Category: web 2.0

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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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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It’s Our Movie: A $500K Virtual Investment

Itsourmovie.com 

I can’t tell you how much I love this business concept!  I’m not 110% convinced about the capability to make significant amounts of investor revenues but frankly…that’s just not the point of this neat new business.  So, let me tell you about “It’s Your Movie”.  The basic idea is for the online community to fund, audition and vote for characters in a movie called “The Flirting Club”.  It’s a complete mashup of a number of popular ideas…think “The Producers meets American Idol” and you are some of the way there!

Business Model:

  • Members of the public can buy a ’stake’ in the movie of $10, $100, $100.  What’s not clear on the site is what stakeholders get for their stake although the site does say the higher the stake the more ’say’ in the movie.
  • Advertising is another revenue stream for “Its Our Movie” although as the site currently has a 4,000,000 Alexa ranking the revenue is likely to minimal at this point.
  • Movie Rights and Sale:  I could find no reference to movie rights or sale as it relates to stakeholders but it is a new business so that may appear in their FAQs.

Some Core Functionality/Elements:

  • Auditioning:  To audition for a part, members download the script, choose a character and video themselves. After uploading the Audition to http://www.youtube.com / http://www.metacafe.com / http://www.dailymotion.com the code is then re-pasted within the “Its Our Movie” Website so the community can review and vote on the auditions
  • Characters: A summary of each character is included in the site and video auditions can be added against each character
  • Voting: Members can vote on a 1-10 scale for each audition.  They will also be adding the ability for people to vote via text message/SMS
  • Photos/Videos: Photos and videos of each person auditioning
  • Member blogs
  • Member forums (Is this a Drupal site with a skin? Hummm)

Likes:
Sometimes new business are not about money…OK, rarely new businesses are not about money because money is oxygen for startups but in this case, its about the excitement of being involved in creating a movie. Doesn’t EVERYONE want to be involved in creating a movie? Even if it’s a bad movie for goodness sake.  Now here’s a little prediction, as momentum grows for this new site then it won’t be long before Simon Cowell and the rest get wind of it.  Before you can say “Teletubbies” I’m guessing that this process may move from the web to other mediums.  When that happens then this could become a significant opportunity for the founders.  If I was a stakeholder, I’d be looking for some reassurances that I’m buying a tiny piece of that potential success. 

Dislikes/Suggestions:

  • Be explicit about what stakeholders are getting!  It’s great that you’ve raised $100K but if you want to hit the $1M target then I would outline what those folks were getting…really clearly! 
  • My understanding is that the Director is Alex Jovy. Is it THE Alex Jovy that received an Oscar-nomination for his film Holiday Romance who also went on to produce and direct the thriller Sorted starring Matthew Rhys and Jason Donovan? If so, let us know people! At the moment it looks like some obscure guys idea that is absolutely exciting but we need to know it’s legitimate and this isn’t paying for someone’s extended vacation in the South of Spain.

Additional Opportunities:

  • Plug this into the TV machine and turn it into a show.

My Virtual Investment:
With my virtual $1M, I would personally stake a virtual $500K providing someone gave me virtual percentages of the revenue.

http://www.itsourmovie.com/

Interested in other articles about Its Our Movie?

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

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Sorry Guy It’s Not So Easy: The Flip Side of Entrepreneurship

This is a guest posting by Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, a company that enables people to buy homes online. He offers a counterpoint to my posting about how easy it is to make millions of dollars with “user-generated, long-tail, Web 2.0, social-networking, open-source content.”


Last month, Guy called James Hong and Markus Frind heroes for running multi-million dollar websites like Hot or Not and Plenty of Fish in their underwear. Their stats are jaw-dropping: twelve billion page views, 380 hits per second, two hours of work a day.

Lately I’ve been thinking how hard, not how easy, it is to build a new company. Hard has gone out of fashion. Like college students bragging about how they barely studied, start-ups today take care to project a sense of ease. Wherever I’ve worked, we’ve secretly felt just the opposite. We’re assailed by doubts, mortified by our own shortcomings, surrounded by freaks, testy over silly details. Trying to be like James or Markus has only been counterproductive.

And now, having been through a few startups, I’m not even sure I’d want it to be that easy. Working two hours a day on my own wasn’t my goal when I came to Silicon Valley. Does anybody remember the old video of Steve Jobs launching the Mac? He had tears in his eyes. And even though Jobs is Jobs and I am nobody, I knew how he felt. I’d had the same reaction–absurdly–to portal software and more recently to a Redfin, a fledgling real estate website.

“The megalomaniac pleasure of creation,” the psychoanalyst Edmund Berger wrote, “produces a type of elation which cannot be compared with that experienced by other mortals.” Jobs wasn’t just crying from simple happiness but from all the tinkering, kvetching, nitpicking, wholesale reworking, and spasms of self-loathing that go into a beautiful product. It was all being paid back in a rush.

Like the souls in Dostoevsky who are admitted to heaven because they never thought themselves worthy of it, successful entrepreneurs can’t be convinced that any other startup has their troubles, because they constantly compare the triumphant launch parties and revisionist histories of successful companies to their own daily struggles. Just so you know you’re not alone, here’s a top-ten list of the ways a startup can feel deeply screwed up without really being that screwed up at all.

  1. True believers go nuts at the slightest provocation. The best people at a start-up care too much. They stay up late writing Jerry Maguire memos, eavesdropping on support calls, snapping at bureaucracy, citing Joel Spolsky on Aerons, and Paul Graham on cubes. They are your heart and bones, so you have to give them what they need, which is a lot. The only way to get them on your side is to put them in charge.
  2. Big projects attract good people. If you aren’t doing something worthwhile, you can’t get anyone worthwhile to work on it. I often think about what Ezra Pound once said of his epic poem, that “if it’s a failure, it’s a failure worth all the successes of its age.” We’re not writing poetry, but it matters to us that we’re trying to compete with real estate agents rather than just running their ads. You need a big mission to recruit people who care about what you’re doing.
  3. Start-ups are freak-catchers. You have to be fundamentally unhappy with the way things are to leave Microsoft, and yet unrealistic enough to believe the world can change to join a start-up. This is a volatile combination which can result in group mood swings and a somewhat motley crew. Thus, don’t worry if your start-up seems to have more than its fair share of oddballs.
  4. Good code takes time. One great engineer can do more than ten mediocre ones especially when starting a project. But great engineers still need time: whenever we’ve thought our talent, sprinkled with the fairy dust of some new engineering paradigm, would free us from having to schedule time for design and testing, we’ve paid for it. To make something elegant takes time, and the cult of speed sometimes works against that. “Make haste slowly.”
  5. Everybody has to re-build. The short-cuts you have to take and the problems you couldn’t anticipate when building version 1.0 of your product always mean you’ll have to rebuild some of it in version 2.0 or 3.0. Don’t get discouraged or short-sighted. Just rebuild it. This is just how things work.
  6. Fearless leaders are often terrified. The CEO of the most promising start-up I know of recently used Hikkup to anonymously ask his Facebook friends if we thought his idea was any good. Just because you’re worried doesn’t mean you have a bad idea; the best ideas are often the ones that scare you the most. And for sure don’t believe the after-the-fact statements from entrepreneurs about how they “knew” what to do.
  7. It’ll always be hard work. Most start-ups find an interesting problem to solve, then just keep working on it. At a recent awards ceremony, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer tried to think of the secret to Microsoft’s success and could only come up with “hard, hard, hard, hard, hard, work.” This is an obvious cliche, but most entrepreneurs remain fixated on the Eureka! moment. If you don’t believe you have any reliable competitive advantage, you’re the kind of insecure person who will work your competition into the ground, so keep working.
  8. It isn’t going to get better–it already is. In the early days, start-ups focus on how great it’s going to be when they succeed; but the moment they do, they start talking about how great it was before they did. Whenever I get this way, I remember the Venerable Bede’s complaint that his eighth century contemporaries had lost the fervor of seventh century monks. Even in the darkest of the Dark Ages, people were nostalgic for…the Dark Ages. Start-ups are like medieval monasteries: always convinced that paradise is just ahead or that things only recently got worse. If you can begin to enjoy the process of building a start-up rather than the outcome, you’ll be a better leader.
  9. Truth is our only currency. At lunch last week, an engineer said the only thing he remembered from his interview was our saying the most likely outcome for Redfin–or any startup–was bankruptcy, but that he should join us anyway. It’s odd but the more we’ve tried to warn people about the risks, the more they seem to ignore them. And since you have to keep taking risks, you have to keep telling people about them. You don’t want to be like Saddam Hussein, who never prepared his generals for invasion because he couldn’t admit he didn’t have nuclear weapons.
  10. Competition starts at $100 million. A Sequoia partner once told me that competition only starts when you hit $100 million in revenues. Maybe that number is lower now. But if you do something worthwhile, someone else will do it too. Since you can’t see what’s going on behind a competitor’s pretty website, it’s natural to assume that all the challenges we just went over only apply to your company. They don’t, so keep the faith.

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

Social Flowers: A $150K Virtual Investment

Social Flowers is an innovative idea!  If you are part of a social network (and let’s face it…who isn’t nowadays) then using ‘Social Flowers’, you can send flowers, gift baskets, balloons to another member of your social network even though you don’t necessarily have their contact information, name, address etc.

Business Model:
Like most online flower stores, customers are charged for the actual items along with a service charge.  Items range from around $35 and can go up to $200 or thereabouts.  If you wanted to be even more extravagant than that, I’m sure Social Flowers will probably create something just for you and your social networking pal!  Thankfully there is no distracting google ads etc so this is a nice clean site.

Some Core Functionality:
Here is how the process works.

  • In a social network, the sender selects the Social Flowers application. The sender then selects the recipient of the flowers from their list of friends.
  • When the recipient has been selected, the senders clicks on a link which takes the sender from the social network to the SocialFlowers.com website.
  • At SocialFlowers.com, the sender chooses the flower selection, goes through checkout and enters credit card information.
  • The sender is returned to the social network. The Social Flowers application inside the social network sends an email on the sender’s behalf to the recipient letting them know that they have been sent real flowers.
  • In the social network, the recipient receives an email letting them know they have been sent flowers from the sender. The recipient clicks on the link in the email and goes to SocialFlowers.com where they are asked to provide an address for the delivery of flowers. The recipient is returned to the social network after a delivery address has been provided.
  • Social Flowers fulfills the delivery of fresh flowers to the recipient from the sender using our network of over 30,000 local florists across the United States and Canada.

Likes:
This is a nice and simple business model and it’s interesting that a ‘traditional’ business like a flower delivery service is working to cross the web 2.0 digital divide and with luck capitalize on the relationships people are establishing online.

  • A key ‘like’ is that I just plain haven’t seen this kind of business before so you have to tip your hat to the maverick that thought of the idea. For that reason alone, I wish them loads of luck!

Dislikes:
I have a few concerns:

  • Will people really pay $40 to pay to send flowers to a person they have never met, don’t even know their real names or where they live?  Isn’t part of the joy of giving seeing the persons face after receiving your thoughtful gift?  My wife and Mother are lucky if I send them flowers using an online service – would I or most other people really be thoughtful enough to send flowers to someone they don’t ‘really’ know?
  • The site is bland.  The design could be much more innovative, especially as it’s supposed to appeal to the web 2.0 crowd. At this stage it looks like a template that they have been given by an interflora type company. Social Flowers is part of Florist One who state they are first and foremost a florist. That’s good to know but come on guys – turn the visual experience up a notch!
  • I’ve received phishing emails telling me someone has sent me virtual flowers and the like.  This may cause challenges for this business model given someone is receiving flower notifications from people they don’t know. Does Social Flowers still charge even if the flowers can’t be delivered or aren’t received?

Suggestions:

  • As they are focused on web 2.0 market, try using some of the common tools of this space.  Customer reviews, send to friend, bookmarking, community etc – If community members send each other flowers, add a card with a special reference number to your website so the recipient can write a ‘thank you’ and start a more personal dialogue with the sender via your site.  This would create a lot more traction.

My Virtual Investment:
With my virtual $1M, I would virtually invest $150K as I don’t trust that virtual friends will really do anything more than send virtual flowers to each other.  But perhaps the world really is crazy and I could be VERY wrong about this!

http://www.SocialFlowers.com

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

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