Category: Startup

Zaplee: An Update

I wrote a post a week or so ago that introduced Zaplee – very exciting software that gives small and medium sized businesses access to call centers via Skype which does away with expensive infrastructure and significant delays in setup. A free trial has literally just been launched via Skype Extras. Check it out! https://extras.skype.com/1091/view

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Flixor: Stay Tuned!

I wish I could tell you all about Flixor but I’m not allowed to today.  What I can say is that Flixor is a very cool up and coming company focused on tools that have both consumer appeal but also the potential to revolutionize the advertising industry.  I recommend you go to http://www.Flixor.com, bookmark it and watch as this company moves from stealth to a very compelling young company. If you are a potential angel – reach out and I’ll forward on your contacts – you won’t be disappointed…

Andrew
Founder – Advisor Garage
http://www.AdvisorGarage.com/Community

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Tumpang: One to Watch!

As never before the ability of online networks has the potential to shape the world.  Tumpang is preparing to take advantage of this dynamic by offering people who come together online the ability to put their joint purchasing power to work. 

The Tumpang model is interesting.  Manufacturers are asked to discount their products if Tumpang can guarantee a group purchase of a certain quantity of items.  Then, within their site, they offer the items for sale at the discounted price providing enough people agree to purchase the item at the discounted rate.  As individuals the customers may not be able to get these ‘bulk’ discount prices – as an online mini-purchasing group, they suddenly have more power.

Tumpang is currently focused on the Chinese market…but are making moves to go international.  There are two obvious challenges at this point:

Products are often country specific so although they have international plans, this may not translate well for the mini-groups.  Will a German purchaser be interested in a kettle for the Malaysian market? See my point?

Most of the products on the site at this point seem relatively low quality i.e. Tumpang does not seem to be striking deals with Apple, Panasonic etc but rather more unknown brands. However, as their purchasing power and traction increases this should give them more negotiation strength with the bigger, more popular manufacturers.

So, Tumpang is one to watch.  This crowd purchasing approach could create another shift in online purchasing.

Andrew
Founder -Advisor Garage
http://www.AdvisorGarage.com/community

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3Luxe: A $500K Virtual Investment

3Luxe.com is a product search engine with a difference…other search engines use algorithms, numbers and fractions as the cogs and wheels to regurgitate a whole string of very near misses to everyone that plugs in a search phrase. 3Luxe uses no algorithms or numbers…it more relies on the taste and interpretive skills of its founder and pooled review site results to determine the top 3 products currently available. 

Like Flash floor cleaner and hundreds of P&G commercials, draw a line down the middle of your computer screen and compare and contrast – on one side you have a big complicated machine delivering a homogenized gloop of product results to anyone that asks and on the other side of the screen, the three best products in any given category according to the 3Luxe founders.

Business Model:

  • Advertising from key manufacturers who are ultimately lucky enough to have their product/s in one of the top three results
  • Affiliate links with Amazon or Shopzilla et al when people take the next step after the search and review and treacle forward towards purchase
  • Google ads (ugh!)

Some Core Functionality/Elements:

  •  Um…Search!
  • 3 Results only of perhaps the most expensive but kick butt products you can find in any given category
  • Thumbs up or thumbs down vote for any of the items returned
  • A very cool drop down of review results from cnet and others, along with consumer reviews from other sites
  • Bookmarking
  • Send to friend
  • Comment posting for all items

Likes:
Like, Like, Like.  This site is well built, thoughtful, intuitive and not surprising the Worple Brothers have got it right…I say not surprising because Doug Worple, the CEO is another former proctoid that went on to create what looks to be a very cool creative / advertising agency called Barefoot.  Like it or not, the great advertising agencies are helping to shape the tastes and desires of us all…so is it a shock that by combining their own tastes for items with consumer reviews from multiple sites they are delivering product results that actually seem to be the best 3 luxury items.  I guess my original concern was “What makes these guys able to choose the best three items that I’m going to like?” – but in a sense, better to combine the science of review sites such as cnet with some degree of taste than relying upon the Google number crunchers. This business model opens up a number of now obvious business opportunities i.e. segmented product search engines according to demographics – so now we have the ‘A’ search engine, anyone up for creating the ‘B1′ product search engine?

Dislikes/Suggestions:

  • The home page has more of a ‘website’ than a search engine feel.  You could argue that this is so different that going for the minimalist search format is wrong – but the current look and feel of the home page is almost of a templated website.
  • Taking a note from P&G brand training – too many fonts, and no clear obvious focus for the eye causes confusion in terms of what are the priorities on the page.  We have caps competing with flowing scripts with more modern fonts, moving photos and all in all its a great concept which, from a design perspective, needs some tweaks.

My Virtual Investment:
With my virtual $1M, I would consider it a luxury if I were able to make a $500K virtual investment in 3Luxe. Good luck Guys!

http://www.3Luxe.com

Interested in other articles about Its Our Movie?

Andrew – Founder
http://www.AdvisorGarage.com/community

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Overcoming Isolation as a Home Business Owner

As a home business owner, you will be faced with many obstacles. One of the most unexpected challenges for many home business owners is the feeling of isolation. New and seasoned home business owners encounter feelings of being isolated from the rest of the world, and even loneliness, at some point during their careers. The quiet home office is certainly a change from a populated office space at previous jobs.

Owning and operating a small business from home has many advantages, but working in an office with others has the social aspect that a home office lacks. This social aspect is a double-edged sword; most home business owners chose to work from home based on office politics or the independence that comes from going solo. Like it or not, co-workers, colleagues, and supervisors did keep you company at your old job.

How can you fight these feelings when your home office is quiet and you’ve been working alone for hours on end? The key is to feel as though you are part of society while not being distracted. There should be a balance between interruptions and total solitude. There are a few ways that you can feel as though you’re not the Lone Ranger while remaining productive.

Turn On the Radio or Television

Depending on your level of distraction and whether you are taking telephone calls, you could turn on the radio or television to keep you company. Light classical music works wonders, and some people find that having background noise helps cure loneliness. Other people find they get caught up in what is on television or are distracted by music.

Take the Dog (or Cat) to Work

The family dog or cat will definitely keep you company. Dogs are great, because you can also take them out for a walk to get some fresh air. Cats are perfect, as they are usually not distracting and need little attention to be content. If you have no pets, it may be a good time to consider getting one, simply for the companionship they provide. Unlike humans, pets do not require conversation to be companions.

Arrange Business Lunches

Arranging business lunches with clients and colleagues is a great way to network, build relationships, and socialize. Pleasant afternoon coffee outings and lunches with clients will also lead to quality word of mouth advertising. Many professional associations, including local Chambers of Commerce, have weekly or monthly business lunches. These are wonderful resources for new business and to simply get out and meet people in your community.

Join an Online Home Business Forum

There are forums online where home business owners from around the world gather to socialize and share ideas. These are a wonderful way to interact with others with little pressure to keep up a long conversation. Beware the vacuum of the Internet – hours can seem like minutes. Online communities such as Girls with Goals are huge distractions for many people; yet when visited in moderation, they are excellent a great source of human interaction.

Pick Up the Phone for Human Contact

If you are feeling isolated, call one of your clients to “touch base”. Maintaining contact with clients is always welcome; keeping open lines of communication allows you to better understand their needs while you are maintaining a positive presence.

Perhaps your line of business requires cold calling for sales or business leads. When you are feeling lonely, there is no better time to cold call potential customers and pitch your business.

You can plan a predetermined amount of time in your day for personal calls with friends and family. These calls will help you to feel as though you are still part of society even though you are working alone. Friends and family will usually be supportive and help you to remain positive during tough times. It is important to set a time limit, otherwise you may find time slipping away from your business matters.

Remember: You Are Not Alone

Every home business owner has the occasional day when they feel isolated, lonely, and even depressed because they miss daily interaction with co-workers. After hours and hours of being alone in a home office, a trip to the grocery store or dry cleaners can seem like a treat. It is important to remember that you are not alone. There are thousands of people, working frantically in their home offices who also feel isolated from time to time. Focus on your work, maintain a healthy lifestyle away from the home office, and follow these pointers. You’ll feel much better during your busy day.

__________________________

Erin Hurry
Girls with Goals
“Our Goal is Your Success”

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Word of Mouth Marketing

If you’re trying to market a product on a limited budget, you know what a challenge it can be. Why not harness the power of word of mouth marketing? Word of mouth marketing is one of the best forms of free advertising available to the cash strapped marketer.

To make word of mouth marketing work for your business, you must have a good product at a reasonable price. If customers are impressed with the value your product offers, they’ll enthusiastically spread the word to their friends and family. This is free advertising at its best! Here’s how to put the power of word of marketing to work for your business:

Girls with Goals Steps

1. When you sell a product, give your customers extra business cards or flyers to give to their friends and family. People love to share new discoveries with their acquaintances. Make it easy for them by giving them some of your sales literature.

2. Take brochures and business cards with you wherever you go. Pin them up on bulletin boards, put them into fish bowls at restaurants, and hand them to people you meet throughout the day. This is a quick and easy way to market your business. It’s a great form of free advertising.

3. Tell everyone you know what you do for a living. It’s said that every person you meet knows over 200 other people. By telling one person what you do, you’re reaching a large universe of potential customers. Use word of mouth marketing to spread the word.

4. If you get feedback from a particularly satisfied customer, ask if you can use their comments as a testimonial in your next brochure. Jot down their comments as well as their name and address. Before publishing their comments ask for their written permission by mail. After receiving their written permission, add their testimonial to your marketing brochure when you next update it.

5. Offer your customer a future discount for each person they refer to you. When your customer’s name is mentioned as a referral source, keep track of it in a notebook so you’ll remember to give that customer a discount on their next purchase from you.

6. When a customer buys a product from you, give them a coupon for a 10% discount on their next purchase. At the same time, give them several extra coupons to give to friends and family. People love discounts and will express their gratitude by giving you free advertising.

7. Always over deliver! Give your customers such amazing service that they can’t wait to tell their friends. Truly good customer service is rare these days. Go the extra mile and watch your sales skyrocket!

Isn’t it time for you to harness the power of word of mouth marketing to promote your own product or business? It’s a great form of free advertising. Give it a try and prepare for some great results.

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Lyro Speaks Back: Update~ $350K Virtual Investment ‘Restatement’

Lief Larson here.  One of the founders of Lyro.  Thanks for taking a look.  If we lifted up the skirt on our long-term objectives, that wouldn’t be much fun now would it? )

Plaxo is already following us.  We launched web searchable digital business cards before they did.  We had the social aspects before them.  But that doesn’t matter.  We like Plaxo.  We even like Goliath LinkedIn.  Both companies are good at what they do.  We are focused on the small and independent businesses, the entrepreneurs, the consultants who wants to get more out of the web and have better visibility.  Best of all, we’re asking for nothing in return.  If we help you and you find the site useful, you might upgrade.  It’s a pretty simple value proposition.

With regards to messages, our system is primarily open.  The downside to open is that if anyone can message you freely (or you message others freely)  we’d be setting up a system for abuse.  Nobody has time for “hot webcam chicks” when you’re out trying to find new business and opportunity.

I’m glad you’d have a willingness to put a “Virtual $100k” behind us and I’m looking forward to putting that virtual check to good use!

http://lieflarson.lyro.com

++

Thanks for the update and feedback Lief!  I really do appreciate your business and it’s business model and agree with almost all your points. The low ‘virtual’ valuation was driven by nothing more than wondering where the market potential was given the two goliaths we’ve discussed.  The irony is that I’ve been working on a site for sometime that is meant to address some of the weaknesses of the ‘blanket’ or everything to everybody approach by Linked In etc.

I’d like to increase the virtual investment to $350K. After all, us little guys have got to stick together.

Good luck and let us know how you get on with your great business: Lyro

http://www.Lyro.com

Andrew
Founder – http://www.AdvisorGarage.com

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