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Thursday, March 31, 2011

11. Screen Capture

So, it is very hard for my friends and family to figure out how to vote for me in MassChallenge so I figured I should use some screen capture software and make a video for them on how to do this. I got some great advice from last years entrants in MassChallenge (rentabilities.com) and they explained they did the same thing last year and it worked great. They said to use techsmith.com and search for Jing or Camtasia to capture video. Well... I just tried my first attempt and I'm going to post it here and see if it worked. Cross your fingers!

Well that didn't work well. It took up the whole screen. I am using screencast.com to host the video and I can't figure out how to adjust size. I tried saving to my computer and then uploading to YouTube but YouTube would not show the video. (Maybe because it is recorded in Flash?)

Well I can post a link and you can view it that way but I'm going to have to do some more research on how to embed it better.

First_screen_capture_ever_03-31-2011

Update: A little bit later:
OK I figured it out. I went into my HTML code and changed the width and height to match that of the videos I've been putting up through YouTube. Lickidy Bam Presto I got myself some bad ass video capturing going on. Well check that off the learning curve.
Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Update: Even a little bit later than before!!!
Well now that I know how to do screen capture I created a video on how to vote on MassChallenge and I'm going to share it with my friends and family and hopefully it will be a lot easier for them to vote for me.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

10. Newport Interactive Marketers Networking Event




Learn and leverage video for your brand success with Newport Interactive Marketers
Christies 14 Perry Mill Wharf Newport, RI 02840
6-9pm
Event Details: Why video? Patrick Hughes of Visual Post  “Video is the most engaging format online. Video adds authenticity. People want to work with people: Videos bring your personality back into your online presence.”   NIM is excited to host online video




So it was a long drive from MassChallenge to Newport but it was worth it. I got some great take aways and learned a lot from the event. Video is going to be a very integral part of my business so was very effective to learn more from some experts.

So I bought a Kodak Zi8 camcorder for $79 from Officemax. What a great price. It was marked down from $179 to get people into the store and I also spent over a $100 and had a coupon that knocked off another $25 bucks. What a GREAT deal. So anyway... At the even they actually talked about my new camera because it has an external microphone which is so important. Hearing that they liked the camera made me feel good about my buy.


So here is the LED light they recommended for only $90 bucks. You can adjust the brightness and it runs off a rechargeable battery or in a jam you can even use AA batteries. Great light for the money.

Patrick Hughes of Visual Posts' tips for video marketing for business:http://slidesha.re/eBwG9i
Scott Quillan of New England Multimedia's tips on YouTube optimization:http://slidesha.re/eLRf03


I recorded my first video last night and I'm going to upload it now. This will be a lot quicker and I bet a lot more fun for you guys if I post more videos than just writing stuff. Well here we go. Let's see if it works.
p.s. Sorry I had no tripod. I left it at the office and don't mind the zit on my forehead. Hahaha


Monday, March 28, 2011

9. Video... The first attempt

So... I thought visual presentations would be a lot more efficient and also way more fun to explain things from now on. This is my first attempt at learning how to create a video and then share it via the web. So let's see if it works.



So that was posting it by uploading from my computer to blogger and having them host it. Now I will try embedding YouTube code and see if it will be higher quality.



So that is much better fit and definitely a higher quality. Well check that off the list I can say I have officially have learned how to do that. 

Tip: Remember you have to paste code into HTML editor for it to work.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

8. Blogging on the go

I just figured out that there is an android app for blogger. So I just downloaded it and I'm testing it out. Hope this works so I can update everyone a lot easier than always needing to get to the computer.
Side note: I went looking for bean bags today... walmart = nope so headed to Target which was another goose egg. How about Jordan's Furniture, Bernie & Phyls, and IKEA. Yup! That also would be a no go. I felt like an old yellow book commercial. (You should have let your fingers do the walking) I know I can get them online but I didn't want to have to wait for delivery but beggers can't choosers so I guess I wil order the 6ft one I found on Walmart.com
Also, in case I didn't explain, I have had a knot in my neck all week. So for those who haven't taken into account how much time you will spend in front of a computer (like I didn't take into account) try to figure out different sitting positions and move around a lot when your coding or your going end up with a pain in your neck... literally! 

Friday, March 25, 2011

7. I hate Domain Name Servers



Don't you just love how Domain Name Servers take 24 to 48 hours to update. I want to point my blog to danielownmcguire.com but I have to wait for the DNS to update. Same thing with SkinnyPrices.com. I have been using a trial version of Volusion.com after trying out wordpress, shopify, weebly, etc. I decided to go with Volusion but to activate my account and transfer my demo account to the real one takes 2-3 days. Pretty crappy system and once again I'm doing the waiting game. So here I am waiting for my domains to update and my account to activate. Waiting is not something I do well. I just want to get this stuff done!

Well... today everything finally registered, updated, and configured. So it has been a great Friday. I am getting ready to head home after I finally got my sub-domains and domain forwarding all figured out. As of right now danielowenmcguire.com with and without the www, at the beginning, points to my blog. SkinnyPrices is also taken care of and is finally pulling up correctly. I also bought the .net, .org, .co, and some other spellings and have them all pointing to SkinnyPrices.com

So my advice to everyone trying to learn this stuff. Read up on it first really well. What I messed up is I would make changes to my DNS and then I would have to wait 24 hrs to see if it worked. It gets very frustrating to have to wait so long and then realize it wasn't done correctly. (Which I did 3 days in a row) Today I finally did a ton of research and figured it out and did it right. Much better than the trial and error way I was doing it before.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

6. Learning Flash

So I decided to teach myself adobe flash so that I can make an animation of a "how it woks" for my  landing page and website. I want to create a quick 30 second video animation with voice over explaining the business concept. I have seen this on other sites and it is very effective and getting across your concept. It  very professional because it very tricky (as I am learning) to do this. I am not a designer but I have the "I can do anything" attitude.







So I went online and found Lynda.com, which has video tutorials that teach the entire adobe CS5 suite. P.S. I have downloaded the 30 day free trial to use. Lynda.com gives you unlimited access to all there tutorials for a monthly fee. I recommend getting the option that gives you the exercise files so that you can open the exact same thing that they are doing in the video on your computer in which ever application you are trying to learn. I learned this the hard way and ended up going back and buying the option with the files. Much easier to learn now. 


I'll let you know how it goes.



5. Social Media Marketing Made Simple

Social Media Marketing Made Simple/Productivity Wherever You Work


Event Date: 
 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Cost: 
 FREE

Location: 
 MassChallenge, One Marina Park Drive, Boston, MA 02210
Description: 
Constant Contact and Turnstone will host two sessions.  The first session facilitated by Constant Contact will help you simplify Social Media Marketing.  Turnstone will then facilitate an interactive session pertaining to productivity wherever you work.  Both sessions will be followed by a cocktail/networking hour!


Take aways:

Keep your content professional on all your different platforms (Facebook, twitter, blogs, etc)
Email news letters can be very helpful in your marketing effort. (Make sure it is easily shareable) 
Have you thought about selling through Facebook? You can have a "shop now" button on your Facebook business profile. It can work as a second website for you. You can interact with personal Facebook profiles as a business. 

Twitter allows you to monitor what people are saying about your business. Negative comments can let you find problems and address it. It also lets you monitor your competitors. Don't think of twitter as broadcasting but as monitoring. Most people do not read all the tweets for the day so don't think that your tweeting is giving you great exposure. (Also use hash-tags to easily allow users to follow what you are pointing out. Think URL link)

LinkedIn utilize the links page to link to your business. Not much else on LinkedIn other than keep building your network so it will help your company.

Have a promo to get fans to "like" you on Facebook' This will help build your customer base when you are trying to grow.

Use interactive icons: (Follow us on Facebook or Twitter) Out going email signatures, business cards, printed material. Use a QR code so people can use camera phone to link to you.

So how much time should you be doing social monitoring. (An hour of day at least) 
Popular monitoring tools: Google Alerts, Hootsuite, tweetDeck, RSS, NutshellMail
"NutshellMail" seems to be really good at monitoring. (Allows you to have a specific  time when you can sit down and attack all your social media marketing)
Lastly, she had an example of a nail salon that used phrases for discounts. If they heard about a promo on Twitter the customer would come in and say, "I love nails" and that would get them that deal. If they said, "Nails are great" then  he would know that they used came to him via Facebook etc.
Presentation was done by Corissa St. Laurent and she was very good.
facebook.com/constantcontact.corissa
@corissactct
cstlaurent@constantcontact.com
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Then Turnstone did a talk right afterwards. myturnstone.com, @myturnstone, facebook.com/turnstonefurniture
How to be more productive at work.
Create a re-charge place. A place that you go to clear your head. Outside, play games (pool table), a quit place, a walk) Threadless actually has a Air-stream trailer in there office where people can go and hide out to recharge.
Know when you work best. What time are you most affective and plan your day accordingly. 
A great rule for an office. "Don't interrupt me" rule. If you have earphones in do not interrupt me. Or green, yellow, red bean bags on your desk. Each one lets people know if you can be approached. 
Spaces you should break things into: Meet, mingle, and escape spaces. This makes a very productive way for people to work. Also standing height tables are great to have. (How about standing room meeting rooms?)
Sitting position is important. Monitor at eye level. sit with your knees 2 inches out from the end of your chair. Stand occasionally. Did you know that when you break your concentration it takes 20 minutes to refocus on your task.
I just thought of having a giant bean bag to take a break from my desk. I think I may go buy one.




Talk was done by Mike Bistline
Update 4/1/2011 Happy April Fools
Happy to say my Ultimate Sack came today. I opened it up and fluffed it up! It has my company name on it and the company colors. Tried it out and it is comfy as can be, Hopefully this will help eliminate the pain in my non-dominate side of my neck. So there! Take that NECK.





Wednesday, March 23, 2011

4. What I wish I had known before my first product launch

The Alchemist Series brings Silicon Valley to your home!  LIVE STREAMING

At the panel, Loic Le Meur (Seesmic), Elaine Wherry (Meebo), and George Zachary (Charles River Ventures) will share their thoughts on what to consider before launching a product. The panel is moderated by Ravi Belani (Startup advisor and seed investor).

More information and registrationhttp://conta.cc/g1SLzD



When: Wednesday, March 23 7:00PM – 8:30PM PST
Panel Topic: What I Wish I Had Known Before My First Product Launch
Where: Live streaming from San Francisco, CA. 



The Alchemist Series is an entrepreneurship panel discussions series that explores significant milestones in the trajectory of the development of a business. The intent is to provide a toolkit to accelerate the progress over six sessions. The events are held in the evenings on the 4th Wednesday of the months of September, November, January, March, May, and July from 2010– 2011. The venue host is Greenberg Traurig's office in San Francisco.

This webinar was interesting to watch. Mind it was a late one for me here on the east coast but it is great to get the perspective from people in silicon valley. The biggest take away I learned is to ship soon and ship fast. Basically get your product out to a small group of users and learn from them and keep making adjustments to it. the old way of developing a product to what you think is perfection and then doing a big hype up for the launch is very dangerous. You are setting the expectations very high and most of the time the features that you think are great are not rally what the end users really like. This kinda ties in what I have been hearing from the concept of the lean startup approach. That you should be doing tons of A/B testing. Using landing pages to test your MVP (minimum viable product) and always be adjusting your product to the feedback and needs of your user. Don't get tied up with mentors, the board, or even experts in the field. Stay close to the user and work off of that. 


George Zachary said something very interesting... The companies that he sees that are successful the board is always two steps behind the entrepreneur and always playing catch up. The companies that are not doing so great are the ones were the boards get nervous or have anxiety and try to start helping out too much and start making the decisions. You being the entrepreneur should be close to your customer and know the way more than what the board about where your product is going. It is product market fit that is the most important thing and anyone who gets in your way with that you need to get rid of or work around.


So I'm would love to write more but I am absolutely exhausted and I'm getting up at 5:30 am tomorrow so I bid all a good night. And also sorry but there i no way to post any kind of pics other than very sleepy me watching my laptop in bed with my head phones so I don't wake my significant other. Heck I will snap a photo and post that... 

3. Grilling the Boston Startup Scene

Grilling the Boston Startup Scene - A Social Experiment by ParallelCities 

At N.E.R.D. 1 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02142 (3/23/2011 6-9pm) 
This is the first of a 5 event series ParallelCities is organizing. The series, titled "Grilling the Boston Startup Scene - A Social Experiment," will focused on different aspects of Boston's entrepreneurial ecosystem. This first event targeted Incubators and Co-Working spaces here in Boston and also served as ParallelCities' launch party.




I got to hear from Karl Buttner from MassChallenge, Tim Rowe from the Cambridge Innovation CenterGus Weber from Dog patch Labs, and Anupendra Sharma from Startup Leadership Program.

It was a great panel. The biggest take away I had was that the start community here in Boston is not in competition with each other but are all here to just help entrepreneurs become successful. It was interesting to learn that companies that started at TechStars then went on to be at DogPatch Labs or then to CIC. Or companies that started at Masschallenge then went to DogPatch or CIC. I also learned that MassChallenge actually came out of the CIC and it was the Cambridge council that let MassChallenge slip away to Boston innovation district. 

I had always thought that each group just did there own thing and once you went through a program like MassChallenge you were on your own. I didn't realize you might benefit from another incubator or that they would even look at you after you were in another program. It is such a great thing that it is not the case. 

Another great motivator was how Tim Rowe talked about the concept of ideas. He explained that you have this concept and people may think it is stupid but it is your job as an entrepreneur to keep pushing forward. Even his concept of launching a living community in the Greater Boston area that is exclusively for startup entrepreneurs may be a stupid idea or it may be a great idea but no one will no until you try it. So, do not let it get you down if you don't get into an incubator just keep pushing forward. This was very motivating for me to hear and that made me feel better about not getting into TechStars or the fact that the Founder institute pulled out of Boston this year. 

Another thing that they all mentioned is that it is very lonely as an entrepreneur and sometimes it feels like it is you against the world. Well, it doesn't have to be. Boston has turned into a mecca for the startup community. There is so many useful people, mentors, resources, foundations all here to help us out. So don't let yourself be isolated. Reach out and network and meet as many people as you can. Don't let yourself get isolated. 

That brings up another great point that they made. Don't sweat trying to protect your idea so much that you don't end up talking to anyone about it. Sure there is that rare case where someone's idea got stolen but in 99.9% of the time it is so hard to build a business that no one is going to steal your idea. Especially the startup community. There not in the business of stealing idea they are in the business of growing ideas. So get out there and tell everyone that will listen about your concept. Scream it from the rafters.

Your going to be that much further along because of all the input and connections you will make than the guy who doesn't talk to anyone in fear of someone steal there concept. The old expression 1% inspiration 99% perspiration is so true. Or in my more blue collar way of saying it. Ideas are like assholes, everyone has one. It is the person that goes out and talks about it that makes it happen. 




Tuesday, March 22, 2011

2. SkinnyPrices "The Concept"



Have you ever been at a mall shopping, when you see something you like and say to yourself, "Wow…I really like this product but not for that price!" or “Maybe if I come back next week this product will be on sale or discounted.”This is the common pain point SkinnyPrices has resolved.


Pricing strategies are as old as time but the standard practice of pricing hasn't changed much over the years. Generally, a manufacture will design and produce a product. Then they will do market research, on what the market will bear and also compare it to pricing points of similar products in the market. Manufactures will then recommend a price. The M.S.R.P. or manufactures suggested retail price.


When it comes to pricing typically both the seller and the buyer are usually unhappy. The seller typically thinks they could have charged more for their product and the buyer usually feels they paid too much. This leaves both wishing for a better model.


New pricing innovations can have drastic changes in the market place. One example of this would be the advent of eBay with its online auction system which has led them to a current market cap of 39 billion. Another example is Priceline with its patented innovative "name your own price" strategy which has propelled it to a market cap of 22 billion. As you can see pricing innovations can be a real game changer. 


SkinnyPrices has created a patent pending business method that changes the way people shop for products in an online market. When you shop on the site, the product starts at the M.S.R.P. and slowly lowers in price as you stay on the website. Any time a user feels that the product is a good value they can purchase the product, but if they wait too long another user may agree that price works for them and purchase it first. This competitive shopping environment makes for an exciting shopping experience while also finding an acceptable pricing point for products. To participate in the benefits of this unique pricing system the users will also have to be willing to view a 30 second video advertisement every 6-9 minutes.


What makes this all work is the delicate balance of keeping the correct ratios of # of users vs.  # products vs. # viewed commercials. Too few products to the user ratio and it would make it too difficult for users to successfully purchase products. Too few commercials to user ratio and the prices would decrease too slowly to keep users interested. Too many commercials and the users would get aggravated and leave the site.


Our patent pending business method (algorithm) addresses these problems and leads to a successful new online market place. This type of new pricing model will be referred to as SkinnyPricing.


Definition:

SkinnyPricing: An online market place where users compete to make purchases on products that decreases in price in direct ratio to users willfully viewing advertisements.


This business model allows SkinnyPrices to have two income streams. There will be a profit margin on the advertising dollars, along with the profit margin between the wholesale price and retail price. The exciting proposition is that we essentially will be selling all our goods at M.S.R.P. and are not in a “race to the bottom” pricing model like typical online retailers.


It doesn’t matter what price the product sells for SkinnyPrices will always make a profit. Even products that drop to zero dollars still allow SkinnyPrices to make our standard profit margin. This just meant that enough users had viewed commercials to bring that product all the way to zero dollars. It was the advertising that has off set the price.


In addition to being an effective pricing model advertisers will also benefit. Advertisers have been looking for new mediums for video advertisements as more users are Digital Video Recording (DRV) shows and fast forwarding through the commercials. Hulu incorporates video commercials but lacks any kind of feedback. Other advertising media is textual based like Google Adwords. Our advertisers will love that users are willfully watching the advertisements because they understand the concept that by them watching the advertisement they are directly lowering the cost of the products. So like television gives free entertainment of shows by having users watch commercials we give great value on products by having users watch commercials.


The site will also incorporate either a security question to verify that users have viewed the advertisement. (Ex. What color was the car in the Ford commercial?) Or a feedback question (Ex. Do you like Ford cars?). This will give advertisers the ability to verify the viability of our service or give them insightful information that they would love to gain from users. SkinnyPrices will also start to build demographic information on its users to increase the CPM rate for advertising dollars. In an example of this we could offer users that they don't need to view a commercial for 30 minutes if they tell us what their career, interests, or income level is.


The other very exciting benefit to this business model is the scalability. We can keep starting costs low and start with drop-shipping our products because we are not in the standard model of competing on price. SkinnyPrices will not need to buy large orders of products to drive down our wholesale costs. We can slowly take on inventory as we grow and become a bulk purchaser at the appropriate time.


Another option with this business model is to set it up as a platform. So instead directly selling products ourselves we could facilitate using our pricing model as a platform for sellers just like an eBay or Amazon does. 


We would be a first mover with this exciting new business model which affords us the benefit of market penetration and brand awareness. With our patent pending status we would create barriers to entry for competitors. Our copyrighted and trademarked terms would rank SkinnyPrices in the highest search results for this new business concept.


To stay ahead of competitors, in the platform model, we would set up key contracts with sellers which would make it difficult for competitors to steal those relationships if they were able to get around our patents. 


This outlines the basic concept of SkinnyPrices. We are very passionate about our business method and are willing to answer additional questions for those that express interest in learning more about how we are going to be a game changing market mover. Thank you and have a great day. 


Here is my first drawing of my logo on a white board.