27 May, 2012

How Rod Stewart helped me get the attention of VCs and angels

Posted: 27 May 2012 09:00 AM PDT
Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells A Story (9 Tracks) - Front
Spent some time feelin’ inferior
standing in front of my mirror.
Combed my hair in a thousand ways
but I came out looking just the same.
For some of you, that feeling Sir Rod sang about is the same one that venture capitalists can cause you to feel. The name "venture capitalist" alone can send shivers down one's spine, conjuring images of well-dressed men poring over company statistics and shooting holes in your vision.
Our company, EquipRent.com, has pitched to these guys many times this past year to raise capital. As we became more comfortable with pitching, what used to be an intimidating interview scenario slowly turned into a conversation, and we have learned a lot more about the scary men behind the table in the process.
The first thing we noticed was how short of an attention span these guys had. After five minutes of talking, three of them were already looking at their phones. They really didn't care much for the story of how our company was founded, who a typical customer was, or even the pages of statistics that clearly showed why we were a great investment opportunity. Over time, we learned to keep our pitch concise, relevant, and full of engaging imagery … and pictures.
After much fine-tuning, it dawned on us that Rod was on to something: the best way to tell your story is through a picture. We creatively put together a colorful investment infographic, or "InvestFoGraphic," on a handout. This completely complied with our goal of keeping our pitch concise, relevant, and exciting. Check out our capital-raising infographic.
Detail of EquipRent's capital-raising one-page infographic
Source: EquipRent
Detail of EquipRent’s capital-raising one-page infographic (click for full version)
The previous handout that we had given them (a typical 1-page executive summary) was heavy on words explaining in great detail what our company did and how successful we had been. Our new handout was riddled with bold and exciting claims about our company and our industry. The underlying theory behind using the infographic was to hook them first, and then be ready to talk business once they were paying attention.
One of the most necessary considerations when pitching a venture capitalist firm is to view the pitch from their point of view. What makes a great investment? What specific qualities do investors look for in a presentation?
We found that investors love disruptions and hate distractions. They love getting first dibs at untapped potential in huge markets. So, we focused our pitch from this angle. Instead of our old tagline "leading market service for equipment rentals," which was an accurate description of our company, we decided to go with "disrupting the $28B market for construction equipment rental."
The infographic we handed out contained VC-friendly buzzwords like "scalable model" and "fast, profitable growth." Each of these claims was accompanied by a picture, since pictures are much more likely to stick in someone's head than a paragraph of big words. Long, wordy paragraphs are distractions. There is a time and place to get down to the nitty-gritty and go over the numbers, but that is is not in your first encounter with a potential investor.
The reaction to our new infographic one-pager was very positive. “I liked it…I can quickly see what is different about this company than reading a typical one-page executive summary,” one investor said.
“I have never seen anyone use an infographic for investor purposes before,  other than to distinguish market trends,” another one said.
“It sets you apart…it’s like a cool and different resume,” said another one.
The exciting news is that we are now in final discussions with several investor groups to close our first round (series A) funding. We know the infographic wasn't the main reason for getting to this final phase, but we do know that differentiating yourself makes you more memorable and shows investors you and your company plan on being different.
Remember the advice that the great Mr. Stewart gave years ago:
Every picture tells a story, don't it!
Roberto Guerrieri is the chief executive of  EquipRent.com. This is his fourth startup. Previously he was the founder and chief marketing officer of Incentive Logic, a loyalty platform for online market research panels. He has also worked for early-stage companies in mobile marketing, lead generation, and in consumer marketing for Apple  and Hewlett-Packard.
Image: Album cover for Rod Stewart’s “Every Picture Tells a Story”

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Posted: 27 May 2012 08:06 AM PDT
Windows XP screenshot -- Microsoft claims XP costs 5X as much to support than Windows 7
In its latest bid to convince organizations to upgrade from Windows XP, a Microsoft-sponsored report claims that companies end up paying more than five times in support costs by refusing to upgrade to Windows 7.
The report from IDC points to rising annual costs in hardware and software support that ultimately makes the 11-year-old Windows XP a huge time sink for IT staff. While the results obviously sound very self-serving for Microsoft, they could serve as a kick in the pants to organizations that have delayed Windows 7 deployments for too long.
Shockingly, IDC found that 42 percent of the commercial Windows install base is currently running Windows XP. With Microsoft set to kill all support for Windows XP in April 2014, many of those companies will be forced to upgrade within the next few years anyway — there won’t be anymore Windows updates or security fixes, after all.
“The bottom line: IDC's research finds businesses that migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7 will see significant return on investment over 130 percent over a three-year period,” writes Erwin Visser, a senior director for Windows, in a blog post on Thursday.  “Moreover, Windows 7 gives businesses back hours of user productivity. Additionally, migrating now to Windows 7 will set businesses up well to embrace Windows 8 in the future, as IDC found that all indications at this time are that the move from Windows 7 to Windows 8 will be seamless for applications and non-impactful to existing hardware.”
As someone who used to work in IT, I can understand why organizations would be hesitant to upgrade. Many companies skipped over Windows Vista completely (a wise decision), and instead waited for Windows 7 to become stable enough to deploy company-wide. By now, Windows 7 has proven itself as the fastest and most stable version of Microsoft’s OS yet, so it’s about time Windows XP-powered firms decided to upgrade.
Via Computerworld

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Posted: 26 May 2012 04:00 PM PDT
Actor and environmentalist Ryan Reynolds recharges an electric Nissan Leaf
Car buyers are notoriously fond of focusing only on the purchase price of new vehicles, without much thinking about the total cost of ownership.
For electric cars that may cost twice or more what a similar-size gasoline vehicle does, that’s a problem.
Still, two separate pieces of evidence begin to make a compelling case for the huge running-cost advantages of plug-ins.
They’ll prove useful in conversations over the next few years, as friends, relatives, and neighbors question electric-car buyers about their new vehicles: why they did it, how much hassle it may be to plug in, and–of course–how much it cost.
Gasoline vs. electricity price in $/gallon equivalent, under 3 scenarios (by Max Baumhefner)
Gasoline vs. electricity price in $/gallon equivalent, under 3 scenarios (by Max Baumhefner)
First is a post entitled Buck-a-Gallon Gas for Life?
Author Max Baumhefner, a Natural Resources Defense Council staffer, simply plots the equivalent cost of gasoline and electricity under different oil-price scenarios.
Gasoline is high, higher, or very much higher; electricity stays cheap regardless of what happens to oil prices.
Even more compelling is a chart (at top) from the Edison Electric Institute, showing the volatility of gasoline prices and the minimal variation in electric costs over the same period.
In other words, plugging in your electric car to recharge it is the equivalent of paying a dollar a gallon for gasoline–forever.
Second is State of Charge, a study issued last month by the Union of Concerned Scientists on a variety of electric vehicle issues. (We’ll cover more of that study later on.)
It found that electric-car owners in 50 of the largest U.S. cities who cover 11,000 miles a year will save from $750 to $1,200 annually compared to traveling the same distance by buying gasoline at $3.50 a gallon.
While most early electric car buyers have other reasons than saving money, the running-cost advantage has to be better explained if plug-in cars are to reach a broader audience.
And while payback may still be hard to achieve, the lure of “buck-a-gallon gasoline forever” or “$1,200 a year in your pocket” may be enough to get fence-sitters more interested in plug-in cars.
Whereupon they may go for test drives, and discover one of the benefits that automakers (inexplicably) haven’t focused on: Electric cars are simply nicer to drive.
What do you think? How would you make the case that electric cars can save someone money?
Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.
This article originally appeared on Green Car Reports, one of VentureBeat’s editorial partners.

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Posted: 26 May 2012 03:20 PM PDT
Responsive design is the idea that websites can adapt to devices, such as iPads, for better viewing.
Yesterday morning I read Peter Yared’s provocative article, 'What's next for mobile now that adaptive design has failed?' which is based entirely on the misassumption that mobile users don't scroll. If that were true, the reasoning might be valid, but it's not. It's utter nonsense.
As if this misassumption wasn’t bad enough, Peter’s agenda is disproportionately skewed towards the impact on advertising. In fact, you could very easily translate the whole article into: 'listen, we need to get designers and developers to use pages instead of scrolling, because ads get hidden below the fold in a scrolling scenario, but with pages the ad can actually be a full page itself, which means we can make loads more money from advertisers.'
Okay, let’s not blame Peter for his bias. He is, after all, CTO of a company whose primary revenue stream comes from advertising. Of course he’s going to be concerned about the impact of ads. But I — as both a content creator and a content consumer — take issue with two key points; namely:
  • that responsive web design (a term he mistakenly refers to as interchangeable with ‘adaptive’ design) has somehow failed; and
  • that it’s somehow possible to judge success of failure of a design methodology by ad revenue alone.
Please allow me to address some claims that are, in one way or another, wrong:
We [...] are learning the hard way that a one-size-fits-all solution delivers a subpar user experience.
Not only does this completely contradict the notion of what responsive design actually is (the core content might be the same, but the design should be flexible enough to allow for multiple adaptations without needing to know specific device details), but saying it delivers a subpar user experience is akin to claiming all oil paintings are inferior to all watercolour paintings. Criticising the tools is a fruitless exercise.
The tablet is essentially a magazine form factor.
Actually, my iPad’s form factor is closer to my chopping board, but I’m hardly going to prepare dinner on it. Tablets may have magazine apps, and ebook apps might also use swipeable pages rather than vertical scrolling, but it’s only one type of interaction. And if we’ve learned anything about tablet-based publishing in the last couple of years, it’s that recycling print-formatted magazines into an app is a bad, bad idea (unfortunately, most of the major publishers have yet to be enlightened). And it’s nothing to do with pages vs. scrolling.
Users are perfectly happy to swipe through an article that is split into several pages.
This behaviour, right here, is the bane of the internet. Do users enjoy reading articles on websites that are split across multiple pages? Hell no, we don’t. The only reason this exists is so ad people can sell more ads.
Users are not perturbed at all to see a full page interstitial ad stuck into the mix while paging through content.
Oh yeah, sure! I just love having my reading experience disrupted by a full-page ad! Actually, I’ll admit that in some scenarios, this is okay. I don’t mind this too much if I’m reading a magazine-like app, and if the ad itself is relevant. But as advertising is very rarely relevant and very frequently infuriating, suggesting this behaviour should become some sort of norm is all kinds of wrong. It is of benefit only to ad execs. See the pattern emerging here?
It is painful for engineers to have to support three different use cases for three different form factors.
And finally, we have it: solid proof that Peter Yared does not understand responsive design. (And I’m sorry, Peter. Perhaps you’re a very nice man, but I’ve got to call you out on this.) The web is not experienced simply through desktop, tablet, and phone; it is experienced in every shape and form imaginable, and some unimaginable. True responsive design is not about catering for specific device pixels — whose dimensions become outdated with every new model that appears on the market — or labelling an experience as ‘this type’ or ‘that type’. It is about creating designs so fluid and adaptable that specifics are not needed; so organic and open that the notions of desktop and mobile and TV and whatever else are blurred. After all, my 11″ MacBook Air is far closer to a tablet than my 24″ iMac, so the ‘desktop’ label no longer applies. Yet my iPad’s pixel dimensions are far closer to my iMac’s, so ‘mobile’ no longer applies. And let’s not forget that browsing the web on Mobile Safari is a wildly different experience to doing so on other, less advanced mobile phones.
Sometimes, sites work well across the board with only minor adjustments. The simpler the design, the less work has to be done. This is certainly the case with my site, Trent's, Tim's, or Zeldman's. And it’s not because we’re lazy designers — our sites are this way because the emphasis is on content; on cutting away the cruft regardless of the platform. (Zeldman said it best.) And yes, of course there is a lot more work involved on some websites and applications. But to tar everyone designing responsively with the same brush shows nothing but a gross misunderstanding of the term itself. And, as Fernando Mateus said to me on Twitter this morning, 'The last person [who thought] a webpage was like a magazine was a 7 year old child.'
So, ladies and gentlemen, we have a high-profile ad executive at a high-profile company who doesn’t understand the web from anything but an advertiser’s perspective. Who knew?
Responsive design is absolutely the future. Sadly, for many people, it has yet to become the present.
The original version of this article was published on elliotjaystocks.com.
Elliot Jay StocksElliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author from England whose portfolio includes work for clients such as Virgin, Microsoft, Brooklyn Beta, Founders Fund, Smashing Magazine, and MailChimp. He is the editor of typography magazine 8 Faces, co-founder of Viewport Industries, and a regular contributor to publications such as Codex: The Journal of Typography, .Net, and Computer Arts. Follow him on Twitter at @elliotjaystocks.

Top photo by Dirk Vorderstraße/Flickr

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Posted: 26 May 2012 01:57 PM PDT
Sensors can give us much better information about our bodies, leading us to greater self-knowledge
Like nerve endings which translate senses into electrical impulses in your nervous system, sensors can translate the physical world into the digital. In the process, they can help humans become more aware of ourselves.
The “quantified self” is an increasingly popular term. It means using algorithms to correlate all these sensor data, and provide valuable information for better living. In an earlier article "Internet of Things: Not Just a Fund Raising Concept Now," we talked about sensor technology as one of the fundamental drivers for the development of the “internet of things.” Key factors for sensor technology adoption depend on the maturity of the technology, cost, and most importantly, experience. Innovative application of existing sensors is also an important factor in the scaling of the industry.
In this article, we will introduce a few interesting life science sensor technologies and their “quantified self” applications. Some of them are still in research labs, while others are ready to go for the market.

The science of breathing

However, we are most excited about newer technologies that go beyond "what we are doing" and dive deeper into how we relate to the world.  The Calming Technology Lab at Stanford University was founded on a simple premise: to reduce the stress in our always-connected world.  They asked: "How can we use new technologies such as the quantified self to bring more 'calm' into the world?"
Led by Neema Moraveji, their breakthrough project involves using breathing sensors to obtain a user's breathing pattern and extract its relationship with stress levels. Initial papers published by the lab have used breathing-based feedback to increase productivity and reduce stress of office workers.  They believe this model can be extended, leading to a systematic reduction in stress and improved health. Moreover, ancient art forms focused around meditation, such as Taiqi, martial arts and Yoga, may get scientific explanations for their results.

Sweat sensors for traditional Chinese medicine

Chinese medicine has been a mysterious system of knowledge for thousands of years. No one can really explain clearly what it is, but the treatments do deliver results. We don't want to dig into its theory bases here, however, the diagnosis methods used to tell a patient's treatment status are interesting. Sweat is one of them. After a patient has taken medication, the amount and timing of her sweat are valuable information for doctors to tell if the medication has the expected impact. However, such readings have depended on the intuition of the doctor, limiting the impact to those who can access an increasingly small number of skilled practitioners.
Engineers at GuoHao, a Beijing-based sensor technology company, have developed sensors to monitor sweat for medication analysis. Doctors can, for example, remotely access a patient's account, look at his sweat records, and decide the subsequent treatment. Although this technology faces obstacles in user education for adoption, it holds the potential of bringing traditional medicine to a broader audience with greater results.

“Tattoo” for non-piercing glucose testing

People with type I diabetes must prick their fingers several times a day to test their blood sugar level. Though the pain is minor, the chore interferes with daily life. Researchers in MIT's Department of Chemical Engineering have been working on a new type of sensor to detect glucose levels without the need of finger pricks. The sensing system consists of a "tattoo" of nanoparticles designed to detect glucose, injected below the skin. A device similar to a wristwatch would be worn over the tattoo, displaying the patient's glucose levels. The "tattoo" would last for a specified length of time, probably six months, before needing to be refreshed.
The sensor is based on carbon nanotubes wrapped in a polymer that is sensitive to glucose concentrations. When this sensor encounters glucose, the nanotubes fluoresce, which can be detected by shining near-infrared light on them. Although this technology is still years away from human trials, it may soon start trials in animals. If this technology appears in real products, people will be better able to prevent diabetes caused by irregular daily activities such as taking meals, drinks, and medications, through instant glucose level notifications.

Brainwave monitoring and meditation lights

What are you thinking? Are you nervous? Modern technologies can help you easily become a “mind-reader,” and brainwave technology is one of them. NeuroSky, a U.S.-based EEG chipset company, has been focusing on spreading brainwave sensors to the mass market. The company has applied brainwave technology into various industries, such as sports training, education, and entertainment. In recent activities, they translated brainwaves to a hardware LED light. Users can see their brainwave status through the colors of the light. For example, your state of mind will be indicated as “Peace & Soothing” when your brainwave light is blue. Yoga exercisers can use it as a tool to indicate meditation status. "You can easily control your stress by adjusting your breaths," says Priti, a 20-year yoga practitioner and teacher. "I am happy to see my light keep blue, this can certainly help bring meditation to a scientific level."

Other sensors for increasing self-awareness

We see many exciting sensor technologies to improve life science intelligence. Some of them help explore the mysteries of the human body, some fundamentally change the way people obtain their own information, while others apply commonly-used sensors to innovative usage. For example, Brainpage has been working on a PC/Mac-based application to help professionals prevent repetitive stress injuries (RSI). The Anti-RSI program includes a client software and graphing tools. Through analysis of users’ keyboard and mouse usage, the client application will remind people to take breaks when work intensity could cause RSI. The program also allow users to understand their performance through Web graphs, for example, help users find out their professional skill level comparing to other people.

We believe that in the near future, innovative sensor technologies can greatly help humans understand more about ourselves. We hope to see more of such these intriguing projects happening, and more importantly, put to practical use for better living.
This article originally appeared on TechNode, a VentureBeat editorial partner based in China. It was written by TechNode Guest Editor Dr. Wenzhe Zhou, co-founder of Brainpage, which is a big data processing and analysis startup, focused on creating a cloud-based engine for time series data and sensors. The company's Hadoop-based service provides developers and industry partners easy-to-use, scalable and flexible database and analysis solutions.
Top photo: Sergio Alvarez/Flickr

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Posted: 26 May 2012 12:14 PM PDT
5-day performance of several IPOs shows Facebook has the worst first week in a decade
Facebook’s first five days as a public company saw its value drop 13.1 percent, the worst first-week performance of any initial public offering in a decade.
That’s the sorry picture compiled by Bloomberg at the close of trading yesterday. In contrast, Visa’s 2008 IPO resulted in a first-week bump of 45.4 percent, putting big smiles on the faces of anyone lucky enough to buy stock on that company’s first day of trading.
Of course, small investors’ loss is Facebook’s gain. As we explained yesterday, Facebook and its underwriters, led by Morgan Stanley, pegged its opening price at the top of its range, $38, even though it was privately telling select investors that its revenue forecasts for the coming year were on the “low end” of its previous guidance. That message didn’t get out to the wider market — including smaller investors — until after the IPO. In other words, Facebook maximized its IPO raise, even though its actions would torpedo the stock as soon as the full revenue predictions became public.
While a first-day or first-week “pop” may look nice, and get big headlines, it actually leaves money on the table: It’s a sign that the company didn’t set its IPO price at the correct market price. By contrast, Facebook may have set its IPO price a little too high, but that’s the smart thing to do, from the accountant’s point of view.
Facebook now faces an embarrassing series of investigations and the difficulty of keeping employees’ and investors’ spirits up in the face of a sinking share price. On the other hand, it has $18.4 billion in IPO proceeds to console it for suddenly being the most unpopular tech stock on the block. (That’s because the company got $16 billion for the initial IPO allotment, plus another $2.4 billion for the “greenshoe” option that its underwriters exercised last week.)
It will be interesting, and more relevant, to see how Facebook’s stock looks after 30 days of trading. As the chart below shows, Digital Domain had the worst 30-day performance of any IPO in the last year, sinking 39.2 percent in its first month. Skullcandy dropped 23.5 percent in its first 30 days. By contrast, Yelp and Guidewire Software were up about 80 percent after their first 30 days, and Brightcove was up 92 percent.
30-day performance of IPO stocks in the past year
Top chart: Bloomberg. Bottom chart: NASDAQ

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Posted: 26 May 2012 11:33 AM PDT
The 2013 Focus ST has an "overclocked" turbocharger that gives it 15 extra seconds of boost power
Similar to the way that hardcore PC enthusiasts overclock their CPUs to squeeze out extra performance, Ford is preparing a car with an “overclocked” turbocharger.
The 2013 Ford Focus ST will have a turbo that provides extra power for longer than normal, giving drivers up to 15 seconds of extra power for passing cars, accelerating quickly to highway speeds, laying rubber, or otherwise impressing people in the passenger seat.
Turbos work by forcing extra air into the combustion mixture, by using a very high-speed turbine. Because this turbine spins so quickly (150,000-200,000 RPM), it can burn out if it runs too long. As a result, most turbos are designed to add an extra boost of power when it’s most needed, then bleed off extra power before the turbine melts. In most cars, that happens between 3,000 and 4,500 RP (the rotational speed of the engine, not the turbo).
With the Focus ST, by contrast, the turbo remains engaged, even beyond 4,500 RPM — but only for 15 seconds at a time.
"The turbo itself is specified for sustained, high output performance, but they've programmed the ECU — the car's equivalent to the CPU — to dial in more boost past 3,000 RPM to give it that extra something," said Lisa Schoder, engineer and Focus ST Marketing Manager, in a press release from Ford.
Car enthusiasts have been accomplishing similar things themselves on turbocharged cars for years. This is done by installing custom ECUs (or reprogramming the stock ECU) in order to play with the power curve and extend the range at which the turbocharger engages, a technique also known as “chipping” the car. However, that runs the risk of damaging the turbo (or the engine itself) — and it plays havoc with emissions, too.
“This is a factory-overclocked car,” Ford spokesman Chris Terry told VentureBeat. “But unlike these homespun things, the cooling system is very, very robust. Ford expects people to drive the hell out of these things and not have them blow up.”
The Focus ST is aimed at performance enthusiasts in other ways. With a top speed of 150 mph, it not only offers turbocharged acceleration, but high speeds and sports car handling. That’s pretty good for a four-door sedan.
Although the car won’t be available until August, Ford is accepting pre-orders today. Adding a little extra incentive for the geeky, overclocking, gadget-loving crowd, Ford will throw in a GoPro HD Hero2 camera for the first 1,000 people to place an order. The Focus ST will also be on display at the upcoming E3 video game convention in Los Angeles, June 4-7. VentureBeat’s games crew will be providing tons of news from E3, so watch this space for more updates.

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Posted: 26 May 2012 10:00 AM PDT
“Startups are the sum of the decisions made by the people who run them,” Future Simple founder Uzi Shmilovici wrote in a recent post.
Uzi’s absolutely right — the earlier startups begin collecting data, the better their decisions will be. There’s only one catch: Most startups don’t have expertise in analytics. The time startups spend on developing clear success metrics, actionable campaign tracking, and automated reporting is time they DON’T spend developing a minimum viable product and pivoting to find their market — effectively leaving startups with limited or no real ability to compete on analytics.
The Big Idea
What if VCs provided centralized analytics and data management resources as part of their investment in startups? Giving startups the tools and resources they need to compete on analytics would give investment firms and their startups a huge competitive advantage. Startups would grow revenue faster, reducing their level of technology debt, and giving them access to specialized skillsets typically available only to better-funded players. Investors would see a significantly enhanced probability of return.
A/B Testing and Statistical Modeling
Startups that are actively working to find their market niche have a huge advantage with access to statistical modeling and analysis resources. Extreme examples exist — such as Demand Media’s use of machine learning to build a billion-dollar business by beating Google at its own game. However, even a simple A/B test can easily return gains of 10%; a one-to-one marketing model may increase conversion by well over 20%; a price optimization study may return 30% or more incremental revenue. A business rule optimization, gained from detailed analysis of customer behavior, can be a complete game-changer.
Most startups don’t have the resources or bandwidth to kick-start an analytics group. With access to centralized analytics services early in their life cycles, startups can maximize conversion opportunities, conduct site tests with minimal investment in development hours, and bank strategic data-capture opportunities for future returns.
Set Up Databases with Growth in Mind
Startups are anxious to get things done quickly, which frequently leads to setting up an open-source database so they can start throwing records at it immediately. While this works in the short-term, it leads to scalability issues and lost opportunities to store transactional and behavioral data.
It’s at this point in the startup’s lifecycle that it makes sense to evaluate the existing database schemas, identify opportunities for strategic expansion and optimization, and plan appropriately for anticipated growth. This vital investment reduces the amount of technology debt the startup carries and, if done effectively, provides greatly enhanced ability for the startup to identify otherwise-unseen market opportunities and inflection points that suggest a potential pivot.
Offload the Distractions
Startups are beset by distractions that can be a huge drain on productivity. These are activities that experts can provide more efficiently and more effectively. Three prime offenders:
  1. Web Analytics. Few organizations make tagging a formal or required part of their release process; it often doesn’t get done. Instituting a clear process in the early stages helps integrate a data-driven culture into the startup’s DNA.
  2. Search Engine Optimization. It’s often thought of as “get your meta tags right and produce a lot of content;" a more strategic implementation purposely directs internal page-rank flow toward specific marketing objectives. This provides a framework for VCs to provide high-level marketing guidance while making it easy for startups to determine “which marketing efforts go where.”
  3. Database administration. Performance tuning, backup, and data security are vital tasks that require significant, ongoing time commitments. Expert implementation reduces the risk of a data breach or unrecoverable data loss.
Putting It All Together
Startups with the resources, infrastructure, and expertise to effectively compete on analytics will have a significant competitive advantage. VCs have the opportunity to improve their ROI — and to differentiate themselves — by providing these resources. By adding centralized analytics and data management resources as part of their investment in startups, VCs will be positioning themselves — and their startups — for maximum growth and success.
Jeb Stone is a 14-year Internet veteran with depth in database marketing, business intelligence, predictive modeling, and marketing research. He has established and led the applied analytics organizations at leading Web properties including Match.com, Selloscope, Socialyzer, and FareCompare. Jeb holds a PhD in experimental psychology with a specialization in marketing.
[Top image credit: Zurijeta/Shutterstock]

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Posted: 26 May 2012 10:00 AM PDT
Tips for bosses
Many entrepreneurs dream of starting their own company so they can be their own boss, call the shots, get the corner office nicest table in the co-working space. Turns out, being in charge is a lot harder than just ordering people around and having someone fetch your lattes. To make a startup successful, you have to encourage an atmosphere of constant innovation.
We asked these upcoming entrepreneurs for their best tips on how to be a boss boss.

Allow for change and spontaneity

Working hard to keep your company from becoming rigid helps keep innovation flowing. The longer you have a business, the easier it is not to try new things — such as payment systems or even where an afternoon meeting should be held. Changing things up every now and again because of suggestions from your team shows you care about keeping your workplace full of ideas.
Caitlin McCabe, @caitlinmc, Real Bullets Branding

Be hands off

Hire great people and give them responsibility. Avoid micro-managing in favor of letting your team surprise you with their creativity!
Lisa Nicole Bell, @LisaNicoleBell, Inspired Life Media Group

Budget for innovation

No one likes to ask for money, but when they have money as an available option, they are willing to go ahead and spend it on things they think will be worthwhile. As the boss, you can enable your team to take new ideas and develop them into profitable ventures. For example, tell them they can spend a few hundred dollars a month on any cool thing they wanted to.
Danny Wong, @blanklabel, Blank Label Group, Inc.

Flat organization

Everyone, from the CEO to the intern to the secretary, should be pushed to always be thinking about how to make the business better. Reward those who speak up and demonstrate creative thinking. You never want someone in your office to be afraid to share their ideas. Foster that open environment where everyone has the confidence to speak up, and you’ll see innovation coming to the surface.
Nathan Lustig, @nathanlustig, Entrustet

Expose yourself

Innovation is driven by exposure to new ideas, people and work. One of the keys to being an innovation-driving startup leader is to encourage yourself and your employees to constantly learn.
Doreen Bloch, @DoreenBloch, Poshly Inc.

Keep time for actually working

Especially in creative ventures, it’s easy to quickly outgrow being able to work on the cool projects that lead you to start the business in the first place — turning you into a cranky boss. It’s good for your team to see you getting your hands dirty, but it will also keep you in touch with what you really want to accomplish.
Thursday Bram, @thursdayb, Hyper Modern Consulting

Empower your employees

Innovation starts with being encouraged to make choices. My employees are always responsible for their decisions, so they weigh them carefully, and when they don’t like the possibilities in front of them, they often find ways to do things differently. They feel empowered because their choices matter, and my company benefits from their perspective.
Vanessa Nornberg, @VanessaNornberg, Metal Mafia

Open workflow

Promote and encourage an open workflow. If you have an open workflow and hire the right employees, it creates an environment where you trust your employees. If employees fill like they have freedom to be innovative, they will, and that starts with their working environment.
John Hall, @JohnHallCOMO, Digital Talent Agents

Opportunities knock softly

Listen carefully to yourself, your clients, your employees, and the media. You might hear something that will create new ideas to execute. People who care about your business will constantly give advice. Listen to them, write down ideas, and execute the ones you are passionate about. Not only will people feel empowered, but you will be seen as the one with great ideas by being a great listener.
Nancy T. Nguyen, @sweettsalon, Sweet T

Allow failure

Let people explore and make mistakes. Be good with failure — as long as there is learning in the end.
Brent Beshore, @BrentBeshore, AdVentures

Rally a vision

Without any brand equity, your startup will likely field mediocre talent — unless you’re paying them too much or giving away all of your equity. But there is hope. Any team rallied around an articulated vision and stoked with sense of greater purpose can defy the impossible and achieve great things. Your job is to be a coach and a cheerleader in one, very inspiring personality.
Christopher Kelly, @ThoughtsOnBiz, Sentry Centers

Hire the right people

In my experience, it is much easier to find the people who match our company culture rather than try to learn a new company culture to match our people. As a leader, you have a set of inherent personality traits. Select people who gravitate to and respect those traits, and then build a team around them. The innovation-driving culture will come from the people, not from a preconceived plan.
Lucas Sommer, @audimated, Audimated
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization composed of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment and provides entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of their business's development and growth.
I heart my boss art via ShutterStock

Filed under: Entrepreneur, VentureBeat

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Posted: 26 May 2012 02:00 AM PDT
MicroVenturesThis sponsored post is produced by MicroVentures.
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