People talking about Cyber Monday in 2012 were more likely to be excited or happy about it, compared to those who reported feeling excitement but also impatience about Black Friday, according to SAP.


The Deal Hunt


Finding good Black Friday deals and deals on Cyber Monday is part of the thrill of holiday shopping. A number of retailers, including JC Penney, Target and Amazon let people sign up months in advance to be notified of deals via email. As the number of deals offered on Cyber Monday now closely rivals those available on Black Friday, according to CNBC, it can be a toss-up for consumers when they decide to shop. In 2012, Time noted that people could save 5 percent if they waited until after Black Friday and Cyber Monday to buy a television or camera.


Blurred Lines


The difference between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is becoming less and less apparent as technology develops. The use of smartphones and other mobile devices means that shoppers can comparison shop online while in a physical store. Forbes reported that people used comparison shopping apps such as ShopSavvy and RedLaser when shopping and that mobile devices funneled 25 percent of online shopping traffic on Black Friday.


Online deals aren’t limited to Cyber Monday anymore, either. In 2012, up to a quarter Cyber Monday deals were expected to kick off on Friday. The year before, the deals started on Saturday, according to CNBC.


Nor is Black Friday limited to Friday anymore. Plenty of stores, such as WalMart and Target, opened their doors on Thanksgiving night, eliminating the need for shoppers to get up at 2 or 3 in the morning to get to the store by 4 or 5 am. Some of the Black Friday Thanksgiving deals were also online, further blurring the distinction between the traditionally in-store Black Friday and the traditionally online Cyber Monday.


TechCrunch Disrupts Battlefield Winner Announced!

On the final day of TechCrunch Disrupts, the final six startups duked it out in the Startup Battlefield—they were: Regalii, Ossia, Fates Forever, SoilIQ, Dryft, and Layer. Each of these teams took part in the Startup Battlefield earlier on against 23 other finalists and came out on top.

To determine the winner, the startups’ impact on the world are reviewed by a panel of judges consisting of: Michael Arrington (Founder of TechCrunch), Roelof Botha (partner at Sequoia Capital), Chris Dixon (Andreesen Horowitz), David Lee (founder of SV Angel), Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo!), and Keith Rabois (Khosla Ventures). The startup that wins the Startup Battlefield will bring home the Disrupt Cup along with a $50,000 stipend.


Regalii’s goal is to maximize the efficiency of remittance. Their product functions through SMS; essentially, the sender can send an SMS to somebody and the recipient will get a pin number that works like a gift card. This is an improvement to current forms of remittance such as Western Union in that the recipient gets the money immediately—this means that, along with speedy money delivery, both parties minimize the deductions made by a third party. Thus far, the startup has experienced a growth of 67% per week, showing signs of success in the market. Regalii claimed that this product “is the future of global remittance.”


Ossia created a product named COTA. This device is the first of its kind as it is able to remotely send power anywhere within a 30 feet radius to devices and charge them. COTA will detect the device location via a secondary attachment and send power to and only to that location. A demonstration was shown in which a light bulb lit up when held near a prototype, but went out the moment it was moved—the consumer model is expected to be able to charge a moving device as well. Imagine a world where wires are no longer needed—everything will be charged wirelessly. That is the future that Ossia offers with COTA.


Fates Forever is a gaming startup. What makes it so special is that it proposes to bring a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) to the growing tablet market—this has never been done before. The touchscreen will add even more to the gaming experience. While some of the judges questioned the novelty (and, thus, the ability to get a large enough market) of reintroducing a popularized genre to the tablet, founder, Jason Citron, countered by stating that many successful games are essentially a reintroduction of previous games with a different spin. In this case, the use of a touchscreen and an under-saturated tablet gaming market will bring Fates Forever far.


SoilIQ aims to revolutionize the farming industry. They created a device that can be stuck into the ground where it will measure various aspects of the soil: pH, temperature, humidity, sunlight, etc. The device is solar powered and sends the data to the cloud, where it will be analyzed. The software will make crop suggestions based on the state of the soil. Additionally, when the parameters of the soil changes such that the crop will die, a message will be sent to the user’s phones. The company measured a 15% - 20% increase in crop yield, showing proof of concept. With this, crops can be grown in larger bulk, sold more cheaply, and, most importantly, can feed more mouths.


Dryft was the runner up of the TechCrunch Disrupts Battlefield. Their plan is to optimize texting efficiency for the tablet. The product is essentially a tablet keyboard. The on screen keyboard will take advantage of the accelerometer and touch screen to detect typing based on the vibrations made from tapping the screen. As a byproduct of easier typing, the front end (e.g. autocorrect) won’t be as messy, either. While there is a transition from notebook to tablet, this product can possibly push the rate of this shift even faster!


This leaves the winner of the TechCrunch Disrupts Battlefield, Layer. This startup offers a product to all app developers; a code that can allow them to easily and seamlessly integrate SMS, voice, and video communication to any app. Not only that, there is no phone to phone restriction—multiple devices can take part. While many other companies have tried this, they’ve only been able to succeed at the beginning stages, because of the underestimated difficulty of this undertaking, resulting in scaling problems. Layer could potentially maximize the efficiency of communications between all mobile devices.


All of these startups had amazing ideas with proof of concept—unfortunately, only one could win. This doesn’t mean the end of any of the other companies. A backstage chat said that, “as long as these startups don’t [mess] up, they will be very successful.” While Layer won, not everybody is in agreement with that decision. Who do you think should have won?


You Launched Your App… Now What?

How we launched Chrometa, flopped, and then built traction by listening to our customers? How do you launch a new product?  It’s a question we get quite often from friends and acquaintances-Which is kind of ironic, because our initial product launch was pretty lame and lacked any fanfare whatsoever.

So what did we do then?  Here’s the story of our spirited efforts to get people to care about our product, an automatic time tracker app befittingly called Chrometa.


March 4, 2009 – Chrometa 1.1 Launches (But Nobody Cares)

We sent out a press release announcing our “First Automatic Time Capture Tool for Attorneys.”  Fortunately, we didn’t expand our team to handle the anticipated barrage of phone calls and sales inquiries–because there weren’t any!


Did we have a product that people were willing to pay for?  One month after launch, we weren’t exactly sure.  We decided to lower our pricing for the sake of getting some market validation.  We needed to see if people were willing to pay for our product before we did anything else.


June 3, 2009 – TechnoLawyer Covers Chrometa 1.1

TechnoLawyer is an online publication targeted at attorneys who want the latest scoop on legal technology.  We thought it’d be the perfect advertising medium for us.


This initial coverage from TechnoLawyer (an email to their 13,000 subscribers, plus a blog post) was great in helping to get the ball rolling with product awareness in the legal community.  We picked up about 25 customers from it too – and, more importantly, we solicited key product feedback from active users that showed us what we needed to develop and improve upon.


Our 1.1 release was a decent to good product – it wasn’t yet great – and without a great product/market fit, it was going to be very challenging for us to get anywhere.


August 5, 2009 – TechnoLawyer (Again) on Chrometa 2.0

We finished Chrometa 2.0 at around 3 AM Pacific time on August 5th – and just 6 hours later, TechnoLawyer released their coverage to their subscribers.  We got more traction on this release than the one from two months ago, as we counted 64 installations, and even a few sales, within the initial 72 hours!


September through December 2009 – What Now?

By Labor Day of 2009, we’d been successful in rising above the noise and clutter, at least for a couple of shining moments.  We were steadily gaining customers (up to about 50), and traffic and download action on our site was good through August.  The product fit was much better with our new release and we were seeing the rewards of our summer development efforts.


Which was all great, but we soon hit a bit of a lull after the initial buzz wore off.  So we tried to figure out: How can we keep excitement going for a product that’s very well received by customers, but is not inherently viral itself?


As much as we’d have loved to see our sales and adoption hit the “hockey stick” upwards, it was apparent that it wasn’t going to happen on its own accord.  Our market (solo and small firm attorneys) and our product (personal time management software) are not going to appear in an upcoming edition of Viral Loop anytime soon.


There was no magic formula for us over the ensuing months to keep the ball moving forward.  We just hustled as best as we could by doing the following:

  • We called each customer after they bought the product.  We wanted to thank them and make sure they were happy with us and our software.  We also wanted to learn what they liked, and what had motivated them to buy.  And we wanted to pick their brains a bit about how we should go about finding other customers like them.
  • We reached out to other publications in the legal industry – bloggers, and anyone else that covered technology – to see if they’d be interested in taking Chrometa for a test spin.  We never explicitly asked for a review, but these efforts did result in a number of product reviews.  This also kept the ball rolling, and kept us in front of people who maybe didn’t try or buy the first time they heard about us.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we rolled out fixes and enhancements to the 2.0 release as fast as we could.  Both to address bugs, and also key wish list items that we either didn’t have time to include in the initial release, or simply never thought of (there’s nothing like live customer feedback to guide your product development).  Continued product improvement was THE most important thing we did over this time period.


January 2010 – Present (Branching Out)

Once we were reasonably satisfied with our visibility in our initial target market (solo and small firm attorneys), we began to reach out to bloggers who had demonstrated an interest in writing about time tracking tools previously.


Mainstream tech coverage (such as these pieces from Web Worker Daily and Freelance Folder) has been great for raising our visibility and driving traffic and downloads of our free trial.


Our Lessons Learned

  1. Focus on one, and only one, initial market.  Otherwise it’s very easy and tempting to spread yourself too thin.  If you’re trying to tackle a few initial markets in parallel, you’ll become frustrated if you don’t move the needle in any of them.  It’s hard enough to move the needle in one market with a new product.
  2. It’s easy to get discouraged if things don’t ramp as fast as you had hoped. Grit and persistence do pay off.  Especially if you are bootstrapping your efforts (as we did).  Of course you want to ramp up adoption and sales in the classic hockey stick fashion–but it rarely happens this way in practice.  As long as your customers are paying for your product–and they are happy with it after their purchase–you are doing fine.  That means the fundamentals of your situation are good.  And you just need to go find more customers–and that is very doable (easier said than done, but doable!)
  3. Buzz and coverage won’t necessarily make your business (but bad press could very well break it).  We’ve been covered by major mainstream and industry sources  and you’d be surprised with what actually has and has not moved the needle for us.  One example I always use is our very first piece of media coverage, by none other than Inc Magazine.  How cool, right?  While it was very cool for us personally, our product wasn’t yet ready for prime time AND, the coverage wasn’t exactly geared towards a Chrometa prospect (since it was about raising angel funding), so the overall effect of this particular piece was somewhat smaller than you might expect.  Whereas coverage in industry specific publications (such as TechnoLawyer) has really worked great for us.  It’s tough to anticipate the effect a piece of coverage will have on your business – but I’d say the tendency for us optimistic entrepreneurs is to overestimate that effect.


Bottom Line: It’s very tough to get traction when you’re starting off. You want nothing more than for people to care about your company or product. You expected instant hockey curve growth, but you’re still struggle to get a few users.  That’s OK – that usually won’t happen until you reach a tipping point anyway. Look at Twitter; they’ve been around for 3 years before I’d heard of it. Before every overnight success are hundreds of not-so-successful days.


Be patient, measure your progress, and focus on the purest fundamentals – namely improving your product, and keeping your customers thrilled.  If you can get these two things right, the rest should eventually fall into place.  Keep at it – you’ll get there!


Top Startup and Tech News Today - 7 Things You Missed Today

1. Microsoft to Buy Nokia Units and Acquire Executive


Microsoft and Nokia have both reached an agreement where Microsoft will acquire the Nokia handset and services business for $7.2 million. What are the ramifications of this deal for both sides?


Nokia used to be a powerhouse in the mobile phone industry, but those days have since passed. In 2010, they held 64% share of China’s cell phone market—that value has dropped down to 1% in the first two quarters of 2013. Microsoft, on the other hand, needs to evolve its business to adapt to the mobile era.


Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner says that “Microsoft cannot walk away from smartphones, and the hope that other vendors will support Windows Phone is fading fast. So buying Nokia comes at the right time,” and also that the deal between the two could help them to “respond more quickly to the dynamism of the mobile market.”


2. How Much It’s Worth to Be #1 on Hacker News For a Day


Arshad Chowdhury runs a blog that averages 500 visitors per month, profiting through affiliate links with amazon (8% commission), sales of an app called “Power 20” ($2.99 ad-free), and sales of a diet and exercise program known as “One Month Madness” ($39.00). Recently, a blog post of his made it to the number 1 spot on Hacker News for 10 hours, resulting in a boom in traffic and revenue.


Being on Hacker News opens up big doors as it provides a surge of publicity—their stories are usually picked up by other news outlets. In this case, Chowdhury gained exposure as he was asked to appear on Fox Business, written about in Huffington Post France, and featured on Yahoo’s homepage. From days 1 to 3, his blog received 73,398, 52,169, and 12,910 visitors, respectively. The Power 20 app page had 3,999, 5,334, and 959 visitors.  The One Month Madness app also received 562, 1,295, and 369 visitors for the first three days after making it to Hacker news. This traffic wave boosted his revenue by $3,880.84, increased subscribers, brought in new customers.


“[While] having a popular post on HackerNews leads to a nice, fleeting bump in traffic…it’s not a business strategy and won’t necessarily make one rich,” Chowdhury finishes.


3. Hackathons Harness Data for Sustainability, Fun and Maybe Profit


GreenBiz Group’s “VERGE” conferences attempts to use data and intersect technology and sustainability in the hopes of increasing the efficiency of both society and individuals. They are harvesting and harnessing data to “improve cities’ infrastructures,eliminate landfills, improve street lighting, accelerate energy-efficient buildings, reduce water leaks and boost innovation.”


GreenBiz Group also hosts a set of weekend long hackathon events called Hack City. While there are varying subject matters for hackathons, Hack City focuses on finding a means for cities, businesses, and households to withstand and recover from extreme weather or disasters. In addition to Hack City, Data Jam is an event that consists of executives, entrepreneurs, technologists, investors and policy experts working together to design solutions based on a list of challenges and given data sets with the goal of sustainable retrofits.


Krys Freeman, GreenBiz’s director of technology and head of Hack City, says, “If we use the data, we can do something really compelling that wouldn’t have been able to be done otherwise.”


4. Facebook Awards Hacker for Reporting Photo Security Flaw


The internet is rife with security flaws; recently, Arul Kumar, and Indian engineer, found and reported a hole with Facebook security. Now fixed, the exploit consisted of a two-step process that allowed one to delete the photos of others. By modifying the URL of a photo removal request, it could be directed into the user’s account where the user could then delete it as if it were his own. As per Facebook’s white hat program, Kumar was awarded $12,500 for his findings.


5. Fantasy Football With Startups – Let’s Make it Happen


The time for starting Fantasy Football has just ended, but what if one isn’t interested in such matters and are more inclined towards technology and the likes? Martin Bryant toys with the idea of having a Fantasy Football analogue in the form of tech startup companies. While the rules, or the game really, Bryant makes a few proposals.


First and foremost, pick and name a co-founding team consisting of a CEO, CTO, and CFO. Points will be given or penalized based on performance, e.g. have they been acquired, did an app get launched, did they go out of business?


While these are musings, it’s a viable concept that only needs the answer to one main, important question: “How do we sort out scoring for a game like this?


6. Bitcoin in India: Drivers and Barriers to Adoption


Bitcoin, a digital currency may be poised to help with financial problems in countries with high inflation rates or capital regulation. Essentially, bitcoin allows for individuals anywhere in the world to send money directly to each other without going through banks of government, bypassing regulations between borders.


India is in a prime position to take advantage of bitcoins with the value of their currency has fallen against the dollar and the restrictions placed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on overseas investment. Users of bitcoins can invest overseas without having to go through an intermediary, removing the monetary cap placed by the RBI. To further pave the way for bitcoin, the RBI stated that it “does not immediately intend to regulate bitcoin.”


Other countries like Argentina, China, and Cyprus have successfully taken advantage of bitcoin; will India and other financially situation countries?


7. How Facebook, Twitter and Other Startups Got Big


There’s a saying that goes like this “it takes money to make money,” but how much does it take? startups like Facebook, Twitter, and Zynga were able to achieve an incredible about of users while spending less money on advertising than other companies. “Growth Hacking” is the term used to describe the model resulting in their high-growth trajectories.


startup advisor, Andrew Chen, describes growth hackers as a “hybrid of marketer and coder,  one who looks at the traditional question of ‘How do I get customers for my product?’ and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph.” Growth hackers basically focus on company growth rather than visibility—instead, companies that take advantage of growth hacking have implemented referral systems, performed publicity stunts, or more to grab users.


Growth hacking is the marketing future, maximizing gains through eschewing wasteful marketing.


Your Online Personal Brand Between Jobs

Most businesses have a “brand” to protect, but did you know that people have brands, too? Your personal brand is the way other people identify you, quantify you, and see you and it’s your responsibility to keep it in tact.


But in an age where email and social media dominate the mediums of communication, what can you really do about your brand when you’re looking for a new job?


Actually, a lot! Your personal brand is the best tool you have in your arsenal when it comes to finding a new job and attracting attention from the right kinds of people. Here are a few lessons for maintaining your online brand between jobs so you can find the position you were meant for.



Start by Taking Inventory

Around 57% of Americans admit to “Googling” themselves. The most startling thing about this statistic is that 43% of Americans aren’t looking themselves up! In order to hone your online brand, you have to have a baseline which means knowing exactly what’s connected to your name. Whether it’s a research article you wrote in grad school or a mug shot from Vegas, you can’t change what you don’t know.


Edit What You Can

Once you know where to start, clean up everything you have access to that an HR manager might be able to see. This includes the obvious: removing unprofessional Facebook photos and updating your LinkedIn resume as well as the not-so-obvious such as deleting offensive Tweets and removing blog comments that may not seem appropriate.  Unfortunately, one negative online “find” by a hiring manager can do more damage than 100 positive finds can do good. And you better believe if you can access the information, a highly trained HR professional can too.


Cultivate the Brand You Want

Once you’ve cleaned up your profiles, it’s time to fine tune them. Let’s say you’re after a position in the journalism field…doesn’t it make sense that your online brand would reflect that interest? Avoid being bland by Tweeting or sharing Facebook links to articles you find interesting, and make an effort to connect with industry pros using every social media outlet available. In the same way Apple’s brand conveys a cool, modern vibe, you want your own brand to convey something about who you are, too whether it’s assertive, informed, or outgoing.


Fill in Any Gaps

What’s not part of your online personal brand can say as much about you as what is. For example, if your goal is to find a job in marketing and you don’t have any social media profiles aside from Facebook a hiring manager may think twice about whether you’re qualified. After you’ve adjusted your privacy settings and corrected any red flags, be sure there’s enough information about you out there that your personal brand feels intentional. You have more control over what appears online than you think, and if you don’t take advantage you may come across as un-savvy or worse, lazy.


Managing your personal brand doesn’t take a lot of time, but it does take consistency. What appears online can change in a matter of minutes and it’s your job as a prospective job seeker to actively stay on top of your online reputation. Think of it as a sort of digital resume and treat your online brand with due respect.


Super-promotion: 3 Tips and 3 Services for Stepping up Your Event Promotion

There is no doubt about it; event planners must use social media and tools to get the word out about their events. If this is news to you and/or you need to brush up on social promotion basics, read this article by Hubspot’s Rachel Sprung.

If you are ready to boost your promotion efforts, these tips and services will get you going creatively.

Tips and Tricks:

1. Create shareable, dynamic video.

If you are relying on text, you’re behind the times, to get people’s attention online you have to use images and video. If well executed, video is the best way to catch your potential attendees’ attention. Your promo video should emphasize the benefits of the event to the potential attendees, they want to know how your event is going to change their lives/careers/businesses.  Flashing pictures of your speakers and the venue alone won’t cut it.  Testimonials from last year’s attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, or anyone involved in your event are a good starting point.

2. Bank on your speakers for great social content before and during the conference.

What better way to build up buzz for your event than to give “free samples.” Invite your event’s speakers for interviews, guest posts, and/or tweet-ups prior to your event.  Not only will you draw attention to the value of your event and drum up interest for specific sessions, but you’ll also help prepare attendees for discussions during the event and provide them with fuel to spark networking opportunities.  During your event, you can foster engagement by asking your speakers to chime in on Twitter threads or offer alternative perspectives in the event newsfeed, adding immediate value to sessions.

3. Use Twitter, but be creative.

Promoting your event on Twitter is nothing new, but your prospective attendees will appreciate (and respond to) a creative twist. Why not build a Tweet contest around your event? For rewards you can give away free VIP access, free accommodation, lunch with the keynote speaker, or just a few tickets. Giveaways will get people excited about your event and help build some buzz in the critical few days before your event. Alternatively, you could arrange pre-event tweet-ups to ignite discussion on a key topic that will be covered at the event.  In either case Twitter is a versatile platform and your tweets should reflect that.

Cool Tools and Services:


This is the social network for event attendees. Social activity is built around various events, which planners can add to the database of upcoming events. Within the community members can discuss and share before, during, and after the event. This platform also enables people who cannot attend a particular event to follow it and interact with relevant discussions and links. This is a great way to build a following from year-to-year.


Like, Conferize allows people to explore events and track them. The spin here is that Conferize emphasizes speakers as well so that prospective attendees can track the activity (past and present) of speakers they are interested in. This tool may be a great resource for building buzz if you are featuring your speakers during pre-event promotion. On this note, encourage your speakers to update their profiles here and begin engaging for the event.


While not strictly a promotional platform, Picatic is a cool way to crowdfund your event. The freshness of the method can be a great selling point for all or part of your event. Additionally, supporters of crowdfunded events tend to be evangelists for your event and will help promote the cause to their social networks. You may not fund the entire event this way, but special activities or speakers come to fruition with minimal risk using this platform.

What tools and/or creative techniques have you used to promote an event successfully?

Next week:

In the last two posts, we’ve mentioned engagement a bit. But, the frequency and quality of participation of attendees at your event is the barometer of event success, and the subject deserves more attention. Next week, we’ll be featuring services and tips for making the engagement levels at your next event go through the roof.