Friday, March 30, 2007

Google Homepage CRM Tools .. I like it...

Saw this yesterday on Google Blogoscoped..and then watched the demo at CRM for Google ... Very slick presentation .. I wonder if this will catch on.. I think that other 3rd parties have a huge opportunity via Google's Api's for this function as well as Google Apps.

Customer Management for the Google Homepage

CRM for Google (CRM means Customer Relationship Management) is a set of gadgets for your personalized Google homepage that allows you to do things like track tasks, manage contacts, add notes, or create appointments. (In the beginning while playing around with this I got a couple of errors from Google’s servers telling me the gadget “information is temporarily unavailable,” but this worked after a while.) I wonder though if tools like these will not simply be made redundant by Google’s homegrown office, which is partly already released (e.g. there’s already an official Calendar widget), and partly to come yet (we’re still in need of a great cross-applications Google contact manager, for example). One benefit of Google-made widgets have is that you don’t need to login to an extra account – in the case of Etelos’ tool, you actually need to login once for every single widget – and that the data is shared with your Google apps, like Gmail.

On a related note, the company Realtime Applications released the Google Widget Creator so you can create custom database-like gadgets for your needs (your data will be stored on the company’s server). Check their Flash demo to get an idea of this tool.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pitch a VC goes Web 2.0

I like this approach ... infomercials for VC pitches... seems like a great Service Idea.

It would be interesting to setup a Ning Network that would allow would be entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas or products via Video and have community voting etc... but it could provide a great pool for investors as well... Most entrepreneurs don't know someone who know's someone to get introduced to a potential investor. Also w/ the ability to develop disruptive technolgies and services on the cheap investors are trying innovative ways to invest in these companies . Any way just a quick ramble...let me know your thoughts..

Found this via Seth Levine

"I was sent the following a few days ago:

In order to give investors a sneak peak of what we're up to, we've created a short video (4 mins):

Best Buy Shifting Strategy ??

Interesting move by Best Buy yesterday purchasing Broadband provider Speakeasy.. Seems like a decent move towards the SMB market.. It will be interesting if SMB's will embrace this change and more importantly will Best Buy be able to sell this new image??
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Can Best Buy become your IT shop?

Posted by Larry Dignan @ 7:24 am



6 votes


Best Buy bought Speakeasy on Tuesday for $97 million in another move to become the IT shop for small businesses.

Speakeasy offers broadband voice, data and IT services and will sit inside the Best Buy For Business Unit. Best Buy is aiming to be a one-stop shop for small businesses. If you add up Best Buy's recent small business moves–coupled with its Geeksquad unit–and it appears the company is taking a detour to become an IT service provider of sorts.

"With Speakeasy in our portfolio, we are better equipped to provide our small business customers with one-stop shopping for all of their technology needs. Our goal is to provide small businesses with the resources they need so that they can focus squarely on their customers instead of on technology," said Darren Jackson, Best Buy executive vice president and CFO, in a statement.

Simply put, Best Buy may start looking like a value added reseller. At the least, Best Buy could encroach on CDW's turf. The company already has a decent base since 32 percent of its product revenue in fiscal 2006 was home office gear.

Best Buy is looking to services and international stores to fuel its future growth. And Best Buy already has the service provider lingo down:

Best Buy For Business technology specialists help small business customers understand how technology can improve their companies, offering business-class technology products and solutions. Customers can engage Best Buy For Business through locations within 281 Best Buy stores around the country, via the web at, and over the phone.

Hmmm. Sounds like a reseller.

Among Best Buy's recent moves:

  • In October 2006, Best Buy hired David Hemler away from Microsoft to be vice president of sales and operations. At Microsoft, Hemler was regional vice president of the small midmarket solutions and partner group.
  • It has expanded Best Buy For Business to 266 stores in the U.S. as of Dec. 12, up from 173 stores a quarter earlier.
  • Bolstered its ranks of Microsoft-certified professionals to 400.
  • Had a strong presence at FOSE 2007. Stanford Financial Group analyst Jeremy Grant said Best Buy "is attempting to make a big play into the federal technology resellers market."

Best Buy doesn't break out sales for Best Buy For Business, but management has made it clear that it's one of the company's priorities. The company's moves definitely warrant watching. Perhaps more color emerges when Best Buy reports earnings April 4.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Twitter as Business Promotion Tool

Since I have been playing w/ Twitter for the last couple of weeks...I have been thinking of ways to leverage this service for our new start-up which will be a member based. I have talked about this as a tool w/ friends... and have used this same example that Woot has utilized so brilliantly. This is a great medium for Woot due to the high tech user adoption of Twitter.

My challenge will be to get my core demographic of 17-28 yr old males that are automotive enthusiasts to adopt Twitter as communication tool...
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Woot is one of my favorite sites. Not only do they have an awesome
name but every day they post a single item for sale a ridiculously low
price. The item is only available for 24 hours or until it sells out
(which it frequrently does).

So how can you stay on top of the latest phat lewt? With Twitter! A couple days ago, the folks at Woot let us know they were gonna use the Twitter API to let folks know what's for sale that day. As far as we know, Woot is the first to use Twitter like this; as a way to let people keep on top of what's being sold. Very cool.

Now someone needs to get the Nintendo Wii on Twitter so I can find out when I'll finally be able to get one.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

CPA the Holy Grail for Google!!

Well it has been a long time coming but Google finally announced today that they have started implementing a CPA (Cost Per Action) System for advertisers. This has long been rumored to be what Google has wanted.. a way to tie Google Analytics/Adwords/Checkout into a click fraud free environment.

This also spells big trouble to Affiliate Programs out there like CJ and Linkshare

For our startup.. I had actually planned not to spend any $$$ on PPC (Lead Generation) .. rather I would allocate that $$ in Community Forums as a direct sponsor to engage w/ our members in more effective manner. This has changed my thinking due to the fact that I can measure if a campaign is working at gaining new members.

Thanks Google!!

Google Launches Pay Per Action Ads

Google announced a limited U.S. only beta for a new service they are calling Pay Per Action ads. Google Pay Per Action will allow advertisers to create ads that cost only when a desired action is triggered. The advertiser sets the price per action; for example, an advertiser can decide to pay $5 per lead acquisition, as opposed to paying per click or per impression.

These Pay Per Action ads are available to a limited number of AdSense publishers. Publishers will be able to select which Pay Per Action ads they would like to display on their content sites. A publisher accepted into the beta can choose to display all pay per action ads, or select to show keyword specific ads or select a specific ad from a specific advertiser. To do so, the publisher will have to login to their AdSense accounts, go to the referrals section and select other referrals from the options.

Google is accepting U.S. advertisers and publishers into the beta now. Google plans on adding more advertisers and publishers into the program over the upcoming weeks.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Twitter + Helio Buddy Beacon vs. GPhone + Dodgeball

For the past week I have been Twitterized ... I know I know.. When I first heard about it...I thought big deal.....but it is a really unique tool. I am especially interested in using this service as a communication toll for our new start-up...which is a member based e-commerce site. I can envision having one of our members sending a tweet out to the community when their $2800 turbo kit he bought arrives at his house or a member tweets about a great or bad experience thru our service or just an update on his or her project car...Ok enough w/ my rant....I really like Twitter :) ...

That brings me to my point :) ..... I have been looking at getting a new cell phone ... and I have been impressed by Helio's offerings. They have this cool feature called "Buddy Beacon" which allows you to broadcast your location (GPS) to your friends and vice versa...and you can easily turn it on and off. It also has Google Maps built in hmmmm... that got me thinking. There already is a version of Twitter using Google Maps which would add a set of tools that Helio doesn't have. Helio is the self proclaimed Web 2.0 phone company and has already landed deals w/ Boing Boing and Myspace. Why wouldn't Twitter like to join the club? This would be a great way to monetize the product on their end and kepp it free for it's users... That would be an awesome service...and would presumably be a huge blow to Google's property Dodgeball .... or would it? Allot of people are saying Dodgeball is dead... but could this be a service that Google is waiting to expand w/ their much anticipated venture into the Mobile Phone Market. Things that make you go hmmmmmm.

What would you rather have ?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

HP Vista Only Errgh

I am in the market for 3 PC's for our office and don't want Vista..So I went on over to HP and could not find anything that had XP... so I decided to use the Live Chat Feature to see if they could help me find one... Read below....

Looks like I am gonna get a Dell...
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Thank you for contacting the HP Home & Home Office Store chat.

11:21:36 AM CustomerTom

11:21:36 AM AgentEllen
Hi Tom.

11:21:50 AM CustomerTom
Can I purchase HP Pavilion a1510y series w/ out Vista?

11:22:22 AM AgentEllen
I am really very sorry but the HP Pavillion a1510y comes with vista.

11:23:58 AM CustomerTom
hmmm any pc's that are in that Price range that come w/out Vista?

11:25:04 AM AgentEllen
Give me a moment.

11:25:30 AM CustomerTom
sure .. thanks

11:26:39 AM AgentEllen
Thanks for your patience.

11:27:19 AM AgentEllen
Thank you for contacting the HP Home & Home Office Store chat.

11:27:40 AM AgentEllen
I am really very sorry Tom the Desktop without vista are not available.

11:28:00 AM CustomerTom

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Holy Search Feature Batman!!

Was looking for some shirts on CafePress... I narrowed the search down to Protestant and got these results... Yikes!

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The Message ??

I was browsing through some competitors sites and I ran across this promotional product on a competitors site.. I was a bit taken back to the unprofessionalism of this.. is this the kind of message you want to send to your customers?? Now I know that this may resonate w/ a certain crowd....but man cmon

I think that our approach will be much different .. it will be interesting to see if our Vision and Values will resonate w/ Gen Y..

I wonder if the owner knows what kind of vision he is promoting and how it will effect him in the long run...

my .02

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Keeping PasswordJDM on top on the game and well ahead of the competition ain’t easy… I just make it look easy, all because I KEPT MY PIMP HAND STRONG!

I’ve got a near zero reaction time when it comes to using my pimp hand and you should too! Them trash talking sorry asses had to find out the hard way. This is how I live my life, and this is something I want to share with all of you. Therefore I just had to make a shirt we can all rock. “Keep Your Pimp Hand Strong!!!” is more than just a battle cry, it's a motto we can all live by. A saying like this is what separates real players from the fakers… the gangsters from the wanksters. I wrench, I represent, and I regulate!!!(In more countries and in more ways than you’ll ever know!) This is what I do… day in, day out. Start by making your move and solidifying your position in this game. I have, and it has paid off heavy.
Rock hard and strong with PasswordJDM, never let up representing JDM to the fullest and throw up a big “W” like a bat out of hell clocking trap speeds of 160+ while you’re at it. “Keep Your Pimp Hand Strong!!!”and always let those who wanna test you know that you ain’t afraid to spill his/her spinal fluid. Do it with a smile on your face, grin a little, and watch the other fella turn into a marshmallow. Always “Keep Your Pimp Hand Strong!!!” Wear it, Live it!

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Friday, March 9, 2007

Viral Threads ???

I know that I am in the middle of a startup as we speak I shouldn't be thinking about anything else right? Can entrepreneurial ideas be spawned from current ventures effectively? Well today was the straw that broke the camels back.. I saw this post today regarding getting Twitter shirts made for the SXSW conference.

I sent an email to Threadless regarding a possible contest for our startup when it launches to kind of help us really let our customers define our brand and be involved right from the beginning. In the email I sent I pointed out how I could bring a new demographic to there site and would be really excited to offer a great prize for the best design. I got back a cordial reply simply stating good luck ... but we already have other contests going on.. I totally understand their stance .. they are a really busy company that is really focused on the users driving the community ...which I agree w/ advertisers..

So the dim lit light bulb went off in my head.. What if their was a social driven marketplace for web communities and sites that their users could create and vote for their favorite designs. Think of the viral nature in which people could find out about other sites and more importantly more about the community in that particular community. Think of sites like Twitter , Meebo , Digg , MyBlogLog, Reddit, Search Engine Land, Technorati , the list goes on and on... I know that the communinty made up of tons of other communities could drive different themes for times during the year. Also think of the contests you could have between rival sites: Pageflakes vs. Netvibes or GotVmail vs. RingCentral or Meebo vs. EBuddy , Twitter vs. Dodgeball etc. etc...

The sites themselves would have to sanction the contest's in order to use Logo's for use. As a business owner this would be a no-brainer for me as viral marketing tool...The ability for a community to help define a brand is quite powerful. Plus I like wearing cool T-Shirts...I see implementing the social networking tools as a great bridge to gain traction.

Here is where the rubber meets the road... I do have some close friends that own a silk screen business I made some inquiries on the actual cost and breakdown of this process. It is totally doable and their are margins to be made are acceptable. The question is what business model would I follow.. Do we split revenue w/ the sites? Do we charge an inclusion for sites? or do we have a monthly subscription for advertisers/partners . .. Needless to say I have friends that are extremely talented in web development so I have no doubts on that end... The big problem is how can I juggle both startups... could I implement a Woot style format where it would be a sale a curtail time spent on it.. I think that I could handle the PR/Sales aspect of it..

Just thinking out loud... :)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

COCA: The Driving Force of Commerce

COCA (Cost of Customer Acquisition) is the number one determining factor if your online business is successful. So with that said when I was developing our business plan that was a major could we reach our target audience in a way that our competitors couldn't.

Our business model is effectively giving us a competitive advantage over our competitors...

Ray Deck makes a great point below...

This is true for more than just web services. Geoffrey Moore says in Dealing with Darwin that particularly in a volume operation, innovating the business model is crucial to success. (He contrasts this with a complex systems environment, where s 10x improvement from the technology is the focus of innovation.) Cost of customer acquisition (COCA) is usually the most crucial lever to pull in the business model, because that is how dollars come in. Especially when the back-end is built on commodities, the ability to generate top-line either at lower cost or at a higher effectiveness is going to be critical.

For web services that essentially want to operate like media properties, they have two issues: getting readership, and selling inventory. So 2/3 of the business is really about getting customers (either indirect, as readers, or direct, as advertisers).