Spokeable

turning average joes into local spokesmodels


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Businesses are from Mars and Consumers are from Venus: Part 2

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Last week we asked you a question. Do we really need winners and losers in this business game? Today, we’re exploring further.

Let’s look at typical software solutions for businesses and consumers. Most businesses, regardless of size, use packaged business software to support their operations. These softwares run the gamut from Finance and Purchasing all the way to Sales and Payroll. They range from Oracle and SAP, to cloud-based solutions like Workday and Salesforce.com. They even include open source alternatives like Open ERP. Each of of these solutions have one thing in common: they treat customers as “master data.”  In essence, they assign attributes like name, address and credit history in order to make a “customer model” based on these points and assumptions. They  integrate this model into process chains like “order to cash.” In essence, these softwares convert the customer into an object, managed and exploited for monetary gain. They don’t facilitate real-time interaction and they do not foster a win/win relationship.

If we examine models built for for consumers, such as Groupon and Amazon, the landscape is both different and similar. These companies afford the customer bargaining power by bundling demand. They offer access to a competitive market place and the best deals. The businesses are positioned in a favorable light, giving opportunities to their customers. A platform which guarantees the lowest price for customers seems reasonable. Everyone wants the lowest price, right? If we think more critically, though, we understand that is not always the case. Yes, it takes time and effort to find well-priced offerings. But these offerings are often not tailored to individual needs of the consumer or the business. Indeed there have been a number of studies posted which explain how these models are not helpful for local businesses. What these platforms do is fulfill the needs of Groupon or Amazon’s business model. That’s the goal.

In each of these scenarios we witness a third party standing in between the customer and the business. Win-win relationships aren’t easy to forge without an actual relationship between the business and the customer.  I say, get out of the way. Breaking down the barriers between local businesses and their local customers is how we make win-wins. And that is Spokeable’s foundation.  

So! Do you want to talk with your favorite boutique owner? 

Yeah, i thought so.


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BE MY ANGEL?

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Happy FRIDAY!

Hey all! Spokeable is finally on AngelList and we’re ready to raise the funds we need to launch our phenomenal solution for local businesses. As some of you know, AngelList is a platform that connects startups with angel investors to find win-win partnerships to grow their business.

To insure an incredibly successful Angel campaign we are seeking two well-connected passive advisors who will lend us their name and make a few introductions on the platform.  If you fit the criteria but aren’t on Angel yet, no worries!  Although it’d be the bees knees for you to already have an account, we’re happy to help you set one up!  Can’t wait to get rocking!

We are looking for:

  •  Fiery founders who’ve successfully fundraised on Angel
  •  Well connected social-commerce or local business experts
  •  Enterprise software executives who’e spent time in the startup scene
  •  Entrepreneurs on Angel who love disruptive models

Check out our profile: https://angel.co and let us know!

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Uber Gives Startups 7-min Pitch rides! We want one!!!

Startups in Silicon Valley will have seven minutes to pitch investors during a free Uber ride Wednesday, according to a post from the on-demand car service.

Uber is partnering with Google Ventures, the investment arm of the tech giant, to give entrepreneurs a chance to market their ideas. The company’s app, which lets users order chauffeured cars through their mobile phones, is making good on CEO Travis Kalanick’s vision of delivering everything on-demand.

They just need to request an “UberPITCH” ride through the Uber app while in the heart of the Valley: Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Menlo Park. The app orders a driver who will drive over with an investor. Entrepreneurs get seven minutes to pitch to the investor, while riding in the car, and then the investor will give feedback for seven minutes. The drivers will make round trips back to the startup location but where they go during the ride is unclear.


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Train. Train. Train.

  

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Toughen Up.

 

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Find A Partner.

Sound like beach-ready boot camp?  True, it is time to start thinking about a bikini ready body, especially if you’re in Miami this spring like the participants at yesterday’s second annual Start-Up City conference.

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These snippets of advice, though, aren’t for getting in shape.  They are bits of start-up wisdom from yesterday’s conference sponsored by The Atlantic.  The gathering of leading entrepreneurs and tech experts  explored models of “urban tech” taking root in Miami and across the world. The  panel of successful entrepreneurs sitting indoors (sorry SoBe lovers) at the New Word Center discussed their top tips for building successful Start-Ups.  Panelists included Michael Jones (Co-creator Google Earth), Colin Raney (Managing Director IDEO), Sam Altman (President Y Combinator)  and David Porter (Founder 8tracks) among others.

This article posted this morning by HuffPost outlines some of the most tantalizing tips. Check them out below!  And congrats to all participants for another very successful event!

“Don’t think you’re the smartest guy in the room. “It’s easy to convince yourself you have all the answers to any problem. Entrepreneurs need the kind of open-mindedness that acknowledges you don’t have all the answers.”

Too Big, Too Fast. “A lot of companies fail from over growth because they use up their cash; you need a certain level of liquidity to operate a successful business.”

Diversify. “A lot of companies fail because they get one big customer. Then you’re just working for them, and you can’t sell that product line to anyone else.”

Be quick to shift. “If I have a lemonade stand and everyone wants Coca Cola, it will take me one minute to dump the lemonade and stock Coca Cola. Innovating means having to adjust daily.”

Be the student. “The customers are in charge, listen to them. I’m selling to them; it’s not for me to have the answers.”

Be an Understudy. “Live with your customers and study their needs before you design for them.”

Get Confident. “Startups are the leading edge of business culture, but a lot of startups lack confidence in themselves.”

Test Kitchen. “Prototype early and often. Prototypes answer questions.”

Tell Your Story. “If you’re a startup you’re in the story telling business. Find your story and tell it.”

Keep Tweaking. “Build like you’re right, and listen like you’re wrong. ”

Identify the one thing to focus on. “Ignore everything else. There are always a million things commanding your attention but focus on the one most important things.”

Faster and Cheaper. “Whenever software can bring down the costs of the physical world, use it.”

Transparency. “Most startups look fine on the outside but are broken on the inside. Transparency is important.”

Keep it in house. “Don’t outsource your on core competencies; it’s important to have them on board and in house. That creates your company’s DNA.”

Make something people want. “The biggest failure is when you make something the market doesn’t want. If you do everything right except for this one thing, you will fail. But if you do everything wrong and you still make something people want, you will most likely succeed.”

Don’t focus on patents and IP. “Don’t get hung up on IP. File a divisional patent, which gives you a year to see if the startup is moving forward. Patent the stuff that’s mildly important, not the stuff that’s super important. When you patent your deepest secrets, you’re essentially giving them away in other jurisdictions.”

Focus on the minimal viable product. “Don’t try to do too much. Everyone has great ideas, some of which can come later but ask yourself what is the simplest thing you can build that has some nugget of value.”

Find a partner. Every successful startup needs a team of collaborators. “You need a creative mind but you also need a business mind to execute.”

You need to scale. “Too many businesses that aren’t in high tech don’t know how to properly scale; they get stuck at the $.5 to $1.5 million revenue range.”

Focus on quality. “Invest all your money in the quality of the product, no matter how lean you are. We bought very expensive vintage roasting machines to get the best quality of coffee.”

Toughen Up. “Having a startup is tough, you need to learn to compete successfully.”

Take the Market Share. “Focus on being cash positive. Be a strong healthy company and go after a big part of the market. Don’t’ be afraid to compete against the big boys.”

Train, train, train. “The most effective way to engage your team is to constantly train them.””

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Starting Up is Hard to Do NYT Small Business Blog

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A great column by Posse founder, discussing the challenges of building a startup.  He says it’s important to:

Work Fast. Focus on Things That Move the Needle. Look for Breakout Opportunities.  Test and Measure Everything. Meditate.

At Spokeable, we agree. But we’d also add in

1) Team, Team, Team.  Have an Awesome Team.

2) Keep the Energy Up!  Stay Positive.

3) Roll the Windows Down.  Enjoy the Ride.

4) Ask for Help.  Seek Feedback.  Don’t be afraid to say what’s up.

5) If It’s Time to Pivot, Groove.