Archive for August, 2014

Hey, Ecommerce Companies – Location Still Matters!

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

location still matters

If you have an eCommerce business, you probably think that location doesn’t matter. But that isn’t always the case.

New research from the Wharton School suggests that real-world factors such as location can actually have a big impact on online businesses. In this instance though, the location that matters is that of the customers rather than the business itself. In an interview with Knowledge @ Wharton, Marketing Professor David Bell explained:

“What we’re finding is that it’s still about location, but this time it’s about the location of the customer. Where is that customer and with whom does that customer also live? That’s what’s really important in the world of eCommerce.”

Here are more of Bell’s observations:

The reason that a customer’s location matters so much is pretty simple, when you think about it. Existing customers can sometimes be the most powerful source of referrals, even for online companies. That’s because customers often talk to friends and acquaintances in the offline world about their experiences with online companies. So their location, in relation to potential new customers, is paramount.

Bell offered a practical example based on his research surrounding online men’s clothing retailer Bonobos.com:

“The firm that we looked at…in locations where customers were more apt to talk to each other and trust each other, there was a greater sales diffusion online. The target customer in this case is a male, aged 25-45, who is somewhat fashion-forward. It turns out that a good proxy for where those males are congregating is the number of bars and liquor stores per capita in a location. We had some sociological theory that told us about interaction and then we were able to go to public data and find a variable that was actually a pretty good proxy.”

So what’s the takeaway from all this data?

Bell insists that more online companies are learning the importance of also operating offline. Of course, there are still benefits to operating online, says Bell. It makes it easier to reach large numbers of potential customers, makes fulfillment easier and makes it easier to scale your business. But it could be a mistake to only focus those efforts online.

He says that businesses can find correlations between online customers and their offline activities, as Bonobos.com found. And finding these links can help to plan offline marketing activities that can lead to online sales.

Location Photo via Shutterstock

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Weighing the Pros and Cons of Free City WiFi

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

free city wifi

The buzz in the world of WiFi at the moment is this: A large number of cities across the globe are already offering free Internet connections through free city WiFi technology. Even more are expected to soon follow suit.

The picture that comes to mind is that people will be roaming around with mobile devices that connect to the Internet through free city WiFi and, of course, unlimited browsing – everywhere.

WiFi Offering On-the-Go Internet

While traveling, almost everyone has the urge and necessity to check mails and share documents with others. Gone are the days when you could do this only while sitting at the desktop computer in your home.

This is an age of mobile devices and people usually have many of these with them, such as the laptops, smartphones and others. Almost all of these are WiFi friendly. So, all they need to do is connect to an Internet service provider through the WiFi.

With cities offering these services, Internet can now be available anywhere you wish. So, on-road WiFi is also becoming a reality with every passing day.

Not everybody in a city can afford the Internet. Hence, there are many kids and adults who are not able to access it. However, with every passing day, steps are being undertaken to help make the Internet affordable for all.

A large number of municipalities in different cities offer free WiFi for the inhabitants there.

Something for Nothing – Is It Possible?

Do you really believe that there’s something for free? There’s no such thing as a free lunch or even a free WiFi.

The government will have to spend a lot to set up infrastructures across entire cities. It is expected that the sum may add up to millions, if not billions.

How Does City WiFi Work?

WiFi is offered through unlicensed broadcast spectrum or even sometimes through airwaves. A series of antennas need to be installed, which ensure that you will have access to high-speed Internet. These antennas are usually put on top of telephone poles and similar other places. The location of the antennas need to be selected prudently. Depending on the position where it has been installed, an antenna can offer Internet across a coverage area of about 1,000 feet in radius.

Setting up City WiFi is Costly

According to Doug Schremp:

“Setting up a citywide network is definitely not as easy as putting up access points all over the place. There are some technical issues that need to be addressed, and cities really need to look at the operational and business issues that come with building and owning their own network.”

So, it clearly indicates that the government has to spend a lot of money to ensure that all the inhabitants of the city are able to access free Internet anywhere they wish inside the boundaries of the city.

Increase in Taxes

You can’t expect the government to spend all that money without any expectation of getting something in return. There will surely be a steep rise in different types of taxes. So in the end, it really won’t be free.

Lack of Security is a Concern

One of the major disadvantages of public WiFi lies in its inability to offer proper security to the users. The people who are in charge of offering free WiFi to the inhabitants of a city are able to see each and every website that you surf or each and every click that you make on the Internet.

So, the privacy of the users is usually not there with free WiFi offered by the municipalities of different cities.

With every passing day, different governments are trying hard to provide citizens with free WiFi, which has nearly become a basic necessity these days. And the advantages offered by these services seem to outweigh the cons.

City Photo via Shutterstock

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Scotland’s oil reserves still unclear

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

With both sides emphasising the predictions likely to boost their cause, uncertainty over oil and gas prices is adding a further layer of complexity

Investors still wary of getting burnt by solar

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Growth in sun-powered energy has been the result of an unusually favourable combination of circumstances, which is now coming to an end

Want Your Content to Go Viral? Here’s How You Can Increase Your Odds

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

content to go viral

Viral marketing means free marketing – or at least that’s what a lot of marketers think. But it isn’t always the case if you want to get the best possible results from your viral marketing efforts.

It doesn’t mean that you have to make a huge investment. But there are paid options out there that allow you to improve the odds of viral success.

Mike Templeman, CEO of Foxtail Marketing wrote in a post on VentureBeat:

“Just because it went viral doesn’t mean it did so for free. If you’ve created a video, you can pay for placements on YouTube. If you wrote a compelling blog post, you can promote it via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Regardless of what you’ve created, there’s a platform that will allow you to promote it for relatively cheap. If you’re good and you spend the time on it, you can have thousands of eyeballs on your marketing message for the cost of a can of soda.”

Yes, it is possible for you to create some content for free and have it go viral without any paid promotions. But that would require great content, perfect timing, and a lot of luck.

You spend a lot of time creating content that you think has the potential to go viral. So it can be a huge disappointment, not to mention a waste of resources, not to give that content a chance to reach as large an audience as possible.

If a small investment can get your fantastic content in front of more eyes, isn’t it worthy of consideration?

Paying for placement on social media sites and similar outlets isn’t a guaranteed strategy for getting your content to go viral, either. But it certainly increases the odds. And once your content gets in front of that initial set of eyes, that’s where the potential for going viral really begins.

If your content is share-worthy, then those who saw it because of your paid promotion are likely to share it with others. You can stop paying for placement and continue to reap the benefits of that initial investment as your content’s reach grows.

You can’t buy viral success. It still takes great content and timing. But there are ways you can improve your odds in the luck department. To give your content a better chance, consider investing in it the way you’d invest in the rest of your business. You might be surprised at the results.

Viral Photo via Shutterstock

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BHP promises mandate for growth at spin-off

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Miner pledges assets it is shedding will get more leadership and better chances to grow after it cuts presence in South Africa in spin-off strategy

Manufacturers fear rising energy costs

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Almost nine in 10 businesses discuss energy management at board level and a similar proportion said it was a ‘business critical’ issue

Bulgaria Has Failed to Solve Many Problems Identified Prior to EU Accession – British MEP

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Bulgaria has failed to cope with many of the problems identified 7 years ago, according to Geoffrey Van Orden, former Rapporteur for the country in the European Parliament.

“Although there has been some progress of the Bulgarian economy and the situation has obviously improved, some of these key problems have not been solved yet. I mean problems with organized crime, the judiciary, and corruption,” said the British conservative MEP in a Sunday interview for the Bulgarian National Radio.

“If you have read the latest report of the European Commission, which came out earlier this year, it mentions lasting weaknesses in all of these spheres. This is why we need a fresh political approach to solve these problems,” he explained, adding that his party saw such potential in the populist Bulgaria without Censorship party of former TV host Nikolay Barekov.

Van Orden arrived in Bulgaria to attend a congress of the Bulgaria without Censorship party in Varna.

Stressing the good performance of Barekov’s party at the European Parliament elections, Van Orden added that the formation had an inspiring leader and a program which was aimed at stimulating economic reform and conducting untarnished policies.

“We have witnessed too many mistakes of the old system which still exists” Van Orden reasoned, specifying that it had been too person-centered, emphasizing personal interest and egotism, at the expense of focus on the country’s real problems.

The British Conservative MEP suggested that these developments had caused Bulgarians to adopt a very cynical approach to politics, adding that the lack of trust in politicians came as no surprise.

Van Orden went on to insist that Bulgaria had to diversify its oil and gas supply sources and routes and secure its independence from Russia, adding that the EU had to offer more assistance in the field of energy independence.

“We need less Europe, in the sense that we do not want European political integration. However, there are many things which Europe can do to help, for instance in the sphere of economy. Bulgaria, for instance, needs foreign investments. You need an organization like the EU which will help you find a path of development but what is also certainly needed is a political system which is directly accountable to the people. We do not want Brussels ruling Bulgaria, we want Bulgarian people to rule Bulgaria through domestic political parties and institutions,” Van Orden said.

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NADL chief wants more work with Rosneft

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Drilling company is selling 30 per cent of itself and providing six offshore rigs to drill for oil in deals signed just ahead of sanctions deadline

Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

tech entrepreneur's survival guideIn today’s business world, tech startups and incubators seems to be “The Hot Black.” I just came home from celebrating a Chicago incubator’s launch as I write this. But as Small Business Trends reported earlier this year, reports suggests a decline in tech startups over the past decade, despite widespread media coverage and intense interest from organization private and public, large and small.

To help your small tech startup, consider increasing access to your resources. You can start with this book, The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide: How to Bootstrap Your Startup, Lead Through Tough Times, and Cash In for Success by Bernd Schoner, PhD. (@berndschoner). I discovered the book in NetGalley, and I liked that this resource offers critical thinking of the right questions that need to be raised in developing a successful startup venture.

Survival Techniques To Make Your Startup a Survivor

A bit of background on Schoner – from the PhD at the end of his name you can surmise that the book will contain a scholarly perspective to entrepreneurship. Like an ingredient to a recipe, that perspective does enter into the text. But Schoner brings personal experience to the book material, having sold ThingMagic, a tech design and prototyping firm, after 10 years of operation.

He is now the Vice President of Business Development at Trimble Navigation – the very firm that acquired ThingMagic. Schoner writes with a casual flair, so there is an eye for unique details that keep the observations delightfully insightful but not dry.

Here’s an example of his start up experience at work, as Schoner notes how survival affected purchase and personnel decisions:

“To stay alive, we saved money in every aspect of our business. Our salaries were way below market, and the founders and management team has to live with a substantial amount of deferred compensation…My co-founders never forgave me for purchasing what they considered test equipment unworthy of their talents: used oscilloscopes and computers with the Enron property sticker on them, exchanged for a few dollars at a sketchy highway rest area.”

There are three segments, Bootstrapping, Equity Funding, and Exit. Each contains chapters with a variation in how a startup manages its resources. If I had to nail a significant similarity, it’s that all focuses on critical thinking within those stages. The result is a powerfully overview on making capital work in a startup. I have always felt that one resource will not address all of a given business’ needs, but among books The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide comes awfully close to being that one great resource.

The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide achieves that greatness in the rich detail suited for a tech startup in general. For example, there’s a section that describes patent types – kitchen sink, submarine, provisional, and utility. In the last patent type, Schoner explains the principle of patent continuations:

“If certain conditions exist, new patents can be filed and awarded many years after the description was drafted and filed, while claiming the original priority date…in short, the patent law allows for an arbitrary number of patents for more than the price of one.”

There are other tips, from doing your own PR work to managing vesting options. And some cool insights on valuing typical tech assets, such as trade secrets – they provide protection “only so long as they actually do stay secret.”

What I Liked About This Book

I liked that this book worked to address how to frame questions so that your startup is truly addressing a need versus address a fad. A segment on ideas is a great example. It offers questions meant to raise meaningful and deeper aspects to why a start up offering should exist. Is the product or service:

  • Cool and a new fad, or is there a market?
  • Will it provide happiness, pain relief, or more pain?
  • How many decades will it take to get widespread adoption?

Schoner goes on further detail, again with a blend of experience and scholarly overview:

“The public indulges stories about brilliant ideas turning into great companies…Yet never has the substance of an idea alone has been the reason for the success of the company.”

Who Would Benefit Most From This Book

Founders of tech startups are the most obvious reader demographic intended for this book. The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide enhances books such as Remote, in which a start up founder offers their personal insight more than a review of typical assets.

It’s not as deeply thorough as Venture Capital Investing, but it’s not mean to be an academic study. Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit can enjoy this book, so incubator founders and bedroom startups will both be inspired and informed.

Read this book to minimize the monkey-wrenches that will certainly appear in your startup decisions. With a blend of scholarly insight and experience, The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide will show you the way to watch your business march towards an financial future instead of a death march to join other startup failures.

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