Wednesday, February 17, 2010

F4F Dinner - Bootstrap PR

Had a great time at the Finance For Founders (search #f4f on twitter) dinner. Great speakers and very smart people in the room. Some of the people at my table were on their 2nd or 3rd company, so the fact that they were so respectful to a rookie like me made me feel appreciated. I guess they were first time founders once too. Thanks to the hardest working people in the founder circuit @davemcclure and @danmartell  for hosting this smarty pants event.

The topic was important, as the founder of servicetattler.com we are always looking for ways to get our names out there without spending money. Social computing has been a great boon for that and let me promise you I work it any way I can to grow awareness about what we are trying to do.

Here is who was there: Ross Mayfield, www.socialtext.com, David Weekly, www.pbworks.com, Rebecca Lynn, www.morgenthaler.com . My favorite by far was Ross, but David had some great simple gorilla approaches too. Not crazy about Rebecca, nice enough but kind of old school PR mentality.

Here are some of the notes that came out of the dinner:

  • Build Repuation - Placement by some heavey hitters such as mashable, tech crunch or eaven old school like WSJ grows your rep. Easier said than done panel. We are microscopic, try to get those guys to care about you for even a millisecond. STILL TRYING!
  • Engage Bloggers with Stories NOT Pitches - This we do in spades. Our bloggers are our friends. Literally.
  • Have Interesting Content - Create content that relates to your space and engages. That means that at servicetattler.com we want to post more about the service industry, funny service related articles and foodie content. 
  • Credibility Takes Time - You dont get street cred overnight. You will build it with a consistent commitment to what you are doing.
  • Launches Are Mental - You dont have to blow your wad on a launch. Having an event that celibrates a major accompishment at a brew pub is enough. Its the celebration that matters not the ice sculpture.
  • Give Bloggers a Stake - Let bloggers invest in the brand and product by being part of testing groups and the product feature set, this investment means they are on your team.
  • Creativity Builds Credibility - By being a creative passionate involved party in the the discussion your credibility will grow.
  • SEO? I don't know - SEO can be a rabit hole. Make sure its organic and by all means don't let a SEO specialist sell you snake oil.
  • Campaign for Votes - Treat your PR effort like a political campaign. Who do you want to win?
  • Love Your Cheerleaders - Give them stuff that shows you care.  

This is isnt all that was said, just the things I liked and of course I added my wacky servicetattler spin on it. Bloggers and blog PR dominatated the discussion entirely, which I think is a little disappointing because there is a lot more a micro CEO like me does to grow credibility.

Mailchimp
First of all I love mailchimp. For a company like ours it is essential for managing our contacts based on their segmentation and communicating directly with them with well crafted communications, it also supports forms and surveys so I can feedback from my users and customers.

Google Wave
We used a wave during our test to aggregate all the feedback related to the test and communicate with our testers as a group. Its a great free way to create a shared conversation.

I hope there are other micro CEOs out there who can benefit from this. If you are interested in this please leave a comment and become part of the conversation.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Is Coding Procrastination?

Just finished reading an interesting blog post, referred by the Y-combinator site, that basically claimed Coding is Procrastination.

For a software developer, software development is the easiest job in the world. You know how to do it, you have experience doing it, and you enjoy doing it. And these people who say they want to start businesses are sitting and programming all the time. What type of business is made up of only code? That's not a business, that's a product. The business is all the other stuff around the product, and that's the stuff that these people have no intention of doing, and without which they have nothing.
--- @maxklein

To be honest a lot of the article rang true, I sometimes feel that there is so much code to be written that I haven't been able to develop some of the business aspects that I really think make this a special play. The issue is I *know* that there are some specific features that are not there that are causing some users to loose loyalty. I also feel that business development may be a waste of time without a strong user base that can make the business proposition reasonable.

You know I am not talking about my base, @quiksand, @edbrophy, @droidguy, @sgraham, and @nomo4me are going to be in the possie no matter what, but for this to work we really need a broader appeal and the site really needs to do some important things:

1. Strong Search Tools - If service tattler is going to help people who care about service it needs to act as a valuable too that helps people find the places they want to go to.
2. Meaningful Real Time Tattling - Making it easy for people to to communicate their sentiment about places they frequent using mobile devices is a core value proposition to the consumer. It has to be rock solid, fast, and meaningful.
3. Business Presence and Relationship Management Tools - Businesses need a way to promote themselves directly to the consumer, and extract value from that relationship using analytics and direct to consumer awards. To become a marketplace for customer sentiment we need to add the other party to the relationship.

This is going to take some code, and time to make sure it is a good product. We are absolutely interested in the business development aspects and we are very excited about the possibilities we see, but until we can say we do those things at least its hard to figure out how we can make this a business.

What do you think about this?

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