Archive for January, 2010

January 30, 2010

Plummelo

Genotropegrzrlogo Record: Plummelo

Funding Status:  Seed

Investors: ?

Industry: Consumer Web, B2B

Offering Description: Plummelo is a web service that allows users to collect and share recipes, to plan meals, and to print shopping lists for meal plans. Plummelo combines these three activities in one convenient place. Plummelo makes cooking easier.


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January 20, 2010

10 Free Tickets ($70 value) to What Will “E-Commerce 2.0″ Look Like in the Next Few Years? Panel

Genotrope is very pleased to be able to offer 10 free tickets ($70 value) to the awesome E-Commerce panel on 1/28/2010, sponsored by MITX.

If you are not familiar with MITX, check it out. I attended their Interactive Awards event last year for the first time and was blown away by the size of the event and the quality of work respresented. Also, the event itself is a huge production (think Oscars) and very well done. It is a must attend for any web design or web application company.

If you are interested and feel that you would benefit from attending this Panel, drop us an email at support@genotrope.com , subject: e-commerce panel

Please include your Name, Company Name, web address, and a brief description of your company. Winners will be chosen at random from the group of entrants.

Panel Details:  MITX  has put together a very interesting panel to be held January 28, 2010 at the Microsoft NERD center. They don’t get too much press, but the Boston area has some pretty significant players in e-commerce. Come and hear the experts discuss the coming e-commerce trends and new marketing channels.    Register Here

What Will “E-Commerce 2.0″ Look Like in the Next Few Years?

Speakers:

January 20, 2010

MITX Event – What Will “E-Commerce 2.0” Look Like in the Next Few Years?

MITX  has put together a very interesting panel to be held January 28, 2010 at the Microsoft NERD center. They don’t get too much press, but the Boston area has some pretty significant players in e-commerce. Come and hear the experts discuss the coming e-commerce trends and new marketing channels.    Register Here

What Will “E-Commerce 2.0” Look Like in the Next Few Years?

Speakers:

Retailers who leverage the power of online commerce, communities, personalization and other online strategies are poised to do well in the New Year.  After all, e-commerce is the one positive story from the 2009 holiday season.  According to ComScore, online retailing grew 4% (from the beginning of November through December 18) to $24.8 billion, while sales conducted in stores fell flat in comparison to 2008.

Join this event to hear a panel of CEOs from local e-commerce leaders share their experiences about how the Internet has created powerful opportunities for growth.  Discussion points will include:

  • How e-commerce has, and continues to, change the landscape of the retail industry
  • What old and new online strategies are being done to aggressively take market share
  • How retailers are leveraging the Internet and emerging social media channels to market to new customers
  • How community and social sharing is being used to created an engaging ecommerce experience

Agenda:
8:00am – 8:30am Registration and Breakfast
8:30am – 10:00am Panel Discussion

January 18, 2010

The Art versus Science of Web Marketing

Building a web business is a difficult task. Building one for the first time is even harder. I have written previously about the available information regarding the business of the web and the fact that the quality and amount of valuable information is amazing.

There is a group of writers that is a must read for students of web marketing or anyone attempting to build an audience and customer base.  Steve Blank,  Andrew ChenDave McClureEric Ries and Sean Ellis have produced a considerable oeuvre of marketing and customer development information that is saving millions of dollars for emerging startups by eliminating costly mistakes and promoting the fail faster mantra.

Recently I have had the privilege of meeting and hearing presentations by Eric Ries and Sean Ellis. Both speak on the topic of Product Market Fit, a concept originally written about by Marc Andreesen on his PMARCA blog. The takeaway from their PMF discussion is, the first major task of a start up is to create a product or service that people want. Until you reach that point, your company is not ready to focus on increasing traffic or user acquisition.

It was during Sean Ellis’s talk a few weeks ago that I began to think about the Art versus the  Science of product marketing.

I am an avid follower of Sean’s blog and have received much value from his writings.  He has crystallized his process into a logical formula that companies can use to push the accelerator and grow quickly once they have achieved PMF. What got me to thinking was when he said that he seeks out clients that have already achieved Product Market Fit, and prefers to not work with companies yet to reach the required user participation and uptake.

“We have discovered that most startups begin with an undefined period of time where they must hone their product for the right market.  During this period 12in6 can provide very little value and we encourage startups to limit cash burn and patiently engage potential customers until your product/market fit is right”

This lead me to the conclusion that there is an Art and a Science to building a successful web business. The above mentioned experts have given us a bounty of useful and actionable information. Together they have produced the Science of Web Marketing by distilling their methods into formulas and processes that can be duplicated and repeated by their followers.

What no expert has done is provide a scientific method to achieve Product Market Fit. They have given us formulas to determine if we have attained PMF and methods to test and iterate but there is no formula for how to build the product that successfully meets users needs.

The Art of Product Market Fit is the province of the entrepreneur. No formula or actionable metric will replace the creativity, execution and intuition required to build that one core user experience that becomes a successful product.

Product creation usually stems from one of the following scenarios. The creatorsneed, like in the case of 37Signals requiring a project management application. Domain experience where founders build on expertise gained from previous endeavors in their field, such as Indeed.com. Another common means of finding the right product for the market is the pivot from the creation of a feature that becomes the principal offering of the company, by listening to users and building on the seed of customer positivity. Flickr started out as a gaming company and  PayPal originally was an app for electronic funds transfers between Palm Pilots, are two great examples of the pivot.

Did they ask their users what they should build? No, and the best illustration of that is a quote from Henry Ford, “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.”

In most cases, there was no aha moment that led them to build their particular application, widget or feature. It seems the key is making the attempt. I think it is ironic that the light bulb is the cartoon icon for an idea or eureka moment, when in fact it took Thomas Edison thousands of attempts to create a working light bulb.

Art is usually associated with creativity and research has shown that creativity does not happen as a brilliant flash of intuition, but as a chain reaction of many tiny sparks while executing an idea.

Therefore, the Art of building a web business is to generate a lot of ideas, build them and then winnow out the kernel of a positive user experience and execute on that idea until your users cannot live without your product.

Only the startup founder is in the position to do this. Without the aid of a formula, they must string together bits of intuition that add up to a product that people want. The Art of managing insight and execution becomes the primary function of the early stage entrepreneur and the ability to achieve Product Market Fit will determine the ultimate success or failure of the endeavor.

Before the Science of Web Marketing can be employed to grow a business, the founders must deliver the Art of Product Marketing and drive the timely execution of  iterations on ideas that are molded into a desirable product.

What do you think? Do you have examples that illustrate the Art aspect of product marketing? Do you have a formula that delivers PMF?

We all know ideas are a dime a dozen and building a web application is the easy part. What war stories do you have about finding the feature or product that resonated with your users and let you step on the gas of user acquisition.

January 16, 2010

When Will They Launch Q1 2010

Our post back in May 2009, When Will They Launch pointed out some companies waiting in the wings and extolled them to release their idea into the wild and let it flourish.

It’s time for a recap of those companies to gauge progress.

It’s also time to list a new group of companies and sites on the brink of release to give them a little sign-up love and encourage them to show us what you got.

First the recap of the last list which started with a quote from the founder of Linkedin, “If you review your first site version and don’t feel embarrassment, you spent too much time on it.” — Reid Hoffman

http://www.gathr.me/ New domain name, but closed beta for rangl.me

http://www.collegetravel.com/ Seems they sold the domain to a big Sqatter company.

http://elacarteonline.com/ Still  the future home of:

http://sayagle.com/ closed beta, coming soon

http://www.sivvle.com/ coming soon

http://www.elevenlearning.com/ still in closed beta

http://textaurant.com/ sign up for when it becomes available (limited beta at a couple of venues)

http://www.buzzient.com/ Launched with customers and investors.

http://www.shopazooloo.com/ expired domain

http://www.boomstang.com/ we are launching soon

http://www.calisto100.com/coming_soon new and improved coming soon

http://www.demoing.com/ currently in closed beta

So that is 1.5 in twelve that has delivered anything publicly. Not a very high ratio. Not trying to give you guys a hard time, but let’s see what you got. It’s time to let us unwashed masses have a go with your app so you can find out what is good about it. Don’t take our word for it though, listen to some people in the know….

Anyway, let’s take a look at a new crop of hopeful new companies and sites looking to make their mark. Give them some sign-up love if you are interested and encourage them to take the plunge into the light of day.

http://www.adharmonics.com/

http://apartly.com/

http://www.careerelement.com/index/add

http://exoprise.com/

http://www.fantourage.com/

https://www.mercavo.com/

http://openmile.com/

http://socialgrow.com/

http://www.talentreef.com/

http://www.yana.com/

http://www.zaang.com/

January 7, 2010

Project Concord

project concord

Genotropegrzrlogo Record: Project Concord seems like a tempory name

Funding Status: Series A

Founders Backgrounds: Pixamo, Endeca

Investors: Alpond Capita *see comments

Industry: Video, Online Entertainment

Offering Description: convenient and legal access to top movies and TV shows – but without the unwanted commercials or the need to reach into your wallet.


January 5, 2010

5 Favorite Posts on Buzz in theHub

One of the common blogging practices is to do a year end post that hightlights the favorite posts of the past.

Not to be left out, we have decided to do a similar recap, with one exception. We are going to choose OUR favorites.

These posts are either ones we had fun writing or have messages we feel are worth repeating.

So here goes, please feel free to suggest others you liked or think should be on the list.

Angels and Seed Funding in Boston

The seed and angel investment opportunities have never been better in the Boston area. Take advantage of it.

Ben Franklin was a Hacker

Always liked Ben and think he would be very comfortable if he lived in our world today.

Boston calling Dave McClure or your clones

Since this post, I think there are significant individuals and groups beginning to step up as mentors and fill this type of role here.

Sharing the Seed Corn

This post dovetails with the effort by Scott Kirsner and others to get this staid New England startup community to cooperate, collaborate and in general work as a community. A rising tide lifts all boats.

GreenCloud

Really thought I would hear from more of you about this one. In the future, I will be profiling the unrelated but similarly named companies, CleanCloud and GreenClean.

January 4, 2010

The Rentables

rentables logoCompany: The Rentables http://www.therentables.com

Funding Status: Founder funded, seed round

Founders Backgrounds: YEP! Interactive,

Investors: self funded

Industry: Consumer Web, online advertising, real estate

Offering Description: The Rentables is an online rental search engine which connects landlords and tenant using an intuitive interface. We launched our services in Boston earlier this year and have expanded throughout all of the US and Canada since then.